Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Inspired by Italian cooking I came home ready to cook. Caprese salad was a food staple for us on our trip for lunch and dinner. Caprese salad is a very easy dish to prepare, but up until my trip it was not a favorite of mine. I'm not a big fan of raw tomatoes. I love them hot and made into sauces, but raw is another story. Early on in the trip we had it with some salt and pepper and that made a world of difference. It really enhances the flavor of both the tomato and the mozzarella. I made this salad a day or so after returning home. Slainte!

Caprese Salad (serves 2)
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese (water packed), sliced 1/4 inch
1 ripe tomato (but not too soft), unrefrigerated, sliced 1/4 inch
3-4 fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (it's important to use good quality evoo, the kind used for eating not cooking)
coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Lay tomatoes out on plate, top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella cheese. (The cheese and tomato can also be layered alternately around the plate)
2. Place basil leaves in the middle of the plate or, if you prefer, top each slice of cheese with a leaf.
3. Just before serving, drizzle olive oil generously over tomatoes, cheese, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Since I don't love tomatoes all by themselves, I take a piece of tomato, a piece of cheese, and a piece of basil in one bite and it is delicious! Add a glass of wine and it's a very light lunch or dinner for the summer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ahhh, the Food (and Wine)

We had a great time in Italy, but one of the best parts was the food. To pin point one area or one food is impossible, so I want to share the highlights of each city we visited.

First stop...Rome!

Upon arriving in Rome after dark (about 5 hours late) we wandered around the Piazza del Popolo near our hotel, trying to get our bearings and looking for some food. We found a little hole in the wall across the street from the piazza. It was one of the best meals of the trip and the cheapest.
Most of the pizza in Italy is very good; thin, crispy crust. This is arugula and Gorgonzola.

Gnocchi is a funny dish. I have had some really good and light gnocchi and some really bad, doughy gnocchi. This was THE BEST gnocchi I have ever had. I had it several times in Italy and it was all good, but this was the best.

So, did you know that you could eat very well in Italy just by ordering a glass of wine? After a long day of sightseeing ancient Rome, we found an outdoor cafe and ordered some wine and a hot chocolate. In addition to the beverages, we were served chips, crostinis, sandwiches, and olives. We were not expecting it at all.
I'm not the biggest hot drink fan, but there was a chill in the air that evening and a hot chocolate sounded good...hot chocolate in Europe is always delish - very chocolaty and real whipped cream.
Later that evening, we really weren't terribly hungry due to the free appetizers, so we decided to stop at another outdoor cafe and have some more wine. With a glass of red and and a glass of prosecco we were served these little crostinis. "Wow!" we thought, "we could get used to this."

After ordering a second glass of wine and prosecco, our appetizers were upgraded. Please notice the caviar. Yah, that's right, free caviar. I don't eat fish or anything that comes out of fish, but I was still impressed. The crostinis were good, which is why one is missing.

We had gelato almost every day while in Italy. Oh, that is some good ice cream! We spent the morning of the next day in Vatican City touring the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Then we headed to the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. While at the piazza it started to rain a little, so we found some cover and ordered some gelato (cioccolatoe e limone).

We planned on heading back to the restaurant from the first night on our last night, but it was closed. So we wandered around and found another funny little place. Here I ordered pasta alla vodka. It was also yummy!

Next stop, the Chianti region in Tuscany.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I've been back from Italy for a week now and I am feeling overwhelmed when I think about blogging. So I just haven't! Ya know, traveling, however fun, is not relaxing in the least and after returning home last week, I felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation. There were and still are so many things that I need to get done and I have been too tired to do them. This past week I have been such a procrastinator which is so unlike me. When I think about the things I have to do whether it be go through the 1500 pictures that I took on my trip, catch up with friends and family now that I am home, blogging, school work, my book club book I have this overwhelming feeling of stress. I usually strive on stress, but lately it has just made me want to go to bed. I'm sure that it has more to do with being tired and jet lagged after a long trip, but not getting the things done is stressing me out even more and I don't like that feeling. I know it will all get done eventually, but right now I'm having a hard time getting anything done and that includes blogging. So please pardon my inattentiveness lately. I have so many pictures and things about the trip I want to share, but I'm afraid it will just have to wait a little longer.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Greetings From Italy, Part 2

Well, my plan to keep in touch during my trip was derailed when our last few hotels did not have internet access and we were just too busy to find an internet cafe! We have arrived in Venice safe and sound with 3 days remaining of the trip. Driving, for the most part, was fine. The GPS was a big pain sometimes, but the driving itself was not too bad.

For those of you who asked, we did not even feel the earthquake. Although I know it was devastating, it did not effect our trip at all.

We made it to Chianti, then to Florence, up to the Italian Riviera, and now in Venice. I will go into more detail about our adventures later (when I am not being charged by the minute), but we have had a great time. I love Venice so much and am very happy to be back here.

Once I return I have many, many posts to write and pictures of the amazing places we have been. And, yes JLo, the food has been great, GREAT! So has the wine! We return on Tuesday. I hope everyone is well!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Greetings From Italy

Well, Im here posting in Italy on a computer that doesnt use all the punctuation that we do in the states, so pardon the poor grammar.

After a rough start we arrived in Italy about 5 hours later than planned. After leaving LAX late (as usual) we made up time in the air, but who knew that we would make a pitstop in Iceland about 2 hours before we were due to land in Frankfurt. Someone got sick on the airplane, fell, and hit his head so they had to land in Iceland to get him medical attention. I have always wanted to go to Iceland, just not when it was making me late for another planned trip. Since we arrived in Frankfurt right when our flight to Rome was leaving, we were rebooked on a later flight and arrived in Rome about 7 PM, 5 hours later that expected which meant we lost a half day in Rome, and if youàve ever been in Rome you know that we could have used the extra half day.

We have visited ancient Rome and Vatican City with a lot of city sightseeing in between. We are off to our final dinner in Rome in a bit and then leaving in the morning to pick up our rental car, AHHHH! Yes, thatàs right, we are driving in Italy. I can hardly believe it. Leaving for Siena in the morning, staying at a Chianti vineyard, so yay!

More travel updates to follow...as long as I have access to a computer. :)