Posts tagged ‘Restaurants’

July 20, 2015

Eating Italy – Summer 2015 Restaurants

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We just got back from a family vacation in Italy. It was hot. Like heat wave hot. The A/C in Italy is nothing like here in the states. The Italians don’t seem to mind the heat. Maybe we’re spoiled here? It certainly didn’t put a damper on our trip, but ice-cold beer and gelato certainly helped. That, and pit-stops to our hotel to cool down – though still not as cool as what we’re used to.

I came home from our trip and instantly thought I don’t really feel a need to go anywhere else in the world. Am I limiting myself? Missing out on adventures and experiences in other places around the world? I’m sure you’re thinking yes, but I can’t help but start planning another trip to Italy. The food, the wine, the people (so nice), the culture and history is like nothing else. Did I mention the gelato? It’s a food group of its own you know?

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All the accolades aside, the trip was great and the food was fabulous. As usual, I love to share where and what we ate, so here goes…

FLORENCE

Buco Mario – Piazza degli Ottaviani, 16r

Buco Mario is one of the oldest restaurants in the city, founded in 1886. They have an incredible wine list, the service was top-notch and the food was excellent. We did learn after the fact that they are well-known for their bistecca… I had the fish. All was delicious. I especially loved the farmhouse prosciutto with gorgonzola crostini & artichokes shown below.

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Trattoria SostanzaVia del Porcellana, 25r

If you do a little research on where to get the best bistecca Fiorentina, Sostanza is always on the list. It was fantastic! They are known for their bistecca, artichoke pie and butter chicken. We ordered all three shown below. Sostanza is cash only.

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La Cucina del GargaVia S. Zanobi, 33

Off the beaten path or I should say, “nowhere near anything else we ventured to in Florence.” It was worth the schlep across town just for their house marinated anchovies and the warm buffalo mozzarella with eggplant, tomato sauce, basil & black olives. A bit different from the usual Tuscan fair, one of Garga’s oldest dishes is their tagliatelle del “magnifico.” Homemade pasta with orange and lemon zest, mint & Parmesan in a creamy brandy sauce. I know, sounds weird, but boy was it good! No picture, the restaurant was a bit dark for great pics.

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Ristorante PesceRossoPiazza della Repubblica, 11-12r

We had a nice lunch on a very hot afternoon at PesceRosso. Located in one of the busiest areas of the city, each side of the piazza is lined with restaurants vying for your business… it can be a little off-putting. We enjoyed cold crisp salads and steamed mussels.

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Ristorante PaoliVia dei Tavolini, 12r

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Florence. We ate here twice last year and again this trip. All three times I ordered the spaghetti alle vongole. It’s the best! My only disappointment this time around was it wasn’t artichoke season. I had to suffer and eat a shaved zucchini salad with parmesan and truffles.

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Gusta PizzaVia Maggio, 46r

Ranked as the best pizza in Florence (by many). Look at this pizza!

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MONTAIONE, TUSCANY

l’CiampaVia Chiarenti, 43

Our first meal out during our week in Montaione. Beer, antipasto and pizza. Yum!

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La TerrazzaVia L. da Vinci, 73

Have you ever been to a restaurant where they just try too hard? Everything looks so fancy schmancy with artistic schmears of sauces? Wouldn’t it be awful after all that effort if the food wasn’t good? Lucky for La Terrazza the food was yummy, because they certainly put a lot of effort into getting their food onto the plate. Look at my fish! I should also mention that the restaurant is located in a building with a gas station. See the parking lot below, definitely an odd location.

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LUCCA

Trattoria da LeoVia Tegrimi, 1

A nice spot to stop for lunch when you need a rest from riding bikes along the city wall or just shopping around this beautiful historic city. The roast chicken was really delicious. A cold beer helped cool us down, too. Cash only.

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December 31, 2013

4plates Best of 2013

New Orleans 2013

New Orleans 2013

Tonight is New Years Eve. I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet evening at our neighbors house with lots of good food and conversation. No need to drive anywhere or even get too dressed up. Perfect. Years before we used to have some fairly big parties at our house. They’ve tapered off in the last few years along with my alcohol tolerance and inability to stay up until midnight. That was actually a conversation yesterday with our neighbor. He asked, “Do you think you guys can stay up?” My response, “Good question. I think Alan can make it but I’m not sure if I can.” Then realizing the ridiculousness of that statement I followed up with, “No, that’s crazy, of course I can stay up! It’s only until midnight. I can make it.” REALLY?!  How embarrassing. Are we so old that staying up until midnight has become difficult? Then I realized the answer is sadly yes.

The end of 2013 marks the close of another exciting year in food. Although my reflection back doesn’t include the cronut, ramen or kale, I do feel I’ve added some fresh, new things to my repertoire. Here are a few of my favorites from 2013.

COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR – Jerusalem

If you love the flavors of the Middle East, this cookbook is a must. I’ve made many recipes from Jerusalem and all have been excellent. It’s a beautiful book too. Makes a great gift.

Jerusalem

COCKTAIL OF THE YEAR – The Sazerac

And here my friends is where my new-found love of whiskey was born. Sigh. I love the traditional Sazerac I had in New Orleans, as much as the fancy infused whiskey version I learned from the bartender at the Village Whiskey. I should mention that learning to infuse the whiskey myself was very cool, and the result was fantastic!

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FAVORITE NEW FOOD OF THE YEAR – Quinoa

I know some of you may be thinking that quinoa is not new, and you’d be correct, but I found some interesting new ways to use it this year. Now quinoa is on our table all the time. It’s even become a lunch box staple. Other than following the rules for how to make basic quinoa, the ways you can use it from there are endless. Packed with protein, it makes such a healthy meal or side dish.

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VEGETABLE OF THE YEAR – The Watermelon Radish

For the different holidays this past year I tried to steer away from serving too many heavy appetizers. Firstly because it’s healthier, but more importantly no one is hungry for dinner. I made this huge crudite display a couple of times and everyone loved it. I just use a big cutting board as a platter and pile up the veggies. I make a Mediterranean rosemary bean dip and tzatziki to serve with itbut you can use store-bought hummus or any other dip you love. The watermelon radish is the standout veg every time. It’s the beautiful hot pink burst of color in the center of the platter below. Milder than a regular radish, it looks so pretty and when sliced very thin (I use a mandoline), it’s just delicious.

Vegetable Crudite

SWEET TREAT OF THE YEAR – Dulce de Leche Donut from Dough in Brooklyn  – Enough said!

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PRODUCT OF THE YEAR – Ninja Blender

I contemplated buying a Vitamix blender when my Waring blender finally died. I had that Waring for almost 20 years, it was time for it to go. Vitamix is all the rage now and I had read it was a must have, but questioned if I needed to spend over $300 to make smoothies. I decided it wasn’t worth it and took the risk opting for the inexpensive Ninja for $99.00. Best purchase of the year. Here’s one of our delicious morning smoothies. I tend to not even measure. This one is non-fat plain Greek yogurt, frozen strawberries & raspberries, a little cranberry juice, some honey and ice. I think a proper smoothie post is in order for 2014.

Ninja Blender

MEAL OF THE YEAR – Fried Chicken Plate from Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans

Of all the food we’ve enjoy in 2013, this plate of crunchy, piping hot fried chicken was the most memorable and mind-blowing. Macaroni and cheese and peas on the side, it was seriously the best EVER!

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BEST NEW ADDITION TO THE FAMILY – Wanda Bean

In August of this year, Sophie Bubbles got a sister. She’s turned out to be a constant source of entertainment for us and an awesome little sister for Sophie. And look at that hair!

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Wishing everyone a happy, healthy & delicious New Year! And many thanks to everyone for visiting my blog. I look forward to 2014 being filled with lots of new recipes and culinary adventures. Happy Holidays!

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