Posts tagged ‘Reviews’

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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August 26, 2014

Union Market, Washington, DC

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If I lived in DC I’d go to Union Market once a week and stock up on stuff and eat, a lot. During our 4 day stay in the capital city, we were lucky enough to have our hip, cool cousin show us around a bit. On our last day we ventured over to the Union Market. I was told it was a must see before we left the city. Kind of like an indoor Brooklyn Flea without the vintage wares, Union Market was uber cool and full of delicious bits to see and enjoy.

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Here’s a little look at what was inside…

The Righteous Cheese people. Isn’t this the coolest sign ever?! They had a wonderful assortment of artisanal cheeses. Check out their site to see why they’re Righteous. They offer gift baskets and cheese trays and they also have a cheese blog and newsletter. Hail to the cheese people!!!

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Bountiful fresh produce and flowers, and the most unbelievable breads. I was kicking myself that I didn’t buy a few loaves of these rustic beauties to bring home. Low carb, no carb, blah blah blah – this is not the place. Just look at that bread! Nom nom nom!

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It was a split decision on where to have lunch. Alan and I opted for bagels & lox from Buffalo Bergen and our daughter picked a muffaletta from Red Apron. Buffalo & Bergen had a New York City old-fashioned soda shop feel. I had to try their rhubarb soda and Alan had a real vanilla cream soda. I assume this is how they made them in the “old days,” with heavy cream… back when folks weren’t calorie conscious and enjoyed the finer things in life with reckless abandon. It was delicious!

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The Red Apron is a hot spot in DC these days. Looking for killer charcuterie? They have it! Check out the muffaletta. Perfectly crispy bread, gooey with cheese, chopped olives and Red Apron’s own meats. I stole a bite and it was great.

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There was a small stand with a wonderful assortment of spices. I regret leaving without some new spices more than the miss on picking up some bread. They had lots of unusual blends. The Za’atar caught my eye, I love this Middle Eastern mix. I generally make it myself (here’s link to my recipe), but theirs looked awesome! I liked how most of the spices were in these little plastic bags. I fill my spice jars at home and the little bags make for easy storing of extras. If you’re looking for a great way organize your spices, here’s my trick.

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Desserts! We picked up a couple of cupcakes to go from Curbside Cupcakes… delicious! Look at the pretty sweets from Curbside below. Unfortunately, as often happens with foods I want to photograph, the cupcakes were eaten before I could snap a picture. There was also a fancy chocolate vendor and of course, gelato from Dolcezza Gelato. I picked dark chocolate and pistachio, yum.

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One of the things that I love about these city style markets are the giftables. Each vendor sells something unique and personal that is perfect to give as a special gift. I always love all the packaging, too. In addition, they had a knife vendor selling all kinds of cutlery and they also did professional knife sharpening. Very cool.

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I see another trip to Washington in my future and next time I will be prepared with a cooler and my reusable shopping bags in hand. Minus the humidity, Washington is such a great city. The Union Market is like a hipster style market in the middle of our nation’s capital. When we were leaving, they were setting up for a beer festival outside. Really? I need to live here. Awesome!

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