Friday, October 10, 2008

Gelato, Speck and Mangia Itala

We recently had the opportunity to take a culinary journary to Italy.

Our trip started with a visit to Bologna with our friend Lara, a improv actress and native of Sicily. She was kind enough to show us the sites - the foods sites of Bologna, including a fairly authentic Napolese style pizza at Reginas.

Bologna is a charming city and said to be the epicurious center of Italy - although it's hard to find an area of Italy that doesn't have wonderful food and history.

Had to visit Parma - the charming city that is responsible for Parma Ham (aka Proscuitto) and Parmesan Reggiano - the king of Italian cheese,

from Bologna we took the overnight train to Naples
a bustling city full of delicious food and birthplace of the Italian pizza

Spent a few days exploring the food and then went on to Ischia - a charming island in the bay of Naples - 1 hour by hydrofoil 2.5 hours by ferry. It was a gorgeous day and we were surrounded by the chatterings of fellow passengers in Italian, German and Russian mostly - didn't hear a word of English

Rome - well what can you say about Rome
for us the highlight was the gelato

We dropped off our luggage for storage at a laundermat near the central train station (Termini) and the zany red headed Brazilian girl named Elizabeth (who spoke perfect English which was a good thing since we basically speak nothing else except american and british english) recommended a gelato place near a pizza place near Piazza Navona

So off we went and we walked around the piazza Navona area.

Not to make you completely jealous but we had gelato 2 times that day. Apparently in Rome they top the cones with whipped cream which was equal or better quality than itgens our favorite ice cream parlour on Long Island.

that day we sampled
Strawberry and pistachio
The strawberry wasn't fresh berries (they aren't really in season) but still really good maybe More like sour belt strawberry.

The pistachio was the winner of that combo.
Way to tell if gelato is commercial or natural artisan is the color or lack of color of pistachio.

Second round was chocolate orange which is one of my fav combos in Italy. It was dark dark rich chocolate with intensive orange contrast like daddys mousse this was toord with whipped cream (which I had stupidly declined at first place thinking it was extra)

Andrew had cafe * so so * and hazelnut which was excellent too
also topped with whipped cream

We thought that the hazelnut and choc orange together would be amazing. Maybe our last day before going to airport.

Romes mass transit is amazing. For 1 euro you get 75 minutes of bus and train travel and for 4 euro the whole day.

We took the metro from Rome Termini which is like Grand Central Station to 2 other trains to get to our hosts with whom we stayed for 2 nights.

A long distance, kind of like going from NYC to long island.

All on the same 1 euro ticket!

It took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. And actually we took the bus to the station so probably went over our time. Luckily no ticket agents to check. Its mostly the honor system with occasional inspectors. Only on the last train did we have to insert the ticket to enter.

Had pizza in a top recommended place (from Elizabeth whose gelato insticts were right on) but don't like Roman pizza we decided. Crust is almost like flatbread

The pizza in Naples however was fantastic. DiMicheles is world famous for a reason.

Had some interesting meals on the island (Ischia) too. Rabbit braised and served with fresh linguine in a tomato sauce that had some of the meat taste to it one of the best dishes of the trip. We ate at the family restaurant of the hostel 2t nights. Had fish the first night and was not impressed. The others were raving but we thought ok but not great. Had swordfish, fried calamari (overcooked) and a whole smaller fish which was *sea bass* with drag tomatoes. Fish could have been fresher IMO.

Even the second night someone ordered chocolate souffle cake and shared tastes around. Everyone was swooning. It was cheap chocolate. So yes hot and gooey but great? NO

EggPlant parm also raves. Good but too rich almost. Guess I * we * are too picky.