Monday, October 4, 2010

Urban Eats - What I Ate in Italy

Warning.  Do not read this post on an empty stomach.  You will promptly want to hit the streets trying to locate the closest Parma ham or wheel of cheese.  Prepare to drool.  I don't have to guess why my scale tilts further to the right these days.  The evidence lies below...

hip + urban husband (huh?) and I flew out of Toronto with a small pit stop in London before continuing on with a flight to Genova, Italy.  We picked up our sweet little Fiat 500 hatchback here and toured through The Italian Riviera, Emilia Romagna region and parts of Tuscany.  Our stop in Bologna, Italy included a delicious plate of Bolognese Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu (above, left).  Our next stop was Parma, Italy - home of delicious Parmasean cheese and Parma ham (proscuitto).  huh? ordered the Margherita Pizza and said it was the *best* of his life with the perfect balance of cheesy-tomato flavour and blistered crust.  The pizza was a steal at $4.50 Euros at a cute little Trattoria near the centre of the city.

Firenze (Florence) brought us into cute little delis full of cured meats, fresh cheeses and gorgeous plates of Charcuterie.  The one above was full of homemade grilled bread, meats, cheese and spreads.  The food is ridiculously affordable with a full dinner for two running around $40 Euros inclusive of tax and service charge.  Tipping is not customary, but if the service is excellent - do leave a couple extra Euros if you were very happy.  Most restaurants charge a 'coperto' or cover charge of two to three Euros per person as a 'tip'.  Smaller cafes usually have a coperto of only one Euro.
Cheese Ravioli with a Walnut Sauce in Florence, Italy
Ravioli di Patate with Ragu is also a traditional Tuscan dish.  Picture biting into something like a pierogi with tomato sauce...yum!
Our visit to the coastal towns of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera near the Ligurian sea included more seafood.  We ate lots of smoked fish, salty sardines, stuffed sardines and squid salad.  The region is also famous for their Pesto, which was doused all over delicious homemade linguine.
Gnocchi with Shrimp in a Rose Sauce - perfectly cooked, bite-sized pieces of heaven
Eventually, I felt guilty eating only carbs and meat and nothing green.  We feasted on sauteed greens and grilled vegetables as a lovely side dish to our meals.  Of course, drinking acqua frizzante or naturale from a bottle is like a religion here and a part of every meal.  Bottled water with our meals were usually two to three euros.  It was very uncommon to be served tap water.  Wine is abundant and usually around five euros for a half bottle or nine for a full bottle of the house wine.  The house selection is usually local and fantastic - we recommend going in this direction if you are unsure.
Salumi Misti Plate - Mixed meats including different types of proscuitto, salami and mortadella that we sampled in Parma, Italy.
Chunks of Parmasean cheese to accompany our meats
Fluffy pillows of fried bread to accompany our meats and cheese

We highly recommend a trip through Italy for all our hip + urban foodies.  We marvelled at how inexpensive it was to eat well and noticed that everything was virtually unprocessed and full of local, in-season products.  Any suggestions on where we must eat/visit next?

Loved this?  Read more from The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide to Italy.

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