January 30, 2013


Vittorio Emmanuel Galleria
Milan is a large, sprawling city. Some call it ugly and its definitely not a tourist destination, but I think its beautiful in its own urban way. It reminded me of NYC (and we all know how much I love NY) :)

Hot Chocolate Break at Shockolat

Milky Hot Chocolate with very large dollop of whipped cream

Shockolate is a very popular and famous chocolate bar, about a five minute walk from the church holding Da Vinci's Last Supper. The hot chocolate was rich and delicious, but what blew us away was the decadent yet light chocolate cheesecake.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Lunch at Yoshi

I have to say, Milan has amazing sushi. You're thinking "duh, its a super international city", and you're right, but I thought this was still worth mentioning since it was that good.  
Bento box: fish filet, salad with hamachi, vegetable tempura, hamachi sashimi, salmon sushi. 

January 26, 2013


The magic of St. Mark's Square - it actually looks better in winter than spring. 
Next up on the Tour de Italia is Venice. I think I was little too busy taking pictures of the gorgeous canals and St. Marks's Square that I may have neglected on photographing most of my meals. No worries, I did managed to capture one of the best meals we had in Italy.

The pasta feast continues... Dinner at little mom & pop shop near our hotel on one of the first nights. I can't remember what was in the ravioli filling but I did remember loving the dish for its big portions and generous servings of meat. The sauce scooped up with a piece of bread could have been a meal in itself.

Fettuccine with asparagus, olives and shrimp
Ravioli with meat sauce
Dinner at Osteria Alle Testiere

This little 10 table gem has been a Michelin forerunner for the past 5 years, but according to our lovely server, the restaurant will probably never get awarded a Michelin star because it doesn't serve the "right" kind of food...whatever that means.

While Venice is known for having an abundant supply of fresh seafood,  90% of the restaurants are tourist traps and I was terrified of ordering shady seafood. Of course, at Alle Testiere, I happily ordered away.

Ravioli with Citrus Fruit, Ricotta, and Scallops
Turbot (?) with Capers, Olives, and Tomatoes
I absolutely loved the ravioli dish since it was so different from what we had been eating and anything I have seen before (V was not a fan). The punch from all of the herbs and seasonings was fantastic and everything tasted incredibly fresh.
House White Wine
Mini Gnocchi with Squid and Cinnamon
Panna Cota with blueberries 
Who knew you could pair squid with cinnamon? We were both dubious but the flavor combination definitely worked and the gnocchetti (mini gnocchis) was a pleasant change from the usual denseness of regular sized potato dumplings. The dessert was a nice and light panna cota with a blueberry fruit sauce. Who knew but it is now one of V's favorite desserts. I personally prefer the rich dark chocolate cake. Oh well, to each her own.

Roma Part II

Besides pasta, what else is there to talk about when it comes to the eats of Italy? There's gelato, coffee, pizza, and meat...obviously. So let’s go in that order.

Gelato from Giolitti

Giolitti is an institution. It was founded in 1890 and even on a freezing January day, there can still be line stretching from the gelato counter across the expansive displays of confectionary goods all the way to the door. They also have the largest selection of gelato flavors we saw anywhere in Italy. V said and I quote that the pear flavor was even better than Capogiro’s. That is indeed a Big Deal. 

Left Flavors: Pear & Coffee. The coffee actually tasted like real coffee: bitter & refreshing. 
Right Flavors: Pistachio & Stracciatella. The pistachio even had real chunks of pistachio, finally! Italy is the only place where you can get pistachio flavor that doesn’t look like it resulted from a science experiment. 

Coffee from Sant' Eustachio II Caffe

This place is also an institution, hence why I am also blogging about it because while the cappuccino was spectacular, just about every cappuccino we had in Italy was spectacular. This is the reason why Starbucks doesn’t exist in Italy and I love it.

Creamy cappuccinos with perfectly foamed milk. 

January 24, 2013

Tour de Italia - Roma Pasta

View of St. Peter's Basilica
This past year was a rather fail in terms of blogging but fortunately, not a fail in terms of life. Just returned from a 3 week tour de italia….oh and did I mention? I graduated. And I’m employed. Of course, I’m not starting work for another 6 months which means no excuses this year (at least until July) when it comes to updating this blog. Plus, I have even less excuses considering I got an amazingly wonderful and beautiful camera lens from V.

Let me preface these Italy posts. Of all of the cities we visited (Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and some Tuscan towns), there were plenty of scrumptious local specialties, but one of the reasons we went on this trip was for a certain someone to appease his pasta obsession so about 90% of our food consumption consisted of pasta. It was a good thing we walked everywhere, or else I would be needing a whole new wardrobe right about now.

I will say that it was still quite the fun foodie adventure to learn about all of the different types of pasta and  compare the differences and similarities across cities.

First up: Rome.

Rome is mostly known for its pizza and is often viewed as on par with the city of Naples (the origin of pizza itself) in pizza – making, but they also serve up quite a good plate of pasta. In particular, the most popular are the carbonara (cheese & egg), cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), and Bucatini all’ Amatricana (tomatoes & child peppers). I think we sampled carbonara from about 3 or 4 different places and one in particular really stood out. Guess what the restaurant was called? La Carbonara. Figures. 

Top left: Seafood spaghetti and what a generous portion of it too! The last time I had seafood pasta was in Sorrento last spring and this dish came pretty close to matching it in flavor depth. For some reason, my favorite thing about seafood pasta is not so much the seafood as the sauce the seafood creates when it melds with the pasta water and tomato sauce. Yummers.

Bottom left: Freshly made strozzapreti aka priest choker pasta with white mushrooms. These pastas are like a chubbier version of penne, more chewy and way more delicious. The always reliable Wikipedia offers a quick description on why it’s known as the priest choker pasta.

Top right: Fettuccine pasta (there might have been a ragu in the tomato sauce, but I can’t remember). Trattoria da Lucia, located in Trastevere, came highly recommended by our Rick Steve’s guide book although I have to say we were a bit disappointed by both pasta dishes. Despite pasta’s intense carbyness, most of the dishes we had were still surprisingly light. These however, were drenched in a little too much olive oil.

Bottom right: Spaghetti with tuna in tomato sauce.