A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Food Food Glorious Food! - Italy

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Italy started with a bang....Naples pizza! It will be pizza I pine for and dream about. It is drool worthy. We learnt in Naples that it is all about the sign. The Naples Pizza Association sign that is. This sign means the store uses a wood fired oven and complies with the 11 pages of rules. It is hardcore!! It means the pizza is the traditional version. Pizza in Naples is simple; its a combination of a good dough, quality yet minimal toppings and a hot oven to get a crispy yet doughy crust. Getting the combination correct isn't as easy as you would think. we tried a white pizza(has no tomato sauce) with eggplant.The pizza wasn't the same to me.The tomato and cheese combo is a vital part of a pizza for me I discovered. Traditional Naples pizza is meant to have minimal toppings and be slightly wet in the centre. This is why you eat it with a knife and fork. It usually isn't pre-sliced for you. We tried the original pizza with buffalo mozzarella. The buffalo mozzarella added a richness that isn't in the normal Margareta pizza.

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In Rome we did a night food tour of Trastevere with Eating Italy. It was a completely different experience to the one I did in Istanbul. We ate food in restaurants and street food wasn't it's main focus. We started the night with Prosecco, a sweet version of champagne well Rome's version of champagne really. We had it with a fried artichoke and cheese. The cheese was stringy and was called porata cheese and again was local from the area. The fried artichoke is famous in the Jewish neighbourhoods of Rome, it was crunchy and juicy and the whole thing was eatable. It was heavenly with the creamy cheese and the bubbles from the wine.

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Next we headed off to a cellar that was originally in a synagogue. It has been dated back to being 160 years older than the Colosseum (really really old!). We had delicious red wine with canap├ęs. The canopies were an amazing meatball with tomato sauce on a parmesan cracker and a barley risotto . Both were made following the slow food movement which is basically making the food from scratch in the traditional way.

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A biscuit makers who's family have made biscotti since the 1920's. They use a conveyor oven from the 1950's they had specially made for them. We tried a few different kinds of cookies; chocolate dipped, apricot tart, ugly biscuits which were delicious. Ugly biscuits are basically egg white, sugar and ground hazelnuts. Of course I brought a couple for the next day. I was surprised when l found out Biscotti was the name for biscuit; not just the twice baked type we have at home. We were off again this time to cheese and meat shop. The shop had been in the family since 1900. The sheep cheese came from the owner's brothers farm. It took a bit of time to get used to the potent smell of sheep's cheese. The cheese was strong and crumbly. It dissolved in your mouth with each nibble.

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We then tried Rome's version of an arancini called Suppli. It is a fried crumbed ball of rice cooked in tomato sauce with a hunk of mozzarella in the middle. It was delish with each mouth you crunched through the shell to the rich tomato risotto and creamy string of mozzarella. Heaven!

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We were thin off to a bakery who have been serving bread and pizza for decades. We tried their traditional Margareta. It was slightly to crunchy for my liking compared to others we had tried. We got to look around outback . The oven is from the 1860's and it is MASSIVE!! It uses hazelnut shells to run the oven's fire and its never allowed to go out. Shells are easy to get as Rome's outer area grows hazelnuts. This helps give the bread a different aroma.
We were off to a restaurant for pasta, delicious pasta .

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We had a ravioli with creamy tomato sauce. It was a heavenly pillow of deliciousness! I scraped the plate clean. We had spaghetti cabornara; a Rome staple . With just egg and pig cheek. Lastly we had felt cine with pecorrini cheese. It was creamy with the hint of pepper. Yum! we headed to the magical old pharmacy before going to gelato school. We learnt about what makes gelato authentic compared to the majority of it these days (85% are artificial versions being sold). Gelato shouldn't be puffing out of the container, it's heavy and so should set in the dish. Pistachio should be dull green and banana off white. Think of their natural colour. I ate pistachio and chocolate with whipped cream. Delicious! We headed home full to the brim.

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While in Rome we ate pizza by the slice frequently. This was the meter long pizza that was cut to size and paid via weight. The best we found was a small bakery near our house that was always overflowing with locals. The pizza was crunchy without being as tough as a baguette. An unusual topping was potato pizza. Carbs on carbs...I figured it had to be good. It was amazing! Thin herbed potato slices with cheese is a great topping on a dough, our other frequent choice was margherita and ham. It was a great quick snack or fast lunch. We also had to tried Roman pizza which you can only get at night. Roman pizzas have a thin base and are very crisp compared to Pizza's from Naples.Toppings are still simple but play an important role in the flavour. We went to an institution in Rome, Pizzeria da Baffetto. The Senor Baffetto that started the business was there watching everyone enjoy his restaurant. It was really touching to see how much this was a family business. It really added to the environment and there were lines out the door even when we left. The base was crispy and the toppings overflowing considering how thin the base was. I found it not as enjoyable to eat compared to the Naples style pizza. I guess I liked the density that the thicker base in Naples gave to the dish. It was a part of the taste of the dish rather than being a texture in the dish.

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Florence was more about pasta than pizza. It started with amazing gnocchi with radicchio sauce. The soft clouds of potato covered in a creamy tomato sauce with leaves in. Lewis had spaghetti with green sauce was herby and intense. Dessert was tiramisu; proper tiramisu, with egg in the creme and mascarpone whipped on the side. Lewis was in heaven with heavenly trio of coffee, cream and sponge.

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On our tour we sampled bruschetta, grilled bread rubbed with garlic and a side of oil. The pasta a simple bolognese with pane was delicious. Second: was spiced roast pork with roast potatoes. We also had biscotti as we know it for desert. The dishes were simple flavours but seen as the produce was fresh and flavoursome it shone. I also had world-class gelato while on the tour. The flavours were all very different and not your usual.

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We had the beautiful markets top explore full of cheese meat olives fruit and vegies bread and other condiments. It was amazing and it was made even better by us having a kitchen to use and so we could com something fresh for dinner. We opted for fresh ravioli with fresh tomato and vegetable sauce. It was basic yet flavour packed.

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We headed to Lucca for speciality delicatessens. We had Lucheese specialities for lunch from a local deli; meat ravioli with Bolognese sauce and bean and verge soup. Both were delicious. Lewis opted for an ice chocolate frappe for desert with banana chip chocolate.
I also discovered that the ingredients in Italy very different than that of New Zealand, baking powder and yeast are called nearly the same thing, vanilla essence doesn't exist, oats are hard to find and the flour holds a lot more moisture... this means adding more flour than usual. Needles to say my cookies were different than home, eatable but not up to my standard.

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The markets went on despite the rain and flooding in Venice. The stall owners seemed to take it in their stride. I'm guessing flooding and rain are a common thing for them. Gnocchi Thursday meant only one thing....more gnocchi! This time it was with rich four cheese sauce. It was creamy and was dreamy with the soft potato pillows. I opted for vegetable soup. It was impressive. It was chocker with cherry tomatoes, chargrilled eggplant and courgette, peas, carrots and celery. It was heavenly especially on the cold wet day.

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Genoa started with deep dense chocolate semi-fredo. It is ice-cream whipped together with whipped cream. It was soft and meltingly good. Dinner was at a old farinata Sa Peseta. We started with farinata, a chickpea pancake cooked in a massive iron pan in a wood fired oven. The result a thin pancake that task like KFC chicken skin. It was full of spice,and the chickpeas gave it a slight meaty flavour. It was delicious. The wood fire created a smokiness to it which was sensational. That was topped with mushroom risotto made fresh using stock, it was flavoursome and cooked perfectly. Lewis had chestnut gnocchi with bolognese. The gnocchi was soft and nutty. Dessert was amazing... chocolate and pear tart.This was spectacular. A crisp chocolate crumb shell, heavenly light chocolate and the pears. Each mouthful was delicious and very moorish. I guess it reminded me of Wybo's pear and almond tart he'd make when I went home.
The next day was our day trip to Cinque Terre. Trofie al pesto, a traditional dish was in order. The pesto was fine and smooth and had not one hint of grittiness to it. It was full of basil and a good amount of parmesan. It's intense flavour was decadent and was completely different than what my Mum makes at home which is more chunky in consistency and has nuts in it. You could nearly say that they aren't the same thing.

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A chocolate market of the artisan makers of the area was on when we arrived at the fountain in Genova. The aroma was delicious. There was everyy sort of chocolate you could think of, everything was chocolate. I opted for chocolate cocoa beans before we explored the rest of the area more.
We found amazing arancini with veggie risotto and spinach/ cheese or Bolognese in the middle of those crumbed tasty morsels.

Our last day in Italy l found an old confectionary shop which still made a lot of it's original lollies like fondant sweets, sugar coated cinnamon, sugared almonds and liquid filled bonbons that it made hundreds of years ago. The bonbons were fragile and the sugar broke in your mouth for a burst of essence that coated your mouth. The flavours were natural and unusual like violet and rose. It was amazing to see the old sweets and things I'd never heard of.

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Our time in Italy has been a carb-filled dream. Pizza, pasta and risotto dominated the menu. The gelato was heavenly and everywhere. Highlights was definitely the pizza in naples, the vegetable soup in Venice and exploring the market to cook in Florence...oh and the farinata and tart in Genoa..I think living on those would be quite ideal. I can't wait to explore the rest of Italy and discover more of the amazing food and culture.

Posted by chellebelle 13:11 Archived in Italy Tagged food pizza porn gelato carbs farinata tranverste rissoto yum! Comments (0)

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