Monthly Archives: December 2013

Italia Week: Milan!

Map of Italy - Milan
Our final destination: Milan. Milan is a real working city. There are way fewer tourists and much more real life buzzing around. We stayed with my friend L.V., who lives in a gorgeous old Milanese home right by the Castello Sforzesco. They showed us all the sights in Milan and took us to their favorite spots for lunch and dinner.

We started at Convivium (Via Ponte Vetero, 21), a restaurant that L.V. goes to all the time with her parents. Apparently Mr. V goes three times a week for the truffle gnocchi (confirmed, it is that good). The V’s ordered almost everything for us so we just sat back and enjoyed the show. First up, we had this amazing warm flat bread with olive oil, salt crusts, oregano, and rosemary. It was very slightly crisp and mostly soft and chewy.

We also shared a margarita pie. It was made from the same kind of bread as above, so it was just slightly crisp and mostly soft. The tomato sauce and cheese were both very thinly spread on, keeping it light. I tend to like it when the cheese is in globs rather than spread out like this because I like bites of pizza without cheese.

Both L.V. and LAW got the steak with rosemary and pepper on top. The steak was very rare and juicy. With a great cut of meat, all you really need is some basic seasonings to enhance the flavor. Continue reading Italia Week: Milan!

Italia Week: Rome!

Map of Italy - Rome
Rome. Rome is my absolute favorite. I love how small it is. I love how all the incredible ancient Roman architecture is all just THERE, all seamlessly integrated into the city. Sure, it’s touristy, but New York is just as touristy, if not worse (if you disagree, try walking through Times Square in the afternoon on ANY day). I’m super bummed that we only gave ourselves a full day in Rome this trip. We had already been to Rome before so wanted to give the new cities more time…

RomeWe rented a moped for the full day and biked all around the city. Yup, that’s the Colosseum in front of us.

Zi Umberto
Alas, there was only one dinner in Rome. We stayed at this beautiful boutique hotel that was owned by a warm and welcoming couple. They sat us down over cappuccinos when we checked in to make sure we knew where to go, how to get there, what to eat, etc. They were so awesome, I decided to forego the restaurant we went to our first time in Rome (that we LOVED and that I am still nostalgic for) to go to one that they suggested instead.  Zi Umberto (Piazza San Giovanni della Malva, 14) is their favorite restaurant to go to in Rome. They go all the time with family and friends.

Zi Umberto
Thoroughly addicted to prosciutto and mozzarella at this point, we decided to get it again. This prosciutto was more to my liking: softer, less salty, and more porky in flavor. The mozzarella was so fresh that it was still oozing that milky brine stuff (I know my shiz because I know how to make mozzarella!).  So creamy, juicy, and tasty. Continue reading Italia Week: Rome!

Italia Week: The Amalfi Coast! (and Naples)

Map of Italy - Amalfi
After Florence, we took a train to Rome and immediately picked up a rental car to drive south to the Amalfi Coast (don’t worry, we wrap around after the Amalfi to Rome). On our way to Amalfi (which is only a three hour drive), we stop in Naples because to visit the birthplace of one of our favorite foods: pizza.

LAW looked up the grittiest little pizza place in Naples for us to stop by for a pie: Antica Pizzeria E Friggitoria Di Mateo (Via dei Tribunali, 94). The place is consistently  rated as one of the best, oldest, and most authentic pizzerias in town. The website is in Italian so I could only look at the pictures and it looks like Bill Clinton has been. If it’s good enough for Bill, it’s good enough for me.  The place was literally a hole in the wall in a tiny alley.

LAW stayed in the car while I rushed to buy the freshest pies that were coming out of the oven. Two euros a pie. The pie was super simple with just tomato sauce and a piece of mozzarella (that fell off in this photo I think). The crust was very, very chewy, but not as puffy as my favorite from good ol’ NYC Luzzos. The rest of the pie was very thin, soft, and floppy. The tomato sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes mashed up into a pulp with some seasoning. Truly the origins of what pizza is today! Continue reading Italia Week: The Amalfi Coast! (and Naples)

Italia Week: Florence!

Map of Italy - Florence
After two days in Venice, we hopped on a train to Florence.  I was super excited to finally meet Dave in person and, of course, EAT.

After we checked into our studio, our AirBnB host told us we should check out his favorite neighborhood lunch spot: Trattoria il Contadino (Via Palazzuolo 69-71r, Florence, Italy). For 11 euros per person, we each got a beverage of choice (house wine INCLUDED – side note, all the Italian house wines I had were amazing), a first course, a second course, and two sides. I got the wine, which was probably the equivalent of three New York glasses. Let’s just say I left very happy to begin my exploration of the city.

For our firsts, we both got pastas. LAW got the Arrabiatta, one of our favorites. You can never go wrong with a spicy, tomatoey, garlicy pasta, you can only go from right to more right to perfect. For such a simple pasta, the ingredients have to be winners. These tomatoes were bursting with natural sweetness. BURSTING, I tell you.  Continue reading Italia Week: Florence!

Italia Week: Venice!

Map of Italy - VeniceIt’s Italia Week! I recently ate my way through Italy across five cities (6 including a small pit stop in Naples) and want to share with you all the delicious things I had. I’ll be posting about my foodventures all week, featuring one city each day. LAW and I were most interested in eating where the locals were gathering, rather than checking out the most posh spots in town. We did our research, so if you’re traveling to Italy, I hope you can use this as a guide to great homestyle Italian food! If not, then hopefully this gets you craving some awesome, fresh ingredients and simple cooking.

LAW and I flew into Milan and immediately took a train to Venice.  Don’t worry, we return to Milan on the last leg of our trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo Euro trip begins until someone picks up a sandwich from the train station! This was the first thing I had in Italy. It’s from a small booth in the Milan train station. Lightly seasoned ham, arugula, swiss, and mustard sandwiched between fresh focaccia. I didn’t expect a train sandwich to be this good. I found myself comparing all the other sandwiches on this trip to this one.

We also had a croissant sandwich. Buttery croissant, savory prosciutto, bitter and crisp arugula, and sweet tomatoes… you really can’t go wrong with these ingredients. That’s the thing with Italian food. Everything is so simply made, therefore quality of ingredients really matters.

Notice how soft and not stringy the prosciutto is (unlike a lot of what I have here in NYC).

We arrived in Venice on this beautiful sunny day. This was taken on a water taxi to San Marco, where our hotel was. I know, San Marco is the most touristy area to stay in. But we only gave ourselves two days to explore Venice, so staying somewhere central was important for ease of access. It ended up being perfectly charming. I fell asleep to men singing old school Italian love songs on the gondolas that floated by our hotel window every night. Legit. Continue reading Italia Week: Venice!

The Chester: a classy spot for weekday drinks and real bar food

The Chester
The Chester
18 9th Ave
(between 13th St & Little W 12th St)
New York, NY 10014

Sorry I’ve disappeared! I tend to do this every year around this time because I’ve learned to stretch my vacation days like I stretch my belly around the holidays. But ladies and gents, we still have a couple weeks before Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years land on our faces, and these are the weeks to spend with your New York family before you join your real family.

L.N. recently introduced me to The Chester, a new a new American restaurant/bar he is overseeing that opened on the first floor of the Gansevoort. The chef is now Stephen Yen, previously of Catch. Next time you are deciding on a place for drinks, make it The Chester, because if you’re anything like me, you expect quality after-school snacks with that glass of wine.

The ChesterWe started with Tuna Tartare with olive salad and crostini ($16). The Chester is definitely on the pricier side, but the portions are ginormous for an upscale place. You can comfortably share this appetizer between four people ($4 each, not bad), and you each would get at least two to three large spoonfuls of tuna. The tuna was light, fresh, and dressed in a flavorful olive salad. Definitely trumps beer nuts any day.

The Chester
I insisted on the flatbread, because I love all things bread. We had the Prosciutto Flatbread with prosciutto de parma, arugula, fontina, and truffle oil ($16). The flatbread was also huge, enough to feed four hungry adults. It was just the two of us there, so I took lots of yummy leftovers home. This classic prosciutto flatbread was on the greasier side, which of course was delicious (prosciutto and arugula are like peanut butter and jelly), but made it very filling. If you’re planning to have dinner after drinks, I would suggest getting just one food item. The Chester is like an Italian grandmother, she loves to fill you up. Continue reading The Chester: a classy spot for weekday drinks and real bar food