It’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.
No 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!
220 E 14th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
The dumplings here are not good. Yet, I have them at least once every two weeks. Why? Because it’s the only place near me that specializes in dumplings and I ache for dumplings about once every two weeks.
I always get the basic: boiled cabbage and pork dumplings ($3.99 for eight). Cabbage and pork dumplings are classic. The cabbage adds moisture and sweetness to the meat. A quality dumpling would have thin, yet chewy skin, tender and flavorful, not-too-loose-nor-dense filling. As you can see here, Vanessa’s dumplings have thick skin, and despite the color of the meat, it actually is quite bland. Soy sauce and chili sauce is needed. In China, the classic way to eat dumplings is just to dip it in a little vinegar. The vinegar helps cut the flavor and fattiness from the dumpling itself. Continue reading Location, location, location. It matters for restaurants too.
203 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 12th St)
New York, NY 10003
These nights have been cold. Normally on a cold winter night, I’ll crave something hot and hearty. But the heaviness of Thanksgiving dinner (with some leftovers still in the fridge, like J.W.’s shepherd’s pie which I had for lunch two days in a row…) has made me crave hot foods that are light. How many of those can you think of?
Vietnamese food is overall one of the healthier cuisines. It uses more natural herbs for flavoring and tends to use water or broth over oil. Pho is the perfect combination of hot and light. A bowl of pho consists of rice noodles in a beef broth made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, ginger, and other spices. Compared to other noodle soups, pho is definitely a much lighter option. The rice noodles are almost airy and compensate by being great soup sponges. The soup is flavorful but still clear, allowing you to drink up every last drop without feeling sick (this also depends on how much MSG the restaurant uses). Continue reading Sao Mai, perfect for a healthy winter meal.
277 E 10th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
I came wanting to try their brunch because they have things such as Biscuits & Gravy and Shrimp & Grits. I’ve clearly been going to North Carolina too much lately. We went on a weekday when Y.P. was visiting and found that they only served brunch on weekends. I should’ve known. The lunch menu is far less interesting (mainly just sandwiches) but we were committed and so we stayed.
I ordered the Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Three Herb Chicken & Sautéed Kale ($9), pictured above. The bread was great – crusty and soaked in olive oil. The chicken and kale were surprisingly cold. Completely cold. It took a couple of bites to adjust because I was expecting a warm sandwich… I ultimately enjoyed the sandwich and liked the subtle flavors of garlic and herbs but will probably not order this again.
The highlight of the meal was definitely the fries. We ordered a side of Italian Fries, which included Parmesan Rosemary Fries, Basil & Roasted Garlic Aioli ($5). The fries were so savory and tasty with bits of sharp parmesan flavor in every bite. I love that they kept all of the potato skin because it gave each fry a thicker texture on the skin side which fried very nicely. Continue reading Sandwiches at The Brindle Room