I don't even know if anything I can write will actually do justice to the amazing food that we ate during our trip, but I'm going to give it the old college try and attempt to explain the culinary goodness that occurs in this country.
First, the coffee. I had no frame of reference for how coffee is "done" in Italy so it was all new and exciting to me. Darby made sure that we had our first coffee experience right away (morning 1) so that we would have it down for the rest of the trip.
There are no Starbucks or coffee houses similar to American Coffee houses over there. They have coffee "bars" and that is exactly what it is. You walk up to the bar, order or show them the receipt for what you already paid for, they brew (is that even the right word) it up, put it in the smallest and fanciest of little cups for you and then you drink it at the bar in like 2 sips and then you are done. No sitting around chatting, no pull out your laptop and do homework while getting refills, no sitting down at all really (if you sit and drink the coffee is higher priced)...you drink and leave. Quick, fancy and efficient.
I can't emphasize how small these portions were. The espresso is literally about two sips. The whole time I was thinking about how at one coffee house in Ridgecrest you can get 44oz of coffee to go. FOURTY FOUR ounces!!! Can you imagine that next to this tiny little cup? It just reminded me of how ridiculously excessive we can be here in America.
After our first couple of times we branched out to cappuccino and really nailed our groove. The cappuccino had a little more liquid to it because of the milk froth. One pack or half pack of sugar added and this drink was superb. Wow it was good. Not bitter and just so tasty and delicious. I almost dreaded coming back to American coffee after drinking these little fancy cups of goodness.
I mentioned this before but breakfast in Italy is mostly just pastries. We had quite a few chocolate croissants with our cappuccinos in the morning. They were all pretty good but a few days in and they stop looking all that appealing.
Pasta. You can't go to Italy and not have pasta. I had a few different pastas when I was there and again...so amazing. Most of the time I could tell it wasn't even the sauce, it was the noodles themselves that just had a better texture and taste than I have ever had before. I had an alfredo, carbonara and 5 cheese as well as mounds of buffalo mozzarella and one delicious herb risotto. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!!
Water always comes to the table in glass bottles and depending on size is between 2-4 euro. Water is a non-negotiable for me and I drink a ton of water every day so we did order quite a bit of water when at restaurants. We carried refillable bottles around with us as well but, because of all the walking we did, we always seemed to need more.
Paul had quite a few beers with meals and we had wine a couple of times although surprisingly not as often as I thought we would. Just basic table wine over there is pretty amazing so even getting the "cheap" stuff, it's still pretty good. I did have one of their classic drinks when at lunch one day on Venice, the Spritz (pictured above). Its made with prosecco and Aperol.
Formal Italian meal structure consists of multiple courses over the course of a few hours. We went to a traditional Italian restaurant our last night in town so we could enjoy the experience. Most of the time the restaurant just serves you whatever they have made that day for all of the courses. This restaurant had a few choices for the various different courses however so we were able to try all of the choices throughout our whole table.
Our antipasto was an assortment of cured meats and some various cheese, for primo, we had a sampling of three different pastas. The contorno (not pictured) was an assortment of various vegetable dishes and then our secundo was the meat course. Afterward we all shared another various assortment of dolche which is dessert.
It was all incredible and the food, experience and company is a memory that will not soon be forgotten!
Gelato. You knew this was coming. I tried to snap a pic of all of my gelatos but I am confident I missed a couple because we had a LOT. Its so easy to find, relatively inexpensive (1.50 euro for a single scoop) and there are just so many darn flavors to try! My favorites were nutella, stracciatella and chocolate. Paul favored the various berry flavors and an occasional mint. Mmmmm...take me back!
You may be wondering why there are not more pictures of pizza and I don't blame you for wondering! The truth is we didn't have near as much pizza as I would have liked too!!! Since we were staying with friends we didn't eat out as much as you normally would on a trip of this length and there was so many different foods to try we didn't want to limit ourselves when we DID eat out either. We did have pizza on a few different occasions and honestly I wish we would have had more. It was SO good! So different from American pizza and so much better in my opinion. We had one caprese pizza from a neighborhood pizza place one night that I think I might dream about for years to come. I've heard that there is a really legit Italian pizza place in NYC so I am looking forward to hunting it down once we move!
All images (with the exception of random iPhone images) taken with:
Canon 6D | 24-105mm f/4.0 lens