Italy and France: An Amuse-Bouche!

by

Hey Everybody! I’m finally back from Italy after 16 days of adventure, overeating, and tons upon tons of mischief. I’ve got so many stories to tell, and so many awesome pictures to show you (or at least David does). We’re currently wading through over a 1,000 pictures and I’m editing down my travel journal, which we plan to combine into a mini blog so you can check out all the fun, if you’re interested.

But since my brain is still foggy from jet lag, and I have about a million work emails to catch up on, here’s a super-fast, broad overview of our culinary experience of Italy, and a petite bit of France. As my favorite high school history teacher used to say about our test scores, “Some are good, some are bad, and some are UTTERLY ridiculous!” Buon appetito!


The Florence Fiasco

This was our first stop on the tour, and we had a rough time adjusting. We also had some bad luck with meals. One particular Dinner Fail was comically offensive (more on that later). But we did manage to score a few good bites.

Red wine: Often under $8 a bottle at restaurants. Word!

When we finally found Giubbe Russe, a restaurant where our friends Selena and Nathan celebrated after their wedding in Flo-town, we were way excited. David actually became a “Wooo! Girl.”

Can you hear those forks clanking? They were clanking.

Honestly, I’m not sure what we ate, but it was clearly pasta, and from the looks of our plates, there were not many complaints. Plus, too, and also, we scored a salad, which we were soon to discover was a rare delicacy in Italy.

Chianti Wine Country: Tuscan Bliss
The hiccups we experienced in Florence were soothed by some delicious food in Tuscany. The best meal of the whole trip was one we helped our innkeeper, Elena, prepare in her Tuscan farmhouse kitchen. Amazing lasagna, crazy-good wine, and this delicious deconstructed tiramisu. More on this magical meal later…

Elena adds layers of goodness to the lasagna...

Take note: You will see this re-created in my kitchen soon!

Then our driving tour of Tuscany began with dinner at restaurant near a castle…

Sorry kids. I ate the Easter Bunny.

This was rabbit with truffles (and onions and white beans). I’m not sure what part of the rabbit this is, or what I ate exactly…but it was delicious!

We spent the rest of the day getting lost as we drove around the countryside, fighting with our GPS as we searched for the Dievole Vineyard, which we finally found and had an excellent dinner!

I believe this was a wild boar bolognese with fresh parpadelle.

The next day, our food tour continued, but took a detour down a bumpy road…

This was taken during a Lunch Fail in San Gimignano, a beautifully maintained medieval city (that was a bit of a tourist trap). We had some lackluster pizza. So instead of eating out for dinner, we headed to the Tuscan Wal-Mart to buy groceries so we could cook dinner at our little villa back at Elena’s. I had mini meltdown in the grocery store, but dinner turned out OK, although purple. More about that in next week’s post.

How does one make purple chicken? You'll find out soon!

Sorrento: Great Seafood or BUST!
After that, we piled in the car, and drove down the boot to Sorrento. Our first meal was a bit of a rushed Fail, but after that we picked up the momentum and had some of the most amazing seafood I’ve ever tasted. I basically ordered mussels, clams, or shrimp at every meal. Except for when we were starving while doing laundry the first day and went out foraging at nearby shops.

Although Italian strawberries sound fancier, ripe ones from Florida are tastier.

We were still hungry, so I went back out for arugula and tomato pizza.

After that, by the grace of whatever supreme being you believe in, we found an excellent restaurant for my birthday. More about it in the upcoming travel blog, but we had SO much fun — we were greeted at our table with prosecco and olives, and our meal ended with fireworks. Literally. Here’s a taste:

Caprese Salad. Yes, Ma'am!

Seafood Risotto. Yes, that's an octopus on my fork.

The next day we had lunch at this pretty pricey restaurant that David spotted and turns out Rick Steves endorsed. It was world class, Michelin rated, and crazy delicious. David has some beautiful pics, but here’s one I snapped. We ate here twice. Hope Peter gets a scholarship!

Fried Red Prawns in a (gasp!) Sardine Sauce! Whoa, Bessie, so good!

So that night we decided to save money and just grab some pizzas and drink some of the extra wine we had bought (since we could only bring back four bottles). Gotta love a budget night!

It only took 10 minutes to figure out the timer.

The next day we went to the Island of Capri (gorgeous!) and had a great lunch at a place called Blu Capricci. Shellfish again. Not that you could tell by the plates!

It got chilly up in there!

It was shellfish — I remember now — because they brought me that bowl of lemon water. David said, “Those Italians are laughing at you back in the kitchen, ‘Look that that dumb American, washing his hands in his soup!’ “

Speaking of lemons, they were EVERYWHERE down there. Lemon trees are so cool. At one bar, which we dubbed “Our Bar” because we went there twice, I asked the bartender to make me a signature Capri Cocktail. So he did. It was STRONG.

Capri Cocktail, lemon juice, rum, and some kind of cherry liqeur?

I think those Brits in the background were laughing at me. Oh well! Our final Italian dinner was at a farmhouse up the side of the mountain. Getting there was an INSANE adventure, which I can’t believe we did and would totally freak my mother out. Too much to get into here, so you’ll have to wait for the travel blog. But it was a beautiful place, and we had a RIDICULOUS spread of antipasti, mainly because there was no menu and we just nodded at whatever the waiter said. Check it out:

SO MANY PLATES!

It was so crazy! After the meal, we had panna cotta for dessert, then I decided I had to have at least one espresso before we left Italy…

Look at me, I'm so totally cool like the Italians, yeah!

Hack hack hack! Man, that is stout! Nasty!

France: The Parisian Blitz!
The next morning, we left for a brief stopover in France, which was absolutely magical. We just had time for two quick meals before flying back out at noon the next day, dinner, and breakfast.

Braised Beef and Frites at 11:30 pm. Only in Paris!

Croissants, baguttes, butter, jam, coffee and juice. Ahhh, Parie! ;)

After that, it was off to dash through churches, then back to the airport. Before we subjected ourselves to the culinary misery of a transatlantic flight’s worth of gutbombing tv-dinners and pseudo snacks, we made one last, very French stop at L’ Auderee, the macaroon shop. A rainbow of flavors and colors, crunchy, sweet, gooey, and ridiculously good!

There's a funny story behind this...

And then, that was it! Now that we’re back home, I don’t see us eating pasta any time soon! In fact, the first meal I cooked (after our friend Kristi thankfully donated some pork roast for our dinner when we got home) was Mexican! Tonight, Asian! After that, Indian! Our tastebuds are ready for their own vacation, far away from the Boot!

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of our meal highlights. Next week, I’ll share the mischief we cooked up in Tuscany, and hopefully by then a link to David’s much more impressive shots of the food we experienced on our trip!

Happy to be back! ;)

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4 Responses to “Italy and France: An Amuse-Bouche!”

  1. Ben Says:

    Just AWESOME!!! Cant wait to hear the stories and see more pics!!!

  2. Judy Miller Says:

    tres magnifique and however you say that in Italian…I loved the pictures and the quick glance…Can’t wait for the blog. love!

  3. rhbulldawg Says:

    Great! and great pics too ;)
    Glad ya’ll had fun and welcome home! Let’s get together soon.

  4. tuscany villas for rent Says:

    tuscany villas for rent…

    [...]Italy and France: An Amuse-Bouche! « Kitchen Mischief![...]…

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