Sunday, 15 July 2012

A week in Italy

I came back from sunny Italy a week ago to rain and wind. It was 33 degrees everyday out there and I didn't want to come back. It was too hot really and for some mad reason I did for a split second wish for some rain. That quickly evaporated in the heat!

We went to Rome, Siena, San Miniato, Pisa and Lucca. Through these parts of Italy, we experienced a journey on our tastebuds from a simple sandwich of ham and mozzarella to regional dishes of Senese pork. It was fair to say we ate very well during this holiday and as a result my husband, Andrew, was told in A & E that he had developed gout when we went in suspecting a stress fracture on his swollen foot!

In Rome, the food was more mainstream, food that we are familiar with in the UK. Pizza, pasta and gelato. Ahh yes gelato, you just can't get enough of it. So many flavours and we had one everyday if not two. If you ever go to Rome, visit the gelataria just by the Trevi fountain. What they say about Italy is true. A country of very gorgeous men (until they open their mouths), pizza, pasta and gelato. However there is so much more to Italian food. We only tasted a small proportion of what Italy has to offer. We had been before as poor students so this time we did splash out on various restaurants. In Rome, my favourite is a restaurant called Eleonora D'Arborea ( you can find it on Trip Advisor). It is a Sardinian restaurant specialising in fish and shellfish where they served me the most delicious Lobster linguine washed down with a chilled glass of Vermentino.

After Rome we made our way to Siena where there is a speciality I was dying to try again, Pici. It is a pasta special to that region. It is thick noodle like pasta with the texture similar to Udon noodles. We went to very rustic restaurant Osteria del Gatto where the waiter didn't speak much English and the menu is in Italian and very limited, brilliant!!  We found Pici with wild boar sauce followed by fillet of pork wrapped with ham with a stuffing of apricots and nuts.

In Siena, we also found a restaurant that champions Sienese local produce, Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti. We started the meal with the most impressive charcuterie board I have ever had! There were at least 10 different types of cold meats with pecorino and homemade relishes. I especially like the thin slices of lard on crispy bread. These pigs I was told run around in their backyard! Then it was followed by perfectly cooked steak with generous shavings of black truffle. 

Then we were off to San Miniato for one of my good friend's wedding where we found a little restaurant situated on the edge of the hills, Osteria L'Upupa where our taste buds continued to find surprising flavours. We had the most amazing risotto of courgettes, pancetta and porcini to start followed by steak with porcini and the most intense Senese pork stew with pine nuts. The porcini was so fat and juicy and the pork is so tender as the meat is layered with a good amount of fat that melts in your mouth. 

Yes now you know the reason Andrew might have developed gout! Lots of meat and not much vegetables! Luckily I was eating for two so it was absorbed by my baby, thank god. Well not all the food we ate was heavy, we came across some very tasty snacks like the gigantic pizza we had for lunch one day and the biggest arancini I have ever come across.

It was our last trip abroad until I give birth to our bundle of joy so we did give it a good go in terms of things we did and restaurants we visited. I think it should last us for a good few weeks until my tan subsides! I would recommend Italy if you love food, it is not just pasta and pizza although the quality of them far exceeds what we can find in the UK. 

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