Positano, Rome, Florence Food Guide{Enjoying dinner at Positano’s Da Vincenzo}

Ah Italy. There’s no place like it. Brian and I had such a wonderful time on our honeymoon (you can view our little home video here) that I can’t even begin to describe it (in fact I even wrote the rest of this post first, hoping that I would know what to say when I came back to the top, and I still don’t). So for lack of more eloquent writing on my part, I’ll just say that for a girl very much in love and happy to be newly married, who was also feeling equally hungry and deprived from dieting for a wedding, Italy, the land of romance and carbs was truly the perfect setting. And since it’d be incredibly selfish of me not to share our restaurant recommendations, here they are split between Positano, Rome and Florence. 

Positano Food Guide | fortune goodies{Truffle pasta at Al Palazzo}

Located right near the beach, Capricci is your best bet for takeout, or take-away as they like to call it. Their margherita pizza is delicious and a steal at 6 euros. Their sandwich options are equally fantastic and there are so many to choose from that you’re sure to find something that speaks to you. For to-go orders, order upstairs where you can also sign onto their free wi-fi for your instagramming needs. Special Note: Do not dine in. While take-away is both affordable and delicious, the sit-down meal isn’t worth it. We made the mistake of eating there one night and wish we’d tried one of the other beachfront restaurants instead. 

Da Vincenzo
This was the best meal we had in Positano, and that’s saying something, because it was an impressively tight race. From where we were staying, it was quite the trek up many steep steps, but it was worth it. It has this great modern-traditional family-run vibe. We started with the mussels and caprese salad. Both were perfect. Followed by a delicious onion and beef ragu pasta for me and a great garlicky tomato spaghetti dish for Brian. I have no complaints, only praise. 

Al Palazzo
The most romantic ambiance award goes to Al Palazzo. String lights and a canopy of greenery cover the outdoor restaurant. Highlights were the octopus salad appetizer and pasta in cream sauce with huge shavings of truffle. So great and wonderfully smelly.

Case e Bottega
Only open for breakfast and lunch, this place is a must visit. My only regret is that we didn’t go a second or third time. When you’re looking for a break from pizza and pasta, this is the place to go. You’ll marvel at the freshness and beauty of each of their juices, salads and sandwiches. I loved my meal so much that I even recreated the salad I had. You can read all about it here.  

What about dessert you ask? We had gelato every day and night and you really can’t go wrong anywhere you go. But if you must know, Buca di Bacco offers the biggest selection of flavors, and the lemon sorbetto at the outdoor cafe at Covo Dei Saraceni (the hotel where we stayed – you can’t beat the location and I highly recommend it) is a must. If you’re looking for dessert that isn’t frozen, the 1-euro mini cannolis at Collina Bakery are the best cannolis I’ve ever had. 

Skip Ristorante Covo Dei Sareceni – It was both the most expensive and least enjoyable meal we had. It’s very possible we just ordered the wrong things, but neither one of us liked our entrees and I barely touched mine. 

Rome Food Guide{Sandwich and salad at Pane e Vino}

We were in Rome for less than 24 hours, so my restaurant recommendations are limited. In fact, I only have one to share: Pane e Vino right near the Colosseum. Since you’ll be in that area anyway, make sure you stop by for a sandwich and salad or two. The unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant is run with such love and care, and the ingredients were at the height of freshness. There’s a nice local beer and wine selection too. More than likely, Fabio, the friendly owner will be there to greet you and talk you through your options. Tell him we say hi and look for our names signed on the big wall of signatures. 

We were in dire need of a laundromat that night, so we actually had McDonald’s for our other meal. When in Rome, am I right? To be fair, I do think McDonald’s can be quite the cultural experience in foreign countries. I always make a point of visiting one when I travel because it’s always so interesting to see what special menu items they have. There were quite a few to choose from in Italy, but that night, we went with the caprese sandwich (burger with mozzarella, tomato and basil – really good) and the traditional Big Mac. Later that night, we stopped in a McCafe for some dessert (their McCafes put our sorry American ones to shame), and um, believe it or not, we had the best gelato of the whole trip at a McDonald’s establishment. Since I’m very confident in my food self-esteem, I have no problem owning up to this fact. Don’t knock it till you try it, people. 

Florence Food Guide{Pizza at Fuoco Matto}

In the matchup of Positano vs. Florence, it’s impossible to pick a winner. Positano has an almost out-of-this-world natural beauty, whereas Florence is steeped in rich romantic Renaissance history. Both food decks are similarly stacked as well. We enjoyed far too many great meals to share them all, but the standouts were:

Panini Toscani
You can’t not go to Panini Toscani for a sandwich. It wouldn’t be right. Not only is it less than 30 steps from the Duomo, but the food and experience are out of control. At 5 euros a sandwich, you’d expect them to rush tourists in and out as quickly as possible, but no, not for them. The owners and staff there care so much about their customers and product, that each person that squeezes through their small doorway is required to taste each of the three cheese and meat options before they can pick their combination. Not only do you get a taste, but you also get stories behind each ingredient. I was fascinated by the whole thing. I’d pay 5 euros just for the tasting, but you do get a big sandwich, on the best focaccia bread, out of it too. Brian pointed out how incredibly inefficient it was for them to go through the trouble of conducting these tastings, especially with a long line out the door, but these guys just really love what they do. I don’t know how they do it, but they’re doing something right. Honorable mention: Il Bufalo Trippone – another great panini establishment.

Fuoco Matto
Less than a year old, Fuoco Matto has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of Florence’s food scene, and we can see why. A self-described pizza and grill eatery, the restaurant was full of cool tourists and cool locals alike. Based on the very trendy ambience and the very low prices on the menu (10 euros for a plate of pasta), we were convinced the plates were going to be smaller tapas-sized servings. Under that assumption, we ordered several dishes, only to discover that they were actually full-sized servings. We were pleasantly surprised and uncomfortably full. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation if you’re planning a visit. 

From the name, you can probably guess that this is a mexican-dining establishment. My friend Jillian recommended it to us when I told her we could use a break from all the Italian food. Normally, I wouldn’t consider a mexican restaurant so far from the home country, but I was craving chips and queso, so we gave it a shot. You guys, it was one of the best mexican meals I’ve ever had. Definitely worth going to if you could use a similar break from pasta. Order one of their frozen drinks if you’re ever there. I enjoyed the virgin pina colada of my dreams. 

That’ll do it from me. I hope you found this helpful, because I certainly enjoyed reliving each meal. 

And because I love it so much, here’s one more shameless plug for you to watch our honeymoon home video if you haven’t already (lots of food shots in there). And even if you have, there’s no shame in watching it again. I’ve rewatched it many times myself, and each time, I think about how much I could really use some beach time right now. Well, as it so happens, Brian and I head to Naples (Florida, not Italy) tonight for a fun weekend with friends. I love it when things work out so perfectly like that. 

Wishing you a great weekend yourself. Ciao!

Posted in globetrotting | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Recipe Reciprocity - Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry & Quinoa SaladRecipe Reciprocity - Shrimp & Avocado Taco SaladRecipe Reciprocity - Spicy Kale & Quinoa Black Bean SaladRecipe Reciprocity - Pear Pomegranate & Spinach SaladRecipe Reciprocity - Best-Ever Broccoli Salad
Since the wedding, I’ve fallen off the eating-well and exercise wagon hard. Real hard. Well, it’s time I get back to it and have every intention of trying these salads that I’m sure are just as delicious as they are pretty. 

1. Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad by Gimme Some Oven, because I’m finally starting to enjoy quinoa. The Chinese in me (which is all of me) wants nothing but jasmine rice.  
2. Shrimp & Avocado Taco Salad by Iowa Girl Eats. Enough said.
3. Along the same lines – Spicy Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad by The Glowing Fridge.
4. Pear, Pomegranate and Spinach Salad by Cooking Classy. Walnuts and feta too!
5. I prefer my salads without lettuce, so this Best-Ever Broccoli Salad from Mom on Time Out looks right up my alley.

Eating healthy won’t be so bad after all. And since we’re on the subject, did you see my Positano Salad recipe from earlier this week? It’s all I want to eat these days. 

Posted in recipe reciprocity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milkshake
We’ve all heard of breakfast for dinner (big fans in this household), but what about breakfast for dessert? Why not breakfast all day long?! Well, if you’re liking this train of thought, you’re gonna love this milkshake.

Brian and I are on a big Cinnamon Toast Crunch kick right now. He likes his for breakfast and I like to treat myself to a bowl after dinner. We enjoy the finer things in life, clearly. Well, as delicious as it is the good old-fashioned way, I thought I’d try jazzing things up a bit. And since Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal milk is the best kind of cereal milk there is, a Cinnamon Toast Crunch milkshake was the obvious way to go.

read more

Posted in thirsty thursday | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Today, I’m very happy and exhausted (I stayed up way too late editing this) to share the first of two honeymoon home videos starring the always beautiful Italy. For now, I’ll let the video speak for itself, and follow up with more details on restaurants and things to do in the next couple days. 

Music: “Everything” by Kaptan

If you like what you see, you can catch my other home videos right here.

P.S. I really wanted to edit this video to the tune of “That’s Amore,” but ultimately decided it wasn’t the right fit. I sure do love that song though, mostly for the imagery of getting pizza pies thrown in the eye. Sign me up. 

Posted in globetrotting | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Positano Salad
Hello again! Like I said a little earlier, I’m feeling very ambitious these days and thought I’d add Tuesday afternoon recipes to the rotation. Now that we have this nice big kitchen, and need to eat in much more to pay for it, I expect these new posts to be of the easy-weekday-meal variety. So for those of you keeping track, that should mean recipes on Monday, Tuesday, a drink recipe on Thursday, and something fat and fried on Fridays (aka Fryday). Emphasis on should. With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let me tell you about this incredible salad. 

One of the most memorable meals we had on our honeymoon was lunch at Casa e Bottega in Positano. It’s this gorgeous, bright little restaurant that specializes in healthy, organic salads, sandwiches, baked goods and fresh juices. After days of nothing but pizza and pasta (not complaining), we sought it out knowing it would be just the break we needed. The fact that the shop also doubles as a home-goods store, made it that much more enticing. Once there, Brian and I split a delicious caprese sandwich on their homemade focaccia, and each ordered a juice and big salad. That day, the special was this food-porn creation of prosciutto, figs, melon, mozzarella and grapes over a crisp bed of romaine lettuce. I have this irrational dislike of spring mix, so this salad was firing on all cylinders for me. I ordered it, loved it, and had been thinking about recreating it ever since.

The ambiance for this second tasting wasn’t nearly as nice, but the flavors and fresh ingredients did transport me back to that Amalfi-Coast sunshine and water for the 60 seconds that it took me to inhale this. I can’t remember the name of the original salad, so I’m affectionately calling this “The Positano.” It’s a beautiful place and this is beautiful salad. 
read more

Posted in savory goodies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I hope this Tuesday finds you well. Here are some of the fun things keeping me good and distracted. 

1. Pumpkin-spice season is here! Here’s a roundup of all kinds of pumpkin-spice goodness thanks to the good people at BuzzFeed. One of the pictures might even look familiar to you. (BuzzFeed)
2. Iconic quotes framed as art. My heart skips a beat every time I see or hear the words “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I might need to pick up that frame for a room in our house. Too bad we’re nowhere close to decorating the walls with whole rooms still entirely empty. (Domaine Home)
3. After obsessing/still obsessing over Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams video, Rohini and I made it a priority to watch The Longest Ridestarring the one and only Scott Eastwood, when she was here over the weekend. The movie did not disappoint. Thank goodness for Nicholas Sparks. (YouTube)
4. Rohini and I did a little shopping this weekend, as we always do. I tend to wear very neutral plain colors in the fall, so picking up this sweater was a big deal for me. (Ann Taylor)
5. I never wear lipstick, but Emily’s latest post is warming me up to the idea. (Cupcakes and Cashmere)
6. Have you heard Ryan Adams’s cover of the entire 1989 album? People seem to be all about it, but I can’t really get behind it. I guess I’m too much of a Taylor traditionalist. (Spotify)
7. The trailer for the new Fox comedy The Grinder is the best one I’ve seen this season. It helps that I’ve been in love with Rob Lowe since I first saw him in the role of Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders movie. Basically, I’ve loved him forever. (Fox)
8. Curious how tall the presidential candidates are? All of your questions answered in this infographic, plus the heights of all the presidents too! Fun stuff – except there’s no way Donald Trump and Jeb Bush are both 6’3″. Jeb looks a good two inches taller than Trump. (Washington Post)

One more thing! – Since I’m having so much fun blogging again, I’m feeling ambitious and will be adding a second post to our normally scheduled Tuesday programming. Check back this again this afternoon for more :). 

Posted in fortune finds | Tagged | Leave a comment