Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Prosciutto and Pastries and Prosecco, Oh My! The Foodie Low-Down on My Italian Adventure

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#stuffmyface #ItalyAdventure #girltime by @ahputnam

Hello, strangers! I realize I haven’t seen you around here in MONTHS, and that’s entirely my fault. I had this idea (I’m always having these ideas…) that when I was in Italy I would cook and photograph it (badly, with my iPhone) for you, and post at least once or twice, but alas, like so many of my ideas this one lacked follow-through. I did very little of anything that could be called ‘cooking’, preferring to spend my time eating paprika-flavored Pringles and making Caprese salads and roasted chicken breast and veggies when I needed to eat a real meal inside my home. And of course much of my consumption happened outside the apartment, because: ITALY. That said, I did make a Thanksgiving dinner for my Italian friends (and a few Americans), including my famous pumpkin pie recipe and a whole roasted turkey that would have fed twice as many of us, so the trip wasn’t completely without kitchen activity.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I offer here by way of apology for my absence some of my favorite foodie photos from the trip (for those of you who do follow me, I’m throwing in some new pics), and at the end of the post I’ll link to the recipes I used for Thanksgiving – I’m happy to report that the Italians were properly blown away, especially by the pumpkin pie and the stuffing, which was unlike anything they’d ever tried before. I also promise to work harder to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, and to share some of the exciting developments that have occurred in my life since last we met.

Pics and captions are after the jump!

It may not have been the best pasta Italy has to offer (it was definitely not handmade), but at 5 euros and after more than 24 hours without a meal, this first day lunch was just the ticket! 

At first I thought I could get by without a car... despite this gorgeous view, the dangerous, hour-long trek along the highway into town was enough to convince me of my error.

I was very badly depressed for the first week – extreme isolation and jetlag and loneliness and emotional vulnerability are a nasty mix – but my good friend Will convinced me to get dressed and go outside for an hour, and that was the beginning of the end of the depression.

Once I broke the worst of the depression, got a car, and managed my first grocery shop, I was able to make this first of SO MANY caprese salads in my very own kitchen.

And then I started adding protein and actual cooking to my repertoire, and I knew I was settling in a bit better.

And then I made a couple new friends, one of whom offered THIS VIEW from his Florence rooftop (best viewed with some wine, of course).

And of course I made fairly regular visits to my boyfriend, Davide. 

Some of my favorite ladies visited and we went wine tasting in Chianti, which was EXCELLENT.

And we also took a cooking class in central Florence with In Tavola, which was super fun.

And we also ate ALL THE MEATS, certo.

I took a detour to Bologna after the girls left (more on that if it's relevant later...) and I made damned sure to track down some tortellini in brodo while I was there.  SO GOOD.

My friend M came to see me from London and we got gelato and they had my favorite flavor: canella (cinnamon), and I was VERY excited.

I made a whole roast turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving (or Il Giorno del Ringraziamento, in Italian) with my new Italian friends.  They were suitably impressed ;)

But carving it was... a challenge.

Luckily my friend C was there to help (and she was a fab sous chef!), and we got everything done to a good standard.

And then we all stuffed our faces and chatted in English and Italian and pigeon-Itanglish and it was good.

The next week I packed up all my stuff, shipped a couple bags ahead, and went off to Rome to meet my friend A, who woke me one morning with the above FEAST of burrata and cookies and pizza bianca and coffee... Noms.

We also took a cooking class at Eataly... all in Italian... which was interesting.  But I think we did pretty well in the end!  And then we rewarded ourselves with gelato and a bit of shopping in the massive food hall below.

Oh, and of course we saw some AMAZING art while we were there.  This is 'The Rape of Persephone', by Bernini, and it is breathtaking.

We also did a lot of shopping.  A lot.  This was just one stop: La Taza d'Oro coffee shop.

Oh, and we ate.  A lot.  This was quail, and it was gone very quickly.

And A bought me pretty leather gloves for my thirtieth birthday (which was the following week)!  I've been wearing them here in SF for the past month.  

Recipes for Thanksgiving (Il Giorno del Ringraziamento):
My family pumpkin pie (obviously)
Roast turkey advice from the NYTimes
Dressing/Stuffing from Epicurious
Roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes and salad, all ad hoc (Salad dressing was this excellent recipe)
Gravy (made two, using butter instead of pan drippings, since I brined the bird, and vegetarian and chicken stock, respectively)

Best source I found for American foods in Florence (pumpkin, cranberry sauce, etc): Vivi Market

More posts and some good news to come, in under four months, I promise!  ~A xx

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