You cannot have a bad meal in Italy. Period. From small cafes to the fanciest restaurant, every meal was prepared with fresh ingredients and was a delight to consume The house wines were smooth. The pasta dishes had body, a great “mouth feel.” The desserts were delizioso. Keeping kosher meant I stayed on the fish, pasta and vegetable side of the menu. Pure heaven.
Martin, while not hewing to the rules of kashrut, went to town enjoying the incredible seafood dishes Italy is known for.
We had some great pizzas, amazing parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan) and my newfound fave — pepe e cacio, which is an Italian take on mac’n’cheese. Saying that, however, is akin to saying Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is a painting of a naked woman standing in a seashell. The pasta was light, the four cheeses (cacio) were smooth and the pepper (pepe) gave the dish a memorable kick. We tried each region’s specialty — trofie al pesto (from Liguria’s twists of handmade pasta) to carciofo alla guidia (artichoke the Jewish way) in Rome. It was good but not as rave worthy as we’d been told.
In Amalfi, we sampled the region’s beloved dessert Delizia al Limone — a mound-shaped spongecake filled with lemon cream, dolloped with limoncello-infused whipped cream and topped with a strawberry. I challenge you to look at a tray of these Delizia’s and not see breasts. This is not accidental as the cakes are a tribute to Saint Agatha. Hers was a pretty grim story but her suffering is celebrated with this delicious anatomical confection. (I don’t know what it is about Europeans and their penchant for creating desserts to honor nuns and their bodily parts and functions but there you have it. The French serve pets de nonne, nuns’ farts, akin to a beignet but smaller. )
Italian hotel breaksfasts were surprisingly ample and varied. They reminded me of Israeli breakfasts — fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, wonderful breads and cheeses — with the bonus of Italian pastries. I even had a daily cappucino. (Those who know me well, know that I don’t drink coffee. But when in Rome…And Naples and Florence and Venice and Sorrento!)
As you will read elsewhere we enjoyed a daily gelato and sampled tiramisu from region to region. You can’t go to Italy and not indulge in the country’s gustatory pleasures. Besides, we were clocking close to seven miles each day. Surely that worked off a strand or two of pasta.
Ready for some sightseeing? Next up…Rome.
All photos courtesy of Martin Darvick.