All posts filed under: Italy

A Weekend in Rome & Where to Eat & Drink There (In Partnership with O2 Travel)

  Despite four visits, Rome continues to surprise and remains one of my favourite cities to return to. It is utterly charming, from the free running nasones (water fountains, they translate as noses!) to the many fountains.  I always see new things, stay in new places, and discover great places to eat & drink. Well, that is why we go isn’t it? For carbonara, gelato, porchetta, Roman pizza, and that is just the start. I have my favourites, of course, that I return to all the time, but on this occasion, as I was there with O2 Travel to road test their internet and app, I used these to explore further.

Cheese Making at Azienda Zootecnica Facenna in Puglia

Tucked away behind a barrage of windy roads lies a small holding. On it, an old two storey house, battered with years and the breeze that besieges its hilltop position. Up some external stairs, there is a little one room apartment. A bed in the corner, windows looking around, a small kitchen and a table. There is no electricity. Below, an old living room with a large fireplace above which cow bells hang on collars of all sizes for the newest calves to the largest bull. Outside the house, overlooking, is a field full of cows. These are Podolica cows, native to Southern Italy. Large working beasts. Beautiful. In front, and to the right of the house, a long shed. In here there are pigs and piglets. Lots of them. Then calves to the left of them and right beside the house, still milk fed by their mothers. Overlooking, literally, balancing on a stony hedge because they are not satisfied with their massive field, some goats. Peeking in. A cat supervises from the top of the stairs …

Where (and What) to Eat in Northern & Central Puglia

When I visited Puglia, I was surprised to discover that locals consider it under the radar. Ok, I am food obsessed, but I have known about Puglia’s food reputation for years, and have long wanted to visit. I thought that everyone did! (And I think that food bods do). Who could resist the lure of the home of burrata and orecchiette, and all of that lovely fish? When I arrived in Bari, I was surprised to see very few tourists. There were lots of locals embracing their city, tiny toddlers whizzing around, stumbling on foot, and older siblings speeding by on bicycles (ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling!). Nonnis and Nonnas sitting outside their houses chattering, perched on stools. Young couples ambling by, deep in romance. A wedding. A random guy shaving his legs in the middle of the street. Bari has character, and lots of them living there too. I was charmed. Where we have corner shops, Bari (and Puglia generally) has salumerias. Small shops rich with meaty bounty, bulbous waxy cheeses dangle from the ceiling (cacciovallo), towers of foccacia …

Next Stop: Puglia & #WeAreInPuglia

Next stop: Puglia. This, I am very excited about. Puglia has a rich culinary heritage and diverse wine culture (I have been told there are 24 types of wine that I need to try – ok then!). It is the heel and spur, if Italy was a boot, and has lots of fresh seafood from its long Adriatic coastline. Orecchiete, burrata, friselli, taralli, pizzette, puccia and lots of other joys pepper too. I am here for four nights to explore, indulge in the food scene and to broadcast all about it from Puglia to Dublin, live. Yes! If in Dublin, be sure to pop down to the roadshow at the Puglia Village on George’s Dock. Running until Tuesday 15th July there will be live music, wine tasting, cooking demos, food samples, and it is all free. They want to share the Puglia love. I will be broadcasting to the Puglia Village on George’s Dock at 1pm and 4pm on Friday (tomorrow) and 11.30am and 1pm on Saturday. You can only catch this at the Puglia …

Making Tagliatelle with Ragu with Anna – an Emilia Romagna Recipe

One thing  that I learned on my recent trip to Emilia Romagna is that every recipe and every dish is personal. Passion exudes from every pore, and never more than when the topic of food or the particulars of a recipe are under discussion. People in Emilia Romagna are very animated over lunch, and they are mainly discussing the food that they are eating, and just that. I love that. People get particularly excited about homemade tagliatelle with ragu. It originates there, and Emilia has one way, Romagna another. Within those regions different families have their own approach. Bologna has a meaty dense ragu of its own (hence, Bolognese sauce). The personal differences are glorious. I had so many different ragus in trattorias all over the region. Some dense with meat and assertive, one cooked in lard and layered with white pepper (my favourite, I think), some rich and fruity with tomato with the meat appearing to surf it. I cooked ragu with two people in Emilia Romagna. The first was Anna, a wonderful lady based in Savignano sul Rubicone in Emilia Romagna. …

Where to Eat and Drink in Bologna

Emilia Romagna is an Italian province, nestled between Milan, Florence, Venice and Genoa. It is actually two historical provinces, Emilia & Romagna, both with their own food & wine identity, but with common threads. Home to Parma ham, parmsesan cheese & balsamic vinegar, and those are just the most famous ones that you have heard of, it is also the home of pasta, specifically tagliatelle with ragu, lasagne, tortelloni and tortellini in brodo. There are several local breads, gnocco fritto (called torta fritta in Parma), a fried puffed bread that you stuff with salami, and tigelle, small patterned breads traditionally made in stacks of heated round terracotta tiles, now in pans over a fire. The capital, Bologna is a great city to start from. Easy on the eye, brown, orange and yellow buildings are lined with porticoes – arched walkways – which protect from the rain in winter and the sun in summer. It is a gorgeous bohemian city, the perfect size for a weekend exploring, and has much to offer in terms of trattorias, …

A Postcard from Rimini (and Where to Eat)

I am holed up on the floor of a hot train in between carriages. There isn’t much space but I have managed to sit, curled. I can’t quite feel my legs and I am not all that bothered. I have had a great couple of days on an impromptu trip to the Emilia Romagna seaside town of Rimini, and it is cushioning me on the way home. I had heard a lot about Rimini, little of it good. That it was a heavily touristed town and quite tacky. It is a beach town and I hate beach holidays too, although I adore the sea. When on holiday, I like to read (in the shade), mooch and wander, and explore the local food and wine scene. But when I arrived in Bologna, locals started to tell me about the food culture in Rimini, that there were some great restaurants serving local specialities. That the centre of Rimini is an old Roman town. I had no plans for the weekend so I thought, why not? 1.5 hours …

Pellegrino Artusi & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)

Pellegrino Artusi, Casa Artusi, The Art of Cooking Well in Forlimpopoli & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated) Pellegrino Artusi is widely referred to as the father of Italian cuisine. Penning the first pan Italian cookbook, (self) published only 20 years after the unification of Italy in 1891 and in the language of the new unified Italy (which was the dialect of Florence), when he was 71. Artusi’s cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, featured over 475 recipes gathered from Italian home cooks on his travels as a business man. 15 editions were published before he died 20 years later, with many further recipes added (finishing with 750). Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well was predicted to be a commercial failure by Italian publishers at the time, and they refused to publish it, but it was a tremendous success. It has been in print since publication, and is in almost every Italian home. It has been translated into several languages also (it was translated …

A Postcard from Parma and Torrechiara, Emilia Romagna

I have just come back from a gorgeous day. The sun shone, the sky was bright blue and was a perfect contrast to the rust brown and lighter buildings. I visited a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy and saw the whole process, I had a wonderful lunch (at a last minute destination – I am glad I made that decision!), and then I visited a prosciutto di parma producer. So far, so awesome. I have been busy eating in Bologna, but I won’t share my list of where to eat here until the end of the trip, as there are many more eating days to go. As mentioned in my last post, you can follow everything as I go on social media which is a more immediate update. Do so by checking in on @eatlikeagirl on twitter and instagram, the Eat Like a Girl page on Facebook, and by following the hashtags#Blogville (twitter) and #InEmiliaRomagna (twitter) in all of those spaces too. I include restaurant names above the picture on instagram, which clicks through to a map too. My day was split between Parma …

Blogville in Bologna & Emilia Romagna: An Eating, Drinking & Cooking Adventure

Bologna and Emilia Romagna await me tomorrow and I could not be more excited. Emilia Romagna is known as the bread basket of Italy, and is home to some of Italys most famous exports like parmesan cheese, parma ham and balsamic vinegar. Bologna itself is home to lasagne, tagliatelle with ragu, tortelloni and tortellini. I will be based in Bologna – and in an apartment, so I will also be able to cook – but I will also be travelling around and exploring the region. Highlights, which you can follow by checking in on @eatlikeagirl on twitter and instagram, the Eat Like a Girl page on Facebook, and by following the hashtags #Blogville (twitter) and #InEmiliaRomagna (twitter) in all of those spaces too. I will be blogging in time, of course, but for a broader and more immediate spread, check in on social media. There will be a group of bloggers in Emilia Romagna using these hashtags, so you will get to see some quite diverse posts on the region. Highlights are many, but I …

Video: Truffle Hunting with Ezio in Piedmont

I have just come back from a whistle stop tour of Piedmont & Liguria in Italy. I went truffle hunting with a wonderful truffle hunter Ezio, and his fabulous little dog. I shoot a lot of video but rarely get the time to edit them, so I forced myself to turn this around really quickly this time. I normally shoot them on my DSLR but it committed hari kari recently, so I filmed this on a swish Samsung S4 which I was sent to review. The results are pretty impressive for a phone – the S4 can’t do ought about my still scratchy voice (5 weeks of coughing takes its toll!). I would like a little tripod / stabiliser thing to do something about the shaking, but otherwise, I am pretty happy. Enjoy! Here are some photos that I took with the phone also. The timing could not have been more perfect. … more soon! I travelled to Piedmont & Liguria and Tra Arte e Querce as a guest of BITEG & the tourist board

A Postcard from Rome

Greetings from Lisbon, and a delayed greeting from Rome. I haven’t written from either (yet) as I have been ill. Coughing and whooping, I felt like something within was scratching to get out. I am much better now, and sitting in a gorgeous Lisbon apartment bathed in sunshine. I can now write. Lots to catch up on, lets start with Rome. I spent 4 nights there, working on a HouseTrip city commission, gathering local recipes and checking out the best local places to eat. It was my fourth trip to Rome, but my first in seven years. It was interesting to see how much it had changed. Less Fiat 500s and more Smart cars for  a start. I stayed near the Vatican, on a hill, in a sleepy quiet part of Rome. Rome is so walkable it was a great location from which to explore. The four days were saturated with nostalgia. I couldn’t help but recall previous trips. The first when I was 19 and so very naive and enthusiastic. I had been in …

A Solo Sicilian Lunch at Syrah, San Vito Lo Capo

I have so many posts to write I don’t even know where to start. I’ve yet to write about my lovely trip to the Isle of Wight this summer. There’s so much yet to write about other recent travels to Sweden, Lyon, Glasgow. I still have to tell you about the final of the Cous Cous Fest. I have recipes to post, restaurants to write about. I recently went for lunch at the revamped Savoy and I have yet to write about that. It’s all a bit silly isn’t it? No matter, it’s all stuff I love to write about and I shall do it soon. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it too. Today I am going to write about something a little abstract, as I find I have been thinking about it a lot recently.  A Solo Sicilian Lunch at Syrah, San Vito Lo Capo. The meal itself was funny for its own reasons (solo female diner in Sicily might give you a hint) but the food was lovely, and very inspiring. I’ve found myself …

In Pictures: XIII International Cous Cous Fest in Sicily

Don’t you just love the Italians? So passionate and celebrating everything, there’s a whole week dedicated to cous cous in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily. Cous Cous? Italy? The West Coast of Sicily faces North Africa and has some culinary influences from there, one of them is cous cous. Proper cous cous, not this instant type we have in so many places here or the soggy one that hasn’t been cooked properly and has turned you off it. This was light and fluffy cous cous, nutty and airy, with seafood as a traditional accompaniment (in Italy). Unusual too, only one other place (I believe in Tunisia) has seafood with their cous cous. Chefs from 9 countries gathered and over 2 days we judged the preliminary rounds of dishes. The jury, 8 Italians (from a 2* Michelin chef to a food journalist from La Stampa), 1 Belgian Food Blogger that lives in and blogs from Rome, and me. Persenting were 2 food tv presenters from Italy, there was a Cous Cous Talk Show every night, labs, and it had it’s own Cous Cous Radio …

A Busiata: Pasta Fresca in San Vito Lo Capo

I just love it when by accident you happen across somewhere special. Wandering home from Cous Cous Fest, tired and no longer able to deal with the crowds, I saw a little doorway with people lingering outside. I spied the sign “a busiata” outside, and then, lo, above the door, “Fresh Pasta”. I peered through the rope doorway and saw a gorgeous little space with a few shelves lined with choice products, a fridge full of glorious handmade pastas, and a counter with some more. Fresh cous cous with herbs and dried cous cous were available, this is the town of cous cous after all. Local almonds, biscotti and other Sicilian biscuits (there are a lot!) graced the counter top and behind it, the matriarch was making busiati. What luck! I waited my turn and attempted to communicate (I really need to learn Italian properly!). I wanted everything, but mindful of RyanAir’s ridiculous restrictions I bought 2kg of fresh busiati – 1kg white & 1kg green for €10. A steal. It’s absolutely gorgeous, it may …

From Top to Bottom: Hello Sicily!

I have been jesting that I have had all four seasons in one month and that is how I contracted a very early Winter cold this year. But, really, it is true. Sparkling summer in Lyon at 35° to London’s Autumn (let’s call it Spring for the story), bouncing over to Ireland for our all year round same season, save two weeks of Summer. Then to an early Winter in Lapland where we were in single digit evenings. Now, HELLO summer in Sicily. Hot hot hot, bright skies, turquoise seas, mosquitos a-go-go. And we’ve hit Autumn today with lots, and lots, of rain. Thundering rain. Wake you from your sleep rain. Electrical blackout rain.Flood your hotel room rain. Yes, it’s very wet here this evening. Fabulous though, I have loved every minute. I am never happier as when I am on the move exploring, trying new things, meeting new people, exploring new food cultures, trying new tastes. Generally successful although Tuna Salami is not my friend. Is it anyones? It actually beats Sweden’s fermented herring with its unexpected fishy power …