Exactly one year ago, my husband and I were in Italy for our honeymoon. Even though we were married in October 2010, we waited 6 months to travel in hopes of warmer weather in Italy. Thankfully our plan panned out, and we had glorious weather for the two weeks we were there. Although I had been to Europe a couple times in the past, I hadn’t had the opportunity yet to visit Italy and I had been dying to experience la dolce vida and of course the delicious cuisine.
Going to Italy is almost a rite of passage when the man you marry is named Luigi Iuppa. Even though he is only 25% Italian, his ancestors hail from Sicily. We began our trip with 5 days in Rome, then headed south to the beautiful coastal cities of the Amalfi Coast for another 5 days, and finally finished our vacation taking in the sights and food of Sicily. Every bit of the vacation was amazing, and I *heart* Italy! Rome is definitely my most favorite large city in Europe to date. The architecture, people, and food can’t be described by words; everything in Italy must be felt through the senses, especially the taste buds. Since Luigi and I met in culinary school, we didn’t have a problem eating our way through the countryside. Everyday we were spoiled with espresso, gelato, wine, and artisan meats and cheeses (although in Italy nothing is called “artisan” because everything is created in a traditional method in small batches, this is just the norm). The best part was knowing that all the food was made or grown with in a 100 mile radius, and hand crafted; nothing was processed. When we traveled outside the center of Rome we saw this first hand; fruits and veggies planted on every rolling green hill, goats and cows roaming open pastures, amazing citrus groves in Amalfi, fish stands with creatures straight from the sea (nothing that had been frozen), and of course many, many grape vines!
While in Rome, we mostly used one book to get around: Food Wine Rome (Terroir Guides) by David Downie. With his book guiding us to all the culinary delights in the city, along with a map, we were set. We basically planned our day around where we wanted to eat, and then took in all the sights and architecture surrounding those areas! We also did a fair amount of drinking in addition to all the eating. Everyday started with a cappuccino at our B&B, but then we would also stop for a mid morning espresso, and an afternoon cappuccino and cookie. In Rome, we visited the oldest wine shop in the city, Trimani, where we stocked up on wine for the trip and also enjoyed a tasty lunch. WE also found craft beer in Rome at a local brewery, Open Baladin. Luigi makes his own beer, so he loves trying new brews. In Marsala, Sicily we visited Donnafugata winery and tasted the delcious Nero d’Avola varietal. Unfortunately we couldn’t take much home due to our bags already being close to the weight limit.
So, in remembrance of my trip, I have decided to challenge myself for the next two weeks to only make recipes that embody the foods I feasted on in Italy. Some of my favorite foods were: fresh ricotta, gelato, agnolotti, pasta with spring artichokes and favas, sauteed mussels, cannoli, fresh bread, pizza with eggplant, pasta carbonara, arancini, and a mille feuille dessert. So the recipes I’ll be sharing on the blog for the next couple of weeks will hopefully be a couple of these dishes. Another part of this challenge will be that I am moving this week (only 2 miles away)! The new house is larger with a bigger kitchen and a great side yard with a raised garden bed already built-in. The downside is having to pack up and move! I am hoping that by cooking dishes reminiscent of the flavors Luigi and I experienced on our honeymoon, that we will be distracted (at least for a short time) from the chaos of the move and be reminded of out time spent in Italy.