Oh the food in Italy!

If you’ve read my earlier posts you may remember that my beautiful husband took me to Paris and Italy for our honeymoon. We spent eight glorious days in arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Amalfi, Italy – View from our hotel balcony. AMAZING!

See. What did I tell you?

One of my favorite parts of the trip, of course, was the food. Oh . . . the food.

Well, aside from getting food poisoning on the plane and throwing up four of the eight hour flight to Paris. There is nothing more romantic than holding both hands over your mouth while frantically looking for a bathroom in the Paris airport. If you’ve been there you’ll know that THERE ARE NO PUBLIC BATHROOMS in the airport and therefore you will have to toss your cookies up into the recycle bin while sympathetic tourists and employees stare aghast at your misery. Let me tell you that a cab ride in Paris with a stomach turning circles is NOT a good time. My first day in Europe was sadly marred by a tummy revolution but I would not let that spoil my attitude. I was in Paris after all. If one has to be vomitus, Paris is not a bad place to do it.

After a long nap and a long walk exploring the streets of Paris we found a bistro to have our first meal. I ordered a penne with gorgonzola sauce. WOW. There are no words to describe how very good it was.

a Paris bistro

Miraculous maybe.

The meal which stands out most for me was a mushroom risotto I had in Firenze. It’s flavors were layered and rich. The serving was huge and I honestly could have eaten more.  The trattoria was called Il Porcospino (the porcupine).

Il Porcospino Trattoria

It’s in a building older than the US. The restaurant is situated in S.Lorenzo neighbourhood, in front of Cappelle Medicee and is on the ground floor of Benci Palace built in the XVI century. It was beautiful!

We ate outside on the sidewalk and were seated next to (not surprisingly) Americans who were preparing to move there. They knew the wait staff and it was so much fun. We talked and drank to much and honestly had one of the best dates we’ve ever had. Here we would have the first Lemoncello of our trip.  We are converts. Yum.

So, the point to this blog was to tell you about my attempt to make risotto. Trader Joe’s had a box of Arborio rice with a recipe. I should have followed Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe.  It was good but lacked the depth and richness of Il Porcospino’s.

What I learned about the food in Europe. Ingredients matter. Fresh is best. Oh my goodness, yes.

Finally …

A produce market that sold the most amazing peaches. Yum!

Most of my cognitive life I have dreamt of going to Europe. I’m not exactly sure when this notion came to me  but I imagine it has something to do with a love of history my father instilled in me and the history classes themselves in grade school. I can remember seeing Pompeii in textbooks and the casts of the people they found. I loved Greek and Roman mythology and fantasized about traveling to these exotic locales to explore and excavate them myself.

My new husband made my dreams come true by being my Prince Charming and by sweeping me off my feet to a fantasy honeymoon in Paris, Firenze, Amalfi, Capri and finally Roma. It was perfect. We took our time exploring the famous cities which are so ripe with tourist fruit. To try to see every museum, palace, cathedral and historical landmark would, to us, have been folly. We walked around Paris holding hands, taking pictures, kissing, laughing and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Here are a few of the nearly 5000 pictures we took. I realize no one will enjoy seeing them as we had taking them but some are quite beautiful and when you’re in such amazing cities and countryside every step is a photo-op, right?

Sacre Couer – fantastic!

I really fell in love with all of the gargoyles. I’d never given them much thought until I actually saw some.

This is a fountain in front of Sacre Couer. I was fascinated by the way the water fell over this character. He really is working hard to hold up this weight.

Me at Montmartre, Paris, France.

I took this photo at Versailles. The gardens truly are remarkable.

Amalfi, Italy was our favorite. It is not a place for the infirm or weak kneed. If you have the means … go.

There were dogs and cats everywhere. The cats were generally homeless. I’m not sure about the dogs, they all seemed well cared for.

I am not a fan of fall.

I realize this is an unusual sentiment. All over Facebook and Pinterest everyone is proclaiming their love of fall and all of it’s trappings. For me it’s just a reminder that cold is coming, the leaves are dying and we’re in for seven to nine months of brown. It reminds of school starting and, sad to say,  I never liked going back to school because summer was too much fun. It reminds me that winter is coming and bringing the cold. I truly dislike being cold.

I will grant that there are some good things associated with fall. I love bonfires, the fireplace and the one week of beautiful fall foliage. I do love the food associated with fall like the squash: pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti! I love the soups: beef stew, chili and chowder. I love baking pies and breads. It’s all wonderful comfort food that warms the body and spirit. I’ve posted most of my great soup recipes and pies. I suppose it’s time to branch out and try something new. My mother bakes a pear pie every year from her pear harvest. It’s delicate and sweet and a true treat.

I think next spring I’ll plant some fruit trees. Having just come from the Amalfi Coast in Italy I’m inspired to grow even more.

I took this photo while on my honeymoon in Amalfi, Italy. This is just one of the multitude of groves dotting the mountainous countryside.

Kentucky isn’t ideal for lemons but I can certainly plant an apple, cherry or peach tree. I get so frustrated going to the market to buy fresh peaches only to come home and they are bland and mushy. What a treat it would be to pick fresh peaches every summer and fall.

The olive trees grow wild all over the country too. I would have loved to pick a bunch to bring home but I haven’t the first idea of how they make them edible. We did see a couple men harvesting them outside our hotel. That was really fun.

I also must tell you about my amazing husband. He spoiled me rotten by even taking me to Europe. He then managed to add to the spoiling by buying me a belt, two handbags, two pairs of shoes and two bottles of aged balsamic vinegar, one is 12 years old and the other is 20 years old. If I work up the courage to open and eat them I’ll let you know.