Travel


October, 2015: my annual voyage to Italy.

I visited my cugini in Bologna. I really love to spend time with cugina (Italo-Americano) Paul, his beautiful Italian wife Laura, and one of their daughters: the adorable Michelle. The other daughter, Alessandra, is in California right now – attending high school in the Bay Area.

Bologna is, as I mentioned in a prior post, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Pretty much when you think of Italian food, you are really thinking of food from this region: prosciutto, lasagna, tortellini, ragu, etc.

Food in Italy — as in many countries, even the USA — is regional. On this trip, I discovered many foods that, for the most part, haven’t “travelled” to American tables. Like:

Tigella – you can read about these little discs of breadliness in my post – Tigella Paradiso

Garganelli – a quill-shaped egg pasta served in brodo or with ragu. Maybe I have seen this pasta shape before, but I don’t remember. It is the pasta being held in the left hand of my new “friend” from Bagnocavallo:  Signora Maria.

You can read all about my adventures with Sig. Maria on my sister blog, rulingwoman.com. In short, I learned to make this pasta and fully intend to do so when I return to America. 

Giuggiole (JEW-joh-lay) is this fruit that grows on trees around Bologna.  

It looks like a nut. When you bite into it, it has a crunch and taste like an apple, with a pit.  Beautiful. I’d like a sweater in the colors of the giuggiole.  And, finally

Passatelli in brodo. Very VERY regional. My cugini and I went to a restaurant on my last night in Bologna. When the waitress spieled off the dishes for the night, she mentioned Passatelli. My cugina, Laura, was delighted when she heard that, and immediately ordered it. “What is it,” I entreated.  It is a “pasta” made out of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, lemon and nutmeg that is pushed through a press with holes (extruded almost like spaetzle though not quite). Passare –  passed through. Dropped into a rich, steaming-hot broth. The waitress ladled this brothy, cheesy, doughy bit of wonderfulness into our bowls. Yep, I slurped it right up, I’m sure of it! Luckily, I didn’t have my phone with me, so nothing could stop me from diving right into this sensuous repast. 

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So busy going to the Minnesota State Fair, I have little time to chronicle my adventures, but follows is a quickie list of foods I have eaten — probably not in order, because I’m still digesting. Haha. Get it!?!?

* Honey sunflower ice cream plus multi-spoonfuls of honey tastings 
* Corn on the cob
* Sausage sampler from Cynthia’s Sausage booth of Irish sausage, wild rice with jalapeño and cheese sausage, Swedish sausage speckled with potato bits. Served in a paper tray with sauerkraut 
* Nibble of bison hotdog – Chicago style – which, btw, I don’t get. Why junk up a perfectly good hotdog with all those condiments? Makes no sense to me, but then I’m not a fan of Chicago
* Two sips of a craft beer (with a touch of cardamom) from my friend’s flight of MN beers
* Vanilla milkshake from the Moo Bar outside the Cattle Barn
* Turkey-to-Go. How good can a turkey sandwich be? Come to the fair and find out. It’s near the Poultry Barn. 
* Walleye Roll (think lobster roll – but with flaked walleye: a Minnesota-based perch, wild rice! celery and lightly mayoed on a thick slab of open-faced bread touched with butter). This might be my FAVORITE dish at the fair!
* Walleye cakes (like crab cake only with walleye and a tad bit of smoked salmon). Yum!
* Pronto Pup®
* Cup of coffee
* Deep-Fried pumpkin pie with cinnamon ice cream
 

Minni Pumpkin Pie

 

One of my favorite dishes to seek out when traveling is rabbit cooked in almost any style. Coniglio in Italy. Lapin in France, or as it turns out, in Belgium. 

This is the dish I ordered in this hip little restaurant in Brussels. In English – the joint was called “Greedy Glutton.”  There were some Americans or Brits in the room, but there were as many (if not more) locals at the tables 
 
I ordered this Lapin, a saddle of rabbit, cooked in a type of Belgian Lambic called Geuze. Served with frites, of course. On the side: a simple, perfectly-dressed green salad. To drink: a flavorful blonde Belgian beer.  

Our waiter was an eccentric-looking man. Picture an Ichabod Crane dandy with high waist pants held up by a belt that hitched up the back loop. He was laconic. And possessed just enough English to take our order, and display a wry sense of humor. I asked him if a particular lambic/beer beverage was good. He wrinkled his fringe- covered brow, paused, then answered ‘well, it’s okay.’  

He almost grimaced when my table mates ordered soup and fries. “As you like…” He muttered. With a slight smile on his face. 

It was fun. And, oh so good. 

Hippety. Hoppety. Then on to the chocolate shops. 
 

Ain’t no doubt about it, I hit the best. The BEST, the veritable mother lode of awkward English menus – at a great restaurant in Prague. 

 There were special categories on the menu for “FEEDERS” – which, after we grilled the waiter (or barbecued him, as one of our guest speakers said this week) – we are pretty sure really meant “foodies.”
 
But this was my favorite on that multi-lingual ode to gastronomy. 
 
Now doesn’t that just sound delicious? Spicy sausage of the chef. Yum. Yum. 
 
 
 

When I found myself alone (got disconnected from my peeps after looking for a cash machine – more on this misadventure on Ruling Woman) — I went looking to get me some Czech food. 

I ended up at a little off-the-path (but not too much, had to get back to the hotel to meet the group – and I didn’t want to get lost again. It was bad enough I got split from my group). And ordered a potato soup that the menu described “in bread”. No suspense — you can see the picture. But I thought it was a mistranslation – and I think the waiter was laughing under his breath when I asked for bread on the side. You know, thereto.  (see fish note)

I am told it is rather typical Bohemian. And it. Was. Delicious. Just what I wanted. 

When the Italians immigrated to Germany, yes, of course they brought their pasta. And, their gelato. But then they took it one step farther. 

 

Meet “Spaghetti Eis.” This dessert (which I bought in Dresden, but is apparently ubiquitous in Germany) is ice cream extruded through a noodle maker – to look like spaghetti. 

The Eis is piled over a mound of whipped cream — which I suspect was pre-frozen — and topped with sauces and crumbles and shreds that make it look like a real spaghetti dish. “Marinara” is usually strawberry (tomato sauce) with shredded white chocolate (Parmesan).  

 I picked “Spaghetti Carbonara” – which was covered in a vanilla sauce with walnuts, hazelnuts and amaretto cookies. 

Sounds a little weird. Tastes a lotta delicious. 

Three Eis Later




We are on the road — in our Mercedes-Benz bus, Abba and Beatles and the Who playing in the background — having left Berlin, now heading to Dresden. 

I am sad to see the Berlin leg of our visit end. Several of the other journalists will be returning — many of us not. 

I’m having my lunch on the bus right now – made from our hotel breakfast buffet. Cheese with little salami bits and another slice of stinky cheese. Bottled water. And a few crudités. All wrapped in plastic bags from our hotel bathrooms. 

I do have to laugh — one morning someone in our group said they were “sick of the bread.”

Really?!? They have the most incredible bread here. From hearty wheat to even sliced white. How can you get sick of this bread? I am reminded of people I knew back when I was in high school who, for one reason or the other, had the opportunity to travel to Europe (much rarer in those days of Pan Am and TWA). And they would come back 10 pounds heavier because of “all that bread!”  I understand. 

More coming for Dresden, I’m sure. More news. But also (hopefully) more bread. 

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