August 06, 2014

Schnitzel in Switzerland (Zurich)

We'd planned to have a leisurely day of wandering around Zurich, but our train from Rome got delayed. A four-hour layover in Milan meant we didn't get to our Zurich hotel until 10pm. It was dark, we were tired and hungry, and we had an early wake-up call the next day to head off to Germany. Rough life, but someone's got to live it!

We took a 5 minute walk from our hotel down to a cluster of restaurants. I love the outside-menus that let you do some quick math before walking inside. We selected the Rheinfelder Bierhalle and were quickly seated by an effusively welcoming manager. We are not a small group, but he didn't even blink and quickly found our party a spot all together (and he snapped our group photo!)
I'm not much of a beer drinker, so I ordered a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. I hadn't had one in a while, and it was just what I needed. Enough caffeine to fuel me until we returned to our hotels and took our 5 hour 'naps!'

I ordered a plate of schnitzel to share with LaShauna. We were surprised that our pork wasn't breaded and fried, but it was still delicious (and easily big enough to share). It came with rosti potatoes, a Swiss take on potato pancakes/hash browns. These were so good-- nice brown, crunchy exterior, fluffy potato inside, and expertly seasoned. Salty, creamy, crunchy and just the best.

It didn't even need any of the interesting seasoning options available at our table!

Another dish--bratwurst and rosti!

We loved the welcoming atmosphere of Reinfelder. I'd go back here in a heartbeat, and while I'd love to try more dishes, I would DEFINITELY get those rosti potatoes again! This restaurant is a short walk from the train station, easy to find, easy to navigate, and above all--delicious! 
Placemats around the world...a new collection to start?

This was our first impression of Zurich, and it was an excellent one. Vielen dank to all of our gracious hosts along the way this night!

Rheinfelder Bierhalle
Niederdorfstrasse 76
8001 Z├╝rich, Switzerland

+41 44 251 54 64

August 05, 2014

Giolitti (Rome, Italy)

I was going to wait a few days to post this visit, but Buzzfeed just published a list of some of the world's most visit-worthy ice cream/gelato spots, and Giolitti was on the list!

This ice cream parlor has been serving up sweet endings in Rome since 1900, so I guess in 2014 we're a little late to the party. We stopped here on a late night in Rome, after a good bit of walking around in drizzly, damp weather. Gelato is always in season!
I was a little confused at first-- at Giolitti, you pay up front at the cashier, and THEN you pick up your product. But how am I supposed to know what I want when there are so many choices! It took me a while to decide.

 Giolitti is known for its gelato, but it also had a dizzying, heady display of sweets, from cannoli to Nutella tarts. I resisted the tart, but snagged a cannoli for later (leave the tart, take the cannoli)-- and when I had it the next day for a snack on the train, it was STILL sensational.

The cannoli of my dreams...

But tonight was about the gelato. I got a bit shy and was less brave about snapping photos, but I enjoyed the fancy uniforms the (handsome) young Italian men behind the counter wore. They looked a lot like Disney's Prince Phillip's fancy dress whites-- I'll have to research that more.
I first tasted pear gelato in my 1999 trip (then in Sorrento), and I've never forgotten it. This is NOT the same thing as pear sorbet, which I sometimes find gritty and bland. Pear gelato is a light, fragrant, delectable cloud of flavor. Sublime. And at Giolitti, they ask if you want freshly whipped cream on TOP of the gelato. YES PLEASE THANK YOU. You will not regret it. I got another flavor on top of the pear (Amarena cherry, maybe?), but the pear completely stole the spotlight.
This is a hot spot for locals and tourists alike, at least from what we saw during our stay there, and the gelato was incredibly delicious. If you're wandering around Rome, you'll be happy to take a side trip over here.

Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40
Roma, Italy
+39 06 699 1243

August 04, 2014

Roscioli Wine Tasting (Rome, Italy)

Trevi Fountain selfie!

Guys-- seriously. This trip was so incredible that every time I'd sit down and try to put it into words, I'd feel it was too impossible a task. (For more photos of the deliciousness we sampled in this post, visit my blog's Facebook page here!)

I'd been to Rome once before on a pass-through, spending less than 8 hours in the city (back in the day when you could leave your bags at a random hostel while you went sightseeing-- I can't even believe that happened)-- I saw the Coliseum, the Spanish steps, ate some so-so pizza, and felt generally underwhelmed with the city. I knew I'd go back someday, but then 15 years had passed and I'd still not returned.
A group of girlfriends & I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, so one of them (I'm looking at you, LaShauna) decided it was time to go wild and take a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime trip together. We hit a ton of cities, one right after the other, and had amazing adventures in each one. Sleep later, enjoy now! (And this is why we have credit cards, right? Um...right?)

So my first, super-long-overdue entry, was about a lovely, personalized, worth-the-trip-just-to-visit-here wine tasting at Roscioli in Rome, Italy. 

Jet-lagged, rain-soaked, over-tired, but ready to learn..and sip!

 LaShauna had heard of this class after seeing Anthony Bourdain give it high ratings, and that was enough for us. (Spoiler alert: Bourdain was right, right, RIGHT!)

Alessandro Pepe is the purchasing manager for Roscioli, a restaurant and wine-tasting venue in the heart of Rome. He normally does open classes, but we opted for a private class, as our group was at least 10 ladies. It was a little extra money, but worth every penny (euro)!

Alessandro had picked out a gorgeous selection of whites and reds for us to try (8 wines in all). He first asked our wine preferences, and realized that they mostly swerved to the sweet and maybe not-so-sophisticated, so he  vowed to educate our palates by the class's end. Quite the challenge!
I, personally, adore an Italian red, but wouldn't necessarily be able to say why. I also don't know a lot about Italian whites, and I couldn't wait to learn. Bring on the knowledge!

With each glass (every one of them a generous pour, might I add) we got a tasting of a savory Italian treat-- a rich, creamy house-made cheese, a single, succulent meatball, and in one case, a much-needed bowl of pasta Alla Amatriciana.. all of which we devoured.

house-made burrata

Cheese topped with caramelized onions (front) and fig jam (back)
A meatball with the perfect piece of polenta 
Carbs, glorious carbs...
We also had a generous serving of tiramisu, one of my favorite desserts of all time. I took one bite and had a 'moment.' This is one of the most heavenly, sublime, sumptuous tiramisu I've had the pleasure of tasting. This bite alone would have been worth the flight to bella Roma!

There wasn't a bad wine in the bunch, as you can imagine. AlesSandro, bless his heart, also encouraged us to "finish the bottles" we had left. If you know me, you know I'M VERY LITERAL. Apparently, I took these words to heart, and had a few more glasses.

Holding the 5th wine we sampled, a  Negroamaro & a crowd favorite...

Oh, Alessandro. This Irish girl got a bit animated, and WAY TOO TALKATIVE. When Alessandro mentioned that he was planning to come to New York to sample our wines, I became FAR too enthusiastic, and perhaps interrupted a bit too much due to said enthusiasm. Perdonami, Alessandro, per favore!

By the time the class finished, we truly had developed a greater appreciation for even more wines, and we'd not only LEARNED, but we'd so enjoyed it. I must thank Alessandro again, not only for his enthusiastic sharing of wisdom, but for his unfailing patience, and his generous hospitaliano. I can't recommend this class enough. If you're in Rome, you MUST take a class here. Just be sure to have a sandwich before-- I can't stress this enough! If you go on an empty stomach, you might find yourself enthusiastically interrupting your gracious host, Alessandro, and trust me, he's had quite enough of that!

For more information on these classes, visit their website here!

June 13, 2014

Food Truck Friday: Neapolitan Express

I'd seen the Neapolitan Express pizza truck many a time outside my workplace – but as someone who tries to keep simple carbs to a minimum, I managed to resist it for a while.

My coworker, CJ, had raved about how delicious it was. I finally decided to take her at her word and joined her for a quick lunch one day.

If you know me even a little bit, you know I love spicy. So the A Diavolo, with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, hot cherry peppers, and spicy sausage was an easy pick for me. 
CJ's Di Parma (which I tried later--delish!)

I love everything about this pizza – the perfect amount of red sauce, the spiciness of the peppers and the sausage, but above all, the amazing crust.

I'm on of those people who often leaves the crust for others. I'm more interested in the toppings and the sauce, frankly. However, this was one of the most amazing crusts I've ever eaten: light, fluffy kind, chewy, flavorful. It was perfection.

This went above and beyond my expectations. In fact, I went back a few weeks later and ordered the same pizza CJ ordered (di Parma, with chewy strips of prosciutto and fresh basil leaves). Once again, I was not disappointed. If you want fresh, chewy, delicious, flavorful pizza, find the Neapolitan truck, and treat yourself!

Follow them on Twitter @NeaExpress! 

June 06, 2014

Food Truck Friday: Langos

I do my best to pack fresh, healthy lunches, but sometimes even the best of intentions get sidetracked.

I spotted the Langos truck and immediately shelved my fresh salad that I'd brought for one more day, and chowed down on a Hungarian specialty: Langos.

Langos (pronounced Lang-osh) are a type of yeasty bread covered in garlic, sour cream, and cheese. What's not to love? The crust reminds me a bit of a danish, chewy and flaky and not at all heavy.

I opted for the pepper lovers, which came with red and yellow peppers, aged Gouda cheese, and a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives.

This entire bit of deliciousness was 7 dollars-- a steal to me!

The staff are friendly, the toppings are fresh, and it doesn't take much time at all. I waited maybe 5 minutes, and chatted with the friendly workers in the truck who are eager to talk about their homeland of Hungary. I admitted I didn't know much about their country, but they were quite enthusiastic that I should visit sometime!

You can follow them on Twitter to find out where they're serving for the day-- @langostruck. Enjoy!

May 22, 2014

Bigelow's Clam Shack (Long Island, NY)

ABF & I have been driving by Bigelow's Clam Shack (in Rockville Centre, Long Island) for a good 6 years, but it wasn't until last weekend that we finally went inside and tried the goods.

It is a tight little space with a bit of seating around the countertop, and a steady business in take out orders.

ABF & I started with Stewart's black cherry soda, a splurge all its own.

I was beyond hungry, and I wanted a little bit of everything... but I really wanted the clam strips. We ordered the clam strips appetizer to share. This was beyond delicious- fried but not greasy, chewy but not rubbery, and a salty briny taste that reminded me of a day on the beach in the best way.

We also got some onion rings (did I mention how hungry I was?), and they were okay. Just okay. The breading at Bigelow's tasted very bland to us. However, they offer plenty of condiments at the table, from hot sauce to vinegar, so I suppose that's the point. You can change the flavor with every bite.

ABF ordered the fish & chips with flounder. This was tasty, and quite a large serving of fish (three pieces), and also came with fries. Skip the fries.

I ordered the fried cod sandwich. This also came with 3 big pieces of juicy cod. I got a slice of cheese as well, because I apparently I decided to go all out on this meal. Soda, fried food, AND cheese? Why the hell not?!
My sandwich was good-- delicious fish, even better with the tartar sauce, but I, too, could have skipped the fries.

Bigelow's was also a very welcoming spot, with great service and friendly staff. They checked in on us a few times (more than one person, even) to make sure we were enjoying the meal and that we got everything we ordered (oh boy, did we!)

We walked out of there stuffed to the gills (ha), but I still found myself wishing I'd had more clam strips. I'd go back in a flash for the clam bellies sandwich (yum!) or more clam strips, but I'd skip the onion rings & fries the next go-round.

Bigelow's Fried Clams
79 N Long Beach Road
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
(516) 678-3878

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