Monthly Archives: March 2012

Italy, day 8

Lunch, on my own this time. But, hey, i can do lunch in italy or in italian, that is, no problem. I went to the cafetaria, and order panzanella. Ok I had to repeat it, cause the intonation was probably of the first time, but, panzanella is what i got. Panzanella is basically a bread salat and a very good way of getting rid of old bread. This was a very simple, but still very nice version: soaked old bread, tomatoes and basil and dressed with a little (well quite a bit actually) olive oil. Nice lunch food, especially when sitting in the sun and having this:


Around half past three then, I thought i’d done enough work, and it was time for me to sit in the sun, work on my tan, and drink an aperitivo. So, off to the piazza again, and I tried another Vernaccia in another bar. The wine was ok, the bar not so, not very friendly waitresses and well, not the right atmosphere (in case you not want to go there, it is the one next to the Bandorieno pizzeria). So after my glass of white wine, I dediced I’d had enough sun anyway, so I moved a few bars, and landed in the shadow in what seems to become my favorite (the bar pallio) and ordered an aperol spritz. They really make good ones, and the waiters and waitresses are nice.

For dinner, I decided to do something easy in the hotel, so ciabatta, some tomatoes, and i bought two new unknown cheeses: pecorino sardo dolce, a sardinian sheep cheese, nice, but not my favorite so far. And a formaggio di fossa DOP Sapori. I had no idea what it was, but google is always helpful, and it turns out to be pit cheese, and there is a nice story to it (check the link). It has a very strong taste, I think. hard to describe. But nice, and even nicer with a glass of red wine.



Italy, day 7

And again a nice food day. Today we went for lunch to the restaurant that was closed in the evenings, namely the restaurant in Ortidepecci, here. A very nice place to be, with ok-to-good but simple food (and not expensive). I ate a spaghetti with a mixed vegetable sauce, which also had some kind of pesto which was not made too fine in it, this made for a nice taste as well as a nice texture, finding something nutty in there in every bite.

After work, in the evening my colleagues and I went to Il Bandierino at the piazza (comment of my colleague, a pizza won’t the best food here anyway, so why not enjoy it with a view?). However, the pizzas were actually quite nice here, and my italian collleagues agreed. Definitely better than the other pizza I had a couple of days ago. I went for simple: pizza bufala, with tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala and some parmesan, and that was basically it. Great pizza though! I learn the distinction between two styles of crust: the very thin one is typically Roman style (which I will find out about in a week), the one with the thicker crust (which we had here) is more typical napoleonic. Ok. I don’t mind, I think i like both.

Then it was suggested to have a desert, wow, not that I was hungry anymore, but we went to a famous ice cream place, Grom, which is supposed to have the best ice in Siena. (they actually have shops all over italy, and also in some world cities, like New York, Tokyo, hmm not to surehow I feel about that). I had two tastes, ciocolate fondante and caramelo sale, or salty caramel. Especially the latter was fantastic, a really original taste for ice, and extremely good. Pefect texture, just great. I am not so in favor of chains, but well, they do a really really good job. And they seem to care about the environment as well. So, go there if you are in Italy.




Italy, day 6

Lunch: ribollita in the cafeteria of the restaurant, wow, that is heavy stuff. A bean, bread, cabage soup (well, soup? shouldn’t that be fluid to some extent? this one you could eat with a fork really). What can I say? I am not a big cabage fan, but for food with cabage this was nice. But omg do not eat this for lunch, because you will not be able to work for a while after it, nor eat.

Dinner then, I was surprised I could eat again, after the soup i though i might not need to eat for a week (pity), but around 7, i started getting hungry again, which was good, cause we were supposed to go out for dinner.

We tried to go to the restaurant in Ortidepecci, here, but until April 15th they are open only for lunch, which I might try some other day. Instead, we ended up in a classical trattoria, Papei, which is famous for its local food. Papei looks a bit messy, but that is basically cause it is reallly informal, I think. The waiters (I didn’t see one female, btw in general there are very many male waiters I noticed) were very kind, and spoke in rapid Italian to my colleagues and in good English to me. We all had the same food, at least for primi and secundi.

For primi we had ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach, I had it served with butter and sage (which i both love), my company had it with mushrooms. It was delicious. Very good pasta, very delicate filling. perfect. The secundi was even better, we had tagliata a monticiano, meaning grilled beef, cut in rough stripes, with garlic, oil and rosemary. It was very very very good beef. very tender, perfectly done, and the combination of flavours was just great. A pity one can eat only so much. As contorno we ordered carcicioffi again, this time they were done on the grill, wrapped in paper. I liked them even better then the deep fried ones.

We did not have room for desert, but ordered one anyway, here our opinions divided, one of us had cantuccini with vin santo. The other had something that was called chocolate salami, which basically meant a very very rich chocolate pie (a sinn on a plate, honestly). and I had torta di nonna. Grandmothers cake, a cake with a kind of cream filling, or rather a kind of pudding, topped with chopped almonds. It was great. Dinner was finished with an espresso with shot of grappa, hoping this would help digest all the delicious food (it did as a matter of fact, i did not feel as having overeaten).

I can only smile after such a nice dinner, in such nice company (i learnt the story of the gallo nero, and also to spot venus and jupiter)




Italy, day 5

Plans have been changed, the dinner with colleagues for today has been postponed to tomorrow, since we figured we would all be more relaxed then. Which meant, today, I had to cater for myself.

No problem. Lunch was ok, but apart from the burning sun we sat in, nothing special. After I gave my talk, I decided I would invite myself to a glass of white wine at the piazza. I had a vernaccia, which was nice, but I think it could have been nicer. it was a little to sour to my taste, but, well, view, sun, etc. made up for this completely. And I also did not expect them to serve their best wine by the liter, or as it was in my case, 1/4 litro. For really good wine, i probably should have ordered a bottle, but, since i was alone…well, i decided to keep that treat for next week.

Then I went to an alimentari and bought pasta with tomatoes and ham, which I warmed up in the hotel, as well as grilled zucchini and pepper, which were delicious, really really really good. I wish I could get them this good at home.

But, the real treat of today, was something sweet. I know, I violated fasting. but i did so for a good reason, a good friend of mine, who knows italy well, said in Siena she had the best ricciarelli in the whole world. Now, I had to admit that I did not even know what ricciarelli was, but she told me she did a lot of research (she is a scientist after all), and as it happened to be, the best place in the world for these biscuits was just around the corner of my hotel. Which was the first reason I had to buy them. The second one, was that I promised to eat one for her. So I went to Via San Girolamo (Siena) and there is a panificio at number 9-11 which is called S. Girolamo, and there they were. Of course I couldn’t resist trying one immediately. And indeed: biscuit heaven. These are incredibly good. I don’t know what less good ones taste like, but should you ever be in Siena, go to S. Girolamo and buy them!

Italy, day 4

Breakfast in the hotel, unspectacular (but hey, since when were the italians known for their breakfast?)

Lunch at work (yes, really, I am actually working here): grilled eggplant, with mozzarella and tomato. The concept is nice, the eggplant wasn’t, strange tangy taste, it bit a bit. But the view! Made up for everything.

For dinner, I went to Osteria la sosta di Violante a recommendation from my Senese colleagues. Service was again very kind. It was quiet in the restaurant, but not unpleasantly so. I ordered tap water…AND GOT TAPWATER! Hurrah!

I ordered a glass of red house wine too, which turned out to be very nice. For food I had pici cacio e pepe because i had read somewhere that that was a local specialty for Siena. The pici I already had the other day, but then with artichokes and ewe cheese. It is turning into my new favourite pasta, i sure need to bring a package home. i like the consistency of it. It is much thicker than spaghetti, it almost has the consistency of spätzle (which i like a lot too).

Anyway, i wasn’t very hungry, and because of the cheese sauce I thought I would not be able to eat much more (true), and only order a cotorno, namely fried artichokes. Those I like a lot too, but the ones I had the other day, where better.

all in all a much better food experience than yesterday. Let’s see what day 5 will bring me!

Italy, day 3

So, day three was a bit of a disappointment, first i had an overprized and not so great cappucino on the piazza. But, it was in the sun, and i was in my tanktop, so, i did not complain. Moreover, I had made myself breakfast that morning with strawberries, pear and fruit yoghurt (which counts as a violation of my fasting, it being sweet stuff from the supermarket..sorry), so i had had something nice already. Lunch was the same as day 2, I ate all the fontina, man is that a nice cheese, really good! And i ate the rest of the bread, and tomatoes.

For dinner, I had hope to go to a small restaurant which my colleagues had recommended. But alas, closed on sunday. Instead I walked to the piazza del campo, since it is such a nice place to be, and looked for a restaurant there, aware of the fact that i might land in a tourist trap. I had had a nice pasta on day 0 there, so I hoped the best of it. Only the restaurant i knew was pretty full, so I walked further, Many highly overprized restaurants, but there was one -Ristorante alla Speranza- which looked nice and was reasonably priced. And since i opted for pizza, I thought not so much could go wrong anyway. The service was very very nice. Of course it was a quiet evening and all that and I don’t know how these guys react under stress, but now: very kind and attentive.

When I read this:

i probably should have left immediately…

anyway, i ordered a pizza ciaccino bosciaiolo con mozzarella funghi salsiccia e origano, as well as a glass of chianti and i tried to order a glass of tap water. The first thing I was asked back: still or sparkling? Ha ha, no no no, I meant simple water from the tap, not bottled. Ok! He understood. He said.

And then came back to fill my glass with Chianti, which was nice. And after a while, came back with a small bottle of still water. Not tap water. Is it possible at all to get tap water in Italy? Such a waste, all those bottles travelling around the globe. But well, I didn’t complain, basically because apparently they did not understand my english, and my italian is not good enough to discuss the type of water beyond still and sparkling.

Then the pizza arrived. No oregano. Or if it was there, it was well hidden. And, more worse, I am pretty sure the funghi were not fresh, but from a glass. And if there is anything I cannot stand, then it is glassed champignons on a pizza (or anywhere really). And then, in Italy?How hard is it to cut three real fresh champignons and put the slices on the pizza? I am sure it is even cheaper too. As said a disappointment. It was btw a pizza bianco, without the tomatosauce, and that I did like for a change.

Anyway, I just looked up the reviews on Tripadvisor for this restaurant, and everyone is quite positive. Hmm, strange. I won’t go there again, not for dinner that is.








Italy day two

not so exciting as yesterday, since i did not went out for dinner, but instead bought stuff in the supermarket. I will be here for a while, and i don’t like going out for dinner all the time. Apart from that, this way i could combine eating with chatting with a friend who is abroad as well.

anyway, after breakfast i had a perfect capuccino on a terrace with the sun on my face. Very nice!

Lunch and Dinner were then basically the same: fresh Italian strawberries (hmmm), pear, cherrie tomatoes, cheese (fontina and tallegio), salami, ciabatta. Very nice as well

Dinner was accompagnied by a chianti classico. I learnt how to recognize a good Chianti from a bad one from my colleagues here. I had told them, that in Germany, so many bad Chiantis are sold, so that i hardly ever buy one, there. They were surprised (is there such a thing as a bad Chianti??? yes there is, apparently you guys keep the good stuff here, which is what i would do if i made Chianti myself. And these colleagues live in the Chianti area, so they will not drink the bad stuff, of course), but anyway, then they told me if it  is a Chianti classico and it has a little black rooster (gallo nero) on the lable, right below the cork, then it cannot be bad.

I put that to test by buying myself a black rooster wine form the supermarket for 5,25. Experiment 1 supported the hypothesis.

I’ll test more, i hope.