Posts Tagged ‘J & K’

Cornflakes with chocolate milk and nocciola yogurt

Our family and the wonderful nocciola yogurt lady at Hotel Maxim

Jamie says:  Arrivederci (goodbye), Hotel Maxim, and arrivederci, Florence!  We ate our last breakfast at Hotel Maxim and said our farewell to the nocciola yogurt Italian woman.  I enjoyed my last nocciola yogurt and cereal.  I made chocolate milk by using the cocoa powder next to the coffee and stirring it in cold mix; I then added cornflakes and sliced a banana that my Dad got from the little vending stand he frequented.  Of course it was delicious- there was chocolate involved.  After lugging our heavy suitcases down the stairs and grabbing a few last-minute souvenirs (I got a perfume that I had been thinking about from Santa Maria Novella Perfumery), we hopped on the train for… VENICE!

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Chocolate gelato with chocolate candies and vanilla gelato with fruit

Jamie says:  On our way to the train station from Lucca to Florence, we stopped in a little shop to grab some bottled waters.  The mounds of gelato were calling to me, and I didn’t have a gelato yet (a “goal” for the trip was at least one gelato every day).  And who knows the gelato in Lucca could taste different, right?.  I ordered a chocolate gelato with chunks of chocolate candies and the vanilla gelato with fruit.  I loved the crunch of the chocolate and fruit!  I can now say the gelato in Lucca is good, too!

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Peasant soup


Seafood salad

Jamie says:  When we arrived in Lucca, it was quite late and we were starving- ready for some lunch.  We had a restaurant in mind, and I navigated our way there.  The restaurant was so charming, but it was closed!  (But don’t worry, we went back for dinner- see blog post above.)  We realized there were limited restaurant choices since most places were closed around 3:00 PM.  We found Fontanini to be open and dined outside.  I enjoyed the peasant soup and the bread.  It was just what I needed- something to hold me over for a couple of hours until our early dinner at the charming restaurant…

Kathryn says: My seafood salad, although a bit skimpy on the seafood, was tasty. On a hot afternoon sitting outside, I was happy to get a cold meal – chunks of octopus and slices of calamari on iceberg lettuce with carrots and tomatoes. The seafood tasted like it was marinated in vinegar and was nice and chewy. After fueling up on a light but satisfying meal, I was ready for a bike ride around Luca’s ramparts.

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Muesli with hot milk, nocciola yogurt, kiwi, and Nocita chocolate hazelnut spread

Jamie says:  The kind woman in charge of breakfast at Hotel Maxim again presented us with four of the coveted nocciola (hazelnut) yogurts. (There were still none in the little refrigerator at the breakfast bar…she must have been saving all of them for us.)  I enjoyed one along with muesli (uncooked oatmeal and dried fruit) with hot milk (no low fat or fat free milk options here).  I saved the kiwi and Nocita chocolate hazelnut spread for for later.

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J's salad

J's arugula pizza

K's antipasto

Jamie says:  We ate dinner at on a side street (at the restaurante Giannino) not far from the Duomo and our Florence “home” (aka hotel room).  I ordered a salad which turned out to have a rainbow of  veggies on top and an arugula pizza with some black olives. The pizza crust was  thin compared to American pizza.  We enjoyed eating outside.

Kathryn says: I was craving meat and cheese, so I ordered the antipasto platter for dinner. It came with thick slices of salami, paper-thin prosciutto, two blocks of provolone, arugula, bruschetta, chicken liver pate (which I gave to Mom since I’m not a fan of liver) and a little bowl of artichokes with olive oil and cooked mushrooms on the bottom. It was salty and oily and pungent – everything I was looking for (except for the liver, of course). Afterward, J and I met some nice Italian locals and chatted on the steps of the Duomo. We picked up a few more Italian words, like tesoro, which means darling.

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Coffee, mint chocolate chip, and Bocci gelato

Jamie says:  We stopped at a gelateria called Gelateria Brivido (Via Pellegrini 1), right off Piazza del Campo in the medieval town of Siena. We agreed upon coffee, mint chocolate chip, and Bocci gelato.  Again K and I had our favorites and found them delicious!  I’d definitely recommend the place!

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Nonna's handwritten menu

Bread and Pellegrino

Gnocchi in secret sauce

Greasy, garlicky chicken and roasted veggies

Sausage (Siena, Italy)

After meal liquors

Osteria Nonna Gina

Jamie says:  I navigated our way to Osteria Nonna Gina (Piano dei Mantellini 2;  by Hotel Duomo; tel. 0577-287-247;) in Siena using our Rick Steves guidebook.  Oh, lunch at Nonna’s.  It was a favorite, if not “the” favorite, meal of the trip for sure.  The gnocchi, pillows of soft goodness in a secret sauce (the only hint we got was that it was vegetarian) was to die for.  The greasy, garlicky chicken with veggies was just like my Grandma’s, meaning it was amazing. K enjoyed some of her sausage, but it was “very, very salty.”  With the bill came-surprise- two large bottles of liqueur and four little shot glasses.  We poured ourselves some amaretto and grappa, . Thank you Rick Steves’ Italy guidebook for the restaurant recommendation.

According to one of our waitresses during the trip, the word “osteria” means “one of those restaurants where the woman is working in the kitchen” (I took this to mean a family restaurant with good home-cookin’).  Nonna means Grandmother in Italian.  Since my cousin Ashley is pregnant and the first one to be having a baby among my first cousins, we started to think that maybe we would call my Grandmother “Nonna.”

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Nocciola (hazelnut) yogurts

Hard roll with Nocita chocolate hazelnut spread

Jamie says:  After expressing our love for the noccola yogurt, the kind woman who worked the kitchen of Hotel Maxim made special arrangements for us.  She saved us four nocciola yogurts and brought them out to me as soon as I arrived for breakfast.  I felt lucky.  I also enjoyed a hard roll with Nocita chocolate hazelnut spread and a kiwi.

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Red house wine

Fried zucchini flowers

Grilled vegetables

Pasta dish with olives in red sauce


Pear pecorino balsamic ravioli

Trattoria Da Garibardi

Jamie and Kathryn say: We were delighted to show Mom and Dad to a charming restaurant we found- Trattoria Da Garibardi (Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 38r – 50123 Florence, Italy; tel. 055212267; website: www.garibardi.it; email: info@garibardi.it). It served gluten-free pizza and pasta too – a rare find in the United States and in Florence. We sat outside under the cloth umbrellas. We shared a half liter of red house wine. We were also thrilled to order our first fried zucchini flowers, which Elizabeth Gilbert raved about in Eat, Pray, Love. The zucchini flowers were paper-thin with a light, salty fried coating.

J says:  I ordered grilled vegetables (it was nice to have some more veggies in addition to all the bread/pasta in the Italian meals) and a delicious pasta dish with olives and a red sauce.  With some parmesan cheese on top it was moto bene (very good).

K says:  For my appetizer, I ordered a salty, flavorful caponata of small chunks of oily eggplant, red peppers and green olives. For my main dish, I enjoyed pear pecorino balsamic ravioli. It was a nice, thinner pillow pasta with a savory mix of pear preserves and ricotta cheese drizzled fancily with light zigzags of balsamic vinegar reduction. Afterward, we wandered through the nearby paper store

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Cafe' Zero

Jamie says:  Mom ordered a Café Zero when we got our gelato.  She let us try some.  It’s a frozen, slushy coffee drink.  It was so good- just like a Starbucks Frappuccino!  K and I started looking for Café Zeros at other places and couldn’t seem to find them whenever we wanted one but  found them all the time whenever we didn’t want one.  They looked like they belong in a McDonalds (which we later discovered, some McDonalds do carry them).  I hope they sell them in the States, too.

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