Category Archives: Food and Beverage

Best Places to Brunch in Florence

Brunch. Let’s not pretend it’s anything less than essential to our diet. Bloody Marys, mimosas, bagels, breakfast burritos, hash browns, pancakes…the list goes on. And while, don’t get me wrong, we love our cappuccinos and croissants, there are days a girl just needs a potato or ten. Fear not. Scattered among the corner bakeries, are some brunch spots that will blow even the best American brunch out of the water.  Here are a few:

Le Vespe

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If you are in search of a place to head when you are craving a jam packed breakfast burrito (home fries included) and one of the most delicious Bloody Marys that ever existed, Le Vespe is the spot for you. Between their all-organic ingredients and old-fashioned touch, you’ll feel right at home in no time.  Everything from freshly squeezed orange juice to their authentic and edgy vibes is worth a visit.  Step into this Californian’s paradise and order up.

The Diner

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When you’re missing a little bit of home and a typical American-style menu, make your way to The Diner. The restaurants’ American 50’s-vintage feel is more than accommodating to your homesick needs and, you can tell by the amount of people that pile in, it is worth trying out. Don’t leave without trying one of their delicious milkshakes, dipping a home fry in their greatly missed American ketchup, and ordering at least one of the various types of Eggs Benedict on the menu. You will thank me later.   

La Milkaria

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If you find yourself walking past this little gem, you would likely walk in anyway—it’s just that cute. The glowing twinkly lights surrounding the outside and black and white set-up could not be more inviting. La Milkaria, hands down, has the best waffles, crepes and pancakes in the city. Trying to satisfy a sweet tooth?  Their nutella and chocolate covered waffles covered in fresh fruit is up for the challenge.

Happy brunching!

Europe’s Most Exotic Eats

By Caroline Chesterman

Put down your pizza, paella, and baguettes, and give these unique European foods a whirl!  While these may not be your traditional food choices back in the states, they are sure to make your taste buds go wild. Bring out your inner Anthony Bourdain and munch on some of these tasty dishes. Brace yourself for some heart, lungs, blood, and other crazy animal parts. Bon appetit!

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Black pudding: A sausage made of animal blood and oatmeal. While a delicacy in the United Kingdom, it is often also eaten all across Europe. This dish is usually served with breakfast and is prepared as cold as Ursula’s heart.

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Kokoretsi: This dish consists of kidneys, lungs, hearts or sweetbread wrapped in goat intestines. This Greek combination is then put on a skewer and grilled to golden perfection. Don’t be shy, eat up!

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Haggis: Brace yourself for this one. In order to make this pudding in Scotland, they mix together a sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs along with suet (animal fat), onions, and oatmeal.  This concoction is then cooked in an animals stomach. Yum?

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Escargot: Many of you may have heard of this meal, but how many of you have tried it? Next time you are in France, try this dish consisting of snails cooked in white wine, butter, and garlic. Escargot is a must to check off your bucket list.

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Frog legs: This French dish is just what it sounds like. With a taste between a cross of chicken and fish, it can be grilled, baked, or fried. The texture is like a chicken wing, so order up a dozen of these babies and go to town!

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Casu marzu: Famous in Italy, this cheese is made of sheep’s milk. What makes it different is that it is filled with live insect larvae. The purpose of doing so is to break down the fat in the cheese. Sounds reasonable, right? So grab your crackers, cheese knife, and one helping of larvae filled cheese!

Casu-Marzu

Lutefisk: Found mostly in the Nordic countries, this cod is prepared by first drying it out and then soaking it in a lye solution for a few days. Lye is a chemical often found in cleaning products. Afterwards, it is soaked in water and voila, you have delicious fish with the texture of Jello…

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Leberkäse: The translation for this food is “liver cheese.” In Austria it is made up of horse meat, but looks like bologna. It can be prepared on a sandwich and served to your delight. Nay, to your complete satisfaction. Get it!

A hungry man holding a knife and a fork ready to eat a stack of raw steak

Hideg Meggyleves: Need to throw a dessert in here for all of the sweets lovers out there. This dish is translated to sour cherry soup.  It consists of sour cream, sour cherries, and sugar. In Hungary, it is served in the summer and is prepared chilled.

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Janjeca glava: Fancy some lamb head? Well if you happen to be in Croatia, you’re in luck! Your dish will be made up of a combination of eyeballs, tongue, brains, and cheeks. Take your pick and start chowing down.

So, do think you are ready to try some of these exotic dishes? Never be afraid to try something new! Ready, set, eat!

 

Don’t Miss American Food, Just Try Its Italian Cousins

By Eileen MacTigue

We all have American guilty pleasures we know and love. Here, we’ve compiled the equivalents so you can feel just at home in your new country. Between delis, restaurants, gelaterias, markets, cafes, and more… here are the Italian versions of our American heart attacks on a plate:

1. Buffalo Wings. Crispy, hot, small (bitesize always = eat five times as many) a little spicy, with a heavenly ranch or bleu cheese dip to cool them down. Yikes, how to beat that?tas_hooters100213_11617545_8col

Fritto Misto: literally translates to mixed fried food. My favorite are deep fried prawns (shrimps) with piccante oil and lemon wedges. Piccante oil acts as the little kick you need for a small crispy bite, while lemon juice or aioli does what ranch would do…cooling down your palate.

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2. Mac & Cheese. Need I say more?

Cacio e pepe is an Italian favorite amongst everyone. This translates to cheese and pepper. Typically spaghetti pasta, still hot out of the boiling water, gets various cheeses added to it: parmesan, pecorino, and cacio de roma (an Italian semi-soft cheese made using sheep’s milk) the cheese melts into the pasta, with some seasonings and a touch of EVOO-an Italian classic.

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3. Meatball Sub. Garlicky, melty provolone cheese, crusty bread, all smothered in marinara sauce…what can possible compare?

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Arancini di riso, of course. These little puppies originated in Sicily, Italy. Arancini are stuffed rice balls, coated with breadcrumbs, and deep fried. Arancini are typically filled with a ragu: a sausage/beef sauce (or both), tomato sauce, and mozzarella. The ball shape acts like the meatball we all love, the crunchy breadcrumbs are similar to our beloved sub rolls. Filled with meat, cheese and a dipping sauce on the side…they are the perfect substitution for a meatball sub.

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4. Breakfast Bagels. Cream cheese, lox, tomatoes, or eggs, cheese, sausage… does McDonalds’ breakfast close at 10 am in Italy too? Are there even any McDonalds in Italy?? (barely…)

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Okay now bear with me on this one: breakfast croissants. Ok, ok, they are no bagels I know, and for a long time, I refused to even try croissants. But I gave in! I needed cream cheese, and I needed something to soak up my fried egg and crispy pancetta. Places like Cristalli di Zucchero in Rome cut the croissant vertically, stuff it with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and dill. On the more “McDonalds-y” note: I love to cook so I went to the market, I bought croissants, pancetta (bacon more or less), eggs, and cheese. We bought mimosa ingredients obviously and enjoyed one of the tastiest breakfasts I’d had in Rome!

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5. Iced coffee latte, frappuccino style with soy, no whip, grande.

You’re in Italy! The best coffee is the simple coffee! Don’t be frazzled that you cannot find a Starbucks, go explore instead. Treat yourself to a doppio espresso with extra sugar, or traditional cappuccino (they usually give you a small biscuit or cookie on the side!) You’ll learn to love the real stuff—I promise.

Chocolate biscotti and cup of cappuccino

6. Bagel Bits! Why are these frozen snacks the most amazing things ever? I could honestly eat the 18 pack box in one sitting. These are my GUILTY pleasure.

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However, pizzelles are officially the better version of this addicting snack. Pizzelle frittes use homemade dough, 500+ degree ovens, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil…and are mini!!!

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These beauties are from Ristorante Napul’e in Roma.

7. Bacon Cheeseburger. This is tough. There are burgers in Italy, yes, and there is a version of American bacon. But you just have to accept that you’re going to have to wait to get a juicy-beef-yellow-American cheese-tangy pickle-sweet ketchup-salty bacon-sesame seed bun-kind of sandwich.

So, panini: substitute a beef patty for a chicken breast, American cheese for mozzarella, pickles for a zesty pesto, juicy tomatoes and basil for your sweetness rather than ketchup, and prosciutto in place of bacon. Layer it all inside a crusty ciabatta and press into the panini grill. You’ve got yourself something better than a bacon cheeseburger.

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8. Donuts, twinkies, cupcakes….Hostess products? Americans have a sweet tooth…just like Europeans. But somehow we cultivated a taste for processed, boxed, half real half questionable desserts and sweets. Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t count as “natural”.

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Zeppole, bocconotti, and more. A zeppola is a pastry consisting of deep fried dough usually topped with powdered sugar and maybe filled with custard, jelly, cream, etc. A bocconotti, originally from Abruzzo (east of Rome) translates to “mouthfuls” or “bites.” This cookie consists of a cake-like texture and can be filled with jam, Nutella, nuts, fruit, etc. Wake up one day around six in the morning, and walk through your city streets. It is quiet, peaceful, the sun is coming up, and you will smell what Heaven smells like. Bakers begin to bake fresh pastries and breads at this time and its one of the most intoxicating smells of all.

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Locals We Love: Hostaria del Moro da Tony

By Tyler Chauncey

When one goes to Tony’s in Trastevere, they leave with a full belly and a happy heart. Accomplishing that has been his mission ever since he opened his first restaurant over 35 years ago.

Other restaurants, in not just Trastevere but all over Rome, have tried to mimic Tony’s menu, process, and even his character. Still, they haven’t been able to reproduce his popularity. That’s because Tony’s quality comes from his heart. When you come into Tony’s, he puts his heart and soul into your experience and offers his genuine friendship to everyone, which is why you’ll come back. The grilled, fried, and fresh veggies, bruschetta, cheeses, breads, calamari, gnocchi, pesto, chicken and eggplant parm, tiramisu and as much wine as you’ll ever need to drink are pretty good reasons too. This heavenly combination of courses is a result of the conversations he’s had with customers over the years, who have themselves crafted the menu with their own feedback and suggestions.

Hostaria del Moro da Tony is the third location that Tony has owned in Rome. He also worked in restaurants in New York City for a few years, where he learned to work hard and fast. He combined processes, which he learned from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, with his mission of bringing happiness to the world through carbs and cheeses, to create the wildly successful operation that he runs today.

His first restaurant was also in Rome, located by the Pantheon. He did everything himself, from beginning to end. He did well, bringing in about 70 customers per day. This number dwarfs in comparison to his Trastevere restaurant today.

Tony says the American students who frequent his restaurant are his favorite customers because they are thankful and appreciative, a natural reaction after a few glasses of wine and a greeting from his handsome smile. So they will be sad to hear that Tony’s time in Trastevere is nearing an end. After serving so many late nights and 7-day work weeks, Tony is ready to retire to a smaller outfit. Surely his new restaurant will be a must see. So once Tony closes his doors keep an eye out for his smile on a new block, and if you should find him be sure to let us know.

 

Europe’s Top Rooftop Bars

By Neva Andrews

There’s only one thing better than a cocktail at the end of a hard day’s sightseeing — a cocktail in a fancy rooftop bar. The views from this new breed of European hotel rooftop bar are so good, you could even call your afternoon drinks sightseeing. These chic rooftops are taking European cities’ nightlife to new heights for locals and guests alike with decadent designs, master mixologists, and stellar city views.

Soak in the skyline atop some of the continent-across-the-pond’s poshest perches with a cocktail in hand. Cocktails never taste better than when sipped under open skies, high above the noise and bustle of the city streets. Here are some of our top picks:

La Terazza Rose, St George Hotel, Rome

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You have to like rosé if you’re going to drink at La Terazza; it’s the only bar in Europe to be dedicated exclusively to rosé wines. Actually, there is one other option—champagne, served up with platters of seafood which make a suitably swish supper for this sleek cream and stone-colored space.

Saltwater, Nottingham

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The only rooftop bar in the city, Saltwater is a pretty impressive set-up: a terrace that can hold up to 250 party-goers, either for lazy days in the sunshine or slightly more energetic nights. The cocktail menu is impressive and the formal yet still pretty affordable indoor restaurant is a good spot for supper. Heat lamps and canopies mean you can party alfresco pretty much whatever the temperature; a good thing, with summers like ours.

 

China Moon Roof Terrace, Mandarin Oriental, Munich

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Set on the eighth floor of Munich’s Mandarin Oriental, the Asian-inspired China Moon Roof Terrace opened this May with a newly designed bar and menu. Up that high, you’ll pair 360-degree panoramas of the twin domes of the Munich Cathedral, Parliament buildings, and Munich’s alpine horizon with Asian and Mediterranean eats and creative cocktails. Or pair those views with a daytime dip in the rooftop pool.

The 7th at Terrass Hotel, Paris

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Perched on the seventh floor of the Montmartre neighborhood’s Terrass Hotel is The 7th, a rooftop with a picture-perfect Parisian panorama, with views that sweep across the Seine to the Eiffel tower and beyond. Now in its second season, advance table reservations are recommended to secure one of the best seats in the house at this rooftop oasis, a surprisingly rare rooftop lounge in this city. In addition to delightfully handcrafted cocktails, a light fare menu features tapas, salads, and more.