Even though I’ve been on a food lover’s odyssey for almost my entire life, I only started blogging about it in 2009. This year my food journeys started in Paris and covered Italy. Below is a photo review of my culinary travels this year.
I spent spring in Paris and was content with daily doses of pastries. A friend lectured that I could not live on pastries alone (I’m not sure I completely agree), so I lunched first; finding that Michelin-starred dining at lunch was a nice value and dining solo was a great way to make new friends. Picnics in the park could also be tres chic. A self-guided chocolate tour and hot chocolate more than satisfied my chocolate cravings. There was a Sunday at the Bastille Market, another at L’as du Falafel, and another baking baguettes with a friend. I jumped on a bus to escape the rain and found canals in Paris, and tried the Batobus one day instead of the Metro. I could see all of Paris for the price of a daily bus ticket. Instead of shopping for designer bags and haute couture on the Champs Elysees, I lingered over macarons at La Duree. My time in Paris was top-notch, but two dinners were tops of the top; one at the not-so Hidden Kitchen and the other the tasting menu at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon that was well worth its two-starred price.
You can see more photos of my travels in Paris here.
Saying au revoir to Paris was painful, but the blow was lessened because I said Ciao to Venice. A floating city, no cars or buses, I traveled by vaporetto or by foot. I spent mornings meandering through the fruit and fish stalls at the Rialto Market. I ate a little cicheti, and at a trattoria here and there, but something had happened to me. I had lost my appetite. Instead, I visited Burano -- the island of brightly colored houses, made Carnevale masks and drank a lot of Spritz, and forgot about my food lover’s odyssey for a bit. I was woozy, and giggly, and light-footed and glowing. Venice had cast its spell on me. I was in love. I was sure the feeling was because of my Italian teacher, or the bookseller with the blue eyes, or Daniel, or Javier, then I blamed all the gondoliere in the city, but it wasn’t them. It was Venice, and I didn’t want to leave my newfound love. I found excuses for staying and savoring the city just a little bit longer. Someone, or maybe it was the unbearable humidity, slapped sense into me, and I continued on.
You can see more photos of my travels in Venice here.
Rome is over 2000 years old and looks pretty good for its age. I arrived in August while the Romani were fleeing the city for the sea. I didn't last long. The heat and the "closed for August" signs were excuse enough for me to hit the beach along with the rest of Italy. I’ll be revisiting this city in 2010.
You can see more photos of my travels in Rome here.
Naples and the Amalfi Coast
I spent a weekend in Naples with pizza, limoncello, and boat-rides on the Amalfi coast. After too much limoncello and a transportation mishap, we almost found ourselves stranded at the Naples train station at 3:00am. An Adonis-like bus driver named Enzo saved us. From now on, I will defend the character of all Neopolitans.
You can see more photos of Naples and the Amalfi Coast here.
Tuscany and Cinque Terre
After a few days in Tuscany for wine tasting and hearty Tuscan food, it was beach time at my favorite Ligurian locale, the Cinque Terre. I played at the beach and on the water by day and dined on the region’s seafood and pesto by night.
You can see more photos of my travels in Tuscany here.
You can see more photos of my travels in the Cinque Terre here.
August was over and so was life at the beach. Back to work, and back to my “homeland.” Have you ever heard someone say they were born in the wrong century? Well, I was born on the wrong continent. I’m certain of this whenever I return to Sicily, the birthplace of my grandparents. The flavors of Sicily are to me what BBQ and apple pie are to most Americans. I learned the Sicilian ewes are happier than California cows because their ricotta cannot be duplicated. My cousins gave me a lesson on Sicilian sweets. Note to self: NEVER tell an Italian that anything French is better than Italian, even if you’ve served them the best tiramisu they’ve ever eaten. Besides cooking with my cousins and getting called straniera (foreigner) at the market in Palermo, I explored and tasted dishes from other parts of the island: Taormina, Syracuse, Agrigento, and the Aeolian Islands only to make me ever more sure that Italy is my true home.
You can see more photos of my travels in Sicily here.
If no one else has said it, I’m saying it. Piedmont is the new and improved Tuscany. The hills are higher, the land is greener and the wine, Barolo, is king. Only 20% of its visitors are American. Americans, what’s keeping you away? Besides all of that which rivals Tuscany, Turin, the region’s capital has a Chocolate Pass and the food-lover's paradise, Eataly!
You can see more of my travels in Piedmont here.
Thank you so much for traveling along in 2009. This food lover's odyssey will continue in 2010 with even more traveling, tasting, and cooking, which will include a few return visits to some of the cities above and even new foodie fieldtrip locations. Here's to a great year! May 2010 be full of tasty travels for all of you! Where are your culinary travels taking you this year?