Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Cold Weather Antipasto

Kale, you ask?

Wait till you try this! It will actually make you crave something healthy. Recipe below...

Great as an appetizer or as a healthy snack or light meal during the winter!

What the Tuscans call Cavolo Nero, black cabbage, we often refer to as dinosaur kale in English.

It is widely used in Tuscan recipes, being a key ingredient in Ribollita soup.

Though fundamental to Ribollita, cavolo nero is great alone, served raw in a salad or cooked over crostini. Cavolo nero is best when in season- during the late fall and winter. The colder it is outside, the more tender the cavolo nero will be. That's really the only complication. There are no excuses to avoid making this recipe! It is super easy. If you can't find dinosaur kale where you shop, substitute it with regular kale (it will be almost as good!).

It isn't easy to find cavolo nero outside of Tuscany. Last year during my new year's stay in Venice, I looked all over until finally finding a man in the erberia who sold cavolo nero.

My friends were skeptical when they saw me preparing it (especially when they smelled the pungent boiling cabbage smell), but raved as soon as they tried the crostini with cavolo nero. There were no leftovers!

What you'll need:

  • A pound or two of dinosaur kale
  • Big pot of boiling water with a lid
  • Pork fat to enhance flavor or
  • ...if you're vegetarian, use a parmigiano reggiano rind (you can even buy these for about $2 at many Whole Foods and other specialty food shops).
  • About 5 black pepper corns, whole
  • Crusty bread. The bread in Tuscany has no salt, good luck with that elsewhere! Otherwise a nice ciabatta does the trick.
  • Fresh Tuscan Olive Oil

What to do:

Are you ready to see how easy this is?

  • Put on a big pot of water.
  • As you're waiting for the water to boil, clean the kale by shucking the leaves off of ribs. 
Leaves above, unwanted ribs below.

  • Once you've shucked the leaves off, rinse the kale well to remove any dirt.
  • By this point, the water should be boiling. Throw in the kale, a small piece of pork fat or parm rind, and a couple of pepper corns.
The pot will seem to overflow, but as soon as the kale
hits the hot water it will shrink down.
Give it a quick stir before covering.

  • Stir, reduce heat so it doesn't over boil, cover with lid, and set a timer for about 15 minutes.
  • When timer goes off, stir and check the kale. Is it super soft and floppy? If so, it is ready. If not, leave it to cook another 10-15 minutes.
  • Toast or grill 1cm thick slices of crusty bread.

  • Drizzle with olive oil, then lightly rub a raw clove of garlic over the bread.
  • Drain the kale (optional: save the water to make a nutritious risotto tomorrow or later today).
  • Once drained well, but still nice and hot, serve the kale over the bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper and drown those little guys in Tuscan olive oil.  Don't be shy. Tuscan olive oil is good for you!
  • Serve hot, in other words eat them asap.
  • Buon Appetito!

Do you have any kale or dinosaur kale recipes you'd like to share? Please do! Add a comment or link below or on the Taste Florence facebook page (click on the facebook page at top of blog).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Tuscany

Chocolates from Boston
This was by far the most eventful Thanksgiving I've had in Florence. I got to celebrate the holiday twice, in two different ways.

A friend of mine who makes chocolate sent a care package of chocolates which were quickly gobbled up. Thanks, Jen!

Between tours on Thursday, I stopped by the Casa del Vino for a late lunch. Gianni and Nicoletta  made a porchetta style turkey. The deboned turkey was filled with sausage, bread, chestnuts and prunes and slow cooked. They served it sliced with a little gravy and spicy cranberry sauce (this is the best sauce ever!!!).

Turkey Panini at the Casa del Vino
It was a blast to eat turkey sandwiches in one of the most incredible wine shops on earth (it is my zen place!). Even the locals were raving over the turkey sandwiches, which is a huge accomplishment considering they have easy access to prosciutto and pecorino that we'd spend a small fortune for in the United States.

Donald's Turkey Crostino
The highlight was running into Donald, an expat that is always a trip to spend time with. No photo of him, I know he'd prefer not to be shown- but here is a shot of him holding a turkey crostino. Did you ever think you'd see the words turkey and crostino in the same sentence? Artusi is probably rolling over in his grave. But he'd have written about these crostini if he'd had a chance to taste them!

Madeline preparing the sweet potatoes.
On Saturday, I brought my man Gionni over to a full fledged Thanksgiving meal, complete with sweet potatoes, green beans with onions, corn bread, and lots of pretty American girls to look at. I was grateful for the meal, which was topped by pecan pie, pumpkin pie and apple cobbler made by my Southern belles, Nancy D and Madeline C.

Meanwhile, Gionni was thankful for the chance to speak in English and flirt a little with my permission.

It was a crazy mix: About 15 Americans, 12 Italians, and a couple of English people who looked equally perplexed by our American English and our choice of menu.

The fact that a group of Americans convinced self respecting Italians to eat a bunch of stuff off of one plate, all at the same time, was an enormous accomplishment.

I could see the first-Thanksgiving-Italians, their eyes darting back and forth, as they enjoyed the hodge podge of flavors from a single plate, all the while seeking the approval of their Italian peers.

After lots of gobbling, plenty of wine, and even jello shots (my first ever!) singing and story telling ensued.
Old McDonald was sung in both Italian and English. Can anyone tell me what noise a Kangaroo makes? Anyone?

The magic kitchen in Andrea's apartment during preparations.
I'm sad to say I did not charge my battery for the event, so I was only able to get in a couple of photos. They don't do the meal much justice. I would have needed a wide angle lens to capture all the stuff that was laid out on the table. It was impressive.

To see some fantastic photos taken by a local who joined the dinner, and discover a fun blog, click here.

Thanks to Andrea for hosting the dinner, and to Nancy D and Madeline C for inviting us!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Green Winery and Blue Skies Ahead

I just visited the Salcheto Winery in Montepulciano, Tuscany. 

One of the great things about living in Italy is hosting friends, family, and friends of friends. It gives you a great excuse to revert to your days as a tourist and shamelessly photograph everything.

In this case, my friend's husband offered to show his winery to an out of town guest and invited me to come along. Annie and I hit it off immediately. We both love to eat and drink!

Salcheto Winery in Montepulciano, Tuscany began an
initiative in 2009 to become Carbon Free.

Would I say no to such a nice invitation?

Do you see how blue the sky is in these photos?

Did I mention the winery is near one of my favorite cheese makers in Tuscany?

The Salcheto winery has gotten a facelift recently. But don't think of this as cosmetic surgery. Salcheto has restructured itself from every aspect to have as little impact on the environment as possible.

Natural light and gravity are two key factors to using less energy in the cellars.

  Light receptors on the patio that double for pumping wine.

Ron shows how the light receptor works
and doubles as a route to pump wine using
the force of gravity to save energy.

The cellar's Slavonian oak tanks lit naturally from above.

Salcheto produces several wines, in addition to their Rosso di Montepulciano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, they make a Chianti Colli Senesi, an IGT, a Rosato, a dessert wine, and grappa.

Worth noting: their IGT called Salco Evoluzione. The winery decided to conduct an experiment, bottling 50% of a specific wine using the classic cork method, and the other 50% with bottles sporting modern screw caps. Consumers can buy one of each and compare the evolution of the wines, even sharing their notes on Salcheto's website. I'll be trying these soon and reporting my notes with a blog entry.

This is the coolest concept ever. I'm a sucker for brilliant packaging.
PS- If you don't know the difference between Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano di Abruzzo, you are not alone! Many people confuse the two wines since they both have the name Montepulciano in their titles. What's the big difference? Quite a lot.

Rosso and Nobile di Montepulciano are wines made of the Sangiovese grape in the wine growing area of Montepulciano, in Tuscany. On the other hand, Montepulciano di Abruzzo is made of a grape called Montepulciano grown in Abruzzo.

The Montepulciano mix-up is a great example of why many consumers get stressed out when ordering an Italian wine. Sometimes wines are named after a grape, sometimes after a wine zone... it is a lot to learn and starts to get confusing if you don't speak Italian. But, before I bore you...  

Annie upon arrival at Cugusi.

...No wine tasting is complete without a little cheese, so we headed down the road to a fantastic cheese maker called Cugusi. Like many in the Pienza area, Cugusi specializes in cheese made with sheep's milk, called pecorino. Pecorino comes in several sizes and textures, depending on how long they are aged, where they are aged, and what, if anything, is added to the rind during aging.

Pecorino can be aged in caves, wrapped in walnut leaves or covered in ashes, among other methods.

After tasting about ten different types of Pecorino cheese, I bought a hunk of their Candido, seen on the left in above photo. Imagine a brie made with sheep's milk. Need I say more?  

Pecorino in Ceneri, Ashes
To complete our day, we decided to pay homage to the source of pecorino's glory, Pienza.

This small town is highly elevated, but the town itself is flat and pretty small, offering amazing views and an effortless walk for anyone who's filled up on cheese.

A side street in adorable Pienza. 

Keep in mind, on most days you will smell a faint aroma of pecorino in the breeze that fills the streets of Pienza.

Love Street, Pienza.
Pienza has often been referred to as ideal and even Utopian, not because of her pecorino breezes, but for a combination of careful city planning and natural environment created by Pope Pius II.

A store window creatively displays pecorino.

  Let us give thanks for the pecorino. Amen.

  • Slices of pecorino toscano semistagionato or stagionato.
  • Salcheto's millefiori honey
  • Serve room temperature.
Does anyone else find this cheese to be sexy, or is it just me?

Or try this fantastic recipe from Food52:
Sformatino di Pecorino al Miele

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anointed in Tuscany

As mentioned in my last entry, olive oil is produced early in Tuscany. This weekend I was able to join my boyfriend's family for the pressing of their olive oil. Their farm is about 6 acres, located about 350 meters above sea level just outside the Chianti Rufina and Pomino growing areas.

Leccino, Moraiolo and Frantoio olives from the Bernini farm.
Saturday afternoon, we moved all the olives from ventilated crates into large sacks to haul them off to the frantoio where they are pressed into fruity, green, peppery extra virgin olive oil.

Gionni taking a break after lots of lifting.
Information shared by the Frescobaldi family regarding their olive press, called Camperiti Frantoio:

"Camperiti, which means campi ritti or campi ripidi, steep fields, has always been the heart of our oil production, in addition to being the residence of our family until moving into the city of Florence in 1975... Camperiti has always been considered a special place which produces high quality olive oil. The proof is in the many clients who return to us each year to press their olives, as well as the many requests we are not able to fulfill due to the demand for our press."

In fact, this is the olive press where the famous Laudemio oil is made. The family continues:

"Until about 40 years ago, most farms had their own olive press... In the early 80's Vittorio began sending all the olives from the surrounding area to Camperiti for pressing, while the Val di Pesa continued to use their own press... In 1984, the frantoio was updated to the continuous press system, which further increased the quality of their press and as a result Camperiti became the exclusive frantoio used by the Frescobaldi farms."

By the way, if you're wondering what means:
So, you know, everyday Tuscan stuff. Counts and other Nobles are plentiful in these parts. How were we able to use this sought-after press? Gionni works at a winery that has pressed their olives at Camperiti for decades. In Italy, knowing the right person will usually get you places! This was no exception.

Making our olive oil:

Our appointment at the Camperiti  frantoio was for 6:30pm. We arrived at 6:20 and parked our car on the large scale outside. The scale first weighed the car filled with olives. After the olives were dumped into a large vat, the emptied car was weighed again. Our olives came to a total of 78 kilos.

After this stage, we headed downstairs into a large, noisy room filled with the aroma of freshly pressed olives. The machines were busy at work, pressing over 3000 kilos of olives brought in by the 6pm appointment before us.

The man with 3000 kilos of olives!
Since it took a while (it felt like an eternity!) for his oil to be pressed, we killed time in a side room where we were offered roasted marroni, large delicious chestnuts.

Once the machines were finally freed for our olives, the process began:
First, the olives were sorted (removing leaves, stems and any foreign objects) and rinsed.
After rinsing, the olives rode up a large belt to be made into a thick, brown paste.
The paste was then pressed, extracting the green olive oil.

Large Inox Stainless Steel containers (see above and below photos) are used to store olive oil.

Bernini Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Total yield: about 85 liters
What is not shown here in my photos? Us in the side room dipping bread into our new oil. This is my favorite tradition and always satisfying after a long day in the olive groves.

This oil is one of the best I've had from the Bernini farm. It has a nice peppery finish, with a bitter kick much like a fresh cut artichoke.
I'll be eating it on my beans, soups, pasta and rice dishes, tagliata and carpaccio, steak tartar...

There is no bad way to eat this olive oil, but best not heat it up too much, since it is super delicate (only about .15% of fatty acids).

A quick and easy recipe- and a classic!


Slice and toast/grill unsalted, crusty bread (about 1cm thick per slice).
Drown slices with new oil.
If you like, add garlic by rubbing a raw clove of garlic over the bread.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Fettunta literally translates to the oily slice. Don't be shy when pouring on your Tuscan oil! 

(The order of when you add oil, salt & pepper depends on who you ask. I sprinkle the salt, then add oil, then rub garlic. If you prefer stronger garlic presence, rub garlic on the bread before you add the oil. Remember Dr. Seuss' Butter Battle Book? Locals are equally opinionated on the order of salting and dressing your fettunta, salad, etc.

The original post was published on November 13. I have since been able to get the information quoted in green from the owners of the olive press, hence the title change. (Old Title: Playing with Olives)

Special thanks to the Frescobaldi family and Luisa at the Il Quartino tasting room for their help!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall in Tuscany

chestnut.jpgAutumn is one of my favorite times in Tuscany. The leaves are changing color in the hills, also on the trees lining the city boulevards. The air is becoming cool and crisp, and the days shorter. It is time to prepare for the upcoming winter months.
Grapes are harvested in September, and olives are plucked from the trees in late October. Chestnuts are in season.

The grape harvest brings an array of sights and smells at local wineries. Once the grapes are harvested, fermentation begins. 

The smell of grapes fills the air. Large tanks are pumping and churning the new grapes to turn them into wine...

The olive harvest starts in late October in Tuscany. Their oil is considered an early harvest extra virgin, because they pick the olives while they are still young and firm. The early harvest results in a fruity, peppery olive oil.

The chestnuts. Oh, the chestnuts. There are entire festivals to celebrate these rich, healthy little guys. My favorite food festival, or sagra, is in a town called Marradi, toward the end of October. A steam train leaves from the central station of Florence, and takes you north toward the region of Emiglia Romagna, weaving through tunnels, in and out of valleys…and arriving in adorable Marradi.

At the festival, you can try all kinds of foods made with chestnuts. Castagnaccio, a dessert made with chestnut flour and often raisins, pine nuts… it depends, as every family has their own recipe and claims theirs to be the recipe…

Purists can have roasted chestnuts, my personal favorite. When roasted, the chestnuts become sweet and almost meaty.

Shop Window Showing off Autumn Treats
A great combination is roasted chestnuts and new wine, called vin(o) novello in Italy. The new wine is literally brand new, no aging has ocured, so it is not going to last long- sip it with the roasted chestnuts to cleanse your mouth.

Another occasion not to miss in Tuscany during the fall:
A walk on the walls of Lucca. The wall circles the historic part of Lucca, and has a tree lined path where you can walk, ride a bike (rentals available near tourist office), or bring a picnic and watch the locals talking and playing cards at picnic tables. I love walking under the trees as they lose their leaves this time of year.

Lucca's pizza shops often serve castagniaccio and cecina, which are both great sources of protein and fiber and fantastic to eat on a cool day after a walk or bike ride on the wall.

If you have access to a car or are staying with a friend, be sure to visit a sagra (see the video below). There are sagre in small towns all over Italy, usually celebrating truffles, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, cherries, wild boar, duck, crostini and several other seasonal and regional specialties.

Sagra Video:

Enjoy this special time of year.

Happy Trails to All,

(Originally published on, Slightly updated for today's blog entry).
 Original published By Toni Mazzaglia from Florence, on October 11th, 2007 Watch GeoBeats videos of Toni

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Golden Street Food

This golden delicacy might appear to many as a frittata at first sight. If you haven't visited the coast of Tuscany or Liguria (or the Southern coast of France) you may have overlooked Cecina, or Torta di Ceci, or Farinata (or Socca in French).
Though it seems simple enough to make, the ingredients being just chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, cecina is complicated for several reasons.

First, you must prepare the batter about 3 hours before baking. You also need a cast iron skillet or pan, and the oven must reach extremely high temperatures (best obtained with a wood burning oven). Once you've made the cecina, it is best served hot and crispy with a dash of grated black pepper. Just as french fries are best served hot, so is cecina. Once it cools it looses its texture and reheating it doesn't do the trick.

Another important factor is the thickness of cecina. If it is too thick (more than 1/2 a centimeter), it doesn't come out with the flaky, crispy edges it should. If you see thick cecina avoid it! The results are a pasty, soggy cecina that should be ashamed of itself!

I recommend having cecina in Livorno or Pisa. In Pisa, Il Montino is the best place, hands down. Once you've tasted good cecina you will dream of it regularly.

As soon as Pisa is mentioned in any conversation, I begin to dream of visits to Il Montino. I have even offered to pick up friends from the Pisa airport while selfishly thinking of the cecina that awaits as my reward.

This leads me to another cecina complication: timing. Since the mixture must be prepared about 3 hours ahead of baking, the oven must be piping hot, and above all since we are in Italy, where good food will not be hurried just because some American girl is picking her friend up at the airport...
I cannot describe the heartbreak when arriving to find places closed, or that have finished their cecina just before I'd arrived... Most places prepare limited amounts (since they don't want it to sit around cold and get a bad reputation...) and if they run out after peak hours they generally don't make a new batch. Timing is everything. All the cecina gods must come together and bless you with the perfect experience: Cecina just out of the oven is the only way to go, and it is not always easy to obtain. That is why driving all the way to Pisa or Livorno in the hopes of scoring good cecina is total madness. Hence, I have been searching desperately in Florence for quite some time for good cecina.

I found cecina the other day while walking Milo, the Boxer I'm currently dog-sitting. He loves to stop in front of bakeries, pizza shops, anywhere carbs and yeast permeate the air (imagine how amazing that must smell to a dog's super sensitive nose!).

Milo in front of his favorite pastry shop.
Please Note: Milo is a pro. He plants himself in front of eateries, complete with his own stuffed toy he carries, and puts on the saddest face possible. (See photo)

The result: I wait about 5-10 minutes until he finally agrees to leave. If he gets lucky, someone manages to sneak him a bite to eat when I'm distracted.

I must thank my furry accomplice, since he stopped in front of a place serving pizza by the slice called Il Bocconcino. The Little Mouthful has an interesting selection of pizzas, sandwiches, and even cecina. Upon seeing cecina in the window, I mentally scanned my weekly schedule and decided I'd drop in for lunch on Wednesday. 

I've been anticipating this for three days!


I first tried it in sandwich form, which is called Cinque e Cinque on the coast.

While I chomped on my Cinque e Cinque and sipped on an Amber Menabrea (totally stoked they're making an Amber, it was perfect), I watched as sandwiches were made with care for the regulars.

Since their cecina was so tasty I went back for seconds when I saw a fresh one come out of the oven. This time I ate it without bread and was able to give a full inspection. The cecina gods were in my favor today!

The verdict: Probably the best cecina I've managed to find in Florence. It was only about 3.5mm high, nice and flaky and crispy on the outside and not at all soggy. I'd give it a 9 on a scale from 1 to 10.
A 9 in Piazza Dalmazia (over an hour from the coast) is not bad at all. 

I also got a good vibe from the man who served me. His passion for what he does was evident and contagious. Most of the other clients were regulars. In fact, Il Bocconcino has named some sandwiches after their chiodi fissi, regular customers.

I plan a return to try their pizza by the slice (there is one with zucchini flowers that's tempting) and their panini. And if it is fresh out of the oven, another slice of cecina without a doubt.

UPDATE: I returned on December 1 and the cecina at Bocconcino was a 10+!!!

Il Bocconcino, already packed with locals at 12:30. A menu is seen on the left.
Above is a quote from Roberto Benigni : "Here was invented music, painting, architecture
and pizza. Italy is truly a memorable place."

Where to get your paws on some cecina:


Il Bocconcino
Piazza Dalmazia, 61R - Firenze
Telefono: +39 055 4221280

Il Montino
Via del Monte, 1
56126 Pisa, Italy
+39 050 598695


Here's a list that has been recommended, please send feedback if you've been to any!

Pizzeria "da Cecco" - Via Cavalletti, 2 - Tel. 0586 881074
Pizzeria I tre Canti - Corso Mazzini, 347/351 - Tel. 0586 811061
Pizzeria Magenta - Via Magenta, 91 - Cell. 334 9046517
Pizzeria Sarda - Piazza della Vittoria, 34 - Tel. 0586 889663
Pizzeria Seghieri Elio - Via E.Rossi, 19 - Tel. 0586 898205
Pizzeria "da Gagari" - Via del Cardinale, 24 - Tel. 0586 884086
Pizzeria 24 Gennaio - Via Garibaldi, 191 - Tel. 0586 888545
Pizzeria Carlo e Nadia - Via Stenone, 40 - Tel. 0586 409851
Pizzeria Gli amici di Torquato - Via Provinciale Pisana, 17 - Tel. 0586 400728
Pizzeria Da Leone - Via di Salviano, 71 - Tel. 0586 860390
Pizzeria Da Enrico - Via Veneto, 10 - Tel. 0586 852421
Pizzeria Ardenza - Via Mondolfi, 99 - Tel. 0586 505882  


Please send suggestions! I can't wait to try socca there.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why Dieting is Not an Option

I'm surrounding by amazing food, much of which I happen upon but most of which I have scouted and scoped out for almost 10 years. 

(Note: practice makes perfect. I have a bunch of places catalogued in my mind for all occasions). 

I was starving today after saying good-bye to my tour group (you guys were awesome! Happy anniversary to William and Kathie). 

There aren't many places to get good food at 4pm, since most restaurants close from 2:30-7:30 in Florence.  Luckily, Uscio & Bottega was open. I always know I'll get something unique, fresh and original when I stop in.

Today, they prepared pinzimonio, fresh veggies to dip in the new olive oil with a bit of salt and lemon (note: the oil is really that green!)

followed by a healthy little number: thinly sliced turkey filled with Valeriana and a blend of ricotta, walnuts, basil and a touch of sun-dried tomatoes. The walnuts add a great touch to this mix.
Of course, I had a glass of wine to wash it all down: a sparkling white from the hills of Bologna. 

After my lovely late lunch/early dinner combo, I headed to Enoteca Alessi for a chocolate tasting.

The producer is named Claudio Corallo, a Florentine who's been on Sao Tome and Prince Islands for over 30 years. He first cultivated coffee beans, but eventually added cocoa beans to his cultivation. (I met him and he kind of told me his story in between serving other guests so I don't have all the facts...)

...Plus, with chocolate staring you in the face, anything you hear just sounds like the adults on Charlie Brown (blah, blah, blah...) How does one concentrate when being tempted by what is obviously some hard core, high quality chocolate?

First, I tried a toasted cocoa bean. Claudio took off the outer shell, then removed an inner root (he said it is too crunchy). Before tasting, he explained that his cocoa is intense but NOT bitter. I totally agree. In fact, I noticed an oily sensation, which he told me was the cocoa butter.

After the bean, he had me try different chocolates, his 75% and his Chocolate with Liberica coffee (a type of coffee bean not widely available since it has a low yield and is hence not very profitable- but it is delicious in his chocolate! Claudio mentioned there are about 70 types of coffee beans, but Arabica and Robusta rule the market due to their ease and higher yields).

After the chocolate tastings he offered me a hot chocolate, made by melting pieces of his 75% in hot water and adding sugar. 

This is indeed some of the best chocolate I've ever had. I usually prefer more elaborate chocolates, like Vestri's pralinati and ganache options. This is the first time I've eaten pure chocolate and gotten truly excited about it.

If you'd like to get your hands on anything I've mentioned, here are the stats:

Via Santa Elisabetta, 7/r
50122 - Firenze (FI)
Hours (approx!) 11am-8pm, more or less... 

Via delle Oche, 27  
50122 Florence, Italy
Monday-Saturday, Hours vary but closes at 7:30pm-ish
Phone 055 214966

Get all the facts I missed during the tasting!

Happy Trails to All,


Monday, November 7, 2011

Perfect day for Pizza

Today is one of those cool, dreary, is it going to rain or not? kind of days. Nothing warms me up better on a day like today than carbs and cheese, Baby.

I have a wide range of carbs to choose from. Pastries? Pasta? Pizza? Today is a perfect pizza day.

A few years back, I covered the original location (still my favorite) of Pizza Man (the name might be cheesy, but it is great pizza).

I had overlooked the place due to the name in English, which automatically caused me to assume the worst. A friend of mine took me there for lunch in 2006 and I found myself surprised for two reasons.

First, the pizza was not only good, it was amazing.

Second, I recognized the owner. We'd been on a date years earlier when I was a student in Florence. For the record, he was a gentleman.
When my friend, Mark, found out I'd once been on a date with the king of Pizza in Florence, he immediately exclaimed "Too bad you didn't get together with him! You would have been the queen of pizza!" Think of it, a lifetime supply of amazing pizza. It kills me!

A few months later, I was asked to make videos for a new website (it was not even up yet, very exciting to be a part of the new project!) called Geobeats. They asked me to choose places where I eat and drink and shoot some short videos for them. I immediately thought of Pizza Man, since it had become a weekly visit for me.

Here's the video I did back in 2006:

There are now several locations of Pizza Man restaurants around town. The one I covered is stand-up and to go only. If you'd like to sit and have a more relaxed dinner there are several locations, which can be easily located using this link:

In the video, Pasquale made me a calzone that was to die for. Note: this is not on the menu. There are only about 9 pizzas on the menu, since Pasquale is essentially a purist when it comes to making his award-winning pizzas. There are no sun-dried tomatoes or pineapple at this place. What you will find are the highest quality mozzarella, tomatoes, and other classic, fresh ingredients- like basil, capers, and anchovies.

The Viale Amicis location shown in the video is closed on Mondays, so I'll have to visit the Carlo del Prete location around the corner from my house instead. (I would actually be willing to go across town to the original location: THAT is how good Pasquale's pizzas are.)

By the way, pizzas for celiacs are also available. King Pometto has thought of everything. I could have been the pizza queen, for crying out loud!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

You can take the girl out of Jersey, but...

Awkward me during the conversation.

My mother has said it, my friends have said it. I need to be writing this stuff down. All of it. I tend to get distracted, since I prefer to live in the moment, so writing is given little priority.

That said, I've decided to at least make mini posts to get into the habit of writing again, and I'll add some links of videos and photos while I'm at it.

To start, why not mention my brief appearance on the Jersey Shore? Though I can't divulge much information on how it happened or how it all worked, I am pretty sure it is legally kosher to put a link to the video, and some links to some comments I found on the web that I find extremely entertaining.


"One of the most awkward/hilarious moments in Shore history occurred when Snooki and JWoww got into a heated debate about Nicole's sluttiness in the presence of the unber-snooty wine tour guide." (Read more:

"At the tasting, Snooki doesn’t want to learn history or geography, she just wants f-in’ wine. Remind me again why Italy hasn’t declared war on us because of this show? Finally able to make herself the center of attention, Snooks pines for Jionni while the other girls wonder about her Vinny hook-up. As JWoww so eloquently puts it, the damage is done. Snooki doesn’t want to hear anything her biffle has to say, and the gracious American woman conducting the tasting sits awkwardly at the table throughout the conversation." (Read more: )

DRUM ROLL....... HERE'S THE EPISODE (Season 4, Episode 10):

For the record, I had a great time.