Thursday, March 31, 2011
What a shame to have a layover in Paris, France. Jenn and I strategically planned our 7 hour layover so that we would have time to see a few of the sites before making our final departure to Florence. Lucky for us, getting off the plane and storing our luggage was a piece of cake, people were friendly enough to point us in the right direction to the train station. After witnessing a pickpocketing on our train, we finally got off at the Eiffel Tower. Besides the airport, this was my first breath of fresh European air, what a delight. Overwhelmed by the Tower itself, we were awestruck by the city in general. We took in as many sites as possible walking down the Seine River and seeing beautiful chateaus and ornate buildings.
After we paid only 5 euros to enter the Museo d'Orsay and see all the great impressionists: Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, etc. we decided it was time to have our first European meal. We settled on this cute little pastry shop, Gosselin, tucked away in a side street. The smells from the street tempted us inside, and what a treat- every pastry known to man was there. From scones to croissants to sandwiches, this place had it all. We finally decided on a quiche lorraine, croque monseiur, and two croissants- one chocolate and one plain. We picked up two cafes on the way out and sat next to the Museo d'Orsay enjoying our lunch of carbs and cheese and swatting away unruly pigeons. The croque monseiur was by far the best part of the meal, although the fluffliness of the croissants and cheesiness of the quiche made it quite the competition. But the combination of different cheeses with a sweet/salty piece of ham a top homemade bread made the croque monseiur hit a homerun. It was the perfect introduction to my new found love: European cuisine.
Once lunch was done we hit a few more high points: The Lourve and Notre Dame and then headed back to the airport to fly to Italy and begin our tour of Italian cuisine!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I think I learned how to order a pizza by the time I was 5. If Mom didn't want to cook or a babysitter was coming over we'd pick up the phone, type in 7 digits and then 45 minutes later Papa John's, Domino's, or Little Caesar's would be knocking at our door with a calorie loaded circle of cheesey bread. This is what I used to think was good pizza. However, I don't mean to completely bash American pizza chains- as they still are delicious and great for an easy dinner. I just want to emphasize the fact that after eating genuine Italian pizza made from the freshest ingredients in the world, it is hard to come home to the greasy drippings found in the bottom of American pizza boxes.
I started anticipating my first bite of real Italian pizza the day we booked our flight. But, nothing could have prepared me for this moment. Shocked by the mere size of the pizza (an individual serving is the size of our medium at Papa John's) I was already intimidated by all of it's glory. The first pizza I ordered was the simplest of flavors- The Margarita. Dough, Tomatoes, Basil, and Cheese. Simple enough and similar to my American fav- Cheese pizza. The aromas from the pizza tantalized my nose and made my mouth water. As I tasted that first piece, I temporarily transported to heaven. How could anyone make something that good from so few ingredients?!? It truly is unlike anything I have ever tasted- warm and delicious. The crunchy crust accented by warm tomatoes and creamy cheese was the perfect combination. Such a delight, this first pizza was the beginning to many more fabulous pizzeria experiences.
From peppers to olives, curry, mussels, pancetta, you name it- we had it on our pizza! There are so many varieties it is hard to keep track. The best pizza we had was at Il Bottaccio- where I'll be working this summer (more on that to come!). We had such a great time sampling all of the delicious varieties it is hard to pick our favorite, all I know is pizza in Italy is unlike anything I have ever had. I can't wait to go back for more!
My Italian vacation was not an ordinary Eurotrip. I was not a paranoid tourist or a crazy spring breaker. I was a foodie on a mission: to eat anything and everything. I smelled, I tasted, and I savored. Every bite seemed to be more life changing than the last. From simple to extraordinary, we ate it all. In my next few blogs I will be taking you through some of the most incredible meals of my life in Paris, Florence, Pisa, and Montignoso. Having my two best friends Jenn Nelson and Lauren Richardson to share these fabulous foods, this trip was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.