Eating Through Europe, Part II: Italy

sfogline pasta duoWelcome to Part II of this series, Eating Through Europe! This part is all about the places I loved in Italy. More specifically, in Venice, Parma, and the foodie’s paradise, Bologna. (Check out all the places I loved in Paris in Part I).


I quickly realized that Venice in July was populated by more tourists than locals, and I was a little anxious about falling into one of the many tourist-trap eateries that seemed to be on every corner. Luckily, though, I was able to stumble upon couple spots off the beaten path that offered a more authentic view of Venetian fare. First up, though: the outdoor markets.
venice boat market
As it is surrounded by water, it only makes sense that Venetian dining is heavy on the seafood. The bustling fish markets by the Rialto bridge were a sushi-chef’s dream, and the fresh produce stands that accompanied it were a feast for the eyes.venice marketvenice fish marketAfter a full day of getting lost in Venice’s ancient, narrow streets, cicheti (small bites) were the perfect pre-gelato snack. At All’Amarone, these salty cicheti included toast with various salumi, cheeses, olive spreads, and sardines. I was pleasantly surprised by the baccalà mantecato (salted and dried cod cooked in milk to become a creamy, salty spread). It was rich, yet simultaneously light like a mousse, and was one of my favorite foods in Venice.venice cicchetteMy other favorite? Dinner at Osteria del Cason, a modern eatery well away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-filled piazzas. Spaghetti al nero di seppia, a black pasta dish with cuttlefish in a sauce of its own ink, was saltily delicious and the cuttlefish were plump and meaty. If black pasta turns you off, that’s your loss – this was seriously good. Although to be fair, it did stain everything from my gums to the tablecloth (sorry I’m not a perfect eater, guys). The shrimp at Osteria del Cason were also plump, herbed and buttery, and downright drool-worthy. When in Venice, this is the place to go.cuddlefish inkWhile I was sad to leave Venice, I was thrilled to finally get to my next stop: the Emilia-Romagna region. While each region in Italy has their own cuisine, Emilia-Romagna is considered the foodiest region (yes, “foodiest” is the technical term). It’s famous for some of Italy’s richest foods: meats, cheeses, pastas…basically, all the good stuff. Let’s get into it. Continue reading

Chocolate Elvis Cupcakes

elvis birthday cupcakeYou guys! Today we’re celebrating a very special birthday.
frosting swirl

And no, I’m not talking about Harry Potter’s.

chocolate elvis bacon cupcake

Exactly a year ago today, Wei and I published our very first post on this little blog of ours. I remember it like it was yesterday: making pestos together as the smell of roasted garlic filled the warm kitchen, and trying to figure out the best angle to photograph each other’s hands as we mortared and pestled and crushed garlic. We shared Wei’s camera and she taught me all about how to take pictures like a pro. Then we ate a lot of pasta covered in fresh pesto, and pressed “Publish” for the first time. Continue reading

Roasted Honey Spiced Chicken

Chicken Plate

I might be late to the game on ramps, but better late than never with these beautiful, delicate plants. This is my first spring using them, and I am delightfully in love, but more on that later.

Chicken Leg

Let’s also talk about my love with chicken. Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. You can never go wrong with my first poultry love. I grew up in the city and have no access to a grill – this recipe is the next best thing. I wanted an almost burnt chicken packed with lots of flavor. Here, I used the sear-and-roast technique. Not quite the same, but definitely delicious and full of umami. Continue reading

Blueberry Basil Salad

salad plate

I have an insatiable sweet tooth.

blueberries1Over the years, I’ve experimented with putting sweet things where they didn’t quite belong. No one questioned a spoonful of sugar in tomato sauce, or a drizzle of honey on some oven roasted veggies, but I definitely raised some eyebrows when I put chocolate on a sausage and cheese pizza…more than once. (It was delicious, but haters gonna hate). Luckily, I don’t have to go putting chocolate in salads too, because nature’s got its very own sweet stuff.

I’m talking about fruit, guys.

Continue reading

Caramelized Onion Pasta Sauce

pasta egg
My absolute favorite thing to do in the kitchen isn’t just to bake or cook, or even eat (gasp!). What I truly love to do is to experiment. Sorry Mom, but I just really love to play with my food.

Because really, creating new recipes is so much fun. It’s a chance to channel your inner mad scientist. When I’m working on a recipe, I tweak one thing, try it again, take notes, tweak another thing, take more notes, cackle victoriously, tweak tweak tweak, eat eat eat. By the end I’m usually covered in butter and ready for a nap, but hopefully I’ve at least learned something new and created something delicious. Experimenting with baking is easier to me because all the ratios of ingredients can only be changed in certain ways, so I have more control over everything.

caramelized onions Continue reading