Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rome-ing through Italy

So. I'm halfway through my first rotation in school. All I do in my free time is look through my Europe photos because I already want to be on vacation again and eat gelato multiple times a day :( I figured I should write a blog post about my trip ASAP before I become even more immersed in the school year and forget to do this completely. 

Itinerary: Cbus -> NY -> Milan -> Pisa -> Rome -> Florence -> Venice -> Milan again -> Alabama -> back to Cbus. I've already covered some of my recent eats in the US in a recent post, so this will only cover the European legs of my trip.


Must see: Milan Cathedral. Milan wasn't high on our list of cities to visit, but we had cheap roundtrip NY->Milan plane tickets, which is why we started and ended our tour there. The city doesn't have much to see, but it's worth a quick stop and it grew on me by the time we returned here. You absolutely must visit this building, as its among the most beautiful cathedrals I've ever seen. 

Best place we ate: Delicatessen. This restaurant was near our hostel but it wasn't open when we tried to eat here on our first night, so I made sure the second time around in Milan that we would get to eat here. The food here is decadent (esp. my wild boar pappardelle) and the atmosphere is beautiful.


Must see: Leaning Tower of Pisa (obv). There's literally nothing else to do here, so we spent 3+ hours taking pictures. 

Best place we ate: Gran Caffe Margherita. So this is a cheat, because the restaurant is not in Pisa (as I said earlier, there is nothing else to do in Pisa). So after snapping photos at the lopsided tower, we took a 20-minute train ride to the nearby city of Viarregio to hit the beach. They have a lovely boardwalk to walk around, so I ate two gelatos and then had the best seafood risotto ever at this restaurant -- check out all dat fresh seafood o.o


Must see: Vatican City. I'm not Catholic but even I was touched by its beauty and grandeur. There's a lot of other famous places that also deserve a quick stop (Coliseum, Pantheon, etc.) but don't miss this for sure.

Best place we ate: Osteria Delle Copella. We met a lady at a random bar who told us to eat here, and she was totally right. This restaurant is a bit tucked away in a square void of tourists, and is definitely a place where locals come for great food. I ordered the saltimboca (I've always wanted to try this dish) which was lovely. 

And they also have a secret speakeasy through a closet in the back of the restaurant, with amazing cocktails. Corinne just saw someone walking in there, hence giggles. 


Must see: Plaza Michaelangelo at night. This vantage point offers the most spectacular view of the city, and while beautiful by day, it's even more amazing at dusk or in the evening. 

Best place we ate: Tuscan countryside wine & dine with Walkabout Florence Tours. Corinne and I had a girl date with a 5 course meal and wine tasting, while the guys went off to do dude things. They totally missed out.

We couldn't finish our wine, 'twas too much :(


Must do: gondola ride. I wish they weren't so expensive, I would've wanted to do this a few more times. Oh wells :( Venice is more of a laze-around type of city (rather than a sight-seeing type of city) and it was also my favorite stop on our trip overall.

Best place we ate: Osteria Alla Staffa. Call in a reservation, they are small and very popular. My pasta was wonderful, and the service is top notch. 

Also amazes: YogurtCreperia Marie. I've never seen crepes made with so much attention to detail, and everyone thought their crepe was delicious. If I had a longer stay in Venice, I would've returned here every day. 

The Guild House Columbus

A new Cameron Mitchell restaurant opened in Cbus several months ago, and I've been pretty darn curious. We finally made it here for a celebratory dins after my board exam last month and the food here is crazy delicious.

Cocktail for two served in glass portholes with bacardi 8, orange, cinnamon, grapefruit juice and orgeat. I've wanted to try a porthole infused drink for the longest time ever since I saw it at the Aviary (and didn't order it). Alas, 'tis lovely as expected.

Prime rib with cap sweet onion relish, blue cheese, mustard vinaigrette. This appetizer is crazy, probably the most delicious thing I've had in recent memory and likely the best steak I've had in a long time.

Stuffed poblano with rock shrimp, roasted corn, goat cheese, tomatillo lime dressing. Really good too.

 Khoi's pasta - ravioli with fava beans, roasted baby carrots, forest mushrooms. 

Scallops with english peas, baby carrots, parsnip purée, and orange vinaigrette. I can make pretty darn good scallops too but something about their dressing and presentation made this dish over the top because it's so darn gorgeous. I just wish the edible flowers were tastier :(

So happies for our food and for surviving such a big milestone ^_^

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

March through May Recent Faves

I've been gone forever, and so much has happened over the past few months. I made it through board exams (and passed!), vacationed in Italy, visited family in Birmingham, and I'm one week into third year of med school. I've eaten so many things, so I figured I'd post about some of my favorite eats over the past couple of months (minus Italy foods, that will get its own post).

Fave pie: cherry berry pie recipe from Food & Wine. I must celebrate Pi Day every year. This year it was during board prep, but I made this tasty pie anyways and it was totally worth it. I subsequently snacked on pie while studying for the next few days ^_^

Fave meal out during step studies: Sultan's delight at Cafe Istanbul. I think this dish is lamb on a bed of roast eggplant puree. This is among my favorite restaurants in Cbus and this is my new favorite dish here. 

Fave sammich: pastrami, avocado, greens, gooey egg, and mayo. I ate this several times a week while prepping for boards since it whips up pretty quickly and is so hearty and delicious. 

Fave weird food: seafood doria (rice casserole) from Hiroko's Place in NYC.  After boards, I took an overnight bus to NY and then flew to Italy, so had a day to frolic about the city. This dish is hella weird but I didn't expect it to taste so good. Think cheesy seafood risotto, but Asian o.O

Fave place I've always wanted to try...but didn't quite meet expectations: Dominique Ansel. I think the cronut was way too hyped so I had major expectations and it was only...okay. I liked their DKA more (another popular pastry sold there). 

Fave restaurant in Birmingham: El Barrio. I haven't sampled many restaurants in Bham since my parents moved there, but this is among the best ones that I've tried (and lots of people seem to agree since it was super crowded on the weeknight when we dined here). The dishes are well-executed, delicious, and seemingly healthy, and I loved the tostada salad and grapefruit margarita that I ordered

Fave dish I made recently: seafood pan roast. Khoi made this dish for me several times and I love it, so I made it for my parents for Mother's Day while visiting, and they absolutely adored this dish too :)

Fave recently-discovered brunch in Cbus: Wolf's Ridge Brewing. I brunched here once I was finally back to Cbus after my trip. I've always wanted to eat here and their eggs benedict is among the best I've had, so this place did not disappoint. I would love to come back and try their dinner menu for a special occasion.

Fave thing Khoi has cooked recently: Vietnamese Shaking Beef with Tomato Rice. My gosh it's pretty, and it tastes as good as it looks. I swear I'm dating a chef or something. 

My study stuffs. Cute things made my depressing study situation more...bearable. And now it's finally all over hurrah :D