Street Food (and Coffee): Italy

When I think of places to get great street food, Italy doesn’t immediately spring to mind for some reason – i automatically think of Asia. After our recent trip however, Italy will be a close second to Vietnam in my top street food countries!

Here’s some of the Street Food (and coffee) we sampled…

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Arancini

Balls of Risotto rice, traditionally stuffed with mozzarella, meat ragu, & peas, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried – these are a meal in themselves! For about 1 euro you can’t go wrong… Arancini at the top is from Naples, on the bottom from Sicily – both tasted awesome, it was only really the shape that differentiated them.

An Arancini recipe that i really want to try is this one – Arancini stuffed with Truffles and Dolcelatte Gorgonzola – not as rustic as the original arancini’s but still sounding delicious!

There’s a neapolitan street food restaurant in Bath that i haven’t been to for a while called Yammo! Will have to go back to sample their arancini’s…

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Italian Fish & Chips

When in Amalfi, we spotted a street vendor selling lots of things in cones to the locals and were intrigued… We found out it was all variations on Fish & Chips! Little whole fried fishes, calamari, mixed seafood, or wedges of lightly battered cod and mini potatoes. We both went for the latter to see how it compares with the english version. You get a huge cone filled with lots of little potatoes, two hunks of white fish in batter, a big wedge of lemon, and a stick to skewer the food on. Apart from the potatoes not being particularly hot, it was pretty tasty – the fish was great and tasted really fresh, and it felt a little healthier than the english version (although i love me some proper F&C!)

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Panelle and Crocche

Palermo is known for its street food and has lots of different scary sounding options, such as Pani ca Meusa (bread rolls stuffed with beef spleen) or Stigghiola (goat intestine filled with onions, cheese and parsley)! Unfortunately for us, when wandering the food market we didn’t come across those two options 😉

We did instead find some street food we had wanted to try – Panelle (Chickpea fritters) and Crocche (mashed potato croquettes flavoured with mint and a hint of cheese). These were filling and quite more-ish, despite being very simple ingredients.

A recipe for Panelle that i’ve had on my pinterest for a while is this one – which turns the fritters into fries and serves them with a dipping sauce. Must try!

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Cannoli and Gelati

Sweet stuff! Sicily is known for its pastries, and the Cannoli is one of the most popular. Made from Pastry dough shaped into a tube and fried, it is then filled with a sweetened ricotta mixture, and studded with pistachio’s at either end. There were other variations of this available, but this one was tasty – couldn’t eat more than one though as they’re pretty sweet.

Gelati needs no introduction, the fabulous italian ice cream is everywhere and in any flavour you can think of. The one in the photo above is Tiramisu flavour, but my favourite was probably cherries & ‘fior di latte’ which literally translates as milk’s flower, and is a very creamy milky vanilla flavour – delicious with the cherries and some kirsch 🙂

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Coffee

I’m not sure you can really go to Italy and not drink coffee (although my dad will protest at this statement!), it’s just so readily available, in many different forms, and makes me feel a bit italian – apart from when drinking the crazy iced cappuccino with whipped cream in the last photo!

Apparently italians tend to only drink cappuccino’s as a breakfast drink, and it is then replaced with the espresso until the next day. We tried to stick to the italian way as much as possible… the top two photos are of Caffe Freddo (Iced coffee) – a bit different to the iced coffees of Starbucks and co, these are just espressos shaken with ice, in a champagne glass – very sophisticated 😉

The next two photos are of an espresso on the beach (they really are everywhere) and a ‘espresso to go’ a travel pack of tiny cartons of espresso and chocolate with a little straw – in case you can’t get your coffee fix any other way…

And finally the aforementioned Cappuccino – it was before lunch so i think we got away with it! This was more like an iced coffee you’d get in the UK, but that’s not a criticism  – it was blinking tasty – just needed to do an awful lot of walking to work off that and the complimentary biscuits…

20140726_112539We purchased a little stove-top espresso maker as a souvenir as we’d enjoyed using them in our airbnb places – we can now make coffee in many different ways, including vietnamese, but never instant – i’m a coffee snob…

A snapshot of Southern Italy

The OH and I got back from a little Southern Italian road trip last week, and I wish we were still there!

We spent five nights on the Amalfi Coast, three nights in Matera (a town in Basilicata, near Puglia, with cave dwellings and rock churches from the 8th Century), four nights near Taormina (Sicily), and two nights in Palermo (Sicily again).

The weather was hot and sunny the whole two weeks, and it was nice to explore some parts of Italy I hadn’t been to before (Sicily and Matera), and re-visit some parts I last went to twenty two years ago (Amalfi Coast)!

Food-wise we weren’t disappointed either: We had Pizza in Naples – where it was invented (!), Gelato, LOTS of Coffee, Pasta, mediterranean vegetables, grilled meats, antipasti, and lots of street food 🙂

I will do a dedicated post on Italian Street Food shortly, but in the meantime here’s a few photo’s of our trip…

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Positano, and a Tiramisu Gelato in Amalfi

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Ravello, and the size of Amalfi lemons!

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Matera, and one of their amazing churches carved out of rock

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Buying Zucchini flowers to stuff, and the famous Festival of the Madonna in Matera

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The beach 1min walk from our flat in Sicily, and a pit-stop in Taormina for some Caffe Freddo

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Isola Bella, and Taormina’s Greco-Roman Amphitheatre

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Palermo’s Arab-inspired Cathedral, and some street food in the market.

Where we stayed:

Amalfi Coast – Flat in Castellammare di Stabia

Matera – an actual cave!

Taormina – 10min bus journey from Taormina

Palermo – Great location

Where we ate (that i recommend!):

Positano – Da Costantino – Authentic tasty Italian food and amazing view of Positano

Matera – Trattoria del Caveoso – Rustic Materan cuisine

Giardini-Naxos – Le Desir Piquant – Good seafood and Pasta with Pistachio’s!

Taormina – Granduca – Great view of the coast and tasty Sicilian cuisine

Palermo – Mon Cafe – Great food and good service

Street food coming soon…

Feasts in East London Part 2: Brunch

I love Brunch. Maybe because week-day breakfasts are quick, small and not particularly exciting, maybe because it’s a meal that doesn’t really need to exist (like afternoon tea – another good in-between meal), but either way – if I’ve got a weekend off, I will mainly be thinking about what brunch I will be eating and/or making…

Yesterday was my day off (and the sun was shining hooray!), so i had Scrambled eggs on Tiger Bread, with a bit of grated parmesan and black truffle for extra luxuriousness. Yum!

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A brunch without eggs doesn’t really feel like brunch to me. I’ll have them cooked any way, i’m an easy egg eater.

When we were in London we managed to fit in a couple of excellent brunches (both involving eggs of course), the first being at the appropriately named The Breakfast Club in Hoxton. I’d read about this chain of cafe’s, and our airbnb host had recommended it also, so this was our plan of action on day 1.

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Picture taken in the queue outside – yep it was pretty popular! We queued for about 15 minutes, debating slightly whether it would be worth the wait… When we got in, we realised it was 🙂

Apart from loving the decor (I would’ve taken photo’s but wanted to try and retain a level of ‘cool’ instead of being in total ‘tourist mode’!), the breakfast/brunch menu was massive – have a look at it here.

We ordered fresh orange juice and flat white’s to give us time to weigh-up all the various food options, and I was impressed that glasses of water were also brought along without having to ask.

I finally settled on the Chorizo Hashbrowns (Chorizo, Mushrooms, Peppers, Feta, Home-style Fried Potatoes and 2 Fried Eggs for £10.70 – £9.20 without the feta)20140531_111540

Wow. It was huge! I assumed it would be little bits of chorizo here and there, a couple of cubes of feta etc but it was a bit more rustic than that – two chorizo sausages, massive chunks of feta, loads of potatoes, peppers and mushrooms, and two big ol’ eggs – i’m ashamed to say i couldn’t finish it. It definitely set me up for the day though…

The OH had Huevos Al Benny (Poached Eggs, Chorizo, Roast Peppers, Avocado, Fresh Chillies, Spicy Hollandaise on Toasted English Muffin and Home-style fried potatoes £13 – £10.50 without the potatoes) which also looked huge and delicious, but he’d already started wolfing it down before i had a chance to get a picture of it.

The Breakfast Club

2-4 Rufus Street

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Day two of London Brunching was a bit less planned, we had vague ideas of finding a cafe called The Towpath Café which I’d read about in my London bible Eat Sleep Shop London, so set off down Regent’s Canal (which was lovely – quite peaceful and not really like London). After about 10 minutes wandering we got side-tracked by a little café up some steps, with a view of the canal. Arepa and Co is a Venezuelan Café/Bar with an interesting menu. They serve cocktails in the evening and breakfast in the morning,. Having never tried Venezuelan food before we thought we’d give it a go!

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I had Desayuno Criollo which was Perico(Venezuelan-style scrambled eggs), shredded beef, black beans, cheese & plantains served with an Arepa (cornbread). I also had a mango juice and flat white. The OH had Desayuno Reina – Perico, chicken, guacamole, black beans, cheese & plantains with  an Arepa. I can’t remember the prices of them unfortunately but I don’t remember being appalled when the bill came! It was very different to a normal brunch for me, but definitely kept us going till late afternoon. I especially liked the plantains and beef – very tasty, and you can’t beat fresh mango juice. I’ve read since that we should have used the Arepa as a pocket to stuff everything in which makes more sense as the corn bread was a bit bland on its own.

We’ll know for next time 😉

Arepa and Co

58A De Beauvoir Crescent

Haggerston

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Back in Bath – I’ve realised we tend to make our own brunch rather than drag ourselves out of the house, but the couple of times we have managed it Jika Jika have delivered the goods! Interesting menu, good coffees… we’ll have to go back soon. I’m also reliably informed that Wild Café does a good brunch, but have yet to try it.

Any other brunch suggestions around Bath or Bristol would be appreciated!

Feasts in East London Part 1: Dalston Yard Street Feast

Last weekend the Other Half and I went to East London and ate A LOT – it was great. We stayed in a very nice airbnb place just off the Kingsland Road (E2), booked mainly because of it’s proximity to ‘Little Vietnam’ or ‘Pho Mile’, i.e. loads of Vietnamese restaurants. We’ve become a bit obsessed with Vietnamese food since travelling in Vietnam late last year, so whenever we get the opportunity to eat it we will! More on that later…

We got there Friday evening and pretty much went straight out to Dalston Yard for Street Feast, which is running every Friday and Saturday evening over the summer, and is definitely worth checking out. There’s a lot of choice, but I’d heard about a stall there called Le Bun who do French-American food (mainly in buns funnily enough…), and wanted to check them out.

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I had their ‘Duck Confit Bun’ which consisted of:

Pulled Confit Duck, Straw Frites, Béarnaise Spread, Duck Sauce, House Slaw, Brioche Bun

And the OH (Other Half) had their ‘Le Bourguignon Bun’:

Slow & Low Beef Short Rib, Bourguignon Glaze, Truffle Mayo, Bacon Salt, House Slaw, Brioche Bun

Both were blinking tasty but I think the Bourguignon Bun just edged it (Truffle Mayo! Bacon Salt!).If you get a chance to try them – do it. They were priced at £8.50 each, which I think is reasonable considering the quality and amount of ingredients in the Buns. Maybe wear a bib though – they’re messy!

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There’s also a variety of Bars at Street Feast, including a Gin Yard! But as I’d already had a ‘Festival-Sized’ cocktail I didn’t indulge. we did indulge in some ice cream from Sorbitium though – Salted Caramel (naturally) and an Almond Toffee topping – which was £2.50 for one scoop in a tub or cone. It was a generous scoop, and pretty delicious.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening!