I have to add to this post prior to publicly publishing that Dan and I went to Iceland in February 2020 – pre-pandemic. Things were normal and COVID was just a slight thought in the back of our minds causing us to carry extra hand sanitizer. While things have certainly changed since February 2020, Iceland remains a great destination and it looks like they are some what opening up in 2021 (fingers crossed)! Happy future planning (February 2022?).
Dan and my last international trip pre-Coronavirus was an escape to Reykjavik, the largest city in Iceland, over Valentine’s Day weekend. Yes, another cold-climate country in the Winter (read about my prior cold-climate February trips here and here)… We enjoy visiting cities in their off-season, as you can usually find deeply discounted flights, particularly from the NYC area (hopefully that’s not a pre-corona memory of the past) and these destinations are less crowded in off-season, yet almost everything we want to do, see, and eat is open for business. And, honestly, its often colder in New York than the winter destination we visit, which was the case last February in Iceland. Further, Iceland is a super easy, five and a half hour flight from NYC and a long weekend (Wednesday night – Monday evening in our case) is a good amount of time to see the highlights. However, had I known that this would be our last trip pre-Coronavirus, I would have definitely stayed longer and seen more of Iceland.
Dan and me at Gulfoss Falls. I would note it was not as cold as it looked – it was just super duper windy.
Dan and my friend, Hugh, is in the wine industry, so when we were in Rome, he sent us over a few dinner/wine bar recommendations to try while we were in town! Usually I am a little picky about people’s restaurant or wine recommendations, but this guy knows his stuff and introduced us to Portuguese wine, which led to our wedding in Portugal! Enter L’Angolo Divino, a wine bar near Campo de’ Fiori, which was definitely our hang out spot when we studied in Rome…. We called and made a reservation same day (and probably did not need a reservation).
Despite it being late December in Rome, we walked to dinner (it was mid 50s F!) and were promptly seated at a cute table next to a window overlooking the street. The restaurant is quite small and when we visited, all of the patrons seemed to be tourists. This was a bit unsettling, but it turned out great.
One of the best, if not the best (a close tie with Roma Sparita), meals that I had on my 35th birthday trip to Rome was at Restaurant Roscioli. Restaurant Roscioli is quite well known in Rome, as both a delicious restaurant and a popular tourist haunt. Despite its touristy popularity, we booked a table for dinner on our trip, and it was so, SO good!
If you are planning a trip to Rome, Roscioli will likely pop up on a lot of “best restaurant” lists and if you are just walking around looking for a place to eat, Roscioli’s charming atmosphere will certainly draw you in – think meats hanging from the ceiling, Italian products stocking the walls, and lots and lots of people. We made a reservation in advance before we left home (recommended) for the wine cellar. Yes, you pick where you sit, and there are four options: (1) the counter bar; (2) the restaurant hall; (3) the wine cellar; and (4) a table in front of the deli counter. Avoid the wine cellar if you can’t do steep stairs and the counter bar if you do not want to sit on a stool. Otherwise, the “options” are all in the same building and use the same menu and kitchen. We opted for the wine cellar because, well, we love wine! I would also note that each reservation is strictly timed and you are only allotted two hours for dinner, which I hate and is very un-Italian. Since we had a late dinner, we were the last sitting for our table and were able to stay as long as we wanted.
Happy Dan Dan!
On arrival, we were promptly shown to our table, which was down a steep set of stairs in, not surprisingly, the wine cellar. The tables were TIGHT, but that’s somewhat normal in Italy and we were sitting among some amazing and delicious bottles of wine. We kept spotting bottles that we would like to try. It was kind of a problem. The waitress gave us the menu and the huge wine list, and we set out to choose a bottle of wine! We also ordered a couple gin and tonics to start, and these were absolutely delicious. They were also served in the cutest glasses, and there are multiple fancy gins to choose from on their Gin and Tonic list!
Delicious G&T in the cutest glass.
After reviewing the wine list in great detail, we decided to ask for a recommendation on a Sagrintino. We ended up decanting a 2011 Montefalco Sagrantino at Dan’s choice. The wine was ridiculously good!
2011 Montefalco Sagrantino!
In the decanter!
On the food front, Roscioli has a really good menu, from pasta to meat, to fish, the list goes on. We ended up ordering two entrees (aka starters in Europe). First, fresh burrata! Burrata is a fresh, soft cheese, reminiscent of fresh mozzarella but better in my opinion! I was going to order this regardless but, super lucky for us, it was still white truffle season in Italy and there was a special white truffle menu, and the burrata was on it!! So, of course, I opted for the white truffle burrata! For those unfamiliar, white truffles are the most expensive of the truffle family, and they are incredibly, incredibly delicious. They are also only available for a short time period between about November and January. White truffles are priced by weight and the waiter will shave it fresh onto your dish. We went to a white truffle festival in San Miniato in 2016, and black truffles have just never been the same. We were also pretty familiar about how white truffles worked.
The white truffle menu!
Ready for the white truffle!
Burrata sans white truffles.
Burrata with white truffles!!
In addition to the burrata, we ordered something that was similar to a hotdog slider, basically a very tasty local sausage on a small bun with a pickle and a delicious sauce. These came two to an order and were quite delicious. No truffles on these bad boys.
Going to call these “mini hotdogs.”
For my main dish, I initially planned to order to Cacio e Pepe, but I wanted a dish from the white truffle menu, which narrowed it a bit. In the end, I ordered homemade tortellini from Bologna, which were stuffed with pork, and topped with more white truffles! Like the burrata, the white truffle was freshly shaved onto my pasta! This meal, again, was AMAZING!
White truffles and the scale.
The final dish!
Dan opted for my original Cacio e Pepe order, so at least I got to try that! As expected, his Cacio e Pepe was beautiful and tasted amazing. It was also a huge dish! I will absolutely order this next time (assuming its not white truffle season).
Dan’s Cacio e Pepe.
Even though we had enjoyed so much food at this point, we could not pass up dessert since the food was so tasty! We ended up ordered a fruit plate with chocolate sauce for dessert, accompanied with these famous dessert cookies. We also did a glass of dessert wine – a 2014 Muffato della Sala. The fruit was excellent and a great way to finish off our meal. However, I would probably not order it again, as it looks like every table receives a similar, smaller dessert for free.
Fruit + chocolate + wine biscuits.
All in, this meal was 1000%!!! I cannot go back to Rome without eating here, and I even joined their wine club! For those planning to visit, make a reservation in advance and review the menu (online) before you arrive to maximize your two hour dinner. There are a lot of options on the menu and it can be a little confusing. But don’t worry, the waitstaff is super nice and used to tourists. They will gladly assist if needed! In terms of price, this was our most expensive dinner in Rome, but that was due to my white truffles (about $50 US extra between the two courses – it was my birthday!) and an expensive bottle of wine. I would classify Roscioli as upscale but not breaking the bank.
STEAL OUR DINNER
Roscioli: Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Closed Sunday. Open Monday – Sunday, 12h30 – 16h, 19h – 00h. Reservations almost mandatory and can be made here. There are several options of “where to sit” in Roscioli. All areas serve the same menu prepared by the same kitchen.
Roma Sparita: Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. 12h30 – 14h30, 19h30 – 12h. Closed for 2 weeks every August. Recommended to reserve in advance here. or by calling +39 06 580 0757.
If you want to learn more about white truffles, and you should, read about my visit to the San Miniato white truffle festivalhere,here, andhere!
I enjoy a good tasting menu, especially ones not with NYC prices, and when I saw that a Santiago restaurant had been named as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, I planned our first night in Santiago eat at that exact restaurant – Borago!!
I spent Valentine’s Day weekend in Paris, France this year, sadly without Dan (SORRY DAN)! It was a girl’s weekend, and we had the best time. I will be posting more about what we did, where we ate, how Paris is in February (spoiler alert, it was amazing and 60 degrees and sunny!), and how you can recreate our itinerary, but for now, here is a snippet of some of my favorite pictures!
First up, la tour Eiffel at sunset. Valentine’s color schemed.
Macarons at Laduree.
60 degrees at la tour Eiffel actually on Valentine’s Day.
Pretty rugs on a private tour at Versailles.
Truffle cheese, french bread, and wine.
The little hens on the trip. On top of Galleries Lafayette at the Ice Cube Bar.
O’Paris Pub in Versailles. A great post-Versailles break with outdoor seating.
The group at dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel.
Parisian fried chicken.
Les Jardins de Versailles.
Love an old French advert.
Cute restaurant that was there when I lived in the 11th!
Pretty Parisian buildings.
Another pretty restaurant.
Notre Dame de Paris.
View from the top of le Centre Pompidou.
Midnight at la tour Eiffel. Post dinner, drinks, and a visit to the top!
Just in time for Dan and my third Oktoberfest, here is my take on the greatest beerfest in all of the world! We will be there the second week and are also attending the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart! Prost!
A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in the Catskills Mountains. Specifically, Phoenicia. Phoenicia is a small town (technically a “hamlet”), about 20 minutes from Woodstock (the more well-known town in the area), in the Catskills Mountains. The town is tiny, with one main road, surrounded by mountains with lots of hiking. Phoenicia has recently received press by way of a few new business ventures opening in the sleepy town, including the Phoenecia Diner – which is probably the most popular place to eat in the area! Vouge magazine mentioned it in a piece on travel in the Catskills Mountains a while ago, and it seems to be all the rage with the hipster crowd.
I visited Bologna for one reason only – to eat! In planning my trip, a number of foodie blogs recommended Trattoria da Gianni as a local restaurant to taste Bologna’s famous foods. So I obviously made a reservation (or had Dan do so, since his last name is Italian!).
Trattoria da Gianni is located in the center of Bologna, not too far from Piazza Maggiore, down a small side street. We called ahead a few days before and made a reservation for “Sunday Lunch,” which is a very popular and heavy meal in Italy. Actually, I recommend making a reservation for any day/night. The restaurant is not very big and it seemed as if all of the tables were reserved when we were there. If you do show up without a reservation and have to wait, the servers were handing out complimentary glasses of prosecco to pass the time!
I am a huge fan of food tours and try to convince Dan to take them wherever we go!
Now, when planning Sweden, I did not expect a culinary destination, but I was happily surprised! Luckily, I came across Food Tours Stockholm when doing research and signed us up! This tour was informative, both in the historical and culinary sense, delicious and pleasantly provided some insight into modern Swedish culture. I also found this tour to be an excellent way to spend a day in the winter, as there was minimal outdoor walking!
The tour started at the famous Östermalms Saluhall! This famous food hall is clean, swanky and probably the nicest food hall I have ever been in! I recommend visiting here even if you do not take the tour!
In Östermalms, we started the tour with a sampling of Swedish cheese. Who knew the Swedes make such delicious cheese? They do. Believe me. This stand also sold some delicious jams from things I didn’t even know were real. Think cloudberries. Yep, thats are a real, tasty berry.
I LOVE tasting menus. I love the idea of multiple course dinners. I love to try dishes that I wouldn’t normally order. And I love when the restaurant pairs the menu with drinks! Not surprisingly, Stockholm has a lot of restaurants offering tasting menus, some costing as much as $1,000 US a person (!).
I decided to find one more reasonable for my trip (and have Dan take me there for my birthday dinner! ). Doing some research, I came across the winner – Pubologi! Pubologi is a hip gastropub right in Gamla Stan. Pubologi offers 5 or 7 course tasting menus of “modern nordic food” (plus complementary amuse bouche and tasting treats post dinner) and it pairs the food with either beer or wine. Sold! We made reservations online before we left (recommended). The cost of the 5 course tasting menu was 550 Swedish Crown and the beer pairing (beers from the Pang Pang Brewery) was an additional 355 Swedish Crown when we were there.
For our meals, we both went with the 5 course tasting menu. That was a good choice. The portions were LARGE for a tasting menu. There is no way that I could have finished the 7. For my drink pairing, I opted for the beer pairing! Dan went with the wine. Both were good and a substantial amount of alcohol.
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