When I went to Italy a couple of years ago, the shining highlight of our trip to Firenze was a restaurant called Perseus. Primarily we went for the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, but Melanie noticed that they also had lardo. For an appetizer, we tried a piece of toast with a thin slice of lardo on top. It was clearly not only great food, but the best thing that one could ever hope to eat for breakfast. Unfortunately*, our local stores don't seem to carry lardo. However, there is a company in Iowa, La Quercia, that is making some reportedly fantastic prosciutto and, more importantly, lardo. I don't see a way to order lardo off of their web site without getting a bunch of other meats. I'm told that Whole Foods carries La Quercia brand items, but I highly doubt I'm going to find lardo at my Whole Foods. I'm going to check, obviously, but I am skeptical. Perhaps my perfect breakfast is closer than I though. via Slashfood. *- Hahaha. 'Cause if I had a local source for lardo, I clearly would not die from cardiovascular problems within the year.
There is something good to be said for focus. Technically The Food Geek dot com has a focus, and that is food, but food is a huge topic. Huuuuuge. There are those that are even more focused, and the one I ran across today is LimoncelloQuest. Since returning from Italy, I have been planning on making some Limoncello. For those who aren't familiar, Limoncello is a liqueur that is generally homemade around Italy, though it is available for purchase. You take some lemon peel, soak it in grain alcohol for a while, mix in some simple syrup, and you have yourself something tasty. Simple. As those who follow cooking enough know, simple things are the hardest to do. Any small mistake features largely in the final product, because there are so few things covering for it. The tagline of LimoncelloQuest is "A personal pilgrimage to create the perfect Limoncello". The site owner is taking every variable and, well, varying them. Organic vs. standard lemons, adding juice or no, whether to and how often to filter the grain alcohol, how long to let everything rest, all of that. LimoncelloQuest is not only great for those who are interested in finding out how to make great Limoncello, but it's great for anyone who has a personal quest for perfection, and wants to see how someone else manages that quest.
I've been on a bit of a kick recently trying a bunch of fruit sodas. Well, citrus-flavored sodas, really. So I figured it was time to do something worthwhile with the kick and tell you, my loyal readers, what you can expect from these beverages.
GUSThis is the one that got me started on the citrus soda kick. There's a good local soup shop in town, and they have an excellent selection of beverages (including my favorite beer). I saw the Grown Up Soda and said, "Yeah, why not?" Was it a good idea? Hard to say for sure, but I'm enjoying myself, so we'll call it a win. GUS is not terribly sweet. There's a scale with soda water with a squeeze of lemon at 1, and Orange Crush as a 10. This rates a reasonable 5. Still plenty of flavor, but not watered down and disappointing. I've had the Dry Meyer Lemon and the Dry Valencia Orange. The Meyer Lemon was not all that exciting. It has a good lemon flavor, but it's a bit more subtle than I prefer my lemonade. I know, Meyer Lemons are more subtle than regular lemons, but it could have stood a bit more with that. The Valencia Orange has a great balance of flavor. It has a medium-strong orange taste without being cloying. Well worth the purchase. In my experience, GUS is the hardest to find of the brands reviewed today.
IZZEIZZE is the second easiest-to-find of the sodas in this review. They are in Whole Foods and they are in Chipotle restaurants. Because of their relative fame, I have tried several of their ilk. There are two distinct lines of IZZE Sparkling Juice: the regular (IZZE) and the low calorie versions (IZZE ESQUE). Actually, there's a third version, IZZE FORTIFIED, but I've never tried it. The regular is a 7 on the sweetness scale, which is the highest I would go and still have an enjoyable beverage. And they are tasty. I even like their grapefruit cocktail, which manages to put a decent amount of sweet in there while still letting you know that, yes, it is definitely grapefruit. The ESQUE is a 3 on the sweetness scale, which is much too low. It tastes of lightly fruited water, and I just don't like that. I appreciate them not adding anything artificial etc, but it's just not enough for me. If I want to go with a lower calorie soda, I'll jump to the GUS, which looks to have a smaller serving size to make up for the lowered amount of juices and sugars.
San PellegrinoSan Pellegrino is my favorite of the citrus sodas. They lean toward the sweet side, around 7 much like the IZZE. The Aranciata is a bit better than the Limonata , but either are a good choice for your sparkly fruit drinking ways. The real star of the San Pellegrino lineup is the Chinotto . This is unlike anything I have ever had that wasn't also Italian. It's a brownish color, kind of like a Cola, but it's clearly fruit flavored. The thing is, it's a bitter, complex fruit. This is an acquired taste for sure. It is strange, and it is teeming with different flavors. If you think Dr. Pepper is great because it has so much more complexity than normal soda, then you live a sheltered life and probably aren't quite ready for the Chinnoto. Italians love the bitter, as those of you who have tried Italian Liqueur surely know. It's a rewarding drink to master, though, because it will wake up an otherwise boring process of drinking a carbonated beverage. Plus, you can really mess with your co-worker who likes stealing drinks from the fridge. Totally worth it.
OranginaOrangina is the most famous of the fruit beverages. It has even appeared in the lyrics of a Broadway musical (commenters are welcome to guess which one). It has actual orange pulp in the bottle, and you are encouraged to shake it before drinking it, which adds that hint of danger to drinking a soda that you don't normally get, though nothing near the danger of the Cinnoto. Orangina is not overly sweet, falling around 6 on the scale. With a decent flavor, it's a fine drink to have for the citrus connoisseur.
Celebrating the first episode of 2008, Italian Adventure Part 2: Roman Holiday, we have a cornucopia of delightful recommendations for people going to Rome, with a few other odds and ends thrown in for good measure:
- Moleskine city notebooks
- Perseus Firenze - Viale Minzoni Don Giovanni, 10/R
- Toscana Saporita
- Public Radio Quest Entry - The Flying Squirrels of Experience