Pics from Italy

Our trip to Italy was absolutely fantastic! It's always funny to me when I travel to Europe because when I am there, it feels as if I am just floating through each day in a dream-like sequence. It is not until I come back home and look at my pictures or re-read my travel books that I realize how freaking great the trip was! My husband and I made it our duty to eat our way across the country. Between Rome, Naples, Sorrento, and Capri, we stuffed ourselves senseless with everything from Castelvetrano olives, to octopus, to fried artichokes, to gelato, to the world famous pizzas and pastas. Some of the highlights from our eating adventure include fresh produce from Campo de Fiori, gnocchi served in its cooking pan from Taverna Trilussa, classic Neopolitan pizza from Pizzeria da Michele, speck wrapped Branzino from 'Gusto, seafood stew on the waterfront in Naples, the best pizza ever in Rome from 'Gusto (again), and refreshing Limoncello from the heart of Sorrento. Here are some of my favorite food related pics. Enjoy!


Traveling Through Italy

My husband and I are currently traveling through Italy! Tough life, right? We decided to celebrate our birthdays out here in style. We are spending our first few days in Rome, enjoying the sites and the food, of course! Then we will take the train to Naples, where we will set up camp for day trips out to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Amalfi. So far, we have had fantastic prosciutto, Prosecco, Peroni, Parmesan, pasta, pizza, and polpo (that's octopus!). Everything here starts with a "P". Perfetto!! We can't wait to continue our eating tour!!


Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Crispy Prosciutto

Ah, risotto! When it’s done properly, it can be heavenly. And cooking risotto is actually fun because it is perfectly acceptable to drink wine while doing so. Wine is one of the main ingredients, you know? This is beyond doubt a win-win situation. After many, many attempts, I can proudly say that I have come quite close to making risotto correctly. My exploratory trials with Arborio rice, brown rice, farro, and even barley in a few risotto dishes were surprisingly accepted and praised. For this butternut squash risotto, I chose to use short grain brown rice. I also decided to make this dish as labor intensive as possible by roasting the squash, instead of just cooking it with the rice. The roasting process adds an incredibly flavorsome and caramelized element to the dish. My mouth just watered as I was typing that, but I digress.

I diced up the squash and roasted it in the oven for about 30 minutes and set it aside. In a pot, I sautéed minced shallots, chopped sage, and garlic in olive oil. I then added the brown rice and stirred it until it was fully coated in the olive oil and toasted a bit. Next, I poured in my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. After the wine had been fully absorbed, I started the arduous process of adding the chicken stock, ladle by ladle. You know the process. You’ve seen it on the Cooking Channel. I then folded in the roasted butternut squash and threw in some freshly grated Parmigianino Reggiano. In a separate pan, I sautéed diced prosciutto until it was crispy, and then sprinkled it over the risotto.

Like I said, I have come quite close to making risotto correctly, and this one was the tastiest yet! I guess my amateur, yet wholehearted, risotto attempts will finally meet their match when we go to Italy next week! Have you ever tried making risotto? Any secrets to success?