My favorite restaurant, every other time: Antica Enoteca

Ah, Antica Enoteca.  I just can’t quit you.  Things are so good.  And then they are meh.  But then you come around again.  It’s really every other time.

#1  My first trip, I was skeptical.  We sat outside, right beside an American couple, where duder asked for ice I swear four different times.  I’m not anti-tourist and definitely not anti-‘Merican, but I do use this as a proxy for restaurant expectation.  But then the pasta came.  I got carciofi with guanciale (artichoke with pork cheek) and James did his usual amatriciana.

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Best pasta I’ve had yet in Rome.  Full stop.  Mic drop.

#2  Our friends came into town after Christmas.  Other friends here graciously agreed to babysit.  W00t!  Big night out.  Instead of trying somewhere new, I decided to play it safe and revisit a sure thing.  See, here, you can easily get an amazing meal, but it is also easy to get a meh meal.

Antica was packed!  Luckily, we had a reservation, but we still had to wait a bit.  This was no hardship because I discovered Antica has London Pride on tap.  As someone who is always on the hunt for hops, this was a pretty awesome pre-dinner drink.  Also, the bar is very cool looking, like too cool for me to be hanging out there, and it was big night out w00t!

Once we sat, I ordered the same pasta.  This was admittedly a risky strategy.  Either you know you are getting something great or you are getting something that can never live up to the memory.  Sadly, my experience was the latter.  It was definitely good.  Our friends liked their food.  But it was not the best pasta I’ve had in Rome.  Womp womp.

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#3  Undeterred by the minor setback, we took my mom during her visit in February.  I learned my lesson and stayed away from the carciofi/guanciale masterpiece of my memories.  But my mom didn’t.  She let me try hers.  Best pasta ever again!  I was a little remorseful, but I consoled myself with my gnocchi that was also stupid good.

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#4  Feeling uncreative and thinking pasta plus a pre-dinner London Pride sounded like a good idea, James and I ended up back at Antica on a date night.  This time the experience was actually kind of bad.  They were out of London Pride, but they didn’t mention that until they brought a substitute.  He offered to swap it if we didn’t like it, but not that helpful . . .  The service was really slow.  And when we got our pasta, it was just ok.  Better than what I can make at home, but nothing to write home about.  Boo.

So there you have it.  I’m hesitant to give you a glowing recommendation because I just don’t know which Antica you will get.  Will it be the pasta dreams are made of or just an average plate of blah?

I can say that Antica has a solid wine-by-the glass selection and some very good charcuterie.  Even if you don’t opt to try the pasta, I’d definitely suggest grabbing a seat and a snack at the bar.  If you are feeling burnt out on Italian wine, you could even get a London Pride.  Most of the time.

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Antica Enoteca
http://www.anticaenoteca.com
Via della Croce, 76/b Roma
06/6790896

What makes your favorite restaurant your fave?  Would you forgive them for some uneven quality issues or are they dead to you forever?

The jury is still out on Orvieto

If you find yourself contemplating a few days in Rome, I hazard that any guidebook will mention Orvieto as a possible day trip.  It isn’t far.  Unlike much of Tuscany, it is easy to access by train (so I’ve been told.)  It’s a beautiful city that can provide a nice contrast to Rome, particularly if you are short on time.

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After scrapping our plans for a bigger trip because of the weather, we headed to Orvieto on the Monday of MLK weekend.  The weather had finally cleared and, even though it was still chilly, we could see glorious sunshine.

It took us a minute to make sure we were in the right parking area.  It took us several more minutes to locate where to purchase tickets for the funicular.  (I think you can usually get them at the ticket office, but everything was closed, and we purchased them in the cafe through the train station.)  That’s right–for this hill town, you get to funicular on up into town.  This was probably the highlight of Henry’s visit.  I was a little disappointed, but that’s on me because I, for no good reason, associate funiculars with gondolas and would have been thrilled by nothing less than sailing through the air.

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We funicular-ed up along with, what seemed to be, a middle school tour group.  Granted, they were probably in college, but wow, kids look so young now.  Do you ever do that?  Look at people that can drive or order booze with disbelief and then start wondering where your walker is?  No?  Anyways, these kids were unleashed on the town with only an hour to wander.  That’s something I really like about living here.  Maybe my kids make it harder to travel and I’m not seeing everything, but I have time.  If I don’t get to see everything I want on one trip, I can come back.

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Strike 1.  There is a shuttle from the top of the funicular into the center of town.  We should have taken it.  We didn’t.  I’m used to Tuscan hill towns that are teeny tiny.  Orvieto is not as small.  It would have been a fine walk for any able-bodied person, but we blew a lot of toddler good will on the trek.  For some reason, we opted not to stroller on this outing.  Mistake.

Orvieto has caves that sound pretty sweet, but we opted not to brave those this time.  It was cold enough above ground.  That was Strike 2.  I was crazy excited about the sunny weather, but the buildings were just tall enough that everything was in the shade.  This would be great in the summer.  Less ideal in January.

We did hit the Orvieto Cathedral, a shockingly large undertaking given the size of the town.  The facade closely resembles the Duomo in Siena.

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It was very beautiful and impressive, but I think we are starting to suffer from a bit of church ennui.  Trust me, I know it sounds very bratty to say it, but if you see lots of amazing, ridiculous churches, you start to become a little immune to them.  It takes something really, truly impressive to blow your socks off.  I know other travelers would tell you the same.

The town itself was nice.  Winding alleys, beautiful homes.  It is definitely different than Rome.  It just wasn’t a town that grabbed me.  It didn’t feel as charming some other places we’ve visited.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to knock the town.  It really is something.  But if I had one day trip opportunity from Rome, I don’t think this would be it.

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Strike 3.  I had big lunch plans.  A friend mentioned that she had out of this world pasta with pecorino and honey.  Umm, yes, please.  We stalled until 12:30 and then headed to Trattoria del Moro Aronne.  After a few twists and turns, we found it.  We also found a handwritten sign stating that they were closed until February 20.  (Remember – we went in January.)  WHAT?  No pasta oozing cheese and honey?

I pulled it together.  After learning my lesson before, I had a backup.  We headed to Trattoria la Grotta.  SAME SIGN.  Nooooooooooooooooo.  At this point, everyone was melting down.  The troops needed food.  I was melting down and getting snippier than I’d like to admit.  Knowing that the kids–particularly the baby–are hungry is a big pressure point for me.

Thankfully, there was a backup to the backup.  Caffe Montanucci to the rescue.  They have premade pastas and sandwiches in a spacious cafe.  We got food fast and James snagged a carafe of an excellent Orvieto Classico.  They even had a high chair.

Overall, it was a fun adventure.  Not the adventure we had planned for that weekend, but I was glad to see something new and check something off the list.

But I couldn’t get that pasta out of my head.

So I did what any rational person would do, and I took to the internets.  I found a few people waxing nostalgically about the pasta.  The Internationalista took it a step further and got the recipe from the very restaurant that had denied me my cheesy, honey goodness.

I finally got around to making it this weekend.  I want to tell you that this story has a happy ending.  Girl doesn’t have perfect day in Orvieto but gains exotic new pasta recipe for life.  I want to make that true for you.

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It was a bechamel fail.  I don’t know if I added the flour too fast or the pan was too hot, but instead of sauce, I had a gloppy mess.  Even after I added the milk and cream, it more sticky than sauce-y.  I kept adding milk and cream but it was all for naught.

Then I forgot to save some of the “sauce” to pour on top.  I probably could have used more cheese.  (Because when is more cheese never not the answer?)  In the end, the pasta was sort of tasty, but definitely not a creamy, cheesy pasta to write home about.

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But I don’t think I can call Orvieto a three strikes and you’re out situation.  If you look at my strikes, two are because nobody expects sightseers in January and the other is because of our own stupidity.  I feel like we didn’t give the town a fair shake.  So we’ll be back.  I’ll have to go for the pasta at least.  Because goodness knows I’m not having any luck recreating that one on my own.

Been to Orvieto?  Have you had any travel destinations that redeemed themselves on a second visit?

Itinerary for me Ma

Lucky for me as a sightseeing planner, my mom has been to Rome a few times.  This means she will be excited to see things, but we don’t feel like we have to pack in every single sight.

So I have put together a sort of wish list for my mom’s stay.  As you will see, there is plenty of flexibility.

Pasta

Pizza – maybe from Gaudi?

White wine

Red wine

Gelateria Salaria, our favorite close by gelato.

Come il Latte.  Simply the best.  Better than all the rest.

Catacombs of Priscilla

Villa Borghese

Villa Ada

Walk around downtown

A market

Montepulciano

More gardens, maybe Villa d’Este in Tivoli

Hopefully I will be able to report back on successful list completion.  The weather is not on our side this week, but we’ll do what we can and hope things will look up.  Now I must away.  Somebody couldn’t be bothered to stay asleep for all of nap time and is trying to eat my arms as I type.

 

Hot drinks for cold days

Now we’re in it.  January and February are pretty bleak.  Christmas cheer has been packed up.  Things can be a bit dreary.  Back home, March is usually just as bad, which is even worse for me because I stubbornly continue to think it should be warm.  March, that should be spring, right?  WRONG, YOU GET A SNOWSTORM.  Hope that parka goes with your Easter ensem!

Things in Rome have been downright balmy compared to DC.  The weather claims the highs are close to 60.  I guess I can’t argue with the weather reporting professionals, but it doesn’t feel like 60.  40s and 50s, yes.  It is a damp cold, but the teens it is not.  Huzzah.

In case you are experiencing mega-cold let’s-build-a-fire type weather, consider these toasty Christmas market inspired drinks to warm you right up.  These drinks were great for walking the markets in Germany.  I think they would also be awesome on a chilly evening tucked up with a blanket.  You don’t even have to worry about paying extra for your cup deposit (pfand) and remembering to get your money back!

Gluhwein

Mulled wine is a staple at Christmas markets.  You can find both white and red, but I’m all about that red.  There are about a million recipes online and I can’t claim to have found the best one, but you are probably looking at some combo of wine, cloves, sugar, and orange.

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If you like your gluhwein with a little more flair, consider trying a . . .

Feuerzangenbowle

With a little help from wikipedia, I can tell you that this fun-to-pronounce drink involves a run-soaked sugar loaf being set on fire and dripped into gluhwein.  The main difference in the markets seems to be that feuerzangenbowle, aka fire-tongs punch, stands are usually covered with flames and fire.

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We tried it.  It was tasty.  I didn’t notice a huge difference from traditional gluhwein.  I was disappointed that nothing was lit on fire in front of me.

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The problem with gluhwein is that it can feel a little too Christmas-y.  If you want to mix up your flavors, allow me to recommend . . .

Fruity Gluhwein

In Nuremberg, we enjoyed some heidelbeer gluhwein.  Heidelbeer doesn’t exactly translate to something in the U.S.; it seems to basically be a European blueberry.  James and I ended up liking this a lot.  You could really taste the fruit.  I think this could be great with blueberry wine, strawberry wine, or any wine your grandmother would probably be really into.  I’m looking at you Manischewitz.

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If you are over hot wine, why not try a . . .

Hot Coconut

We got this on our trip to Tollwood.  I’m not translating here.  We literally ordered the “hot coconut.”  It was served in a half coconut bowl that I forgot to take a picture of.  I’m pretty sure it was just rum and coconut milk heated.  I’ve tried googling to confirm, but all sorts of delicious and more complicated recipes come up.  These sound pretty incredible if you have the time and inclination, but I’m pretty sure hot run and coconut milk together would be a simple win.

I would NOT, however, recommend that you try . . .

Gluhbier

That’s right.  I tried hot beer.  The descriptions sounded amazing.  Beer with additions of vanilla and caramel flavors.  Beer with orange.  James and I both got a different flavor.

Yeeaah, it was still hot beer.  It is not something I would recommend.  I like the concept.  Hated the execution.

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We also tried the Stachelbier.  For this one, they put a hot poker into a cold beer, with the goal of creating hot foam.  The point is then to enjoy the hot foam with cold beer.  It was. . . interesting?  There was definitely hot foam on the beer.  I would not say it created any sort of unique flavor experience, but I’m glad we tried it.

And for the kiddos . . .

Kinderpunsch

That’s right, zee Germans serve a hot punch for kids that looks like they are swigging hot wine along with everyone else.  We only got this once for Henry because it was HOT and there was the mess factor.  Henry can report that he really enjoys french fries dipped in his kinderpunsch.  Also, this is not a hot one, but Henry put a hurting on some apfelschorle, a carbonated apple drink, during the trip.

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Want to elevate your market-inspired drink experience?  Try these authentic market munchies.

Is it super cold where you are?  Do you have any favorite drinks to warm up by the fireside?  Do you have a fireside?  If so, I am definitely jealous!

Rain rain, go away (Restaurant Review: Cul de Sac Wine Bar)

You guys, will it ever stop raining??  I know, I know.  It isn’t snow.  It is still pretty warm here.  But it is starting to feel like it rains every day.

And it is a sneaky rain.  You never know when it is coming.  I can look out the window in one direction and there is blue sky with happy clouds.  The other direction looks like a gray sheet of doom.  I have been at the playground and had a single individual cloud rain on me and then pass.

I’m always surprised by the quantities of thunder and lightening as well.  These aren’t just sheets of gray.  They crackle with electricity.

It seems to rain more often than not on date night.  One evening looked suspiciously dry.  We hopped into a cab to go stroll by the Forum before dinner.  On the way, the skies opened up.  We should have told the cab driver to change location, but we were too busy being amused by him.  He hated everything.  The traffic in Rome.  The food in Rome.  The people in Rome.  And I was hopelessly hoping that the rain might stop before we got there.

We stood on the corner sharing an umbrella (mine) and set off on a very truncated walk.  It was not a romantic stroll in the rain.  It was cold and wet.  I immediately headed to a cab stand to get to the restaurant.  I can’t find it now, but someone had a travel tip that stuck with me:  if it costs less than $10 but makes your life much better, you should do it.  For example, if you are starving, go ahead and get that overpriced airport sandwich.  I’m not traveling, but I think this is an excellent rule to live by generally.

Our destination that evening was Cul de Sac, a wine bar tucked away behind Piazza Navona.  A friend recommended as a fun place to try wines by the glass and local meats and cheeses.

When we rolled up around 2100 (I know, I’m a baller), the place was hopping.  After a few minutes, we were able to get a table in the back.  The space is very narrow with the wines up front and center on display.  Let’s just say that this is not the place you’d like to be during an earthquake.

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You could get bottles, but they did have a nice selection of wines by the glass, I think mostly in the 6-10 euro range.  We got a mixed meat and cheese plate as well.  Although it was quite tasty, I wish we had just ordered individual things.  There was a large selection of cured meats and cheeses, with the region of Italy noted.  I’d definitely recommend as a place to stop in if you didn’t want to pay Piazza prices around the corner.

After some enjoyable glasses, we did take a look at the rain-drenched Piazza Navona, one of my faves.

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I also had the tartufo from Tre Scalini in my sights.  This was eaten crowded by the covered outdoor heater where I technically shouldn’t have been because I only paid for a takeaway.

It wasn’t the date night I had planned, but at least it had a sweet ending.  Hehe.  🙂

Cul de Sac, Piazza Pasquino 73 (Piazza Navona) 00186, Tel. +39.06.68801094

Tre Scalini, Piazza Navona 28 00186, Tel. +39.06.68801996

Monday morning quarterbacking the vacation

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We had a great time in Tuscany earlier this month.  As we prepare for Munich in a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what we could have done better.  Any travel lessons to apply?  Things within my control anyway.  Off the top of my head, I’d say “have it not rain” and “have Italian restaurants open earlier” would have been significant trip enhancements.  But I digress.

Duomo

Duomo

Plan, plan, and plan some more

I thought the key to traveling with two young kids would be a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude.  I don’t think this hurts, but we should have created a tighter plan within which to go with the flow.

You see, I thought we planned.  We had a place to stay.  We had restaurants we wanted to try and knew their hours of operation.  We had ideas of things we wanted to see.

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Nope.  This was not enough.  We need more solid game plans.  We need backup plans so that I’m not completely thrown when the restaurant that says it will be open at a certain time is not actually open.  We need to think about what sights we want to see, how much time should be allotted to each sight, and how much is reasonable to try to accomplish.

Granted, these plans should be held lightly.  They should not be structured in a way that there will be extreme disappointment if something changes.  We need a plan, but we need to be able to PIVOT.

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Il Campo

It’s OK to eat at home

Instead of hotels, we’ve been seeking out the strategic airbnb.  This time, we stayed at a bed and breakfast type place, but we had our own kitchen.  This seemed great, but once I learned breakfast was included, I stopped focusing on it.  Oh, sure, three meals a day in restaurants with kids would be awful, but two meals sounded doable, why not.

I wish I had focused more.  We had one night where it was rainy and everything was closed.  We ended up with takeout pizza eaten way later than was ideal.  This would have been a good night to have curled up at home.

I think I was hesitant because I wanted it to feel more like a vacation.  You know, a vacation where someone else does the cooking.  I’m also a little leery of doing this too much.  If we are cooking at home, we might not venture back into town or try that one more thing.

But it is an important tool in the arsenal.  You better believe, next time, I’m scouting out not just restaurant locations but grocery stores as well.

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Torre del Mangia

Travel with a wine opener

Nuff said.

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Siena is awesome

You may be wondering about the random pictures throughout this post.  After three days in Volterra and San Gimignano, we stopped in Siena on the way back home.  We took the escalator into town, wandered a little, saw the duomo, had a nice lunch, and ate ice cream on the Campo before setting off again.

I wish we had stayed longer.  Maybe Siena would have been a better base of operations than Volterra.  We spent three evenings wandering around Volterra; I think there would have been more to see here.

Of course, it could have been more expensive.  And we may not have made it to Volterra at all that way.  There will always be what ifs.  I guess we’ll just have to go back.

Any travel tips?  Lessons learned from vacations past?

Fall in Italy

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately.  Not exactly homesick.  Mostly nostalgic.  It happens generally when I look at Facebook these days and see all the fall fun.  You know what I’m talking about.  Apple picking.  Hay rides.  Halloween costumes.  Corn mazes.  Gorgeous fall foliage.

Over here?  Not so much.  The weather has turned a little cooler (and rainier).  Many plants are still green and even flowering.  The ones losing their leaves seem to have them turn brown and fall off immediately.  I saw a few Halloween decorations in windows, but not much.  We were in a restaurant that was putting up decorations the day before.  At that point, I thought, why bother?

But I’m seeing that fall in Italy means other things.  It is time for jackets, boots, and scarves.  (Although in Rome, they have honestly moved on to puffer coats already.  Temps are usually in the 60s.)

It is time for vendors roasting chestnuts by the side of the road.

And it is time for fall flavors.  I don’t mean pumpkin spice lattes.  Seasonal favorites like cinghiale (wild boar), truffles, and porcini mushrooms.  We got to experience all of these on our trip to Tuscany.  All in one meal even.

We arrived at our B&B outside Volterra in the late afternoon.  The owners asked if we would be eating at their restaurant in town that night.  We had looked at it in the guidebook, Enoteca Del Duca, but written it off because it was described as a good place for a nice and romantic meal.  And it didn’t open until 7:30.

But, in full view of our toddler and six-month-old, they were asking if we’d be dining there.  I almost followed up and asked, “are you sure it’s ok for kids?”

Since people were rested and restless from the three-hour car ride and we were getting a later start into town, we decided to go for it.  After walking around Volterra in the dark for a bit, we made it to restaurant opening time.  Conveniently, we had the restaurant to ourselves for about 45 minutes.

What followed was one of those magical meals where everyone was chill and enjoyed it.  The kids were not screaming or fighting to get out of chairs.  The adults were not gulping food or exasperated.  We were aided by the bread basket and more liberal use of pacifier than is usually permitted.  (For Henry, they are just for sleeping.  Mac still has full access.)

Mac's first time in an Italian high chair

Mac’s first time in an Italian high chair

In fact, we enjoyed everything so much that I forgot to take pictures.  But it was all very delicious.  We had a bottle of the owners Marcampo wine, made from 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, which was not quite as full-bodied as we hoped, but had a great mouth feel and paired well with the food.  Oh, the food!  We started with wild board proscuitto with cheese fondue and a souffle with shaved truffles.  I really like boar, but I find it hard to describe.  I wouldn’t call it gamey.  Just like a more robust, extra delicious pig.  Henry hasn’t met a cured meat he doesn’t like, and he polished off the truffled souffle like it was dusted with M&Ms.  A cheap date he is not.

Henry was less interested in the main course, but no complaints from James and me.  I had the pasta with porcini mushrooms.  It was very delicious, with excellent noodles and a light sauce, but I didn’t lose my head over the porcini.  They just tasted like nice-tasting mushrooms to me.  I’m not sure I could have identified them in a mushroom taste test.

James’s, however, was one for the record books.  He got the pappardelle with wild boar.  He allowed me three bites, and I cannot fault him for not offering more.  First, picture the most delicious noodles you can.  Kind of like your mom’s amazing egg noodles, but uniform and somehow staying hot.  And then morsels of stewed boar incorporated throughout.  Boar that is tender, but has bites with a hint of crispy burnt end kind of deliciousness.  I had a pretty decent boar pappardelle later in the trip, but this dish will be the one against all others are measured.

At that point, the natives were restless, so we skipped dessert and coffee.  Didn’t want to push our luck.  We had other pleasant dining experiences and tasty food on our trip, but nothing where everything came together like that first night.

My kind of errands

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On Saturday, around 5:00 pm, in the finally crisp fall weather, we set off on our evening passagiata.  Passagiata is that special time in the late afternoon when you just walk, browse store windows, see and be seen.  Another expat describes it well here.  The people watching really is fantastic.  I particularly like this walk because, if Henry will consent to being stroller-ed, it is almost like a mini-date for James and me.

Although restaurants won’t open until around 7:00 pm, most of the stores are open, after possibly being closed during mid-afternoon.  We took advantage of this to check a few tasks off the list.

Up first, the tabacchi.  That’s right, the tobacco store.  We don’t smoke, but I almost think of these things like gas stations for pedestrians.  You can get snacks, magazines, and–our aim–metro/bus tickets.  I’ve got 10 tickets burning a hole in my pocket now.  I’m hoping to share some adventures in public transportation soon!

Next, we strolled over to the wine store.  I’m still scared to take in the stroller because of space issues and fear of Henry grabbing bottles, but James picked up more recommendations from his fave employee (a French woman who speaks excellent English).  The last batch had a good mouth feel, but, now that the weather is cooling, I’m looking for something more robust.  Look for more wine tweets on these soon.

And then, the pasticceria.  Oh, the pasticceria!  This is a pastry and chocolate shop that we have passed many times but never entered.  (I again blame the stroller and Henry grabbing things.)  James came out with 18 euros worth of amazing looking chocolate.  He picked up some dark chocolate bark with hazelnut pieces and some little bonbon squares.  We’ll see how long these stick around.  They are incredibly rich so it would be hard to eat a lot of them at once.  I think.

After the kids went to bed, we had some incredible takeout from Himalaya’s Kashmir.  Followed by a pretty stellar wine and dessert course.  This was a nice Saturday night before dealing with Daylight Savings Time, which I now know to have been invented only to torture parents.  We start earlier than the U.S. so for the next few days, I’m only five hours ahead of you folks on the East Coast.

Thoughts from my “Whole 10”

Earlier this month I did 10 or 11 days of a whole 30.  This is not exactly the way the program is supposed to work, but it can be a helpful tune-up.  I made it through a weekend which I’m proud of.  Now I’m back to normal, but with some modifications.  Here are some thoughts about the process this time around:

If you are thinking of doing a whole30, but know going into it that it is OK to stop early, then you will probably stop early.  My goal was to try it to clean things up, but to stop when it made sense for me.  Which is fine.  But having that attitude–at least for me–almost guaranteed that I would stop early.  I was thinking about this because I’m toying with participating in National Novel Writing Month in November.  I haven’t done much planning, but the program says that can work.  I’m just not sure it will work for me.  I’m mostly hesitant because I don’t have an idea that I love.  And you really need an idea that you love if you are going to commit to 50,000 words in a month.  Part of me thinks, well, I’ll just try it.  Even if I don’t finish 50,000 words, it will be a good writing exercise.  But.  This approach dooms me from the start.  If I allow myself an out, I’ll probably take it.  So I’m not sure I want to announce to all of you that I am committing to NaNoWriMo.  Definitely not yet.  But I’m still thinking about it.

Paleo really is hard to do here.  This is particularly true on convenience food.  If we are out and about, the quickest option is pizza.  I miss having that spontaneity.  Although whole30-ing doesn’t really lend itself to convenience food anywhere.

I just shouldn’t keep chocolate or gelato or anything else too delicious in the house.  I have a lot of willpower about some things.  Not dusting off the bag of peanut butter M&Ms is not one of them.  There is plenty of room for treats when we are out of the house.

I should keep cutting out the glass (or so) of wine after the kids go to bed.  This one is hard.  But I think it makes the biggest difference on how I feel the next day.  I’ve been trying to have more booze free days and focus on more targeted drinking, such as date night, weekends, with friends, etc.

Less wine = nicer wine.  If I’m being more strategic, I don’t want to deal with a 4 euro grocery store grab that turns out to be awful.  So more trips to the legit wine store in our future.

I really should stop eating after dinner entirely.  If left to my own devices, I will nibble all evening.  If I am successful on not having treats in the house, this should help.

I’m trying to do pasta only once a week.  It’s an easy meal.  It is delicious.  But I’m limiting for health and to avoid pasta fatigue.  People who have been here a year tell me this is real, and even though I am scoffing at them right now, I will find myself in the same place.

This helped snap me out of my yogurt-for-lunch rut.  I find cooking paleo dinners pretty easy and Henry and I eat ALL the eggs for breakfast, but I was stumped on lunch.  Now I’m trying harder to have leftovers.  I’m also working to stock more convenient proteins to throw on salads like canned fish, anchovies, and smoked salmon.  Soup season is upon us which should help for leftovers!

So you're thinking about a whole30 . . .

So that’s where I ended up.  Less booze, more lunch ideas, and confidence that paleo is possible in Italy.  If you are thinking about a whole30, learn from my attempts:

  • Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more.  If you wait until you are starving, you are screwed because paleo is often not quick and easy.
  • Definitely stock up on some make-your-life-easier essentials: ghee, almond flour, coconut milk, coconut aminos, canned tomatoes, nuts, canned fish.
  • Make sure you get enough fat in your meals.  You aren’t supposed to be hungry all the time.  If you are, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Avocados and sweet potatoes are your friend.  Roasted sweet potatoes are really good for feeling comforty when you just want carbs.
  • Let your crock pot also be your friend.
  • Sparkling water with lime is nice for when you get sick of regular water.
Have you ever tried a whole30?  Any other tips?  Would you ever do one?

Wine tweets (Vol. 2): What I’ve been drinking*

*Descriptions from a wine/beer lover who is really bad at talking about it

Want more wine tweets? See here.

The good

The good

Starting on the left, the Toscana was one James let Henry pick out at the grocery store.  Natch, he went with the red lion.  This was medium-bodied.  It was just ok.  Definitely drinkable, but it didn’t have the rich mouth feel I wanted.  #notreallyspecial #toddlersommelierfail

We had the neighbors over for drinks after the kiddos went to bed.  You know the cool, lived-all-over-the-world, no kids neighbors?  They brought this wine.  Of course, it was amazing.  They claim it was a grocery store find, but I haven’t tracked it down yet.  Smooth, inky, delicious.  #wontyoubemyneighbor

This Dolcetto d’Alba is my favorite Dolcetto yet.  I think.  We had two in close succession.  One was outstanding, the other was meh.  James claims this was the good one, but I’ll need to track down another bottle to see.  If it IS the good one, it is medium, fruity, good mouth feel.  Everything you’d want in your dolcetto.  #everyday #versatile

The Teroldego on the right is one of my new faves.  Another super cheap grocery store find.  James tells me I can’t get this in the U.S. so I should not get too attached.  Another smooth wine with a great mouth feel.  (Noticing a trend here?)  #repeatbuy #mustimportteroldego

The OK

The OK

The Est! Est!! Est!!!, from a region with a charming back story, was Italian adequate.  Meaning good, drinkable, but a little forgettable.  I think this one was on the fruitier end of the spectrum.  #enjoyedbutnotblownaway

The Frascati is one of the rare local wines.  The only word that really came to mind for this one is “light.”  It wasn’t very sweet, very fruity, or very dry.  It was just pretty light.  This sounds underwhelming, I know, but it wasn’t bad.  Definitely a refreshing wine to drink when it is hot out.  #summer #laziolocal

I had high hopes for this one because I am a sucker for bottle art.  In the end, I was disappointed, but mostly because of expectations.  I thought it would be on the light and fruity side, but it was more like chardonnay.  And I was not in the mood for chardonnay that day.  As far as chardonnay-ish wines go, it was ok.  I thought it improved on the second day.  James thought it got worse.  #thelobsterledmeastray

The ugly

The ugly

Which brings us to the lone beer of the group.  Hats off to the folks at nabiretta for making beer in Italy, but I was really disappointed.  This one started off ok, but went all wrong as you swallowed.  I wouldn’t call it homebrew-y because that would be an insult to homebrewers.  Of course, I was disappointed by the lack of hops, but the malt just tasted off.  #didnotfinish

P.S. I’m not off my whole30; it just takes me that long to get around to writing these up.