Thursday, January 31, 2013

All We Do Is Eat

Alex and I have accomplished quite a bit in Modena in these last few days. Some of it involves getting souvenirs for family and friends. Most of it involves eating.

I of course had to get more hot chocolate at my favorite bar. This stuff is beyond words. And this time they gave me a little side of whipped cream!

When I was paying, the man behind the counter kept calling me "la ragazza americana." The American girl. I guess I kind of stick out like a sore thumb here a little bit...

Last night, we dined at Da Danilo, a little restaurant in the center of town. With our antipasto, they served gnocco fritto. It's a local treat that they serve in practically every bar. It's basically fried pasta dough (and has nothing to do with gnocchi). I love it!

Our server recommended that we stuff the gnocco with some prosciutto crudo. Excellent idea.

Our antipasto with prosciutto crudo, salami, some kind of cheese, and fig spread.

First course: vegetable soup. Mmmmmm nice and hearty.

Second course: omelette with prosciutto (not crudo). I need to learn that if the word crudo is not attached, it means that I'm probably getting ham--something I don't like nearly as much. Plus, the eggs were kind of overcooked...

Dessert: gelato with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. If there's one thing Modena does well, it's balsamic. This dessert was awesome. We went to a balsamic store in town and the guy had 100-year balsamic for sale (the older it is, the sweeter it is). 220 euros for a bottle the size of golfball.

Today, January 31st, was the Festival of San Geminiano, Modena's saint.

My pictures don't do it justice, but there are tons of vendors spreading out from the center of town. Hundreds and hundreds of them, selling everything from socks to baby toys to amaretti cookies.

Alex bought truffle salami and truffle cheese. Our family loves everything truffle.

We also hit up some candy stations. I looooooooove black licorice; they sell giant strands of the stuff. And they had candy apples!

We also got some goodies for Alex to bring home. Oh, and those things that look like fruit in the bottom left hand corner of this picture are actually giant gummy candies.

For lunch, we ordered a local delicacy--piadino. It's like an italian tortilla. They use it here in replacement of ciabbata for a panino. Our piadino had prosciutto crudo, cheese, and eggplant. Delicious!

And I got a hat at the market. I forgot to bring a hat to Modena so my head has been quite chilly some days. The top is big enough for my to fit my giant head of hair into which is also useful.

Tonight, we had a fixed menu dinner next door to my residence. It was tagliatelle with cinghiali. Cinghiale is--according to my italian dictionary--wild boar.

Next course, more wild boar with polenta.

Oh yeah, by the way: I'm taking a 7-month break from being a vegetarian if you haven't noticed. I'm going to take full advantage of the wonderful food around me and return to my fruit and veggie lifestyle when I get back home.

I have to say, the prosciutto crudo here is INCREDIBLE. Oh, and the guy at the salami stand in the Mercato Albinelli knows me now. I went three days in a row to buy salame napoli for Alex.

Salami guy: "Hai finito tutto?" (You finished everything?)
Me: *face turns red* "Si. Mio fratello amo il salame." (Yes. My brother loves salami)
Then I proceed to buy an absurd amount of salami and prosciutto.
Hopefully I'll be friends with the produce people soon too.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


We spent Saturday and Sunday in Venice this past weekend. Venice is AMAZING. As soon as you get off the bridge you are hit with the most beautiful city you could possibly imagine.

And it doesn't smell so bad in the winter.

Here is the famous Rialto Bridge.

One of the million side streets in Venice. All of the buildings seem to lean towards each other at the top.

Along the water front we found a little carnival area. My favorite was the food cart that had crepes and espresso. So classy.

So pretty!

Eating right by the Rialto Bridge.

My first course: greek salad. Soooooo good. It had the normal tomatoes, feta, and olives, but it also had toasted pumpkin seeds and capers.

Alex's first course: assorted cured meats. Those little swirly things on top? I thought they were cheese. Wrong. They are fancy-shaped butter. I took a giant bite of butter. Not pleasant.

My second course: vegetarian lasagna. Very cheesy.

Alex's second course: gnocchi alla bolognese.

A lot of walkways had these lights hanging from the buildings.

The next morning we got to witness Venice during a flood. Apparently, Venice floods about 100 times every winter.

They have these raised walkways so that people can get around, but it's very hard to move about without getting your shoes soaked.

The Basilica reflected in the flood water.

Funny face.

The last picture I took before getting in trouble for taking pictures inside of the Doge Palazzo.

There weren't any guards in the dungeon so I could take as many pictures as I wanted.

Really cool lamp in the courtyard area.

This picture is from back in my room, but I bought this chocolate in Venice. All of the chocolate here has hazelnuts in it. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Part one of our excursion this past weekend was Milan. We didn't get to do too much because we were only there Friday night and left Saturday morning, but we still had a good time.

Here is our cute little hotel room.

We shared a bottle of wine at dinner.

And this is the greatest invention ever. It's balsamic vinegar, in a spray bottle. Of course, I like a lot of balsamic so I spayed it about 100 times.

My appetizer: a caprese salad with the greatest ball of mozzarella of all time.

Second course: Risotto Milanese. Basically risotto with saffron. This one also had a lot of parmigiano and butter. So much that it felt like I was eating mac and cheese with rice instead of macaroni. Really good, but a little odd also.

Back at the hotel, while Alex ordered a simple Jameson, I became that annoying American that wants a cocktail. I ordered the hotel's signature drink--the NH Touring cocktail--assuming the bartender would be familiar with it. Never assume. It took the poor guy 15 minutes to find all the ingredients. Pretty sure he never made it before. I guess I'll wait until I get back to the states to order cocktails...

Here is the train station we arrived at and left from: Milano Centrale. It was designed by Mussolini.

Next, a post about Venice.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Brotha Is Here!

Alex is here! Yay!

And we've been doing a lot of exploring. That's why I haven't written in a while. Well, that and the super-shoddy internet.

We went to Milan and Venice this weekend (so much to write about--they will be separate posts).

To get ready for his arrival last Tuesday, I went to the supermarket for cheese, meat, and bread. A classic Medoway welcome meal.

Before our fun adventures, we had some fun around Modena. In the picture above, Alex is eating a pizza from one of the bars in the Palazzo Grande. Everything was fine. I got a potato pizza, Alex a margherita and pancetta pizza.

All was well, until we went to leave. I was rushing a bit because the guys were shutting the place down and I wanted to be out of the way.

Alex did too. So as he walked towards the trashcan, he chugged the rest of his water. He claims that there was a piece of pancetta stuck in his throat and thus, the water went down the wrong pipe and he spewed the stuff all over the floor.

I can never go back there.

Great. I'm in a country on my own and my family is already wreaking havoc all around town.

Anyways, we had more success at my favorite bar. Alex got a cappuccino (my dad would be proud).

I got a chocolate mammolino (I guess the drink the bar is named after). It was a shot of chocolate syrup, covered by a shot of espresso and topped with whipped cream. Yum. My kinda caffeine.

More to come on our out-of-city adventures!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My First Cappuccino Came From a Vending Machine

In these past three days I've accomplished a few things. One was finding the Mercato Albinelli on Via Albinelli right by the university.

This is seriously the greatest place ever. It is like heaven in my eyes.

Every kind of produce, bread, cheese, pastry, literally ANYTHING you could possibly want, all in one place.

The traditional bread of Modena always comes in funny shapes. There's a hard crust but the inside is soft and fluffy.

I will probably come back here every day, at the least.

I bought this focaccia-style bread with roasted tomatoes and it was incredible.

I also returned to my favorite cafe as of right now: Mammolo.

I got a croissant with nutella and one with orange marmalade.

Today my italian immersion teacher took me to a little cafeteria run by the church for lunch. I got grapes, roasted zucchini, traditional Modena bread, and minestrone with grated parmigiano on top. Oh my god, the difference in the cheese alone was crazy. I never knew I could enjoy a garnish so much.

BUT, my greatest discovery was definitely the coffee vending machines. Of course, this sounds really stupid, but I'm serious. These things are great. On the walk back to my residence, I saw one and decided to try it (they're all over the place).

There are a thousand options and it makes you a coffee/hot chocolate/steamed milk/anything you want in a tiny plastic cup.

I just got a latte the first time. It was awesome.

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with this, but I am.

And so today I took a video of this vending machine making me my first ever cappuccino! I know, I'm a horrible italian. You can see it dispense the sugar, then the little stirring, then some steamed milk, and finally a shot of espresso. You should definitely watch this video because it took me FOREVER to load.

And here are so extra pictures I took while doing some sight-seeing on my own.