a

AWG's Profile

Title Last Reply

Charleston Dining Notes: Husk, Cru, Poogan’s, FIG, Jestine’s, Circa 1886, High Cotton, SNOB and more

Glad I could help.
Hope you enjoy your trip to Charleston. Great food, great town!

Nov 29, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Charleston Dining Notes: Husk, Cru, Poogan’s, FIG, Jestine’s, Circa 1886, High Cotton, SNOB and more

Yeah, It is hard to believe that such a great restaurant could make something so "icky". And it is such a Southern staple...

The consolation was that they served really good dinner rolls that have a top crust glazed with bourbon to give it an added flavor boost. Yum.

Nov 21, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Charleston Dining Notes: Husk, Cru, Poogan’s, FIG, Jestine’s, Circa 1886, High Cotton, SNOB and more

Thanks,
It is great fun to write about the food. Gives me a way to re-live the experience.
We are so glad we happened across Goat.Sheep.Cow.

Nov 18, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Charleston Dining Notes: Husk, Cru, Poogan’s, FIG, Jestine’s, Circa 1886, High Cotton, SNOB and more

Just got back from first trip to Charleston and we sure ate well!
Thanks to everyone at CH who helped us in the planning. For reference here is a link to my original inquiries here on CH, but I did refer to many older threads to come up with our initial selections
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920920
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920024

Lunch at Husk: Our first meal in Charleston started with a bang and was a great intro to the 5 days of fantastic dining. We arrived about 15 minutes early for our 12:30 res and ordered some cold local beers served to us out on the front porch. We requested and were granted a table on the upstairs porch on this pleasantly warm November day. I had shrimp and grits with sausage, peas and smoky tomatoes. Yum! As a Yankee I am no expert when it comes to grits and my previous experiences in Savannah and elsewhere were just mediocre. But these were the best grits I ever had! The smoky tomatoes really did add a great flavor (Thanks to NonnieMuss for mentioning them in the earlier thread!) I overheard a woman at the table behind me make the same comment with a very Southern accent. Mrs. had catfish, cornmeal dusted and pan seared served with fennel and grilled zucchini and squash and Appalachian tomato gravy. Fish cooked perfectly and the flavor was wonderful. (I should mention that my wife and I almost always try each other’s dishes and share) We also had as a side to share braised greens with country ham and, yes, more yummy smoky tomatoes. We also had a skillet of cornbread with bacon. The cornbread was the one bad note of the meal, very heavy and greasy and tasted like pure bacon grease without much flavor. At the end of the meal when the waiter offered to wrap our half a skillet of cornbread to go I casually mentioned that we didn’t care much for it. The charge for the cornbread was removed from our bill with an apology. Great food, friendly service, we were very pleased and thankful that our last meal in Charleston was scheduled to also be at Husk.(see below

)

Dinner at Cru Café: I am not sure why I had lower expectations for Cru, but it turned out to be wonderful. The restaurant is small and very casual and everything is top notch. We had a glass of Prosecco as we waited a few minutes for our table and later enjoyed a bottle of Sav Blanc from their reasonably priced wine list. I started with one of their signature dishes, Duck confit arugula salad topped with candied pecans and amazing delicate fried onion rings. Super tasty! Mrs. had a white bean and chicken soup. It was thick and rich, and maybe a bit salty but not oppressively so, very good overall. Breaking with tradition we both ordered the same entrée and were happy we did or we might have been fighting over tastes. Daily special was triggerfish served over a wilted bed of arugula with pepper jack cheesy grits and a creamy, wild mushroom gravy. The fish was seared perfectly, the cheesy grits were smooth and creamy, reminiscent of risotto, and the sauce went surprisingly well adding a slightly smoky, earthy flavor from the mushrooms. I say “surprisingly”, because I usually think that anything creamy or cheesy does not belong on fish, in fact I often say that fish with cream sauce is an abomination (I think that may be in the book of Leviticus somewhere :-)). But this dish worked perfectly. Mrs. is a huge risotto fan so this type of dish always pleases her. Her comment at the start was “This is so good I want to eat it slow” and at the finish was: “If I die tonight I will die happy” A pretty good testimonial. We were told that this dish was created by the sous chef Rachel. Cru bills itself as “adult comfort food” and this meal certainly lived up to that and then some.

Poogan’s Porch: While I attended a meeting Mrs. needed to catch lunch on her own. She tried to coax her way in to Husk for more shrimp and grits and was politely turned away with the dozens of others who attempt to walk in (Note: we booked most of our reservations 4 weeks in advance) Instead she was able to be seated at the bar at Poogan’s without a res. The She-Crab soup was quite good. The shrimp and grits were OK, edible, but compared to the standard set by Husk the day before, it paled in comparison. No contest.

Craftsman Kitchen and Tap House: We stopped in here for a few beers in the late afternoon. A beer lover’s paradise bar. They have 48 beers on tap including at least a dozen that are semi-local and an even larger list of bottles from around the world. Best of all they serve the drafts in not just pints but half pints. This makes it much more conducive to sampling a variety of beers without filling up with a full pint each time. The beer-tender was very knowledgeable of all that he was pouring.

F.I.G. lived up to its high reputation. We started with some of their signature cocktails. Lillian Lorraine was like a fruity champagne cocktail with rum, The Berlin Wall featured reposado tequila and spicy velvet falernum liqueur with citrus was quite tasty and “The Key” was like a variation of a rye Manhattan with apricot. Mrs. started with winterbor Kale salad with beets and other veggies and aged provolone cheese. The kale was very young and tender, nice for a salad. I had Pumpkin and Tuscan Kale minestrone with faro and chili. Rich and hearty and delicious it was topped with more sour cream than it needed. Mrs. loved the swordfish grilled with a mint salsa verde that really made the dish. I had fantastic triggerfish sautéed with butternut squash puree, haricot vert and a light mild matsutake mushroom jus. We shared a side of collard greens with garlic, and could not finish but were glad we tried the very filling root vegetable farrotto (a risotto made from farro). All of the food was expertly prepared and the flavor combinations were spot on. The menu was obviously in full autumn mode with all of the root veggies etc. I would love to come back in spring to see what they can do with that season’s produce. The young, perky staff provided great service and was very knowledgeable of all of the ingredients in every dish and drink.

O’Hara and Flynn wine bar: is right across the street from FIG. We skipped dessert and opted for a cheese course here. Great list of interesting wines by the glass. We had some Manchego and drunken goat cheese and olives to accompany a glass of Montefalco, a blend of sangiovese and sagrantino. There was soft live music and a very relaxed atmosphere. I love everything about this wine bar. Would have loved to have had another occasion to try their lentil salad with smoked salmon or some charcuterie. Tried to come back here days later for a light lunch but our timing was off and it was closed :-(

Glazed Gourmet donuts: Better get here early. We arrived before 10AM on a Saturday and most of the varieties were already sold out. We had to “settle” for some plain glazed donuts. Soft, light and oh so tasty and fresh.

Saturday Farmers Market in Marion Square was great to explore. Lots of local treats to sample and plenty of interesting looking food vendors.

Jestine’s Kitchen: Had to try some fried chicken while we were down south. The bargain priced plate of half a chicken, crispy, tasty and seasoned just right was great with collards and red rice.

Circa 1886: I was afraid Circa might be a bit too stuffy with underwhelming food but I was way off. The room is elegant located in the carriage house of the grand Wentworth Mansion. The service is impeccable and attentive but not even a tiny bit pretentious. And the food was simply amazing. Each dish is a work of art in presentation and in taste. We started with a refreshing “Pink Panther” tequila with grapefruit and other fruits. First course Mrs. had a beautifully presented salad of romaine hearts with tasty spicy salami and the best gorgonzola you can imagine with cannellini beans, sunflower seed and balsamic. The elements were perfectly matched in this salad. The Shrimp and grits as an appetizer was amazingly good. Mrs. had the Wagyu beef served with mashed potatoes and a smear of smoked cheese with tasty veggies. I had, after encouragement from our server, antelope for the first time. It was from a game farm in Texas and tasted quite good. Not at all gamey, slightly sweeter than beef, this cut was a bit chewy like a sirloin, but tender enough to enjoy. It was served with a southwestern flair with sour cream and lime grit cakes, fried avocado and a cilantro pesto. At circa the pastry chef makes each item to order so they ask you to order dessert in advance at the start of your meal. The chocolate soufflé was fantastic. We also shared a cheese course that was so good it may have been the most memorable part of the meal. There was a Manchego, a great medium blue and soft brie-like goat cheese that were all fantastic. Served alongside and amazing pistachio paste made with honey, spicy jam, plum and apricot gelatin squares, and some fruits this was the perfect accompaniment to help us finish the remainder of the reasonably priced Rioja we enjoyed with dinner. A lovely ending to a great meal.

Sunday Brunch at High Cotton: I had been told by more than one person that the brunch here is “lovely” and I have to agree completely. The room is lovely with the wicker blade ceiling fans. There was a Dixieland jazz band playing softly in the bar area that you could just here them in the background. Nice atmosphere and the food was great too. Started with the pecan glazed donut holes. They were tasty, but more like a fritter than a donut, a bit heavy, and certainly nothing like the lighter-than-air donut we had at Glazed but that may not be a fair comparison. The crab bisque was creamy and tasty. Rich, of course, but a nicely balanced flavor. Shrimp and grits were served with Andouille sausage and a shrimp broth. A different presentation in that it was more “brothy”, but the flavor was great and the grits were done right. I had the interesting “Breakfast cassoulet” made up of butterbeans with shredded duck meat, a slab of tender smoked pork belly, topped with 2 sunny side up eggs and spicy pepper jelly. The dish had a nice blend of sweet and slightly spicy flavors and was definitely a winner. Had to try a lily white biscuit as well. It was fine, and certainly a good example of a southern biscuit, but a bit heavy for my taste (especially with the generous portion of the cassoulet).

Dinner at S.N.O.B.: In any other town this would probably be considered a pretty good restaurant, but compared to the amazing food we had elsewhere, SNOB was a bit of a disappointment. Everything was actually quite good, but not quite up to the very high standards of FIG, Husk, Cru and Circa. SNOB is also a more casual atmosphere but the prices are basically the same as the other places described here. Our fish entrees were $29 and first courses about $14, no bargain here when that is what you might pay at the other fine restaurants I have reviewed here. OK, OK, the food: The Charleston clam chowder had nice large chunks of clam and potatoes. Not as good as the best you would find in New England, but a pretty decent cup of creamy soup. The crab cake appetizer was topped with a peppadew aioli served over garlicky spinach and was very tasty indeed. I wanted to have another go at triggerfish, but theirs was served with a not-so-appealing sounding combo of chilled green bean salad and goat cheese. Instead opted for the NC flounder, nicely pan seared with roasted root veggie farro, green beans and fennel vinaigrette. Nothing wrong with this dish, but the flavors just didn’t sing together. Mrs. had a nicely grilled Scottish salmon served alongside a spinach and cheese crepe and broccoli. Again, decent food, but it seemed amateurishly cobbled together. If I had prepared any of these dishes at home, I would probably have been quite proud of myself, but I am not a chef in a well-known Charleston restaurant. I guess we just expected more.

Dinner at Husk: We got here early enough to spend some time in the bar next door. The bar is a haven for bourbon lovers, but they serve a full menu of bar drinks. We tried a few of their house concoctions. A CBWS punch was a tasty combo of bourbon, rum and citrus. The “yard too far” was not what I had imagined and probably would be better as an after dinner drink, made from bourbon macerated with vanilla and ginger, with pecan bitters. The vanilla flavor was a bit strong, but maybe with some pie for dessert…First course for dinner we had a pumpkin soup with apple pecan “relish” and crème fraise. Really good flavor, not too sweet and spiced just right. Arugula salad with radish, poached pears, beets and sorghum yogurt with toasted oatmeal vinaigrette was a work of culinary art. Great combo of flavors and textures in this salad. Next I had triggerfish severed with charred snap beans, heirloom pumpkin and baby turnips with an herbed “broth” that was more like a thin pesto. Triggerfish is only available for a short season and I am glad I got to enjoy it a few times here in Charleston. This preparation was fantastic all around. Mrs. had catfish again, this time with smoky beans “hoppin’ John”, a rice dish, topped with roasted cabbage. Great flavors! The chef at Husk really knows what he is doing! We also shared a side of broccoli with pickled garlic and, yes, smoky tomatoes. Our server (the only one in the joint without a full Boston Red Sox beard) told us they just cut whole tomatoes in half and put them on a pan in the smoker for 30-60 minutes until tender and, uh, smoky. So simple, so good; Got to try this at home.

Before heading home we had time for a little picnic. We stopped at Normandy Farms bakery on Broad Street for some fresh ciabatta bread. Yummy. Then made a very enjoyable stop at---

Goat. Sheep. Cow. What a fun cheese shop. They had a wonderful assortment of cheeses and charcuterie. My favorite was called “Ewephoria” a really tasty sheep’s milk cheese but we also bought some “L Ulivo”, a cheese aged with olive leaves, and another cheese flavored with truffles and coated with cinnamon. Then a few slices of some surprisingly decent “American” prosciutto and some salami. They have a nice selection of decent priced wines so we grabbed a bottle of red from Montalcino and we were as happy as could be.

It is tough to rank our dining experiences in Charleston because we liked different places for different reasons. SNOB is the only place we would not return to. Circa was certainly the most elegant and maybe even the best overall food quality although not quite as creative as Husk or FIG. If pushed to the task I think Husk was our favorite for food overall but the meal at Cru was so amazingly satisfying Mrs. AWG is still savoring the creamy cheesy grits and will probably remember that meal the most. And that duck confit arugula salad…mmmmmmm!

Nov 17, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Thanks for the rec. It would probably suit me better to have a break after dinner and then go somewhere else for a dessert. Sounds like McCrady's is the place.

Oct 21, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Ha, Ha!
Actually, I am more likely to crave sweets after lunch than after dinner.

Oct 21, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Thanks for the tips danna!

I am usually not big for desserts. Is there one place on my list that I should not skip dessert?

Oct 21, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Husk for lunch

Thanks,
The cabbage slaw makes it sound like a pulled pork sandwich. I was wondering if it was similar in preparation.

Oct 21, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Yes! I see the roasted fennel, eggplant and Smoky Tomatoes as a side and also with the catfish.

Oct 20, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

So many choices; So little time.

Oct 20, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Husk for lunch

Sounds Yummy.

How was the pork belly cooked? Please elaborate-- Was it at all "meaty" or mostly pork fat (not that there's anything wrong with that :-)

Oct 20, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Thanks MSM,
I am sure we will not leave Charleston without eating some shrimp n grits and SheCrab soup, and we look forward to enjoying some pork dishes as well.

I usually avoid fried stuff, but when in the south....

Oct 20, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

Nonnie,
Thanks for the comments. Seems like what would be best at Husk is whatever s in season. I'll be there in 2 weeks!

Oct 20, 2013
AWG in Southeast

What to eat in Charleston

I have already decided where to eat on my upcoming trip to Charleston. We have dinner reservations at Cru Cafe, FIG, Circa 1886, SNOB and Husk as well as Sunday Brunch at High Cotton. So now my question is WHAT to eat?

Are there any standout dishes that are recommended at the above restaurants? Any local specialties that are not to be missed?

Thanks in advanced for any comments and suggestions.

Oct 19, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Thanks for the additional suggestions; I will check them out.
I did look at the Ordinary but Oyster Bar is not our favorite thing.

Oct 17, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Thanks Em. It does look lovely indeed.

Oct 17, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Yes, we are looking for a place that takes reservations. As I said above current plan has us lunching at Husk 1st day on arrival and I also have a dinner res there on our last night (If we are underwhelmed at lunch we might choose an alternate and if we are thrilled then we wont mind returning for a last dinner). We were quite happy with that plan but may rethink if we don't find another option. Most other days I don't desire a restaurant lunch except for Sunday.

My innkeeper suggested 82 Queen for brunch but I have read nothing but bad sentiment about here on CH.

Any other options to consider?

Oct 16, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

danna,
Thanks for the feedback. I guess we will try Cru instead of Poogans as a concensus is building and "orders of magnitude better" sounds like a strong enough rec for me.

Any comments on the Sunday Brunch question?

Oct 16, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Thanks for the rec.
I have heard of Hominy Grill, but I hate waiting on lines.

Oct 15, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Yes, POOGANS! lol

Thanks for the feedback. I have seen good reviews of Cru but the menu , to me, looked uninspired and Poogans looked like a better variety of "classic" southern dishes. But that is just using the menu to judge, real test is the food.

Any ideas for brunch?

Oct 11, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Lunch/Brunch in Charleston

Hello Foodies,
Planning my first trip to Charleston In November. Already set for dinner reservations thanks in part to some help from reviewing previous posts on this site.

Will be dining at Pooches Porch, FIG, Circa 1886, SNOB. and Husk. Cru cafe and Anson were back up choices.

Need suggestions for a place for Sunday Brunch and a place for a Thursday lunch on my arrival day. I tentatively booked a lunch on arrival at Husk but not sure if we want something more casual/less expensive. Pooches was actually my first choice for lunch but it is booked way out in advance.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Note: Staying downtown without a car.

Oct 11, 2013
AWG in Southeast

Florence 2011 Trip Report: Il Pennello, Cipolla Rossa, Trat. Mario, La Bussola, Trat. Cave di Maiano, Sostanza,Vini e Vecchi Sapori, Pitti Gola e Cantina

Late September 2011 my wife and I returned for a second visit to Florence. Here are a few notes on the restaurants we enjoyed.

Upon arrival in Florence on a Sunday we knew our options were limited for a late lunch and headed over to Il Pennello. (located at Casa Dante) What a fabulous find. We started with ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach served with burro e salvia that was delightful and fresh tagliatelle “strascicate” Florentine, which was a meat ragu with the addition of cream. Very tasty. We wanted to eat a relatively light lunch so for secondi we both had carapacio with rucola e grana. Perfetto!. We enjoyed a cold Antinori rosato on this warm Sunday afternoon. The place was very busy and mostly filled with Italian families, some multi-generational. We were so charmed by this family run restaurant that we returned for dinner a few nights later.

For dinner 2 days later we tried one of their signature dishes: Carabaccia. This ancient recipe for Tuscan onion soup was fantastic. The natural sweetness of the onions and carrots shined through and topped with bread and just a touch of Parmagiano cheese this is hands down my favorite version of what we know of as “French onion soup”. There is a recipe for the soup on their web site that I have not yet tried to reproduce:
http://www.ristoranteilpennello.it/
We had pasta with zucchini and zucchini flowers that was great, and tortelloni with tomato and cream that was good. For secondi we shared some peposa (beef stew) that was tender and rich and peppery and wonderful. We opted for the house wine which is only served in a 1.5 liter fiasco. (Unlike many other trattorie that will serve a mezzo litre) It is so inexpensive that you wouldn’t feel too bad if you left some unfinished. We, however, ordered a cheese course of smooth fresh pecorino and Parmagiano to accompany us as we sat and relaxed to finish our giant bottle of wine.

Osteria Cipolla Rossa was a nice choice for our first dinner on this return trip to Florence. The menu features many traditional Tuscan items with some modern twists thrown in. The atmosphere is also quite “hip” (and I guess by using the descriptor “hip” I prove that I am not ;-) It was quite pleasant in the front dining room that sort of simulates the appearance of being on the front porch but we were surprised to hear Bon Jovi playing a bit too loudly throughout the restaurant (I guess for real Bon Jovi fans the volume was quite low, but not what we expected). Really no complaints here, just surprised. And most importantly the food was good. We had gnocchi with a pecorino cheese sauce topped with a good helping of shaved black truffles. The wonderful earthiness of the truffles did not get lost in the very cheesy sauce. Also a pasta dish with guanciale piccante. The pork cheeks were cooked in chunks, crispy like bacon in an oil based sauce with lots of spicy red pepper. For secondi we shared pork loin with marinated red onions and vinegar. (This dish caught my eye because I remembered reading a review about it, maybe here on CH?) It was moist and tender and very tasty indeed. The only bad thing about this dish is that the strong vinegar sauce is not at all wine friendly. No problem, we ate some bread to cleanse the palate before finishing an excellent bottle of Rosso di Montepulciano.

On Monday, first full day in Florence after recovering from jet lag, we wasted no time returning to Trattoria Mario for lunch. We arrived before the noon opening to avoid the lines and were just as thrilled with the place this time as we were last year. We had Tagliatelle ragu that was very good and ravioli verde with zucchini and garlic and a touch of tomato that was even better. We were disappointed that they didn’t have their awesome zuppa di ceci on the menu. We also had simple roast chicken that was nice but the agnello al forno was the standout dish. The lamb was roasted to perfect tenderness and was mouthwateringly delicious. We also had fagioli al ucelletto, white beans in a sauce of tomato and sage that are the main reason we dreamed all year about a return visit to Mario’s. (and I learned that I have been using too little tomato when I try to recreate these beans at home) Mario’s is famous for their bistecca and our shared table mates seemed thrilled with the steak, we tasted a bite and yes, it was quite good. They also have some of the best house wine around, Chianti from the town of Rufina. We love, love, love this place. You can’t beat it for authentic Florentine food at amazingly low prices.

We had plans to catch the free classical music concert at San Lorenzo church so we opted for pizza for a quick evening meal. We returned to La Bussola and loved it again. The crust is thin, crispy and stretchy and hole-y as it should be and the buffalo mozzarella is worth the extra euro as a topping. Good pizza in Tuscany? Yes, here it is. I have not been to Naples so I can’t say if this is “real” Neopolitan style pizza, but it is darn good. Last year we had lunch outside here, so we were pleasantly surprised at how lovely the inside dining room was. Casual elegance. Good pizza and a good bottle of wine were all we needed before the concert.

Tuesday we took the # 7 bus to Fiesole but got off 2 stops early and then walked to Trattoria Cave di Maiano. One of the main attractions here is the outdoor seating on the shady, picturesque patio. A very pleasant place for a “country” lunch. We had pici with a sauce of sausage and black truffles that was fantastic. The gnocchi with creamy pecorino sauce was a bit bland for my taste. For secondi we tried maialino that was tender and flavorful, but not my favorite dish. The pollo al mattone was fantastic. I have had this dish elsewhere where it turned out dry (too heavy a brick?) but here it was prepared to a perfect level of succulence. A winner. We had contorni of fagioli al ulcelleto that was OK but prepared with rosemary instead of sage, and a nice salad of baby greens. After a casual 2+ hours of lunch here we took a taxi down to Fiesole which is definitely worth the trip.

Sostanza was on our To-Do list last year but we never made it there. We stopped in on Wednesday afternoon for lunch and were very glad we did. Famous for bistecca, Sostanza has been praised extensively on CH.. For me the attraction was the chicken in butter sauce that Plotkin says “makes him swoon”. First we had pasta which was surprisingly good. Pasta with sugo: simple tasty meat sauce was nice. Couldn’t wait for Bologna so had to try tortellini in brodo and it was also very good. (had I been there right after Bologna, and not the week before, I may have been critical to point out that the pasta was not as light and dreamy as what we found in E/R but I had no complaints about the tasty broth and very nice pasta here at Sostanza). The pasta servings were small enough to leave room for the main attraction, but in retrospect we could have been very satisfied sharing one order of the famous butter chicken. Each serving was 2 large thick chicken breasts (OK, technically 2 half breasts, but you know what I mean) and it is quite filling. The chicken is impossibly tender and juicy and very tasty, but of course it is, it is swimming in BUTTER. I can see how this could make one swoon. Most delicious indeed.

Final night in Florence and we finally get to return to our favorite place Vini e Vechhi Sapori. They are closed Sunday and Monday and were booked fully on Tuesday so this was our only chance to return to this fabulous restaurant (If I was in town on different days of the week I would have booked here more than once) Our second dinner here did not disappoint. Well, we were disappointed that they didn’t have cinghale. We were told that they rotate their menu with a different ragu each day so you might find duck, beef, cinghale or game depending on the day. First a salad of rucola, artichokes and parmagiano. Then amazingly good pappardelle with daino ragu (venison) Even better was the wide loop pasta served with zucchini blossoms and saffron cream. So light and delicate and so tasty. The pasta here is so good! For secondi: peposa imprunetta severed with broad green beans was super. We also tried a dish of chicken strips cooked with balsamic vinegar and rucola and tomato that was good but not as memorable as the rest of the meal. They don’t serve coffee so I was forced to finish the meal with a glass of very good Grappa di Brunello. They can only seat about 18 people so be sure to book ahead.

We also returned to Pitti Gola e Cantina for another very enjoyable wine drinking session. Last year we had a fantastic time tasting some excellent Tuscan wines here. This year we returned and had a great time again. They do serve food, and we enjoyed some crostini and cheeses and nibbles including some of the best olives we’ve ever eaten, but Pitti Gola is all about the wine. Zeno is very proud of each and every wine they sell and chatting with him is most entertaining. He has also developed a relationship with some good Tuscan producers so has some exclusive, limited production wines that you can’t find anywhere else. If you love fine wine, this is the enoteca to visit.

-----
Sostanza
Via della Porcellana, 25, 50123, Florence, Tuscany 50123, IT

Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina, 2, Florence, Tuscany , 50123, IT

Vini e Vecchi Sapori
Via dei Magazzini, 3, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

Cipolla Rossa
Via de' Conti,53, Florence, Toscana 50123, IT

Dec 19, 2011
AWG in Italy

Food allergy question

Hello Sherree,

My wife is allergic to soy in all forms and we had no problems in 2 trips to Italy over the past 2 years. Soy is not as ubiquitous in Europe as it is here in the US. Soybean oil is often used when things are deep fried so that needs to be avoided and of course chocolate always has lecithin in it. She had no problems with breads in Italy that are often made at small local bakeries without lecithin. But if you can't have gluten that won't matter. Same with pastries, most often we found everything made with butter or lard and not veg shortening containing soy, but again your gluten problem makes that point moot as well.

Most restaurants we visited used olive oil exclusively for sauteing etc and not blended veg oil. Fresh, non-industrially processed food was the norm so it was no problem avoiding the “natural flavors” found in over-processed American foods.

We carried a card in Italian, explaining in detail that she could not eat soy, soybean oil, soy lecithin, mayonnaise or shortening (“grasso vegetale”), and had zero problems. On our second trip this year, we felt comfortable enough to even stop using the card in many places.

We are also lactose intolerant but have no problem if we take lactase pills before eating soft cheese, gelato or cappucino.

Can't help you with the gluten issue, but it is now so common that you should be able to find places that have gluten free menus. This place was not our favorite in Florence, but the meal was pretty good overall and I remember they had a gluten free menu: http://hostariaildesco.com/ristorante...

I expect with some research you might be able to find other places that have gluten free menus. The website posted above mentions the “Italian Celiac Association” so you might want to contact them for a list of recommendations.

Aside from meat dishes (like bistecca, etc) that will be safe for you eat, at a “Celiac approved” restaurant you will likely find pasta made from legume flour that can be quite tasty and I have not been to Venice, but would guess that you could find decent risotto or other rice dished there (risi e bisi?).

Good luck!

Nov 30, 2011
AWG in Italy

Pizza in Florence?

I like La Bussola. Have been there 2 years in a row and the pizza is great. Crust is just about perfect. The buffalo mozzarella is worth the extra euro! Strangely I first learned of La Bussola from Katie Parla's blog. Yes, the same katie who just posted above suggesting you skip the pizza in Florence for a sandwich shop? nice photo here on her blog: http://www.parlafood.com/la-bussola-f...

and their web site is found here: http://www.labussolafirenze.it/

They have a full menu but I have only had the pizza. Also, the interior is very pleasant. Nice for a celebration.

Nov 09, 2011
AWG in Italy

6 Great Meals in Bologna

juliadevi, Yes you will find a similar aperitivo practice in Bologna as you see in many parts of Italy.

For me personally, after enjoying a full multi-course restaurant lunch and looking forward to a full multi-course restaurant dinner, the last thing I want at aperitivo time is a big plate of food. I sort of loved that about Divinis, that I could enjoy some wine and just be served a few crackers and nuts to go along making it easy to save my appetite for dinner. We did have an aperitivo at a small bar in the food market area one night and was served a plate piled high with focaccia sandwiches including some tasty spicy sausage. A plate of food, although nothing special, also was served aside the drinks we had in Piazza San Martino, but we were on our way to Serghei for dinner so we passed on the food.

Bar Zanarini looks like a great place if you are looking for an aperitivo buffet. It is located in the atmospheric Piazza Galvani and the drinks are mighty expensive, especially to sit outside, It is a swanky sort of place, but the expensive drinks include what looked like a very extensive buffet of tasty looking treats.

-----
Serghei
Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Nov 06, 2011
AWG in Italy

Drogerheria della Rosa in Bologna - bad experience

OK, I was wondering about the linking. On my "6 great meals in Bologna" thread the links for most of the restaurants showed up automatically , except for Da Gianni. I edited and tried calling it "trattoria Gianni" and even tried the full name "Gianni A La Vecia Bulagna" but it still didn't link to it.

Oct 26, 2011
AWG in Italy

Drogerheria della Rosa in Bologna - bad experience

Ha, Just noticed the OP was from 2009. maybe not such a "hot topic" after all ;-0

Oct 26, 2011
AWG in Italy

6 Great Meals in Bologna

I appreciate the links for sources of fresh pasta. My route from work to home is very short, but it is a 4 hour drive to NYC.:-) (Grew up in NYC, but I now live far, far away.)

May have to check out Borgattis next time I visit the city.Thanks

Oct 26, 2011
AWG in Italy

Drogerheria della Rosa in Bologna - bad experience

I recently posted details of my similar experience at Drogheria Della Rosa (unfortunately I made the error of not putting the restaurant name in the thread title, so maybe it was not as well noticed as this thread) I did not feel ripped off, just unsatisfied with the food and unfriendly service.

Since this is now a hot topic, here is the link to my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/813721

-----
Drogheria Della Rosa
Via Cartoleria, 10, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

Oct 26, 2011
AWG in Italy

6 Great Meals in Bologna

Just noticed that the entire 98 page wine list is posted on Divinis web site here:

http://www.divinis.it/images/CartaDei...

Oct 25, 2011
AWG in Italy