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Culebra trip report

Thanks so much for taking the time to report! Heading to Culebra for the first time in a couple of days.

Restaurant ettiquette in Rome with a small child?

Rome is not quite the same as Venice, where you probably could make a meal of cicchetti, but it is certainly true that an aperitivo would be served with some type of food. What you get, however, varies widely--it might be peanuts or chips but could also be a tray of small sandwiches.

Apr 15, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Restaurant ettiquette in Rome with a small child?

Are you staying in a hotel or an apartment? I would strongly recommend the latter; eating out three times a day can be very hard on kids (and parents, too).

We started taking our kids to Italy when the eldest was 18 mos. and generally had very good experiences, provided that we had reasonable expectations. When my kids were younger, they had difficulty with the dinner hour--8 p.m. or later was too late for them. That's why I favor apartments over hotels, so you can have a leisurely lunch out and dinner at "home." With the time change, some people can adjust their kids' schedules to fit the Roman schedule, but that never worked for me. The long lunch is also a nice break from sightseeing, especially if the weather is hot.

The osteria/trattoria/ristorante distinction is often blurred these days and not necessarily an indication of the level of formality. In general, Italians are welcoming to children, although in my opinion, small children have no place at really high-end places with lengthy tasting menus.

A couple of places that are mentioned often on this board, and which I have always found to be kid-friendly are Cesare al Casaletto, Armando al Pantheon, and Flavio al Velavevodetto. I don't like Roscioli with small children, as the tables are very tight (and service can sometimes be on the surly side).

I hope that helps you get started.

Apr 14, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Help...Piedmont with Kids!

Here are a couple of prior posts that may get you started: chowhound.chow.com.topics/803556 and /635791.

As this is a fairly broad inquiry, I think you might also find some helpful information on the Piedmont Travel forum on TripAdvisor and at www.lifeinitaly.com, among others.

For wine tastings, I assume you know that Piemonte is not like visiting, say, Napa or Sonoma. You could taste a variety of wines (instead of a single producer) at a regional enoteca--for example, in Barolo--but that's not really kid-friendly. I would think about having someone come to you for a wine and cheese tasting.

As for dining out, unless you're planning some temple of haute cuisine, kids are welcome. You'll probably want to have your main meal at lunch if Italian dining hours conflict with kids' bedtimes. Lunch at an agriturismo would probably be a great option.

Once you've done a bit more initial research, if you come back with some more specific questions, you will probably get more responses.

Apr 11, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

polenta - home made

I use an unorthodox method. Instead of adding the polenta very slowly to boiling water, I start with polenta, cold water and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until the polenta thickens and starts to bubble. Immediately transfer to another burner, at the lowest setting, using a flame tamer if you have one. Continue cooking very slowly, stirring every so often, for about 40 minutes.

Apr 05, 2015
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Recommendations for Le Marche this fall

Thanks, everyone--although I didn't get a big response, there were some great suggestions. I promise to post a report, but it won't be until early October.

Mar 25, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Easter in Rome

In my experience, Easter Monday is actually harder than Easter Sunday to find open restaurants. Will try to check around and get back to you.

Mar 25, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy
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Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

I love the suggestion of Vietri Sul Mare, and Paestum is a great place to visit (much easier for kids than Pompeii. I've been to Pompeii three times and haven't seen everything yet.)

Mar 23, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

I also think that you're doing too much moving around, which is both difficult with kids and takes up too much valuable time. I would find one place to stay and do day trips from there. (Have you considered a rental rather than a hotel? That would be my strong preference with kids, although your options may be limited for a stay of less than a week, depending of course on your travel dates.)

My own preference for a home base would be Ravello, as I think it's more walkable than Positano with young children. Positano is lovely but very, very steep with lots of irregular stairs, so you really need to pay attention while walking. I'll add my vote to the others for Cumpa Cosimo as a good dining choice with kids.

Naples is a fascinating city, and the museums are great, but Jen's choice of the word intense is apt. It's not necessarily an easy city. I bet your kids would prefer some beach time.

Mar 19, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Is there a "quick" bolognese sauce?

I'm admittedly a purist about ragu Bolognese, so I would fall into the "can't be rushed" camp, but there are plenty of other, faster meat sauces. One of my favorites is Marcella Hazan's simple veal pasta sauce from her Marcella Cucina book. That sauce only takes about 30 minutes. The trick is to stick with tender meats that don't need a long cooking time.

Mar 17, 2015
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Anniversary dinner Florence

Sorry--momentary mental lapse. Yes, I did mean Rome. Apologies to OP.

Mar 15, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Anniversary dinner Florence

We had a lovely meal at Al Ceppo to celebrate my husband's 50th last year. We picked this restaurant because my husband, like yours, hates fussy and pretentious places, but we wanted something a bit more upscale than the trattorias where we usually eat. You might enjoy it as well.

Mar 15, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Piemonte Personal Chef

Heysally,

Maybe a bump to the top will generate some responses for you. While I generally do my own cooking when we rent in Italy, I would certainly start with your rental agent/property owner from whom you are renting. Most have people they have worked with before. Second option would be to contact local cooking schools (you didn't specify your town, so I don't have any specific suggestions). Third might be to contact Federazione Italiana Professional Personal Chefs, www.fippc.com, which also has a Facebook page. I hope that gets you started.

Mar 06, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Rome visit over the Holidays

I've been savoring these posts, especially since we are heading back to Italy in the fall (mostly Umbria and Le Marche, with a little time in Rome at both ends of the trip). I agree with you about the gnocchi fritti--delicious but very rich and, at least for us, too much for the two of us. I think that Cesare would be best with a group of 4-6, although if it were just we two, I'd still return.

Feb 27, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Recommendations for Le Marche this fall

I've researched the site for dining recommendations in Le Marche, trying both the region and several individual towns, but there is precious little on CH about this region. Anyone holding out on some promised-but-never-sent trip reports? I will do some separate research with Slow Food guides/apps but would love to hear from someone who has spent time in Le Marche.

We will be staying in a rental just outside of Cagli. Our typical plan is to take day trips, eat lunch out, then cook dinner at "home." We are hoping to have one Home Food dinner, though, if the timing works out. We will be concentrating on inland Le Marche, not the coast, as we are not beachy people (despite living on Cape Cod) and my husband does not care for seafood. We prefer intensely local places and not fine dining, especially if it involves lots of foam and fusion. As our youngest heads off to college this fall, there will just be the two newly-empty nesters on this trip.

Thanks to all.

Feb 26, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

How common is it for Italian restaurants to offer to plate multiple pastas per plate?

Glad that I kept reading or I would have essentially duplicated your post. Cumpa' Cosimo was my first "tris" offering, on menu, as well.

Feb 25, 2015
lisaonthecape in Manhattan

Eataly?

Sounds remarkably like my shopping list there a couple of years ago. I spent a school vacation with my son in a hotel with a tiny kitchenette (you know, two burners, two plates, two pans and not much else) but we happily foraged at Eataly, especially the agnolotti del plin. My son was thrilled to discover the various proscuitti and chocolates, too. Even though I completely understand what many don't like about Eataly, it was perfect for us that week.

Feb 24, 2015
lisaonthecape in Manhattan

Eight thoughts for food-crawling with children in Rome and Venice

Good to hear back from you after your trip; enjoyed your report. I couldn't agree with you more on much of your advice, and especially #6. When my boys were younger, the apartment rentals were a lifesaver. I'll be in Rome this fall, and can't wait to try Emma.

Feb 24, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Cesare al Casaletto – solo dining?

I've been meaning to chime in on your post: I wouldn't write off Cesare, which my husband and I really enjoyed on our last trip to Rome; however, we did come out of there thinking that the experience would have been even better with a group of 4-6. A few years ago, I arrived in Rome a few days before my husband, and some places I enjoyed as a solo were lunches at L'Asino d'Oro and L'Arcangelo and any time of day (depending on where you're staying) at Al Vino Al Vino. I haven't been to Pizzaria Emma yet, but would also check that out (and let me know how you liked it before my next trip, please).

Feb 21, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Would like your opinion on what coffee supplies to provide for a nicer end vacation rental

When we rent vacation homes (mostly in Italy, but sometimes in the U.S.) we always travel with our stovetop moka. Anyone seriously picky about their coffee is likely to do the same. In Europe, it's pretty standard to leave a bottle of wine and a bottle of water, which is also nice. What we always appreciate, though, is a few staples that you don't want to buy in large quantity for a week or so--e.g., olive oil, cooking oil, flour, sugar, salt and pepper. The important thing is to label them with the date, so someone coming in isn't wondering whether these items have been on a shelf for months. Dish detergent, extra soap, toilet paper and paper towels are also key. The coffee is nice, but I find the other items more helpful.

Cacio e pepe in Boston

I didn't realize that Cinquecento was intended as a Maialino knock-off. I just had dinner at the latter and must say that Cinquecento has a way to go to compare. That said, I liked my one visit to Cinquecento and would definitely return (I live on the Cape and don't get to Boston as often as I would like)--but you're right; you can't really call it Roman. Maialino, by the way, makes a fabulous cacio e pepe.

Another Yorkville legend Passes.. Michael Carlevale

Nice to see a mention of Michael on Chowhound; he would have appreciated it. We live on Cape Cod, Michael's retirement home, and he was a very dear friend of ours. We had many wonderful dinners with him, including the night before his unexpected death. We never knew him during his days in Toronto but miss him very much.

Need a recipe to impress my landlord in Napoli

What do you think your landlord doesn't like about Roman food? Too earthy, too close to its cucina povera roots? Do you think something more refined would better suit her tastes?

Just trying to get a better handle on what might work for your dinner.

Jan 07, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Rome Restaurant Reccomendations: Toddler & Infant

Spring is a good time to visit Rome with children; summers can be intolerably hot, which can lead to very cranky kids. Having an apartment is also a good choice--not only will you have more space, but you can also have some meals at "home." When my boys were that age, we found that dinnertime in Rome was just too late for them, so we generally had our main meal at lunchtime. Your kids might be different, though, and sometimes the time change gives you an opportunity to set their schedule consistent with Rome dining times.

A couple of places that seemed family-friendly on recent visits were Cesare al Casaletto and Flavio al Velavevodetto. My kids always did well at Armando al Pantheon, too, and you can't beat the central location. I would not recommend Roscioli; the tables are far too tight to deal with strollers and such.

You mentioned that you haven't been satisfied with prior restaurant choices. Where did you eat in the past, and what didn't you like? That information might be helpful for some additional suggestions.

Jan 04, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy

Your Meal of the Year 2014

There were several favorite dishes that I had in 2014--the gnocchi we made in a cooking class at Il Salotto di Penelope in Bologna, the tagliata at Il Ceppo in Rome, and the tagliolini with gamberettini, zucchini and pomodori at Antica Hosteria della Valle in Todi. I think my favorite meal, though, was at my house the day after Christmas. We invited our friend Michael to join us for dinner. I made a slow-roasted spoon roast, duchess potatoes, and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and garlic. Dinners with Michael (who used to own Prego in Toronto) were always an event--good food, good wine, good company.

Later that night, suddenly and unexpectedly, Michael passed away in his sleep, so I will always remember this final meal together and what turned out to be his last words to me: "The roast was perfect."

Jan 02, 2015
lisaonthecape in Italy
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Cuba!! Where and what to eat! Finally to be legal!

I'll second the paladares--my son was in Cuba on a school-sponsored trip in April, and he loved the food there.

Wedding Reception Venue for 6

Where is the wedding? Location would help to narrow down some choices, as would a budget.

Dec 16, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Charcuterie in Rome

Sorpasso might be a good choice. If you're interested in exploring cheeses as well, Beppe e I suoi formaggi.

I'll let someone better versed on porchetta address that question.

Dec 14, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Live from Emilia Romagna

Yes, please! It's been nearly six months since my last Italy trip, and I could use an Italy fix.

Dec 13, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Critique/revise my rough Italy itinerary (Rome/Florence/Venice)

For Rome, you might want to check out Katie Parla's list of restaurants open through the holiday season, which just came out (www.parlafood.com).

Dec 11, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy
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