Category Archives: Pork

Dining: Flavio al Velavevodetto | Rome, Italy {Testaccio}

th_peruroma 113If there was one place in Rome that I saw recommended often in the “foodie underground,” it was definitely Flavio al Velavevodetto located in the up-and-coming offal- centric neighborhood of Testaccio. This neighborhood is home to some pretty great things such as Il Birrivendolo craft beer bottle shop, the Testaccio Market, and places like Da Bucatino and Da Felice which specialize in true Roman cuisine. I had read about this place a few times from Elizabeth and Eleonara– both ladies whom I trust when it comes to good, honest food, at agreeable prices.

Our experience at Flavio was lovely. It was a glorious meal which included some of the best fresh-pulled mozzarella and prosciutto of our entire trip and the richest carbonara ever. Was it my favorite carbonara dish? Probably not. But believe me, it was damn good. Eggy, cheesey, salty goodness loaded with pancetta. Comforting and filling, I couldn’t finish my plate. It was a stark contrast to the fresh buffla which was clean on the palate and the mild prosciutto di parma which was lean and earthy.  Prices were criminally low, house wine was decent, and the ambiance was cozy. The stacks of ancient clay from Monte Testaccio were prominently featured in the windows of the space providing an extra special treat for history buffs looking for a peak into yesteryear.

Italians took up a majority of the dining room with a packed lunch crowd which is always a good sign. As with every place I’ve written about in Europe so far, if you know you’ll be heading to Rome, be sure to book your table in advance. Italians take lunch seriously and this is a place you don’t want to miss.

Flavio al Velavevodetto is located at 97 Via de Monte Testaccio, Roma, Italia. 

Leave a comment

Filed under BLD, Comfort Food, Dinner, Italian, Italy, local eateries, local food, Lunch, Pasta, Pork, seasonal foods, Travel, Travel Advice, Travelogue, Vacation

Dining: Just in time for Umbrian White Truffles at Spirito di Vino | Montefalco, Italy

My series of entries from my time in Umbria concludes with our last dinner in Montefalco at the award-winning Spirito di Vino. If I could go back in time to the day of our visit, I would change only two things:

-I wouldn’t have over-ordered.
-I would have made arrangements to stay in Montefalco instead of driving back late (in pitch black darkness) to Perugia.

Spirito diVino has got to be one of my most favorite dining destinations in Italy. Why? Because they’ve got a ridiculously solid wine list (boasting hyper-local and natural wines), and their simple farm-to-table cuisine is rustic yet luxurious. Aside from the copious amounts of Paolo Bea’s wine, it was one pasta dish that particularly blew me away. This, my friends, was the BEST pasta dish we had in Italy:

20121017_203317

Handmade pasta with a light truffle cream sauce, generously covered in fresh white truffle shavings. OMG.

Need I say more? Had the meal ended right then and there, I would have been happy as a clam. My error was in thinking that this needed to be a multi-course affair. Once my (still delicious) pork tenderloin came out with a melange of sweet peppers, I began to fade into the depths of too much food & too much wine sleepiness. My couple of bites of the boy’s eggplant dish was cheesy, comforting goodness which also didn’t help in aiding my looming exhaustion from the day’s wandering.

Luckily, dessert helped put the pep back into my spirit. A clever dessert of sorbets and gelato utilizing the shells & bodies of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that lend them their flavors was an almost meta dessert experience. Walnut ice cream made with the walnut meat and then shoved back into the shell, a sweet green bell pepper turned into sorbet and scooped back into it’s body…flavors I wouldn’t have dared to consider as a sweet end to a meal. And on top of that, a small tiramisu because I’m just a sucker for those it seems.

Overall, this intimate meal was a memorable one. And while the prices weren’t as economical as other places we visited on this trip, it surely didn’t break the bank and was worth every penny. Be sure to make advanced reservations, and be patient with the service. Our lovely hostess was also the only waitress of the evening, but with that wine list, who can really complain?
Spirito di Vino is located at Piazza Mustafa 2, Montefalco, Umbria, Italy, 06036. www.spiritodivino.net. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Comfort Food, Dinner, fruits and vegetables, Italian, Italy, local eateries, local food, organic, Pasta, Pork, seasonal foods, Travel, Travelogue, Vacation, wine

Dining: Nerbone | Florence, Italy

After a few glorious days in Venice, it was time to move onto the next city on our schedule: Florence. Our time in Florence was going to be limited, but as we hopped off of our morning train and checked-in to our hotel, I had one thing on my mind. That one thing, was lunch from the legendary Nerbone in the Mercato Centrale, San Lorenzo. Da Nerbone has been a Florentine institution since the 1800s, serving up comforting fare at honest prices. Their specialties are their very inexpensive sandwiches made on rustic rolls and filled with incredibly tender meat. While they offer a small menu of other simple Tuscan staples, it’s their sandwiches that bring in the large crowds of both locals and tourists alike.

th_florencemondayCanon 017th_florencemondayCanon 015
th_florencemondayCanon 016th_florencemondayCanon 014

Boyfriend and I indulged in three different panini including their porchetta (which was lean but flavorful), bollito (boiled beef), and their famous lampredotto panino. Lampredotto is a popular Florentine street food and it is not for the weak of heart. If you’re familiar with tripe, lampredotto is just another step in the offally good equation (being a cow’s fourth and final stomach). While this type of sandwich filling may not sound too appealing to the average American, when in Florence, it is definitely worth a try. Besides, who’s to argue with long-standing tradition in a country known for a multitude of delicious food, right?

We planned our morning just right– getting to the Mercato Centrale around 11:30 before any major lines formed in front of Nerbone. Before long, there was a large group of businessmen getting in line for a quick, inexpensive lunch break. Be prepared to eat standing up as dining tables in this market are incredibly hard to come by. Worst case scenario, do as we did; set up shop on the outer stairs of the market and take in the atmosphere of the bustling market shoppers if you can’t find any empty counter space. Just don’t forget the salsa verde which is made with fresh green herbs– it goes great on everything. Stretch those Euros and satisfy your belly with the ultimate Florentine lunch on a shoestring budget.

1 Comment

Filed under Comfort Food, Italian, Italy, local food, Pork, sandwiches, Travel, Vacation

Dining: Animal Restaurant | Los Angeles

*Disclaimer: In recent weeks, there have been numerous protests and aggressive behavior from animal rights activists throughout the city in response to chefs serving foie gras. Please note that this blog is of my own personal opinions and taste and I have already stated my opinion on the matter. Harassment in any form will not be tolerated, so please be respectful. Thank you.

With that out of the way, our recent dinner at Animal Restaurant was offally good. I have been a huge fan of the superstar team of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo for many years now. Following them both at Animal and their more seafood-centric endeavor Son of a Gun. Animal is one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles and with the impending foie ban, we’ve been trying to make our way over there as often as our schedules (and wallets) allow.

There is a reason why Animal on Fairfax is packed with diners every night. Aside from offering a selection of meaty delights with an accessible gourmet approach, their innovation and strong nose-to-tail philosophy can please any palate willing to open their minds to something new. With California’s aforementioned foie gras ban taking affect in a couple of days, I knew I just had to have some of my favorite dishes including their sinful rendition of biscuits and gravy. Not into foie so much? Not to worry, there isn’t a single thing on this menu that I wouldn’t gladly recommend.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Comfort Food, Dinner, local eateries, local food, Politics, Pork, sandwiches, seasonal foods

Dining: Lechonera Los Pinos | Guavate, Cayey, Puerto Rico

To a gal like me who’s been raised on the wonderful pork dishes of the Philippines, the small village of Guavate in Cayey, Puerto Rico is as close to the promise land as I can get in the United States. Known affectionately as La Ruta de Lechon (Roast Pork Highway), this hidden mountain town has more lechoneras within two to three miles than anywhere else on the island. Specializing in spit-roasted whole pig (lechon) and all the traditional fixin’s, these little shacks don’t look like much. Don’t be fooled. This will be one of the most memorable meals not only of your trip, but perhaps of your lifetime.

The pigs are raised on the island and contain a texture and flavor that I would consider a rarity in terms of continental U.S meat. They are marinated in sofrito and slowly roasted yielding an incredibly tender product with a beautifully crisp golden skin and juicy meat. Simply AMAZING. Lechon is a common dish in Filipino cuisine which we have relatively often, but lechon this melt-in-your-mouth good only comes around once every few years.

Guavate is only about 45 minutes away from San Juan, but with its winding roads and higher altitude, renting a car is an absolute necessity. The scenery in this area is stunning; very lush and green. We even saw some bamboo scattered about in some areas. While there are so many lechoneras to choose from when you approach the town, we decided to stop in on some of the most popular ones that were featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. As a precaution on over-hyped TV tourist traps, we made sure to consult with locals to make sure this was a good choice. The response was unanimous.

 

 

There are two benefits to choosing to go with Los Pinos or its neighboring El Rancho Original (which was featured on Bizarre Foods). 1) The space is usually larger which means more seating, entertainment, and better facilities (restrooms are hard to come by in this area). 2) You will most likely be able to visit on a weekday as many lechoneras are only open Friday- Sunday. This entire village is very lively on the weekends, but there is also an added benefit of visiting on a week day; less crowds, more parking, and a calmer atmosphere. Either way, La Ruta de Lechon is something you cannot miss.

Make a note that English isn’t as prominent here as it is in larger cities. We were able to order without too much trouble, but this was the only place where we really started to feel the language barrier. Luckily, if all else fails, you can just point to what you want– everything is good. We went with lechon for two, a pint of arroz con habichuelas (rice with pigeon peas), an order of sweet roasted plantains, and two sodas. The rice here was especially tasty with chunks of pork and sausage tossed in for added flavor. The roasted plantains were perfectly carmelized and reminded me of Filipino turon minus the crispy shell. Servings were enormous and only cost $16!!

Some folks online have complained about this area being over-hyped, but in my opinion, if you pick the right lechonera, you are in for a treat. Follow the crowds, look for where the locals are hanging out, and let the porky goodness do the rest. I cannot wait to go back…

1 Comment

Filed under As Seen on TV, butchers, Caribbean, Comfort Food, local eateries, local food, Lunch, Pork, Travel, Vacation