Tag Archives: local

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:

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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. 

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

Dining: Bluebird Kitchen | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Before heading to Pittsburgh this past weekend, I consulted a friend online about where some of the best local spots downtown were. He had mentioned that there were many changes happening in downtown Pittsburgh; both good and bad. When the boyfriend and I walked over to Market Square, just a mere block from out hotel, I was saddened to see major chain restaurants slowly taking over the area surrounding this adorable public space. Chipotle and Starbucks have been making their presence known next to old oyster houses and a dying breed of long-standing locals. However, there was a glimmer of hope just outside of the square. Bluebird Kitchen has only been open for a few months, but I can say with confidence that it is one of the most charming local spots in town.

We only had a couple of days to explore Pittsburgh, so we got up early and wandered a few blocks away from The Fairmont hotel and grabbed a quick breakfast at Bluebird Kitchen. It seems that this place is more of a grab-and-go type of spot for locals and business folk on the run. Prices were incredibly reasonable and the quality of ingredients were top notch; from house-made breads, local eggs, and even agriculturally responsible meats and organic produce. We both ordered their egg sandwich which was a steal at $4. Served on a thick pretzel roll with fried local free-range eggs with crisp lettuce, cherry tomatoes and gooey cheddar and Gruyère cheeses. I opted for some house-made sausage on my sandwich (an additional $1.25); light and full of flavor.

A hefty breakfast for two clocking in at under $10? We will surely return on every Pittsburgh trip. The lunch menu looks pretty great too.

Bluebird Kitchen is located at 221 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA| http://www.bluebirdkitchen.com 

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Filed under BLD, Breakfast, local eateries, organic, sandwiches, Travel, Vacation

Lark Cake Shop | Silverlake

If you thought the whole “cupcake thing” was over, then you’ve obviously never been to Lark Cake Shop in Silverlake. Lark has been my cupcakery of choice on the east side of town for a couple of years now. Small, local, and delicious. The ladies at Lark make a moist cake with a slight crumble, but it’s their smooth and creamy frosting that really takes the cake. I enjoy their vegan options much more than Babycakes NYC downtown (really), and you really can’t go wrong with any of their offerings from their gooey brownies to their most heavenly ice box cake.

OH MY GOODNESS. Their classic ice box cake is seriously the stuff that all magical cookies and cream dreams come from. Moist, creamy, deeply chocolatey ala Oreo cookie… the whipped cream layers are precise and comforting. Just look (below) at its glory…

Aside from their hip location and quality goods, Lark’s got a friendly staff and a small seating area perfect for a quick treat. They’ve also got coffee covered.

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Lark Cake Shop is located at 3337 W. Sunset Blvd.| larkcakeshop.com

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Dining: Restaurante Raices | Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

I’ve said it a few times on this blog and I’ll continue to for as long as it rings true: not all the places recommended on TV shows and magazines are actually worth your time. In this case, it was Old San Juan’s Restaurante Raices. While planning our trip, this place popped up a couple of times while looking for places to visit. However, it wasn’t until I watched the Puerto Rico episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations when I was convinced to give it a try. While I don’t always flock to places I see on the Travel Channel (take your food+travel TV with a grain of salt, folks), I was mesmerized by the giant pork chop laid before him after a night of drinking about town. Considering Bourdain shares my undying devotion to porcine delights, we went for it.

Yeah, I was suckered in by a giant TV pork chop. Don’t judge.  Continue reading

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Filed under As Seen on TV, Caribbean, Dinner, local eateries, Travel, Vacation

Caffeine Scene: Fix Coffee, Echo Park

Tucked well into a residential neighborhood in Echo Park, Fix Coffee is an awesome local coffee shop perfect for studying and meeting up with a friend. Even at its busiest, Fix always has a low-key atmosphere that is both rare and very much characteristic of Echo Park coffee shops. They brew a good cup ‘o Joe featuring local roasters like Intelligentsia, and they’ve got a great pastry counter featuring goods from Susina and Breadbar. I can never resist a spinach and feta croissant and their iced mochas have a balanced bittersweet flavor that won’t over-power solid espresso.  A small parking lot and street parking is available, but I often head over via the Pico-Union Dash bus from Sunset Blvd.

 

Fix Coffee is located at 2100 Echo Park Avenue  Los Angeles, CA 90026.

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Filed under coffee, local eateries