Tuesday, February 11, 2020

8 Things to do in New York: A Foodie's Guide

New York City is a must-visit city. But what should you visit while in the "Big Apple"?

Below I tell you 8 things you should try in New York, with a special focus on food and culture.

1. Stay at the 'hipster' neighborhood of Williamsburg. A nice and relatively calm area to stay. Taking the subway to Manhattan is a must and there are many places to visit. Being there only a few days I would recommend for sure walking around the High Line Park, former railway turned into a pedestrian walkway with lots of greenery and views on Manhattan.

2. Have a nice and long walk around Lower Manhattan and enjoy the view at High Line Park at sunset time. 

Sunset view at High Line Park

3. Visit Ellis Island is worth a visit to learn more about the history of immigration in the US. Though, bear in mind that there might be a long waiting time to catch the boat that takes you there. 

4. Enjoy a cocktail with a view at  The Standard Hotel High Line on the rooftop. Live music will entertain you while you watch the stunning view and the beautiful layout of the bar, which is open to everyone. 

Brooklyn Cocktail at The Standard Hotel High Line

5. Taste authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria Gino & Toto Sorbillo. Enjoy the Calzone with Escarole. The wine selection is also good. Try their Greco di Tufo if you fancy white. For dessert, tiramisu, a classic that here will not disappoint you. 

Calzone with Escarola


6. For a great burger, go to Juanchi's in Williamsburg. Great selections of ingredients (I went for the grass-fed beef), craft beer, good price and a friendly service will make the experience one to remember.

7. If you are craving for coffee, Birch is actually a great option. As an Italian, I was quite impressed with their espressos. Also, there is a cozy atmosphere and you will find a few locations in the city.

8. Shop at Chelsea Market in Lower Manhattan. It features all sorts of restaurants and shops, including a wine shop with a wide variety and premium selection of fine wines. Walking around the market one realizes how much cosmopolitan food NYC offers. 

Spice Selection at Chelsea Market

Here you have it: 8 things to do in one of USA's best travel destinations. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

5 Things to Do in Friuli Venezia Giulia: A Foodie's Guide

Ever heard of Friuli Venezia Giulia? This is an autonomous region located in the northeast of Italy bordering Austria in the north and Slovenia in the east. Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the most culturally diverse regions in Italy. The presence of people of different ethnic backgrounds, the unique history and terroir have given rise to a multiethnic cuisine that any tourist interested in traditional food should try.

In this article I tell you 5 things to do in the region.

1. Visit the main city of Trieste, which is located along the Adriatic coast and used to be the port of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. It is a cosmopolitan city inhabited by people of different ethnic backgrounds, including Slovenians, Austrians and Serbians.

2. Check out Piazza Unita’ d’Italia, which is the largest town square in Europe next to the sea. It hosts various buildings, including the City Hall.

3. Try an“osmiza”, an Austrian tradition that involves farmers who prepare and serve meals using their fresh products in a farmhouse during a certain part of the year. It dates back to the 18th century, when the Austrian ruler Joseph II emanated an edict that allowed farmers to sell their products directly to consumers for eight consecutive days. In fact, the name “osmiza” derives from the Slovenian word “osmen”, which means eight. Today, however, osmizas are open for a longer period, usually around a month, during which tourists can taste local products such as salami (usually made with pork meat), cheese and wine.

4. Taste the most iconic product of Friuli Venezia Giulia: Prosciutto San Daniele, known worldwide as high-quality salami. The pigs used to make it come from Italy and are fed only with milk and cereals. The production process involves several steps. First, the legs of the pig are covered with marine salt and are pressed so the salt penetrates well into the meat and the leg gets a “guitar shape”.  The legs are cleaned with warm water and dried in very humid places. Next, they are left in hot and cold storage rooms. The change of room temperature is fundamental for the loss of water. After that, the Consortium checks the quality of the legs and, if the standards are met, it marks the leg with the trademark along with the ID number of the company. The product is aged for a minimum of 14 months. In the mouth, this prosciutto is sweet and has a very soft consistency. 

Slices of Prosciutto San Daniele DOK Dall'Ava

Ageing of prosciutto San Daniele

5. Try the local desserts such as Putizza goriziana, a dessert made during festivities. Its name derives from the Slovenian word “potica”, which means “rolled sweet”. It is filled with chocolate, milk, walnuts, cinnamon, toasted and grated bread and rum. 
In Trieste you will also find a special version of the strudel, called "Struccolo De Pomi" or "Strudel di Mele Triestino", filled with apples, raisin, cinnamon and pine nuts.

So here you have it: 5 foodie things to do in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

3 Things to Try at Saint Lawrence Market in Toronto

Going around the stalls at Saint Lawrence Market on a Saturday in Toronto with friends can be an incredible learning opportunity as you get to taste some delicious food in a rather large but well organized food market, which features some seating too, and original street signs. This is a market with a strong history that dates back to more than two centuries ago and it is definitely one of my favourite spots in Toronto.

What should you try at this incredible foodie delight of Toronto? In this post I outline 3 foodie things to do. Ready? Let's get started! 

The Dining Area of the Market

The Street Signs in the Market

1. Try the Canele at Eve's temptation. Originally from France, this delicious pastries are hard in the outside and soft in the inside. You will love the caramelized crust!

Delicious Caneles

2. Head to to the lower floor  to Everyday Gourmet Coffee Roasters for some delicious coffee at the coffee bar. They also have a great retail section and some great blends available from a wide variety of regions. Espressos are definitely a must-try.

The Coffee Bar 

3. Taste the bagels at St Urbain Bakery. These guys have brought the famous bagel tradition of Montreal to the city of Toronto and you should definitely give it a try! The bagels are delicious and are a great snack to taste while walking around the market.

Bagels at St Urbain Bagel Stall

Here you have it: 3 things to try while visiting the most important market of the cosmopolitan city of Toronto.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Après Wine Bar: Cozy Culinary Spot in Toronto

Curious about nearly extinct grapes and wines made with organic and biodynamic practices? Then you should ahead over to Après Wine Bar located near Queen and Dufferin in Toronto. This sister restaurant of Canis focuses on food pairing and natural wines.

Here the menu is designed by chef and owner Jeff Kang, who created an innovative menu. There are various options going from Fogo Island snow crab to Albacore tuna from British Columbia. Also, one can find over 150 wine bottles from small unique wine producers from lesser known wine regions such as Georgia and Canary Islands.

The Wine Selection

Fogo Island Snow Crab

The wine list changes regularly, so one can always find something interesting and fun to try. There are also special cocktails like clarified milk punch (made with absinth, goats milk, gin, cloves, amari, cardmom, citrus and raw cane sugar) and bolur, made with verjus cocchi americano and dunya, a quince brandy.

Orange wines, basically white wines with extended skin contact, are also one of the specialities of this cozy place. They pair extremely well with different kinds food, going from cheese, to white meats, vegetables and seafood risotto. We tried the Moscholifero Hoof & Lur from Greece, unfiltered and with wild yeats. It has a vibrant acidity, floral notes, with orange peel dominating in the palate. A great example of orange wine.

The Making of Cocktails

Serving the Orange Wine Moscholifero

We really enjoyed the hospitality and quality of food and wine. Go there for an aperitif, light dinner, or late night drink.

Après wine bar is open everyday from 6pm to 2am.

For the video review check out the link below and subscribe to the page to being posted on new episodes.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top 10 things to Do in Paris: a Foodies' Guide

Paris is a city full of culture and history. Food and wine play an important role in Parisian daily life, thus there is a lot to discover for foodies.

Let's look at 10 Foodie Things you can do whilst you are visiting the city.

1. Visit Montmatre and enjoy the whole view of Paris. Check out the only remaining vineyard of Paris: "Clos Montmatre". It dates back to 1932 and includes 27 grape varieties, including Gamay and Sauvignon.

The view from Montmatre

The Vineyards

2) Eat Local food at the food market "Le Marche' Des Enfants Rouge". At "Le Coin Bio" you will find organic products and you can sit inside.

Organic Chicken for lunch

Coquilles St- Jacques

3) Want some macarons? Go to Damyel Paris in in the Marais. There is a wide variety of flavours and the quality is excellent.


The entrance at Damyel

4) Have breakfast at Cafe St-Regis, near the Notre Dame Cathedral. Get the Formule Coupe De Couer, which includes bread, croissant, egg, coffee and juice.

Formule Coupe De Couer

5) Try jewish pastries, like the "Cigar Libannais" at the bakery Korcarz, in the Jewish area.

The Entrance of Korcarz

Cigar Libannais

Schen Cerise

6) Sample Korean food at restaurant Bekseju Village, near Place D'Italie. Bulgogi and fried chicken are must-try.

Fried Chicken

7) Need a break during the trip? Have a Parisian hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course) at Café Des Concerts.

Parisian Hot Chocolate

8) Buy some wines to bring back home at "Le Repair De Bacchus", a chain of wine shops in Paris.

The entrance of the Le Repaire de Bacchus shop

9) Have dinner at Le Verre Vole' near Canal Saint Martin. Get the cooked ham and the cheese platter. You can choose among a variety of natural wines to drink or take away.

Cooked Ham

Cheese Platter

10) Have a crepe bretonne at Alizée Creperie. You'll find organic crepes, both salty and sweet. One of the best is with jamon serrano!!

Crepe with serrano

Sweet crepe

Here you have it: 10 foodie things to do in the city of Paris!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The 4 Best things to at St. Jacobs Market

It's Saturday and it's market time in a small town in Southwest Ontario, one hour and half outside of Toronto. St Jacobs holds a strong Mennonite heritage and indeed it is common to see Mennonites using traditional horses. Farming and tourism are two of the main economic activities. In particular, St. Jacobs Market, which takes place every Thursday and Saturday, is the main attraction of this little town of around 2.000 people.

The crowd

The Music

I would recommend going to the outdoor area for buying fresh vegetable and fruits (now the cherries are in season and are delicious). In the interior markets, I would recommend eating at the area with local foods rather than the international stall, which had anything available in every other market.

The Vegetables of the Market

Here are 3 things that you should try:

1- Back Bacon, Egg and Cheese at Country Cravings. They make top burgers and back bacon at a very reasonable price. A must try.

The Sandwich

2- Apple fritters with Ice Cream at The Fritters Co. 1/2 portion is enough for one person! Delicious fried and local apples with vanilla ice cream. Add some cinnanomon at the end and you are ready for a delicious snack!

Apple fritter with ice cream

3- Buy bacon to take away. Amazing quality at Stone Crock Meats and Cheese Stall.

The Bacon

4- Enjoy an espresso to end the meal before leaving the market.

The Coffee Bar

Here you have it: 4 things to do at St. Jacobs Market.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 3 Things to Do in Quebec City: A Foodies' guide

Quebec City is a mixture between European and North American culture. Situated along the Saint Lawrence River, it is one of the oldest settlements in North America and dates back to 1608, when the French navigator Samuel De Champlain founded it. Old Quebec feels like being in a charming little French town.

Quebec City is a very popular tourist destination, especially during the summer period. Old Quebec is divided between the Upper Town and Lower Town. The Historic District of Old Quebec was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1995 and is characterized by the presence of fortified city walls. One of the most famous monuments of the city is the Chateau Frontenac, an old hotel that dominates the Upper Town.

View of Quebec City from Upper Town

Lower Town at Night

One can find exceptional local food in Quebec. Here are three things to do:

1) To start off,  I highly recommend the restaurant “Cochon Dingue”, located in Lower Town, if you are craving for seafood. It offers many local dishes. I tried the tasty “Lobster Roll”, a fresh lobster sandwich, served with salad, French fries and mayo. The “Cochon Bourgeois” is a good choice for meat lovers. It is a pork burger, served with salad and French fries. The restaurant offers also a few Quebec wines, including the red “William”, if you want to drink local.

Chaudrée de la mer

In Quebec City, you can also find many restaurant chains. In particular, I went for dinner to “L’entrecote Saint Jean”, which does not have much to offer besides steaks. The service is poor, prices are expensive and the place is usually very crowded. In fact, I could not even hear what my sister was telling me at the table. So, I suggest avoiding eating at this place. 

2) For lunch, try the “Casse Crepe Breton”, where you will find delicious crepes of all kinds at a reasonable price. For drinks, they also have Quebec beers, including the Saint Ambroise Cream Ale, made by the MacAuslan brewery. The waiters are friendly and the service is quick. So, this is the ideal place for a quick meal.

Quebec Beer St-Ambroise

Lobster roll

Farmer's Market

3) Before leaving Quebec City, you should visit the city’s farmers' market: the famous Marché du Vieux-Port de Quebec, where you will find a wide variety of local foods and drinks. For example, there is a stand where they sell maple syrup and local vegetables like fiddleheads, while another stand has a great selection of ice cider. This farmers' market has a great selection of Quebec products, so it is a must for anyone interested in local gastronomy!

Here you have it: 3 foodie things to do in the beautiful city of Quebec!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The History of Pizza: From Street Food to Global Commodity to Cultural Heritage

Pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the world and comes in many forms. For example, one could find pizza with pineapple, French fries, würstel or bacon. The globalization of pizza has caused a homogenization and standardization of the production process, which has changed a lot during the last few decades. The industrialization of pizza has also led to the loss of knowledge about traditional pizza making. Therefore, there is the urgent need to safeguard the technique and skills of the Pizzaiuolo internationally. In this regard, the intervention of UNESCO is fundamental to preserve this ancient tradition. 


The origin of the term “pizza” is debateable. It may derive from the Greek word “plax”, indicating a flat or flattened surface. Some scholars argue that it derives from the Latin verb “pinsere”, meaning to crush or grind. Indeed, during Roman times, the bakers were called Pistores ("Pasta and Pizza", La Cecla, 2007).

Modern pizza, which featured tomatoes, was born in Naples in the 18th century and, at that time, there were two main types of pizza: Margherita and Marinara. The former is made mozzarella, basil and tomatoes; the latter with garlic, oregano and tomatoes. 

Pizza used to be eaten by poor people on the streets during weekdays. At that time, it was not well seen by the middle classes and by those coming from outside of Naples ("Pizza: A Global History". Helstoski, 2008).

Pizza Margherita


The Tuscan writer Carlo Collodi, famous for his book The Adventures of Pinocchio, described pizza in the following way: “The blackened aspect of the toasted crust, the whitish sheen of garlic and anchovy, the greenish yellow tint of the oil and fried herbs, and the bits of red from the tomato here and there give pizza the appearance of complicated filth that matches the dirt of the vendor” (cited in Helstoski). 

In 1831, Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, defined pizza as“a species of most nauseating cake covered over with slices of pomodoro or tomatoes, and sprinkled with little fish and black pepper and I know not what ingredients” (cited in Helstoski). In fact, in its infancy, pizza was a sort of popular “fast-food”.


This is confirmed by the fact that in Naples there was the “pizza a otto” customary system, which allowed people who could not afford to pay for pizza immediately to reimburse the merchant eight days later. The first pizza kitchens were created between the late 17th and early 18th century in Naples. They were places were “the dough was worked and cooked and passers-by could buy a pizza” (La Cecla).


One of the first pizzerias was “Zi Ciccio”, which dates back to 1727. Other famous historic pizzerias of Naples include Capasso, Port’Alba, Da Pietro, Ntuono, Da Michele and Sorbillo.
The origins of the “Pizza Marinara”, on the other hand, are humble. According to legend, hungry Neapolitan Marinari (i.e. sailors) ate for breakfast a type of pizza that eventually took their name.
By the end of the 19th century, pizza became popular also among aristocrats. One of the most influential pizza enthusiasts was the Queen Margherita of Savoy. According to some accounts, the Queen visited Naples in 1889 and Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo Raffaele Esposito was asked to prepare three different kinds of pizza. The Queen chose the pizza topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella as her favourite. This particular pizza, soon to become known as “Pizza Margherita”, represented Italy quite well, as the colors of the ingredients (green, white and red), were the same of the Italian flag.

Pizza Marinara


During the course of the 20th century, Italian migration led to the spread of pizza worldwide, especially to North America (e.g. in Montreal, as shown in the video at the end of this post!). 
Given the simplicity of this dish, Italian migrants could easily replicate it in foreign countries introducing new ingredients and adding new flavours. 
In the United States, pizza became a very popular fast food. Many pizza outlets gained success in the second half of the century and pizza quickly became a global and cosmopolitan dish, no longer synonymous with Neapolitan food and culture. In fact, it adapted to the cultures where it was introduced. 


Pizza quickly became a ready-to eat meal as frozen pizzas allowed consumers to prepare it quickly and enjoy it at home. So, the preparation and consumption of pizza has changed dramatically in the last century. 
Many pizzerias now make use of electric oven, instead of wood-fired oven, also due to legal restrictions that forbid the construction of new wood-fired ovens. Also, consumers often eat pizza far away from the place of production. In the last few decades, however, there have been several efforts to promote and safeguard traditional Neapolitan pizza.


In 1984, the Associazione Verace PizzaNapoletana (AVPN) was created with the purpose of promoting and preserving the traditional way of making pizza, which involves artisanal work by the Pizzaioulo and the use of wood-fired oven. This association created a disciplinary that sets rules on how the traditional Neapolitan pizza is made and asked for its legal protection from the European Union (EU).
In 2009, Neapolitan pizza became a TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) product according to the PGS (Protected Geographical Status) framework adopted by the EU law to protect traditional food products. 
On December 7th, as we have seen in the previous post, the traditional art of the Neapolitan pizzaiuolo has been finally included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list, also thanks to campaign #pizzaunesco.
In 2011, another association named Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani lobbied the Italian ministry of agricultural, food and forestry policies to have “The Traditional Art of Naples’s Pizzaiuoli” in the UNESCO’s representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity to raise awareness about this ancient tradition worldwide.

P.S. A few years ago I have had the chance of interviewing a pizziauolo who came from the province of Avellino (Italy) to Montreal (Canada) after World War II. From his insight, we can understand the way he adapted the Neapolitan tradition to the local culture to develop a successful business.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Giacomo Tachis The Mescolavin: A Book in Honour of One of Italy's Greatest Winemakers

A legend in the history of Italian wine, Giacomo Tachis is one of those winemakers that did not go unnoticed. He was the man behind some of the most expensive wines, like Supertuscans Sassicaia, Solaia and Tignanello, as well as other top quality wines from indigenous grape varietals such as Carignano in Sardegna. He worked for more than 30 years with the Antinori family in Tuscany, and collaborated with wineries in other Italian regions, as well. He passed away in February 2016 and has left a strong legacy in the Italian wine industry that is still strongly felt today.

Photographer Bruno Bruchi and author Andrea Cappelli have revisited the places where Tachis worked and have done an extensive research on his life to put together a book “Giacomo Tachis Mescolavin”, edited by Carlo Cambi Editore and funded by the Chianti Banca Foundation. It is sold online at 125 euros and was presented at the convention of Saturday Novemeber 10th at the Cantina Santadi, where Tachis used to work and one of the better known wineries in southern Sardinia, near Cagliari, in an area especially known for the Carignano del Sulcis, a red wine characterized by smooth tannins and red berry aromas. 

Front page of the book featuring the Mozia charioteer, a Greek marble sculpture, and the cellar (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Front side of Cantina Santadi (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Born and raised in Piedmont, Tuscan by adoption, Tachis had a special place for Sardinia in his heart. His love for the Sardinian people, the land, food and the sea, which he used to contemplate, led Tachis enjoy Sardinia every time he had to go there for work. He had, indeed, a special interest for islands in general for their cultural and geographical uniqueness. 

The mescolavin is a word that means “the mixer of wines”, and though it could be seen as a negative word, it was actually the way in which he Tachis wanted to be called. He saw himself as the person who was in charge of making the most out of the grape varietals and vineyards he had at disposal. He was a strong believer that good wine could only be made by good grapes grown in a land where the vines suffered a little bit to get the nutrients from the soil, know-how and, above all, passion.  

The convention started with the opening of the street “Giacomo Tachis”, in front of the winery, followed by the inauguration of the torso of Giacomo Tachis made by professor Carlo Pizzichini from the University of Fine Arts in Florence. The daughter Ilaria Tachis and president Pilloni presented the torso to the public.

Presentation of the torso with Ilaria Tachis, daughter of the winemaker, and Antonello Pilloni, president of Cantina di Santadi (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Several notable people working in the wine industry and people who collaborated with Tachis remembered him with fond memories at the convention. The profile that appears is the one of a man who loved making wine, as well as a true professional who strongly believed in the experience done in the field, even more than in university, to fully grasp winemaking. He used to say: “University starts now!” to aspiring winemakers who just left university. There were many fun and interesting anecdotes that came through during the homage to his life. 

Marchese Piero Antinori, who worked with him for over 30 years, remembered when the winemaker used to drive at different speed times, according to what wine he was thinking about. Presumably, the marchese added: "a wine about which he was not happy would slow him down, whereas a wine that he thought that did really well would make him go really fast". Marchese Guerrieri Gonzaga from Tenuta San Leonardo winery remembers that once in a lab he asked him what wine was his favourite and, after having pointed to a particular one, Tachis used to say: “That’s good, but the wine we are going to make is the other one!”. After all, he already had in his mind the final result that he wanted to achieve. Futhermore, the president of Cantina Santadi Pilloni stressed the strong attachment that Tachis had for the land and the deep relationship that the two have established. He was not just a collaborator, rather a very close friend. 

President Pilloni remembers Giacomo Tachis (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Tachis was a lover of fine gastronomy and particularly enjoyed Sardinian food fondly, along with the genuine character of the Sardinian people. Thus, to honor the man and the wines that he helped to produce, the participants went to the restaurant Antigo Borgo in Narcao where the Santadi wines were enjoyed alongside local delicacies such as the famous Sardinian “porceddu”, suckling piglet flavoured with herbs as resemary and roasted traditionally with juniper wood.

The following day, after a very engaging and interesting visit to the Sant’Antioco archeological museum, we had a tasting at the winery, where local products were showcased. Pecorino cheese, Sardinian honey, local tomatoes, fennel, salami and many other gastronomic products were enjoyed, while a local band played music. Wines from other wineries could also be tasted. Particularly, the red Piede Franco Calasetta, made with pre-philoxera vines, impressed me for its finesse, smoothness and length in the mouth. The lunch at the winery featured also a beef, which was cooked at the open air at the winery for around 10 hours. Five wines from the Santadi wines led me to appreciate the excellent work carried out by the winery. The first two are Carignano 100%: Grottarossa is more fresh with red berry notes, the Rocca Rubia has more body, spicy and cherry jam notes. The Barrua is a full bodied red made with Carignano, with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It features balsamic and dark chocolate notes. I was also lucky enought to get a taste of the Terre Brune 1999, pure Carignano, which was still alive and kicking, with some tertiary notes as balsamic, sour cherry jam and an extremely long finish.  Finally, the sweet passito Latinia is made with Nasco grape variety and has aromas of thyme, almond and dried apricots. It has high aging potential and very long length in the mouth. 

 Grottarossa, Rocca Rubia and Barrua (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

Latinia Passito (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

The tomatoes at the stand of Cooperativa Santa Margherita (ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

Slow cooking of the beef at the winery (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

The legacy of Tachis still lives on today. The convention showed to the public some of the lesser known aspects related to the character of Tachis. His professionalism made him highly respected in the wine industry, and he was also very much liked for his human character. A lover of life, passionate about fine food and wine, strongly linked with the Sardinian territory, where he has been indeed remembered with the attention that he deserved.