Tag Archives: food

When you are in Italy, NEVER EVER…….

Are you looking forward to your next trip to Italy?

Do you already imagine yourself sitting at a bar in the sun, sipping on your espresso or eating gelato and enjoying “la dolce vita”? 😉

Milano bar
Milano bar

In this case, and if you do not want to look like a truly unexperienced Italy-traveler, you should know just a couple of small little “don’t’s”.

When you are in Italy, NEVER EVER………

  • drink Cappuccino after lunchtime
  • ask what types of coffee they have in a bar (for any further information on this I recommend to read this POST)
  • try to pay for your coffee at the barkeepers, there is always a cash-desk where you can pay for your coffee before ordering it
  • order coffee and complain if you get an espresso
  • complain that the coffee is too strong
  • think “antipasto” is only cold meat and cheese
  • use cheese on fish (even if it comes with a pasta)
  • await a salad with dressing (you have oil, vinegar, salt and pepper on the table and two hands to help yourself)
  • await some sides with the main dish, if you want to have some fries you have to order them
  • ask for a doggy-bag
  • await an extensive breakfast buffet at hotels. Italians only eat sweet in the morning, so often you will have plenty of sweet dishes and not much choices for a salty breakfast.
  • eat spaghetti with a spoon
  • cut spaghetti with the knife
  • order pizza with pineapple
  • order ice-cream by telling how many scoops (or worse: balls) you want. There are just different sizes of cones or cups.
  • drink anything with milk after dinner
  • ask for the bill seated at a table and then split the costs
  • complain about the extra “coperto” costs on the restaurants bill. This can normally be seen as the “tip”.
  • take a seat at the restaurant without waiting to be seated
  • walk around in a city with sunscreen all over your body
  • wear flip-flops when you go out at night
  • wonder why Italians wear sunglasses even at night
  • wear Bermuda shorts in the evening
  • make mafia jokes
  • use random movements of the hands to speak
  • ask for indications by trying to translate every single word with a dictionary. Italians are not patient enough.
  • say “spaghettis”: spaghetti is already the plural word of spaghetto
  • say “gnocchis”: gnocchi is already the plural word of gnocco
  • say “tortellinis”: tortellini is already the plural word of tortellino, or better: tortello
  • say “expresso”: it is espresso. Or caffè.
  • say “ciao” to formally greet someone. Better say “buongiorno”.

And now… ENJOY!!! 😉

Typical italian breakfast
Typical Italian breakfast

Food & travel behaviors

I bet there is not a single one of you out there reading this who never posted at least one picture of his food!!
Right? 🙂

It seems to me we are all surrounded by food. We are not just surrounded, we are flooded with images of food and drink. Drowning.

A look into facebook, instagram and co. is enough to see what my friends have eaten at the restaurant, what they have cooked at home, what their babies are eating… You can’t even escape this trend by watching tv: there are food-shows everywhere!!

Lugano14food
Italian food and lifestyle in Lugano

Even if I definitely do not want to see very single dish you are eating at home or at the restaurant around the corner, I think this is a good trend. People were eating privately, not really thinking about if the food is beautiful, healthy, ugly… worth a picture or not. We finally think about the food. About where it comes from, what effects it has on our bodies and most important: what effect it has on our friends who see it posted. It became a kind of status symbol.

By the way… I am loving this new trend of the short cooking instructions videos (like the ones of “Tasty” any many more). It makes cooking seem easy and accessible to everyone.

Delicious Waffle in Greece
Delicious Waffle in Greece

Are you a food-driven traveler?

Nowadays, when we travel we do not just want to show our friends at home the hotel room or the beautiful panoramic views we are seeing, we want to also show (and show off 😉 ) which restaurants we are going to and what we are eating.

Europe is trendsetter in this, and it seems this trend has also been carried overseas to the USA. I read that incredible 95 percent of American travelers are interested in a unique food experience when they travel. It was only 47 percent in 2013!

Thinking about how I chose my travel destinations I notice  that food definitely plays a big role! I can define myself as a food & cuisine driven traveler.

Travel & Food
Destinations are promoting themselves through their food: in this case Spain.

Generally speaking, I am always happy when I am able to find out more of the culture through the food, so it is always an adventure for me to try something I have never eaten before, but if I feel uncomfortable with the local food then this influences the mood of the entire trip.

Fortunately this happened just once very strongly. It wasn’t even a too exotic destination. I won’t tell you which destination it was. But if you want you can guess! 🙂

Back to us: this is changing the landscape of travel. Destinations are changing their marketing campaigns and tourism professionals are spotting a good business with culinary experience travel.

Foodies are looking for a deeper experience than the random restaurant suggestions we can read in every travel guide.

Wine and travel
Wines also play an impotant role in the travel experience

But how do you find the places and restaurants to visit?

A local travel advisor can be very helpful. Travel agents had lost a lot of importance due to the fact that all of us prefer to go the direct way and look into the internet instead of go through a travel agency. But in this case local agencies can really help. They know the hot spots and can offer you an authentic food experience … even if it’s only by their personal experience. I think you can find out very easily if you are talking to someone who knows what you are searching for.

If you want to organize everything on your own you can do some research on the internet. You can normally easily find some guest’s reviews or bloggers suggestions.

Just be careful not to choose a restaurant only because of its massive presence on the internet, this does not automatically mean it is good. The small delicious restaurant around the corner will normally not even have a homepage.

Which are your favorite destinations when it comes to food?
It would be interesting to find out.

PS: Okay I admit, I am also often taking pictures of my food … just now, after having written this article, my smartphone fell into my salad… 😉

Love of Food
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food”

“La Dolce Vita” combined with Swiss Efficiency: Lugano

Lugano9There is a part of Switzerland which is mostly not being considered in the general common idea people have of the typical Switzerland. It is Ticino: the Italian speaking part.
It is not about cows and cheese fondue. It is a very classy, upscale and dolce vita loving part of Switzerland.

Delicious italian food and lifestyle in Lugano
Delicious italian food and “dolce vita” lifestyle in Lugano

Lugano is one of the most renown cities of Ticino. It all develops on the mountains around Lake Lugano.

Lugano5
The charming city center is very small, formed by numerous banks (ok, this is also part of the typical idea of Switzerland), luxury shops, Swiss/Italian restaurants and bars and one casino.

All the other buildings are spread on the mountains, which give this place a very picturesque look. Wonderful villas, luxurious hotels, restaurants… Everywhere you go, you will be stuck by the unique panoramic views. Lugano loves its Lake and the view of it.

Lugano13
You can have a refreshing swim or do every kind of watersports you desire on Lake Lugano.

Stand-up water paddling and a Whales tail in the Lake ;-)
Stand-up water paddling and a Whales tail in the Lake 😉

To get the “real” Lugano feeling I recommend staying or just drinking a coffee in one of the hotels which made the history of this place, that has lived the golden era and still is in a splendid shape.

One of them, a very intimate place, is Villa Principe Leopoldo. Not only has the Villa wonderful accommodations, it has a Restaurant with one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. Don’t miss it, even if it’s only for an aperitivo in the evening.

Me and my friend enjoying the view from the panoramic restaurant at the Hotel Principe Leopoldo
Me and my friend enjoying the view from the panoramic restaurant at the Hotel Principe Leopoldo
We also had a wonderful Aperitivo with unique view of the lake and the surrounding mountains
We also had a wonderful Aperitivo with unique view of the lake and the surrounding mountains

I have actually staid at the Villa Principe Leopoldo. It is located on the so called “golden hill” not very far away from what used to be Hermann Hesse’s house. It is one of the most charming places I have ever seen, and the staff is very friendly. They even have a shuttle service which brings you up and down the hill to the city center.

Lugano15VillaPL
You can combine Lugano with a round-trip through Switzerland, by flying to Zurich (it is only 3 hours from there by direct train), and maybe cross the Italian border and fly out from Milan.
Milan can be easily reached in one hour by train. There is a bus shuttle service which even brings you direct from Lugano to the Milan Malpensa airport. Swiss efficiency! 😉

Caffè all’Italiana – Instructions Manual.

Coffee6

There is nothing better than starting the day the Italian way: you go to the bar around the corner where you meet all your neighbors and have a traditional colazione (breakfast), which is a cornetto (Croissant) and a coffee, of course standing at the counter.

Italian breakfast: Cappuccino and croissant
Italian breakfast: Cappuccino and croissant

But coffee is not just coffee.

There is a big ritual behind this apparently easy way to have breakfast and I first noticed when I had some German guests with me in Italy. I observed this for a while and I noticed that tourists are often confused and intimidated, while baristas are often bothered by every kind of hesitation during the ordering ritual. I have come to the conclusion that there must be some kind of guide.

First of all: you can’t go to the barista straight away just ordering “un caffé”. If you do this (and I saw this quite often) he will look at you as if you were an alien.

You have to first go to the cashier to get your receipt. The cashier is usually sitting somewhere at one end of the counter or even hidden in one corner of the bar. After you have proudly managed to find him, you have to tell him what you want.
You go back to the barista with the receipt and again: you can’t just say “un caffé”. You have to know what kind of coffee. And please don’t ask him what kind of coffee he has to offer. Don’t even dare asking for a list. You just have to know.

First thing to know: if you ask for a normal “caffé” it will be an Espresso. But here again, I have been told by a non-Italian friend that she ordered just a “caffé”, expecting an Espresso but the barista automatically thought that – as she is a stranger – she surely wants a coffee in a big cup. Let’s consider this an exception. “Caffé” in Italy is an Espresso.

Espresso cup
Espresso Cup

The coffee in a big cup, which is a “regular coffee” in many other (especially northern) countries, is called “Caffé Americano” in Italy. You normally cannot expect a filter coffee, brewed with coffee in a filter and hot water. In most Italian bars “Caffé Americano” is brewed using the regular Espresso coffee machines, just using more water.

Coffee4

But if you look around you in the bar, you easily notice everyone is ordering something different. There are at least 50 different types of Italian coffee. Here are the most common types:

  • Caffè Espresso, or “caffè normale” in Italy.
  • Caffè Americano – coffee in a big cup (in a cup Italians would use for drinking tea).
  • Caffè decaffeinato – decaffeinated Espresso coffee.
  • Caffè in vetro – served in a glass cup instead of the classical small porcelain cup.
  • Caffè corto (or ristretto) – is a very much reduced coffee, so called “short” Espresso since sometimes there are just some drops of very intense coffee left in your cup. It gives you the maximum of the coffee aroma and not too much caffeine. It is a very Italian way to drink the coffee; you hardly find it anywhere else.
  • Caffè lungo – is a long Espresso, created by adding some more water to the Espresso but still served in a small Espresso cup. Even if not so strong, it contains more caffeine.
  • Caffè macchiato caldo – Is a regular Espresso with a “spot” (macchia) of warm foamy milk.
  • Caffè macchiato freddo – is a regular Espresso, with a drop of cold milk.
  • Latte Macchiato – Is served in a big glass and consists mostly of milk (around 80%), with a small amount of Espresso coffee.
  • Caffè corretto, is an Espresso with some grappa or other liquor.
  • Cappuccino (so called “Cappuccio” in the Milan area) – I think I don’t need to explain that. Always remember: real Italian Cappuccino does not have cream on top but always milk foam.
    And please – please – don’t order a Cappuccino after lunch or dinner. Even if many restaurants are now used to “these tourists” ordering a Cappuccino after dinner… it remains something you only drink for breakfast in Italy!
    You can absolutely order an Espresso after dinner.
    If you can not make it without your Cappuccino, then order a Marocchino. That’s similar, just smaller.
  • Marocchino – Is often served in a small cup made of glass, it is like a small Cappuccino but with some chocolate powder.

    Marocchino
    Marocchino
  • Caffè d’Orzo – Barley coffee. You don’t use coffee beans in this.
  • Caffè Doppio Lungo – Double “caffé lungo” (see above)
  • Caffè Doppio Ristretto – Double “caffé ristretto” (see above)
  • Caffellatte – Coffee with milk. The difference to the Cappuccino is that it is served in a regular glass instead of a cup
  • Caffè alla Nocciola – Coffee with nut aroma.
  • Caffè al Ginseng – Coffee with ginger aroma.
  • Mocaccino – classical Cappuccino, but with some hot chocolate.
  • Caffè Shakerato – coffee and ice cubes shaked with a shaker.

One last thing: if you drink your coffee standing at the counter it will cost less than seated.

Coffee2

Coffee1However, don’t worry too much. You cannot leave Italy without a real coffee in a bar. It is a great experience, not only for the taste of it!

 

Coffee copia