Photo Friday, Wines!

I LOVE ITALIAN WINE!

Italian wine barrels

I’m looking for photos to use on my blog! If you have taken photos you’d like to share of  Italy, please let me know!

I know there are some awesome photographers out there.

I will give you credit and share any story behind the photo!


Eating Out With Toddlers in Italy

In the U.S., I ate out a lot. I hate cooking, so it was easier to let someone else do the cooking. Fast forward to life in Italy, I eat at home much more than I eat out. The whole logistics of eating out are different from in the states.

“What could be that different about eating out in Italy?” You may ask yourself.

Well, let me explain some of the things that make eating out difficult for my family.

Restaurants serve the evening meal later than in the United States. My kiddos are hungry by 5:30 PM (or 17:30 if you use the 24 hour clock). Italian restaurants do not typically open for the evening until 7 or 7:30 PM.  If you are lucky enough to find a restaurant open, it will not typically be moving at a normal serving speed until 8 PM or later. So, it can take a looonnngg time between ordering and getting your food.

This may fly well with adults. Hey, just have an extra glass of prosecco while you wait. With toddlers…not so much. Not to mention, at my house, bedtime is around 8 PM. Behavior is not so great when I have exhausted kids. Even with an elementary aged kiddo, it is too late to eat out on a weeknight.

Most eating establishments do not have high-chairs or booster chairs. I dare you to try containing a wiggly toddler on a regular chair or on your lap. Probably not going to happen.

My solution was to buy one of those seats that attach to the table for my little one. Most times this solution works pretty well. Occasionally, the table is an odd size and the chair does not fit. It is a definite must-have for those families with small children in my book.

Often, there are no kids menus. If you order for your children, they have the same menu choices as you. The prices are the same, as well. Drinks are full price and milk is not always an option. Bring your own.

Luckily, almost every restaurant has pizza. The pizza is usually fairly reasonably priced and you can split one pizza between several children to save on cost. We usually order pasta and ask for an extra plate.   Bread sticks are almost always out on tables, which are great to keep a toddler munching with no  cost.

If you love to eat out, plan ahead and make up an eating out kit. Bring a bag with your baby seat, books or small toys and a plastic sippy cup. Eating out will prove much easier if you do!


Photo Friday, McDonald’s is Everywhere, even downtown Vicenza

If you get nostalgic for the United States, you can still grab a Big Mac to go. Even in Vicenza, Italy…

McDonald's in Vicenza, Italy

There are also McDonald’s Restaurants at the Pyramidi Mall and at the Palladio Mall.


Enjoy Gelato? Italian Ice Cream Guide

Gelato

I love sweets. Italy is more than happy to indulge my need for dolce! Gelato is one of those sweets so freely available here.

Gelato is not exactly ice cream. It is more like ice milk, so I reason that it has to be less fattening!

Gelato shops or Gelaterias are in every community, sometimes it seems on every corner.  Gelato shops are usually open all day, with no riposo time. I can get my fix at 2 PM if I so choose! Italians eat a lot of gelato, so these stores never seem to be empty.

Because there is a gelato store on my path home from my son’s bus stop, I have gotten really good at ordering gelato!

How to Order Gelato

Guidebooks recommend, in Italy, always pay first. (In my small town, I don’t. This is because there is usually only one person working in the store.) If you are in a larger community, make sure you approach the cashier first and pay. You will need to let the cashier know if you want a cup (coppa) or cone (cono) and how many scoops or flavors you would like.

You may have to hand the server your receipt. Then, pick your flavors and tell the server which ones to serve up!

My usual conversation goes like this:

“Un coppa, per favore.” … “One cup, please”

“Vorrei fragoli senza latte.”…”I would like the strawberry sorbet.”

“Un euro dieci.” … “One Euro ten cents”

This is possibly not grammatically correct, but it always works for me!

Gelato Flavor Guide -A short and incomplete list.

  • Cioccolato — Chocolate
  • Fior di Latte — Sweet Cream
  • Stracciatella — Chocolate Chip
  • Bacio — Chocolate Hazelnut
  • Nocciola — Hazelnut
  • Pistacchio — Same as Pistacchio in English
  • Mandorla — Almond
  • Caffe — Coffee, expresso
  • Fragola — Strawberry
  • Limone — Lemon
  • Melone — Melon, can be watermelon or canteloupe
  • Amarreto — Like the liquor Amaretto

There are so many flavors of gelato that it is impossible to list them all. Each shop has different specialties and every day different flavors are available.

I am trying to enjoy them all!


Diet Coke, Coke Light, Fountain Drinks and Italy…

Time for a random thought about my beverage choices in Italy.

Anyone who knows me, will testify to the fact that I am a Diet Coke addict.  I drink way more Diet Coke than I should, but I love the stuff! Given a choice, I will drink Diet Coke from the fountain at Sonic with that really perfect crushed ice only Sonic uses.

Sadly, it is not an option in Italy.

On the economy, Diet Coke is not available. Instead, the substitute is Coke Light. Don’t let the similar can fool you. It is not the same. I’m not sure what sweetener is used, but it is possibly saccharin. It just tastes off. I don’t care for it. No fountain drinks, either, for the most part.

Thank goodness for the commissary, right?

Well, not quite.

Because I was not quite clear on my preference, I like Diet Coke on ice…in a glass. I really prefer to purchase my Diet Coke in a 2-liter bottle, if no fountain drinks are available.  Unfortunately, the commissary has some sweet deal with the Pepsi Corporation. Only Pepsi products are available in 2-liter bottles. No bottles of Diet Coke.

Oh, I can buy Diet Coke at the commissary. I have to buy it in cans, though. For some reason, it just doesn’t taste as good! It sure doesn’t stop me from buying the cans, though!

So, for those of you here in Italy…we will just have to survive on Diet Coke cans.

For my family and friends in the U.S., enjoy your Diet Coke. Oh, and send me your Coke Rewards Points, I need some new magazines!


Common Pizza Toppings in Italy

image by dairan

Since pizza is so common in Italy, it helps to be able to name the toppings. Pizza toppings are more varied than the pepperoni and beef toppings common in the U.S.  Italians add things to pizza like eggs (uova), hot dogs (wurstel) and french fries (patate fritte).  It seems strange, but have an open mind when trying the pizza. Some of what I thought I would hate, I didn’t mind. Some toppings, I just haven’t talked myself into tasting, though.

Common Meats:

  • Salamino- Pepperoni
  • Prosciutto Cotto- Cooked Ham
  • Prosciutto Crudo- Raw Ham
  • Salsiccia- Sausage
  • Sfilacci di Cavallo- Shredded Horse Meat
  • Speck – Cured Bacon-like Pork
  • Pancetta- Cured Pork
  • Porchetta – Pork
  • Wurstel – Hot-dog-like sausage

Vegetables:

  • Pomodoro, Pomodorini – Tomato
  • Piselli – Peas
  • Patate – Potato
  • Funghi – Mushrooms
  • Porcini – Porcini Mushrooms
  • Olive Nero – Black Olive
  • Rucola – Green vegetable like lettuce
  • Carciofi – Artichoke
  • Melanzane- Eggplant
  • Pepperoni – Green Peppers
  • Peperoncino – Hot Peppers
  • Vedure Miste – Mixed Vegetables

Cheeses/Dairy Products:

  • Mozzarella – You know this one!
  • Gorgonzola- Aged blue-cheese like
  • Marscapone- Italian triple-creamed cheese
  • Grana- Hard aged white cheese
  • Asiago- White cheese,  fresh or aged
  • Stracchino- Soft Creamy Cheese
  • Bufala-Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Scamorza- Semi-soft White Cheese
  • Panna – Cream

There are many more toppings, but these are the ones I have learned to recognize. Want to know more about Pizza? Check out the History of Pizza at Life in Italy!

What are your favorite Pizza toppings here in Italy?