Bitter is Sweet + Adventures Abroad
Hello blog friends. Happy October. Hope you’re all having a nice fall.
I’ve taken a little unintentional break from the blog, taking some time for travelling, adjusting to yet another job change, and trying to bring some more focus to my nutrition classes, which haven’t been getting as much of my attention as they deserve. Bringing more attention to this space is also one of my goals for the next few months, so I’m jumping in with a few pictures and words about our recent trip and a new travel-inspired recipe.
In September, my husband and I spent two weeks in Israel and Italy, surrounded by family/friends in Israel and our fair share of gelato in Italy. The trip had a great mix of relaxing and exploring, with bits of history and culture, and of course, amazing food. From scuba diving in Eilat, to getting muddy in the famous dead sea, and finally exploring the Amalfi coast, we swam in three different bodies of water. That’s my personal record as far as one trip goes.
The food in both countries is incredible and we didn’t hold back. One of our major highlights was having delicious meals cooked from the organic garden surrounding the beautiful Villa Rina with fresh seafood from the coast. We also loved this food tour in Rome, but be warned – there are 4 dessert stops in the span of a few hours. We did not regret it. Most of our other favourite meals were at super low-key local joints that we stumbled into, they almost always beat out internet and guide book recommendations. Breakfasts sometimes included fresh bread with prosciutto di Parma for my husband, and lots of tomatoes and Burrata for me, often eaten in our hotel room. Other times we had the traditional Italian breakfast of coffee and freshly baked pastries. The favourite for both of us was Rina’s breakfast, back in Amalfi – croissants that we could smell baking before getting out of bed, with home made citrus/fig jams, followed by eggs from her chickens (that she let me collect one time), and garden tomatoes. The breakfast “dessert” was a bowl of persimmons that were picked ripe from a near-by tree.
One thing that I noticed and loved (besides gelato on every corner) was the abundance of bitter/spicy greens (or purples) served in almost all of the restaurants. Radicchio and chicory, doused in olive oil and garlic, were common lunches and side dishes. Arugula in Italy is hard-core, a totally different plant than what we buy pre-washed in a plastic box. The bitter veggies take some time to get used to (I started working on them many years ago), so if you think they’re gross, I totally understand. However, if you’re into the whole bitter thing, or are working on it, I encourage you to try the following recipe, inspired by a lunch we had in Florence in an unassuming little spot that gave us a much-needed break from other tourists, pasta, and pizza.
- knob of butter for sautéing
- small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 large (or 1 small/medium) fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 small head of radicchio, sliced
- sea salt
- lemon wedge
- your best tasting extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 firm pear
- prosciutto di Parma or hard salty cheese (like parmesean or pecorino)
- torn tarragon leaves
- more olive oil, salt, and pepper – to taste
- Melt the butter on a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
- Add fennel slices and season generously with sea salt. Sauté until fennel slightly softens.
- Add sliced radicchio and season again, sautéing briefly until radicchio starts wilting and turning brown in spots.
- Remove from heat immediately and add a light squirt of lemon.
- To serve, divide radicchio/fennel mix between plates and top with prosciutto slices or shaved cheese, sliced pear, and tarragon.
- Generously pour on the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.