Jan 29, 2010

If Britney Spears can make a comeback, so can I....

No, I definitely didn't have a mental breakdown, and I didn't shave my head--just burned it, but that's another story. The past two months have been very eventful for me, highlighted by the holidays, a break up, getting my cute butt back in the gym, and a fantastic vacation abroad with my ex! Yep, my ex! Totally fine. We had a blast and ate some incredible food that I'm excited to share with you! Hopefully in the near future I will attempt to recreate some of the dishes, too. It feels good to be back in the bloggy world and I'm super excited to start cooking & baking again. To get back into the groove of things, let's review some of the awesomeness that went into my mouth in Italy...

To give you a background, we flew out of Charleston to Atlanta, then to Paris, then to Florence. It was a looooooong night/day, yet still filled with food. Delta-style. I was impressed that they fed us twice on the 8 1/2 hour flight, and again on the flight from Paris to Florence.  Once we got to Florence, we quickly learned that going to restaurants close to the city-center or to ones that have been "recommended" on travel sites was not the route for we foodies to take. The first two dinners felt like crap right out of the Olive Garden kitchen. Seriously. Once we ventured out, we discovered the more creative and authentic food. After spending 3 days in Florence, we took a train to Rome where we spent 7 days. Both cities were full of exciting foods. Here are some of my favorites:

First breakfast at our hotel in Florence:
Gnocchi with zucchini and fresh mint in a lemon butter sauce:
Spinach Souffle, Carrot Souffle, both topped with cheese:
Seared ostrich:
Panino with Prosciutto, Salami, Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar & Sundried Tomatoes:
Inside the panino:
Squash flower stuffed with ricotta, pineapple stuffed with ricotta and cinnamon, Ham with ricotta, roasted red pepper, salmon, all with tomatoes, mozzarella, and rocket:
Rigatoni w/ tomato sauce and rigatoni cacio e pepe with pancetta:
Pizza with ricotta, basil, ham:
Delicious breakfast treat with chocolate, raisins, dates, and pine nuts:
Arancino - a fried rice ball with meat, cheese, and peas:
More Cacio Pepe!!!
Meat plate with potatoes: Veal, Lamb, Sausage, Sirloin:
Roman style artichoke:
Prosciutto stuffed with goat cheese, honey and balsamic drizzled on top with hazelnuts:
One of many cheese plates:
Calzone stuffed with ricotta and nutella with powdered sugar and cocoa on top:
Gelato - Pistachio & After 5:
Pear & Gorgonzola Souffle with Balsamic Vinegar:
Roasted lamb with rosemary potatoes & asparagus:

This is just some of the amazing food we ate. To drool some more, 
check out my Picasa albums here:

Italy was a huge learning experience for me. I was trying new foods, 
eating much more than usual, and definitely indulging in desserts 
several times a day. At first I was completely paranoid that I would 
come back 7 pounds heavier, but with all the strenuous walking we 
did, I didn't gain a pound! I have since realized that I don't have to 
be so strict about my diet as long as I am getting a significant 
amount of exercise in. We estimated walking 5-8 miles each day: all 
around the city, up and down hills, and lots of hiking and climbing. 
With the addition of regular exercise in my diet, I can eat A LOT! 
Since I've been home, I've joined a gym and have gone 5 times a 
week. My appetite has definitely increased, but I am not gaining 
any weight, and I love it! I feel like I've finally found a balance. 
I've always believed in enjoying myself time to time, but I can 
now eat even more healthy foods and indulge too! I feel so much 
stronger mentally and physically and I'm glad exercise has finally 
become an essential part of my life. 

What else did I learn? I LOVE THE UNITED STATES! I know this sounds so silly, but I got
homesick after 8 days. I missed my family and friends, all my stuff at home, but mostly just being on a schedule! And duhh I missed my blog!


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