Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Day in Italy at Eataly

Yearning for a taste of Italia? Avoid the high price of flying to Rome and instead spend a day in Italy at Eataly. I decided to do just that and invited a friend, M, to join me. We decided not to go overboard, so we planned a budget for the whole day, which we hoped to stick to.

We met for breakfast, and shared the panino Tirolese, a tiny semi-sweet baguette buttered liberally and encasing a small slice of speck and Asiago cheese which was smoky flavored and appetizing, but at $4.80, seemed quite expensive.

We also shared an apricot croissant at $2.80; it was a tad soft and the tasty apricot jam was not spread uniformly. M had a rich-looking hot chocolate, regally topped with a puff of thick whipped cream ($3). I had a bicerin, which was a mélange of hot chocolate and coffee layered delicately in a glass, $4.25. In total, breakfast came to $17.80. I couldn't resist the baci situated in front of me as I was paying our bill, so I picked up two pieces. The man at the cash register told me that he could give me kisses!

After chatting for a while, we decided to tour the large emporium. First we passed the chocolate and turrone displays, and could imagine buying everything as it all looked so inviting.

Then we made our way past the second coffee stand and the panini counter where sandwiches featuring cold cuts are the major stars, costing as much as $10 and more. Vegetarian sandwiches are slightly cheaper.

Lunch time was approaching and so was our hunger. Where should we eat? The La Pizza & Le Pasta restaurant won hands down. As no reservations are taken, we gave our names, and within fifteen minutes had a table all to ourselves. Lunch was our main meal of the day, so we decided to splurge. We shared a salad of arugula, fennel slices, Parmesan shards and a simple vinaigrette.

M had linguini with cockles and I chose the quadrati ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta and lemon. The citrus scent was heady, perfuming my pistachio-sprinkled dish. The fragrance made us happy! We drank wines with our pastas and polished our plates clean. This was an expensive meal at $78 for two.

As we skipped dessert at the restaurant, we decided to enjoy gelatos. M had the raspberry sorbet and I had the pistachio gelato cone. The cones were a reasonable $3.90 each.

Next we decided to go on an imaginary shopping expedition. We took a cart, allotting $25 to the top basket for sensible shopping and $50 to the lower basket for more festive eating.
The sensible basket had a jar of Prosecco jelly and sun-dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil to go with a box of tiny toasts, all to be washed down with a bottle of Aranciatta Rossa. A pound of blood oranges and a small box of Venchi chocolates rounded out that basket.

The splurge basket was altogether more festive, with both prosciutto and speck, an excellent goat cheese, a Charentais melon, one passion fruit, a box of figs, and lastly a large box of Venchi chocolates.
We then returned all the items to their respective shelves and spaces. Who knows what the security cameras must have made of us!

By now it was late afternoon and there was no place for a siesta and the weather not conducive for a walk in the park. So we decided to end our day at Eataly with a final cappuccino and a pastry. We had a smashing day and our total was below budget but still extravagant in some ways...and far cheaper than flying to Italy.

Honey Bar Jr.

Bees & Beans from Portland, Oregon make Honey Bar Jr. A deceptive hand crafted 7 oz bar of dark chocolate encasing hazelnut nougat and honey caramel that is simply orgasmic.

Sit in a comfortable armchair, switch off the phone, no noise anywhere. Then open the bar. Now take a bite. Close your eyes and begin to chew slowly to savor each and every gooey luscious bite. When one bite finishes and only then, take another one. Repeat till it is all eaten.

This delightful bar will transport you to chocolate heaven where you can relish the medley of flavors and then hoard the rest for the next appointment to be seduced.