January’s favourites: 5 cheer-myself-up foods and drinks

Time, whatever happens it passes and doesn’t care if you’re late, you can call it bastard, but in the meantime it’s gone already.” says my rough translations of a song from the famous Italian songwriter Lorenzo Jovanotti. Time flies, it ridiculously does, and while I’m trying to figure out the important changes that are occurring in my life at moment, I suddenly find myself realising that an entire month is gone since my last post. It’s been stressful so far, considering everything is going on with my family, so keeping my 2015 resolution to stay positive has been likewise difficult, but I like to think I’m stronger than that, therefore fingers crossed because I don’t want to snap.

What I really like about myself, together with few other personal characteristics, is that my eating habits are not affected at all from the various everyday life circumstances. Even in the darkest of my days I never thought for one second to skip meals, because food is extremely important for me and if I don’t eat, neither my body nor my mood would cooperate to brighten the atmosphere.

During this month I kept myself up with these fabulous foods and drinks that I’d like to share with you guys. Who knows, if they worked for me they could do the same for you.

Almond milk. Ok it’s not technically milk, but more of a drink that resembles milk. Lately I’m having problems with regular English milk (yes, as weird as it sounds, the one I have in Italy is totally fine) so I thought giving almond milk a go, after I found out the soy one and I don’t really get along. I like the toasted flavour that matches my Illy coffee blend, but still, it’s not milk. That’s what, sometimes this January, has led me directly to point n.2.

Credits: Michael Kwan

Matcha latte. The Japanese famous bitter green tea powder exceptionally  combined with warm frothy milk by the skilful Timberyard baristas. A comforting treat which takes me back to the friendly atmosphere of Tokyo’s cafés.

Fresh mango with full fat greek yogurt and desiccated coconut. Ok this breakfast/afternoon snack came up by throwing in a bowl some stuff I had in the fridge, together with that desiccated coconut that was sitting in my pantry for too long. Thick rich yogurt for the creamy texture, coconut adds crunch and mango for a tropical sweet touch.

Talking about ‘Nduja here.

‘Nduja. The Calabrian spreadable spicy salami you can enjoy on your bruschetta or to revive your pasta sauce, or even better, you can melt it on your pizza to give that fiery Southern Italy kick. I also use to add it to soups, because it completely enhances the overall flavour.

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My last visit at Tonkotsu East.

Tsukemen: it was love at first bite when the waitress at Rokurinsha, Tokyo, brought me a big bowl of these thick noodles to dip in their rich pork broth. I never had the chance to eat them since that moment, almost three years ago. However London is always full of wonders, so when I found out that Tonkotsu East was serving tsukemen I had no choice but go trying them. What a joy it was! Perfect homemade noodles with the right porous texture that allows to absorb the broth. I won’t disclose any more details guys, as I’m preparing a review with an another article about my personal ranking of ramen bars in London.

So these are my January’s favourite foods and drinks, but I’m always looking for something new to cheer myself up with, so I can’t wait to hear about your suggestions.

Let me know, guys!

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A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

Sunday Brunch at Lantana Shoreditch: my review.

It happens every Sunday. I roll out of bed with semi closed eyes uttering weird sounds and wander in the house before realising how late it is and regretting those two hours I overslept, because the bed couldn’t let me go. The routine continues like this: usually after drinking some coffee in slow motion, I call my mum to catch up with the latest family gossip, but every time I end up getting scolded. Why? Simple, because it’s almost lunchtime and I preferred sleeping rather than waking up and do the preps for Sunday sauce, as every good Italian woman should do according to my mother’s and gran’s thought. At this point I have two options: 1) Lie and tell her that the sauce is on the stove simmering since 7 am and if I am convincing enough I also can find a quick excuse for my sleepy voice. Unfortunately I am such a bad liar, so I go straight to number 2. 2)Tell her I’m going to have brunch.

Her reply is always immediate: “Why? You’re not American.” Then it becomes melodramatic: “Hearing you’re losing your national identity makes me so sad.” Seriously, mum? I should probably take her to brunch next time she visits to try to change her mind.

After a quick search, G. and I decided for Lantana in Shoreditch, a trendy Aussie style café renowned for their excellent coffee blend and their signature drink, the flat white. I had already tried their coffee and cakes at their original location in Fitzrovia during my MA year at SOAS, and I kept going back at the time just to reward myself with quality products after classes, exams, you name it. This time it was all about brunch.

We arrived around 12:15 and we joined the long queue, because the café was packed with customers. Good sign.

The place has nice aged wood interiors without frills, in line with the trendy simple but absolutely vintage style, which is common to many independent coffee shops in London. Not really bright I would say, as the room can only benefit from two windows, so in rainy days like yesterday, the artificial light becomes necessary even at midday.

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The very kind waitress asked us if it was ok to wait 20 minutes, and of course we were more than happy to do it, but 20 minutes soon became 40 when we finally got seated. Well, it can happen when the kitchen is particularly busy and orders keep piling up, right?

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Soon another waiter came to our table and when I was about to order, he informed us that the food would have taken another 15 minutes. Fair, our order needs to be cooked and plated. Plus, what could have we possibly done after queuing 40 minutes to get a table, stand up and walk away?

Too bad that 15 minutes became 30. At this point I was very hungry and, honestly, annoyed, but our food finally came.

Smashed avocado and streaky bacon on sourdough toast with a poached egg and rocket (£7.5) for me and slow braised beans with ham hock served on corn bread with grilled chorizo, a poached egg and spinach for G (£8.5).

Well, I have to say that the kitchen staff made up for the wait with their flavourful dishes.

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A matter of perspective: the portion was bigger than it looks here.

My choice celebrated the always winning union between bacon and eggs, with a fresh note added by a creamy mellow avocado and the final bitter touch given of rocket to complete the dish. Nice, without any doubt. However, I would have seasoned the avocado with some pepper, smoked paprika and sumac just give it a spicy kick.

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Same goes for G.’s choice.

G’s order as well had a nice harmony in the combination of ingredients. In fact, the hearty beans braised in tomato sauce and ham hock gave respectively acidity and texture to contrast with the distinctive sapidity of chorizo and extremely peppery corn bread.

I give Lantana 7.5 that could have been easily transformed in a higher score, but the long waiting at the entrance and then at table was a significant source of influence. I perfectly understand that Brunch can be a busy time, but more communication and coordination of the staff could significantly improve the customers’ experience.

Lantana Shoreditch, Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard ,55 City Rd. EC1Y1HQ

Kirazu London review: a Japanese “tapas” restaurant in Soho

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I found Kirazu during a hot August afternoon while, in the middle of disastrous property viewings, I was comforting myself with the latest hipster trend, a bubble tea, in the shop right next to it. I suddenly stopped gulping my fresh white peach and tapioca pearls drink and intensely stared at the inside of the empty room from the window. I am sure the waitress, who was cleaning and tidying up for the evening shift, thought I looked a bit creepy, but she smiled politely back at me like only the Japanese can do.

To tell the truth, I was totally enchanted by Kirazu’s interior design whose aged wood, wrought iron elements and beautiful Japanese pottery create a modern but also homely style. An elegant and, at the same time, cozy balance between the Japanese modern design and the vintage approach that is taking over London trendy bars.

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I unquestionably missed Japanese food, I craved it so much during the previous 9 months I stayed in Italy (no, I wasn’t pregnant!) that I felt the urgency to go back there and give this place a chance. Usually I consult the web before trying a new place, like everybody in 2014, but this time my instinct was stronger than my usual reasoning. Or, simply, I was just in love with the interior and I expected the food to be as delightful as the location. Typical me!

The following day I went back there for lunch to give a first try, since the lunch box menu was only just £5. “I’ll play it safe this time and if they surprise me I will definitely go back.” I told myself while I was staring at the big black board listing all the tapas they prepare for the evening shift. Yes, tapas, although I don’t like this word when used outside its Spanish context, but I assume the chef Yuya Kikuchi borrowed the term to immediately convey the precise concept of tiny plates to share to its international customers.

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My partner, G., and I chose our lunch box from a list of 4 available on that day. He ordered chicken karaage with curry and I got the same chicken but with sesame dressing and mayo  and a pickle salad. Both lunch boxes included a hot miso soup and a portion of steamed rice.

While waiting, G.’s face lit up as his eyes caught the word Matcha on the menu. Now, Matcha green tea is not something supposed to be drunk at the beginning of lunch, but I don’t always follow rules because life would be boring, wouldn’t it? Plus, G. wanted to try the “real thing” for so long, so I challenged him to prepare it. Luckily for him, every passage was carefully explained by our kind waitress, so no mess or green splashes all over the place.

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“Your face shows everything you’re thinking, please do something about it.” I remember my mother and friends repeating these words to me since childhood. This time it happened again, I could not hide a bit of disappointment in looking at how small portions were, especially the main dish of the bento box: 2 tiny bite-sized pieces of chicken. At the same time, I was torn because I felt almost guilty being dissatisfied with my lunch as I was paying £5, seated and served.

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I have nothing to complain about the food, as it was delicious and full of flavour. It was just what I wanted, what I had been craving for months: pure Japanese home style flavours. I just wanted more of it. I solemnly promised myself to go back for “tapas” and that’s what we did a week later.

Surprisingly, the evening atmosphere had completely different vibes: dim lights, people cheerfully toasting, waitresses who relentlessly juggled around the tables and tiny spaces with their trays full of beers and sake. In other words, the place was rapidly transformed into the modern adaptation of the traditional Japanese izakaya, a bar where customers can enjoy food to accompany their drinks. However, I noticed that the options for the evening are far more refined than the ones offered for lunch, so it has to be said that the food served here has not the mere role of a side dish to accompany a glass of beer, but more of an elegant protagonist.

This time we ordered from the “tapas” board a portion of takoyaki, octopus carpaccio with fresh wasabi, mentaiko (a type of marinated roe) and salmon sashimi to accompany the roasted aroma of our Asahi Kuronama black beer.

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Octopus carpaccio

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Mentaiko

Food portions were again tiny and maybe a bit expensive for that size, but I give up to the fact that fish is pricey anyway, so I don’t feel I should blame the owner/chef for overcharging us.

Again the flavour was just perfect for each plate in a different way, but my favourite were, the octopus carpaccio and mentaiko. The first had a delicate soft texture which is not easy to master. Then the intense flavour of fresh wasabi gave the dish a nice zingy kick. Mentaiko had a strong spicy and smoked flavour that I cannot associate with anything else I have ever tried, but it was undeniably pleasant to the palate.

I can’t say I was full after eating there, so I would probably not call that meal, a proper dinner, more like a fancy aperitivo.

I give this restaurant 7.5 in total, as the food truly reflects the authentic flavours of Japan. In addition, the place has a simple but modern atmosphere that makes the whole dining experience charming.

I’m still not convinced by their £5 lunch deal, so for your lunch break I would recommend more a place like Soya, whose larger portions are worth spending some more pennies.

However, Kirazu can be a lovely place for an elegant pre-dinner sake or to indulge in a Japanese dinner where traditional flavours are modernised with a hint of sophistication.

Kirazu, 47 Rupert Street, London, United Kingdom W1D 7PD.

Does colour influence the taste and flavour perception of food?

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester.

Red Leicester cheese @Neal’s Yard Dairy. The one in the burger was unnaturally brighter.

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester. I had never tried it before last week, because that bright orange colour sincerely put me off every time I considered buying that cheese. The fact that it’s coloured with annatto, a natural extract of the Archiote tree’s fruit, still doesn’t convince me entirely. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just an irrational instinct, but that colour in a cheese still feels unnatural to me. Never judge a book by its cover, right? So even though I had preconceived ideas, this was the right time to finally have a bite of that intensely bright orange cheese and prove myself I was just having unreasonable biases. A little bite full of expectations, I would say, but then a sense of confusion mixed with disappointment hit me hard: Red Leicester tasted just as regular Cheddar. (Forgive me, cheese purists!) Why was I experiencing that negative feeling? I kept wondering, until I suddenly got the answer: my brain and eyes just fooled me. Even though being surprised and, at the same time, fascinated by this phenomenon, I rationally tried to give myself an acceptable explanation: my brain did an association with a familiar cheese based on that bright colour. Red Leicester should have tasted nutty and sharp, just like my beloved Molisan Provolone Cheese when is aged for a couple of year and gets a warm golden shade. It’s not news that food companies add colourings to their products in order to alter their appearance, making them look fresher and more appealing for customers. It’s an effective technique that bears its fruits because we always “eat with our eyes” first. We start making choices about favourite colours since childhood and try to apply them to various aspects of our daily life. Neuroscientists claim that this is due to an early association of a positive feedback to a certain colour, so during our life we tend to recreate that comforting feeling by choosing the same colour, which often becomes our favourite one. Kids love coloured food because they can associate an exact colour with their favourite toy, or cartoon character. For example, It’s not rare, during the Italian summer, to witness children happily devouring a “Smurf  gelato”, which is nothing other than a blued dyed vanilla ice cream. Less happily their mothers will struggle to remove those stubborn blue stains from clothes, but this is another story. Anyway, sorry mum!

Gelato Puffo or Smurf Ice cream. @foodspotting

We are the same children, who grow up and change their eating habits for healthier and “more natural” options. We learn the importance of colour in foods as an essential characteristic to judge the freshness of a product, for example we experience the consequences of eating a steak that turned green, and painfully regret we didn’t toss it. Literally. In the meantime, the society we live in has shaped a stable idea about the food we eat, its wide range of colours and the flavour we associate with each one of those shades. In other words we develop a precise idea of what a certain food should taste like based on its appearance in our own cultural context. This is why we are confused, and at times disappointed, when this matching does not happen. Now, try to picture a young woman being tricked by her friends into drinking what looked like a blood orange smoothie. Then imagine her wide-eyed expression when, in a fraction of a second, her tastebuds rapidly experienced the strong sour and salty flavour of Gazpacho.  Yes, that woman shouting at her friends was me.

Yellow watermelon on hungryforchange.tv

Sometimes it can also be fun to see our cultural certainties crumble, like the first time I tried the yellow watermelon. I was visiting a nice Japanese lady in Tokyo, when she brought a beautiful blue ceramic plate with some precisely cut slices of yellow watermelon. Yellow? Thank God, she “couldn’t read my poker face”, but I was seriously puzzled inside. “That melon would have been sour, like every unripe fruit.” My stream of consciousness kept flowing in the few seconds necessary to thank my host and take a slice. A first bite and within a moment I felt so stupid! Because it was even sweeter than the common watermelon I crave every summer. I am sure that without this experience I would have never bought that fruit because of a preconceived idea. The mental association between the colour of a food and the assumption we have about its taste is a field that neuroscientists are still exploring, but recent experiments have revealed some remarkably interesting results. For example, an experiment conducted by the Ohio State University showed how using a red colouring in white wine led the unaware participants to describe the aroma and the flavour of the drink with adjectives belonging to the semantic field of red wine. Colours influence our daily life and even the choice of the food we eat. I am fascinated by the way our brain works, leading us to pick a specific coloured food over another simply because it gives us pleasure. However sometimes the same brain tricks itself and that’s when a new memorable colour related experience is created, whether it is positive or negative. What do you guys think about the influence of colours in the choice of our food? Please let me know in a comment below.

When healthy meets delicious: a chat with Tamara Arbib, founder of Rebel Kitchen.

Last month I was religiously visiting Wholefoods after ages, because it was absolutely necessary to keep myself updated with the latest food trends. So, while I was looking for new drinks, there it was, looking at me: the Rebel Kitchen Matcha Green Tea Mylk.

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Great, I thought, it should be similar to the drink I used to have when I was in Japan, Once again my choices are extremely connected with memories and emotions.

Luckily enough there was a very kind lady who was giving samples of the entire Rebel Kitchen Mylk range to customers, so I took the opportunity to taste them all and also to be informed about their sustainably sourced ingredients and the healthy bits; in fact all drinks are made with coconut milk, meaning dairy free, and are naturally sweetened with date nectar, which makes them ideal for both children and adults.

Ok, but what about the taste? One word: amazing. This is because ingredients are carefully balanced, so there are no overpowering flavours. I confess I have a bias against dates, as I find them too sugary, but in Rebel Kitchen drinks they perfectly blend with the other ingredients without resulting extremely sweet.

Healthy and delicious almost never go together in the same sentence, but these two adjectives truthfully sum up the characteristics of Rebel Kitchen Drinks.

I felt the necessity to know more, so I did some research and I contacted Rebel Kitchen’s founder, Tamara Arbib who kindly agreed to answer my questions:

Q: I read you came up with the idea of producing your coconut based drinks because you were desperately looking for healthy and appealing alternatives to feed your children, but it does not really happen every day to start company on these basis. What convinced you to do make this step?

A: I’ve always been passionate about food and nutrition and my husband and I set up a charitable foundation called the A team foundation to help support and promote this goal. After 5 years within the space it was crystal clear we needed to show that health can be achieved not only through charitable endeavours but also through a business channel.

Q: “It’s important to drink milk because it makes you grow up stronger” I remember my mother kept telling me these words for years, so what would you say to those mothers like mine who would fear rebel drinks cannot compare because of their dairy free nature?

A: I think that coconut milk is tremendously nutritious and provides other nutrients in the form of MFC (medium fatty chain acids like lauric acid) that promote brain function and support the metabolism. Coconut milk is an antiviral and anti-fungal. You can get calcium from other plant based sources such a dark leafy greens. Nutrition and growing up strong can be achieved through a diet of whole and unprocessed foods. Milk is not a necessity past the baby stage.

Q: Did you invent and test the recipes yourself? Can you explain the entire process, from the idea to actualisation of those recipes?

A: Yes we did! in the rebel kitchen! I cannot tell you more as that would give our secrets away! hehe!

Q: I see you have a Coming Soon section regarding snacks on Rebel Kitchen’s website. Any anticipation?

A: I have a lot of ideas and the list is long…you’ll have to wait and see! We don’t want to rush and we have a lot to do with the mylks first!

Oh, I will wait for sure, maybe while sipping my favourite Rebel Drink!

 

Click here to know where you can find Rebel Kitchen Drinks near you.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Rebel Drinks and I purchased the product myself for personal use unless otherwise noted. My opinion is completely honest and based on my own experience.

 

And now in Italian

Il mese scorso sono andata in “pellegrinaggio” da Wholefoods dopo secoli che mancavo, perché dovevo assolutamente tenermi aggiornata su tutte le ultime tendenze in fatto di cibo. Così, mentre cercavo nuove bevande, c’era lui, che dal banco frigorifero, mi attirava intensamente: il Rebel Kitchen Matcha Green Tea Mylk.

Perfetto, ho pensato, dovrebbe essere simile al latte al tè verde che bevevo in Giappone. Ancora una volta le mie scelte gastronomiche sono state fatte in funzione dei miei ricordi e delle mie emozioni.

Per fortuna c’era una signora molto gentile che stava facendo provare ai clienti l’intera linea Rebel Kitchen, così ho colto l’occasione per assaggiare tutti i loro drink e per essere informata riguardo gli ingredienti da agricoltura sostenibile e le loro proprietà benefiche. Tutte le bevande sono fatte con latte di cocco, ottimo per gli intolleranti al lattosio, e sono naturalmente dolcificate con sciroppo di datteri. Praticamente sono ideali per adulti e bambini.

Ok, ma il sapore è buono? Sì, incredibilmente buono. Questo perché gli ingredienti sono magistralmente equilibrati, quindi non ci sono sapori che prevalgono prepotentemente. Confesso che sono un po’ prevenuta contro i datteri, in quanto li trovo troppo zuccherini per i miei gusti, ma in queste bevande si fondono perfettamente con gli altri ingredienti, senza che il risultato finale sia estremamente dolce.

Sano e buono sono due aggettivi che quasi mai troviamo nella stessa frase, ma riassumono fedelmente la descrizione delle bevande Rebel Kitchen.

Dovevo assolutamente saperne di più, così ho fatto qualche ricerca e ho contattato il CEO Rebel Kitchen, Tamara Arbib, che ha gentilmente accettato di rispondere alle mie domande:

D: Ho letto che hai avuto l’idea di produrre le tue bevande a base di cocco perché eri disperatamente alla ricerca di una bevanda sana e, allo stesso tempo, invitante da dare ai tuoi figli. Non capita spesso di avviare un’ azienda su queste basi. Cosa ti ha convinta a fare questo passo molto importante?

R: Sono sempre stata appassionata di cibo e nutrizione,  per questo ho creato con mio marito una fondazione di beneficenza chiamato A Team per contribuire a sostenere e promuovere questo obiettivo. Dopo 5 anni dopo, era chiaro che dovessimo impegnarci per dimostrare che le sane abitudini possono essere instaurate non solo attraverso opere di carità, ma anche attraverso un canale di business.

D: “E’ importante bere latte perché ti fa crescere forte”. Ricordo che mia madre continuava a dirmi queste parole per anni, quindi cosa vorresti dire a quelle madri come la mia che potrebbero non essere convinte dalle tue bevande poiché non contengono latte?

R: Penso che il latte di cocco sia estremamente nutriente e fornisca altri nutrienti sotto forma di MFC (acidi grassi a catena medio come l’acido laurico) che promuovono le funzioni cerebrali e aumentano il metabolismo. In più, il latte di cocco è un antivirale e antimicotico. È possibile ottenere il calcio da altre fonti vegetali, come le verdure a foglia scura. Crescere forti e ben nutriti può essere possibile attraverso una dieta composta da cibi integrali e non processati. Il latte non è una necessità oltre la fase dell’infanzia.

D: Hai inventato e testato le ricette da sola? Potresti spiegare l’intero processo, dall’idea alla realizzazione?

R: Sì, l’abbiamo fatto! Nella Rebel Kitchen! Non posso dirti di più perché dovrei rivelare i nostri segreti! hehe!

D: Vedo che sul sito di Rebel Kitchen hai una sezione “Coming Soon” riferita a degli snack. Ci dai qualche anticipazione?

R: Ho tantissime idee e la lista è lunga … dovrete aspettare e vedere! Non vogliamo correre e abbiamo ancora tanto da fare per la linea Mylk!

Certo, aspetterò di sicuro, magari sorseggiando il mio Rebel Drink preferito!

Trovate i drink Rebel Kitchen da Wholefoods, Waitrose ed altre catene del Regno Unito (Clicca qui per sapere dove). Il sito ha una sezione shop che, per ora, spedisce solo nel Regno Unito, ma l’azienda si sta attrezzando anche per le spedizioni internazionali.

Disclaimer: Non sono in alcun modo legata all’azienda citata in questo post e ho acquistato personalmente il prodotto. Il contenuto del post riflette solo e soltanto la mia opinione e la mia esperienza del prodotto.

Florence on a budget: some of the best cheap eats in town

Fiorenza

Before Easter holidays I was lucky enough to go back Florence for a couple of days, enough to realise how much I missed it.

During the years I spent studying in Rome, I used to go to Florence once a month to visit my partner, but at that time I couldn’t really appreciate the city and all it had to offer, mainly because I was a penniless student trying to get her degree as soon as possible. For the records, I’m still broke, but that’s another story.

Anyway my philosophy is that it’s still possible to travel and get the best of our holidays even on a budget, even when it comes to food. It’s fundamental to know exactly what to look for, and I’m here to tell you.

Schiacciata all’olio – this is the typical focaccia made in Florence: extra virgin olive oil and salt flakes create a crispy texture on the outside, while maintaining a warm and soft inside. The ideal would be to enjoy your schiacciata with cured meats, but I like it on its own and it seems I’m not the only one. You can find the best schiacciata in Florence at Pugi, a central bakery in Piazza San Marco. This one was 1.60 euro.

schiaccia

Lampredotto: the florentine street food par excellence. We are basically talking about tripe, but, to be more specific, it’s the fourth bovine stomach which is boiled with tomato, onion, celery and parsley. Then it’s served either on its own with salsa verde or in a sandwich. It may sound outrageous to many Florentines but I can’t stand chewy meat, therefore no tripe for me. Luckily for you guys, I can show you how lampredotto looks like because my partner loves it, so we could take a portion at one of the most famous Lampredottaio/Trippaio stalls around the city. This one is from Pollini, via de’ Macci, costed 3 euros.

Lampredottaio

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Panini and a glass of wine at I Fratellini, via dei Cimatori 38. Hearty snack or aperitif before dinner? look no further. This tiny shop has an extensive list of panini whose price is 3 euros. My suggestion is either goat cheese and sundried tomatoes or smoked ham with truffle sauce. Top it off with a glass of house wine and you’ll be happy for a total expense of 5 euros.

Did you have too much already? ok then, have a walk the Mercato Centrale (piazza del Mercato Centrale), you won’t get fat by looking at all the excellent produce, but your wallet might get slim.

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Wild boar prosciutto

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Calves’ hooves. Yes, they are edible.

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Oh, and don’t be greedy, buy something for your family and friends and relax because the amazing staff at L’angolo dei sapori will take care of shipping your precious Chianti back home.

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Wow, is it lunch time already? time to go to Trattoria Mario. This place is one of the best in Florence but you have to patient because they don’t accept reservations, so be prepared to queue. Due to its fame the place itself is always full and cramped, so you’ll have to share your table with strangers, but I assure you, you won’t regret being there, because the food is totally worth it. Tourists and some locals tend to go for bistecca alla fiorentina (florentine style steak), but my advice would be to avoid it for its gigantic size (usually starting from 900 gr.) and the price which should be around 35 euros per kg.

My partner and I shared two main courses: penne with duck sauce, tagliata steak with slightly pickled onions and two glasses of the house wine. Full and satisfied for 12 euros per person. Oh, they only accept cash, so have some at your fingertips.

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Penne with duck sauce

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Tagliata steak with onions.

Trattoria Mario, via Rosina R.

Yes, ok, but what about dessert, you may ask. Luckily enough, Florence has many excellent Gelaterie whose gelato is tremendous. My favourite one is Perché no!, via dei tavolini 19, because you can taste a genuine gelato made with the best products. 2 euros.

Pistachio and Tiramisu mousse.

Pistachio and Tiramisu mousse.

Perché No! via dei Tavolini 19R.

Time to go back home, but before catching the train it’s better to have something to eat, as I tend to be very hungry on public transports. I recommend the stuffed focaccia called “la favolosa” at All’antico vinaio. For 5 euros you get a huge schiacciata bread with pecorino cheese sauce, artichoke sauce, sbriciolona salami and sautéd aubergine. One word: divine!

Look at the queue.

Look at the queue.

All’antico vinaio, via dei Neri 74.

You’ll be so satisfied on your way back that you’ll already think about the next time you’ll visit Florence again.

 

And now in Italian.

Prima di Pasqua ho avuto la fortuna di tornare a Firenze per un paio di giorni, abbastanza per rendermi conto di quanto mi mancasse.

Negli anni in cui studiavo a Roma, andavo a Firenze una volta al mese per passare un po’ di tempo con il mio compagno che viveva lì, ma credo che in quel periodo non abbia davvero apprezzato appieno la città e tutto quello che aveva da offrire. Più che altro, perché ero una studentessa con pochi soldi che passava tutto il suo tempo a studiare per poter arrivare prima possibile alla laurea. Per la cronaca, non sono ancora diventata milionaria, ma questa è un’altra storia.

Comunque, la mia filosofia è che è ancora possibile viaggiare e godersi la vita anche con mezzi economici limitati. Anche quando si tratta di mangiare fuori. E’ fondamentale sapere esattamente cosa cercare, e io sono qui per darvi qualche consiglio su come mangiare bene a Firenze senza spendere un patrimonio che non avete.

Schiacciata all’olio – E’ la focaccia tipica di Firenze. Olio extravergine d’oliva e fiocchi di sale creano una texture croccante all’esterno, pur mantenendo l’ interno morbido e buonissimo. L’ideale sarebbe quello di gustarvi la schiacciata con dei salumi tipici, ma a me piace da sola e sembra che sia sono l’unica in città. A mio parere la migliore schiacciata di Firenze si può trovare da Pugi, la panetteria centrale in Piazza San Marco. Prezzo: 1.60 euro.

Lampredotto: il cibo di strada fiorentino per eccellenza. Stiamo parlando di trippa ma per essere più precisi, si tratta del quarto stomaco, chiamato abomaso. Questo viene bollito con pomodoro, cipolla, sedano e prezzemolo e servito sia da solo con salsa verde o in un panino. Può sembrare una bestemmia per molti fiorentini, ma non sopporto la consistenza gommosa, quindi non c’è trippa per me. Fortunatamente per voi, posso  mostrarvi come è fatto il lampredotto, poiché il mio compagno adora questo piatto, e così abbiamo preso una porzione da uno dei più famosi Lampredottai / Trippaio nella città. Quello in foto è di Pollini, via de’ Macci. Prezzo: 3 euro.

Panino e bicchiere di vino da I Fratellini. Uno spuntino sostanzioso? o un aperitivo prima di cena? I Fratellini è il posto per voi. Questo piccolo negozio ha una lunga lista di panini che vi faranno venire l’acquolina in bocca, a 3 euro l’uno. Il mio suggerimento è caprino e pomodori secchi o prosciutto affumicato con salsa al tartufo. Ovviamente accompagnatelo con un bicchiere di vino della casa e sarete felici e soddisfatti con soli 5 euro. Chi l’ha detto che la felicità costa cara?

I Fratellini, via dei Cimatori 38

Ne avete abbastanza? ok, allora smaltite il tutto con una passeggiata al Mercato Centrale (piazza del Mercato Centrale). Fortunatamente, guardare tutti quei prodotti eccellenti sui banchi del mercato non fa ingrassare, ma sarà il vostro portafoglio a dimagrire. Eh già, non fate i tirchi, comprate qualcosa per i vostri cari che vi aspettano a casa! Il mio consiglio? con vino e salumi non sbagliate mai. A meno che non siate musulmani.

Ma è già ora di pranzo? Allora si va alla Trattoria Mario. Questo posto è uno dei migliori di Firenze, ma dovete essere pazienti perché non accettano prenotazioni, quindi preparatevi a fare una lunga fila. Grazie alla sua fama meritatissima, il locale è sempre pieno, quindi dovrete condividere il tavolo con degli sconosciuti, ma vi assicuro che non ve ne pentirete, perché vale la pena.

La scelta più gettonata, specialmente dai turisti, è la bistecca alla fiorentina, ma io consiglierei di evitare, sia per le sue dimensioni gigantesche (di solito a partire da 900 gr.), sia per il prezzo che si aggira intorno ai 35 euro al kg.

Io e il mio compagno abbiamo preso due generose portate e ce le siamo divise: penne con sugo d’anatra, tagliata con cipolle e due bicchieri di vino della casa. Sazi e soddisfatti per 12 euro a persona. Ah, un’ultima cosa da tenere presente: si accettano solo contanti, perciò fate in modo da averne a portata di mano.

Trattoria Mario, via Rosina 2R, angolo con piazza del Mercato Centrale.

Sì, va bene, ma il dolce? A Firenze ci sono molte Gelaterie che producono un gelato eccezionale. Il mio preferito è quello del Perchè no!, perché al primo assaggio è possibile capire che siamo lontani anni luce dalle polverine chimiche, a favore di materie prime di altissima qualità. Il tutto per 2 euro.

Perché no! via dei Tavolini 19R.

Sfortunatamente è già ora di tornare a casa, ma prima di prendere il treno è meglio avere qualcosa da mangiare, non so perché ma quando viaggio mi viene una fame pazzesca. Il mio consiglio è la focaccia ripiena “la favolosa ” da All’Antico Vinaio. Con 5 euro abbiamo un gran bel pezzo di schiacciata con salsa al pecorino, salsa ai carciofi, salame sbriciolona e melanzane saltate. In una sola parola: divino!

All’Antico Vinaio, via dei Neri 74.

Sulla vostra via verso casa sarete così soddisfatti che penserete già a quando tornerete di nuovo Firenze .