Sunday, October 31

Travel Series Part 2: I ate Shrek's best friend

Editor's Note: I apologize in advance for how huge these pictures are. Hopefully everyone's computers can load them properly. I am trying out some new blogging platforms and this one made them gigantic. I'm sure you're wondering why I went ahead and just posted it anyway without actually fixing them...well it's complicated, you see. or maybe I'm just lazy. or maybe I'm hoping you'll print one out and hang me on your wall. Who knows. Also, I had to be selective in how many pictures I uploaded or else I'd give everyone carpal tunnel syndrome from all the scrolling down you'd have to do. The rest are in my Picasa album: here you go!

Before we delve into the beauty and splendor of Italy and the stories about the thirteen bottles of wine Sean and I drank while there (ohhhhh yes we did), let's just get something out of the way...

I ate Shrek's best friend. in a ravioli with black truffle oil. It was delicious. Sorry, I'm not sorry.

(source) Don't give me that look. It's not going to work on me, guys. When it comes to my food, there is no shame in this girl's game.

So please, go ahead and put down your whale blubber and pick up your pasta forks, Travel Series Part 2 is going to be a food and beverage tour through our time in Italy, because let's be honest...old buildings and churches are cool and all, but when you envision Italy you think about the red wine and gourmet cheeses with a loaf of freshly baked bread and the crepes filled with nutella and gelato. At least I do. I dream about them. Sometimes Sean even has to put a rubber mat under my pillow to catch all the drool.

We spent the majority of our time in Venice. The canals and ambiance of this sinking city are something to be seen. I cannot express enough just how beautiful I thought Venice was. Our flight into Italy was later in the day so by the time we had checked into the hotel and settled in, it was already 10pm. Luckily, Sean had made reservations for dinner along the Canal beforehand so away we went.

To be honest, the dinner here was just so-so. It was incredibly overpriced and had several sneaky charges for things like "cover charge", water, bread, etc. We realized later that most of the restaurants directly on the canal are tourist traps...but at that point we didn't care that the wine cost 20 euro more than it should've, we were drunk with sheer excitement just to be there.

Our first day in Venice was also the last day of Carnivale, so of course we had to partake in some local customs. Drink beer on the streets? While wearing a ridiculously cool mask? Fiiiiiiine, if it's what they do, I guess I'll do it.

Can you imagine how excited Sean was when he found this Guinness guy? He didn't speak a word of English, but Sean was so enamored I worried I'd be sleeping on the floor that night.

After a day of sightseeing, my last stop was to Harry's. They are famous for inventing the Bellini and more so for their infamous clientele.

Rumors had it that Angelina and Brad Pitt were staying at the hotel the bar was in so I was on a mission to find them. While I cannot stand Angelia Jolie, I certainly wasn't about to turn down a chance to bump into Mr. Pitt. Besides, Sean had already left me for the guy in the Guinness costume anyway.

I asked these guys if they wanted to come and stalk Brad with me, but for some reason they said no? Rude.

Sean and I made it a habit at the end of each day to make sure we relaxed. and by relax I mean drink either a bottle of prosecco or red wine before dinner. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

This would be the cup holder in our bathroom. We concluded that the reasons Italians are in such good health and always so happy is because they only drink red wine and nothing else. Water? who needs water?

One night we went to dinner at this suuuuuper fancy-schmancy restaurant near San Marco Piazza.

Apparently, being able to charge $50 for a plate of pasta doesn't mean you know how to take a good picture. But hey! look, more wine! I wasn't kidding about the thirteen bottle business. This restaurant was too stuffy for us though. We were the youngest people in there by at least 20 years.

The next day was our last one so we decided to spend the day wandering in and out the alley ways and canals. We tossed aside the tourist guides and hoped to stumble upon some of Venice's hidden gems on our own.

Mission accomplished!

This place. Ohhhhh this little square of heaven. When I die, please just bury me underneath the cobblestones of this piazza so when people spill their champagne or drop their chocolate, it will be mine for all of eternity.

Those would be crepes, filled with delicious things like chocolate, caramelized bananas, and oranges soaked in grand marnier. Do you understand now why I want to spend my afterlife here? I could eat chocolate and never get fat!

After this amazing lunch experience (yep, we had chocolate crepes and champagne for lunch. If we were like Kayne West in Iceland, well we were hitting up Italy P.Diddy style), we didn't know what dinner would have in store for us. Our restaurant ventures in Italy so far were like the 3 Little Pigs. First one was too touristy, the second was too stuffy, we needed one that was juuuust right.

Enter: Taverna San Lio. A place of magic. A place of magic, and romance, and a cheese board that could make a grown man cry.

We were two happy little pigs. I don't have any more pictures from this dinner unfortunately. Sean and I were having a fantastic time and I didn't want to spoil it by pulling out the camera and asking him to pose with his pasta...but rest assured it was phenomenal. I will let you in on a secret though, only if you promise never to tell Sean I told you (or tell my parents because they'd probably just shake their heads in shame) but we had so much wine that night at dinner Sean was convinced he could feel the water under the floor moving beneath us. I had to remind him, several times, this restaurant wasn't on the canal and nowhere near water. You can be rest assured though we soaked up a lot of that red wine with the creme brule we had for dessert.

I'm sure by now you are wondering: but what about the donkey? I get it Marie, you're a wino, hurry up and get to the good stuff. Well, after Venice, Sean and I headed to Verona. During my research of restaurants in the city, Osteria da Ugo restaurant kept popping up on my radar. I scanned their website and started reading about their specialities:
The Osteria da Ugo uses in season and fresh products only. Among our specialities you will find the unique Selections of local Cheeses and Cold Cuts and, as entrées, the Ravioli filled with Stewed Donkey Meat

jigga what?! Now, I love me some ravioli. I've never met a plate of pasta I didn't like, (Hello, fat years of college!) but this was pushing it a bit too far. Of course, I immediately forwarded the description to Sean daring him to eat it when we went. For months all we joked about was Stewed Donkey Meat...but the question remained: would either of us have the, ahem, guts to order it.

The day had come, we arrived at the restaurant to meet our fate.

This restaurant was adorable. Sadly, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside. I'm pretty sure if we tried an old Italian guy would've come out of the kitchen and used us for the ravioli instead of poor Donkey so you'll have to roll with my verbal visualizations instead. (While you're at it, can you imagine me about 5lbs thinner and with Kim Kardashian's hair? Thanks)

Menus in hand, Sean and I looked at each other with uncertainty. No one would ever know if we didn't do it. We could go back to the States, brag about conquering the donkey meat, and no one'd ever be the wiser. But alas, we'd know. In our heart of hearts, it just wouldn't be with an affirming nod, Sean ordered Ravioli with Stewed Donkey Meat per due per favore . The minutes ticked by mercilessly as we waited for our donkey dinner destiny to arrive at our table. At last, our waiter rounded the corner and by the smirk on his face, I just knew it was ours. As the plate sat before me, I studied it from all angles, searching for the ravioli with the least amount of stewage among them. If this thing tasted like I imagined it would, I wanted as little of it as possible. Finally, the moment had come. With a clink of our forks and promises to love each other no matter what happened, we opened up and took a bite...

wait a that black truffle oil in there? and parmesean? are these ravioli's homemade by that same old scary Italian guy I thought was going to kill us earlier? THEY ARE?! Oh man, these are freaking delicious. I've already finished all of mine, can I have a few bites of yours? You're seriously NOT going to share any of yours with me? But it's so so so good!

and THAT friends, is how I ate my first donkey. It is also a great story on why women are so awesome. Who else can vehemently hate something for no reason, only to completely change their opinion and eventually take all credit for it's deliciousness? I can. You know why? Two thing little things I like to call women's intuition and a woman's prerogative to change her mind...and really, who needs balls and beer nuts when you can have red wine and PMS-induced dessert binges instead? Please, go forth and spread the message. or go eat some stewed children's movie character. do whatever you'd like...after all it's your prerogative.

In case you missed it...Travel Series Part 1: Viking Strippers

Up next...Travel Series Part 3: Guinness is next to Godliness


Kate said...

We really should have gone to Italy together. When Curt and I reminisce about our honeymoon, the topic is always the wine. The bottle in our room at check-in (free wine? SCORE!), the numerous glasses of wine for breakfast in Venice because the owner was pouring himself a glass, so why not join in? Oh how I long to live in Italy...

Kat said...

That cheese plate was BEYOND beautiful. I'm a little bit obsessed.

Marie said...

yes yes and yesssss to both comments. I love Italy so much! I want to go back so badly!

Caitlin said...

The shot of you walking along the water, arms stretched, is GORGEOUS. Seriously. I want your life. The end.

Lauren Day said...

your pictures make me jealous!! oh how i'd love to visit all these amazing places!

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