Friday, August 28, 2009

Dollar Chinese Food!??!?!

a huge WTF goes out to Wok Inn Wok Out in the beautiful tacoma suburb of lakewood, wa. does this place look good to anyone? i know the economy isn't so sweet right now, but i hear the dollar menu at mcdonald's might be a safer bet.

i don't know about you, but i'm not about to try this hellish looking den of chinese iniquity. however, on urbanspoon, they're sitting steady at a 60% like rating. a huge WTF indeed.

anyone been here?!?

Wok Inn-Wok Out on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 15, 2009

andiamo agli supermercati!

i love food. that should be pretty obvious, so it follows that one of my favorite parts of traveling is perusing the supermarket, finding similarities and curious products. the best part about roman supermercati is that even large, corp-esque places carry farm-fresh products.

when we first arrived at our apartamento, we went for a short stroll around the block to check out our environs. we needed a fuse because M blew one with his computer by our first evening a roma! it was pretty amazing that we found a lighting/electric shop just around the corner and bought a 10-pack of fuses for .50euro. just across the street from the lighting shop was a small alimentari which i can't seem to remember the name of.

it was around 7 when we went shopping, so they were pretty close to shutting down shop. it was much larger and cavernous than i expected, and we picked up some great items. i decided to make artichoke & ricotta ravioli with a zucchini/tomato/alici (pickled sardines)/olivi/pecorino sauce. not bad. not bad.

as you can see, we also picked up some mirtilli e cereali (blueberry & cereal grains) yogurt, salame, chili flakes, coca liiiiiight, acqua frizzante, and some canned tonno. tuna in italy is the bomb. you can pick up a generic brand like rio mare (equiv to chx of the sea), and it tastes absolutely different in the most amazing way. the fish is brinier, firmer, just amazing. M even emailed the rio mare website after we returned to ask if they distributed to the US, but unfortunately, they DON'T. BAH!!!

standa is a supermarket franchise found all over italy. their website isn't that great (as are most italian sites), but it is convenient for looking up weekly specials and discounts. when i lived in rome, standa was my savior. it was the closest one-stop-shop to my apartment, and an experience all it's own. above standa on viale trastevere is a small clothing store (oviesse) and a profumeria (limoni) which sells cosmetics, perfume, and all sorts of other bath products.

back to the good stuff. a few years ago, birra wasn't as chic in rome. everyone drank wine, especially at home, and only drank beer at english-style pubs and occasionally during lunch on a hot day. now birra is a popular at-home and in-the-streets beverage, so standa stocks more than peroni and moretti. heineken and guinness are quite popular.

now onto the "ethnic foods" aisle. this is hilarious. why doesn't uncle ben just stick to what he knows: rice?!?? salsa? really beezy?

there was actually a whole section of "il tehx-mehx" at standa. tortilla chips were a total shock to me.

we brought back quite a few bags from standa. that package of pachino tomatoes was a real prize. they were perfectly sweet and ripe right out of the store. that's the most annoying thing about buying produce from american supermarkets: you always have to wait a couple days for items to ripen. not in italy. mmm. more tonno, surprise. M got some latte fresco (fresh milk) which is something like 1-2%. they don't really classify their milk by percentage like we do. it's more like fresco, whole (integrale), and cream. there's a little box of latte soia in there, too.

these were winners. little cherry peppers stuffed with tuna, sardines, and giant capers in olive oil. holy crap. we went back a couple days later and they were out. boo.

and my favorite italian beverage, aranciata without added sugars. it's so good and light. mmm. i wish they had it here. the san pellegrino aranciata just isn't the same. it's too sweet and overly-carbonated for my taste.

this item was a curious crap shoot: black olive-flavored tuna paste. it was pretty good on rosemary crackers, but the little bit of grey, separated liquid that squirts out first isn't the most appetizing.

yet another trip to standa....this time we brought home some fizzy grapefruit soda, icky, bland pretzels, bread for breakfast toast, pickled artichoke hearts, fresh burro from campagna, little fresh mozz balls, white chocolate (that was actually quite waxy compared to the cheap, hershey's equivalent galak bar i had the day before), and my obsession, milk/choc-hazelnut spread.

man, there's nothing like fresh, local butter. it was so deliciously creamy and bright. wow. ps, i love butter. M and all of my friends can validate this.

lamberto, the apartment owner's son, in his brief introduction to the neighborhood, told us that just outside the portone (big front door of the building) there was a store full of "strange things for foreigners." he spoke amazing english (his gf's from nyc), but in italian, foreigner = straniero = strange. anyhow, the little store did not disappoint, and in fact, had quite the stock of "strange" items.

aren't these old el paso kits ridiculous? i love it. good ole betty crocker found her mexican way to italy.

who doesn't love patak's? M and i adore their mango pickles with rice and lentils. it's nice to know that if i ever move to italia, i can get my indian fix at home. there are actually quite a few excellent indian and middle eastern/north african restaurants in the city because of the immigrant population. i love that kind of unexpected diversity.

a few french maionese-based sauces. i should have checked the ingredient list on the americaine...i wonder what kind of crap they think we eat.

okay, i'm totally guilty. i thought this blackface packaging for these nougat candies was ridiculous. it's interesting how afro-italians don't feel the same racist-tinglies an american might seeing this.

i think this pretty much sums up that store for foreigners: american nutty. italians never eat peanut butter. you will absolutely not find it in any supermarket because they eat nutella or butter or jam on toast. this ground peanut confection is completely "strange" to them. why is it such an important part of our cultural identity?

muy bonito

while wandering around in the upper medieval town of sperlonga, i turned a corner and saw this amazing sign. unfortunately, m. wasn't in the mood for a hot dog (too hot, sweaty, and humid), but after looking at the pictures, he wished he did.

talk about suicide food...this guy looks happy as a(n ivar's) clam catching some rays in his bun. i want his sunglasses. very hot right now.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

pub 66: snack time!

good lord, i have no excuse for such a lapse in posts!! sometimes life seems overwhelming, but then i realize it's just a food blog. breathe. not that serious. cool? cool.

not surprisingly, there's more from italy.

after 3-4 hours of walking around in the convection inferno lovingly known as "rome," M and i decided to find a shady spot to cool down with a beverage, snack, and good, old-fashioned sitting. we had spent the majority of the morning roaming around the via del corso, which is rome's major shopping district. it's peculiarly long, straight, and wide; tracing a medieval horse racing course and spanning from piazza venezia to piazza del popolo.

long. straight. wide. these all seem like normal characteristics of a road, but not in rome. there are about a million short, serpentine vicoli (small streets) barely wide enough for a moto to pass through.

but enough with the histography lesson, back to snack time! after wandering around the tiny off-shoots of via del corso, we finally chose pub66, a small, unassuming, but popular little...well, pub. we sat al fresco at a small, wooden table covered by a shade-bestowing ombrellone. this little spot was perfectly secluded so that we didn't hear a lot of street noise, but enjoyed watching all the pedestrian activity.

to start: acqua frizzante (naturally lightly fizzy) and a coca liiiiiiiiight. i swear to god, you have to say it that way. it's just how you pronounce "light" in italiano. even M started ordering it that way.

this ridiculous pub had long island iced teas on the menu, so M had to try one out of sheer curiosity. how do they know what goes in a long island in rome? mixed drinks aren't really popular there...except mojitos. M's verdict: gross.

since we weren't that hungry and didn't want to spoil our dinner appetites, we decided to split a foccacia italiana, which was a toasty, chewy, thin bread topped with thick cuts of uncured parma ham, ruchetta (arugula/rocket), mozzarella di bufala, and pachino (small, sweet tomatoes). i just pushed the ham off to M's side and worked on the cheese/tomato/rocket/olive oil. it was pretty good. and damn good for a restaurant in the tourist zone. it's tough to go wrong with all fresh, local ingredients. that's the crux of roman cooking. everything's fresh. everything's locally farmed. on in-season produce is served. damn, i miss that.

M said the meat was kind of gross because it was so thick...and much like eating large cuts of raw flesh. sounds like sushi to me, which we all know is the shit. so what's his problem!??!

pub66 was a nice find in an area full of restaurants and cafes that rely on proximity to popular tourist sites rather than good quality food and service. i'm super picky and was pretty bummed to be caught on the via del corso looking for a place to eat that wouldn't enrage me. thanks for the lunch and couple-hour-coolout, pub66. perhaps we'll meet again.

unfortunately i don't remember the exact street pub66 was on, but it was very near la Galleria Alberto Sordi, the closest thing to a mall rome has. it was basically west across via del corso from G.A.S. on a small vicolo.