Travel: Bologna & Modena

IMG_2953My love affair with Italy started in high school, when my family traveled there for a week. We stayed in Siena and Vernazza in the Cinque Terre, and I was immediately hooked. After that trip, I vowed to learn Italian and go back for a longer stay–and I did. I studied abroad in Bologna during college, and grew to love the language and the culture even more. Ari studied abroad there as well (we actually met when we were both TA’s for an intro Italian class when I came back), so it’s a very special place for both of us–and we were really excited to go back together.

When I lived there, we lived in pretty basic dorm-style apartments with other Italian students–not exactly the fresco-filled palazzos of your dreams. This time, we decided to stay in an Airbnb on the other side of town to explore a new neighborhood (it was fantastic! Paola was so gracious and lovely, and the place was very comfortable.) Bologna is a very walkable city–you can get from one end to the other in about an hour and a half, and there are electric buses that go all over as well. It’s still very much a university town, and you can feel the energy of the students all over the city. It was pretty amazing to be back in the familiar streets, seeing the same restaurants and stores (and bars) that we had been to as students. Of course, now with jobs and a little more spending money, we could also eat out more–though I remember eating very well there on a minimal budget too. Here’s where we ate:

Osteria della Lanterna

Just down the street from our Airbnb, this trattoria felt like the quintessential Italian neighborhood spot. We ordered two of the Bolognese specialties: tagliatelle al ragu and tortelloni al brodo, both delicious. I love that you could order ragu from 100 different restaurants in the city, and they would all be slightly different. They also had a great selection of inexpensive, local wines–we had a lovely sangiovese from Emilia-Romagna that went perfectly with the pasta.

Trattoria dal Biassanot 

This place was a recommendation from a former professor, and it didn’t disappoint. I had gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and Ari had the tortelloni al brodo (are you seeing a pattern?) and we shared the pork loin. If you’re looking for a perfect example of Bolognese cuisine, this is an excellent choice.

IMG_3039Hosteria Giusti

This tiny restaurant is in the neighboring town of Modena (about 20 minutes away by train) and is absolutely worth the trip. Housed in the back of a salumeria, it’s only open for lunch and the curated menu is perfectly executed by the Morandi family. Be sure to order the salumi plate with fried gnocchi–the prosciutto, salami and lardo is the best I have ever had, and the light-as-air pillows of dough were incredible. You can also order half portions (as to be able to try more things, of course) which left us feeling pleasantly full but not over-stuffed. Note: you need to make a reservation about a month in advance, so plan ahead.

Don’t miss: in addition to the incredible pasta, Bologna is also known for a few other specialties: piadine and aperitivo. I ate a piadina almost every day for lunch while studying abroad–it’s a kind of flatbread sandwich, typically filled with prosciutto or coppa and cheese. Aperitivo happens every day before dinner–remember, Italians eat dinner around 9 pm or later, so their “happy hour” is anywhere from 6 pm to 10 pm. Around this time, you’ll see restaurants and bars set out little plates of food, ranging from a bowl of potato chips to full plates of pasta. If you buy a drink (an Aperol or Campari spritz if you want to feel very Bolognese), then you can snack on the food as you like.

Travel: Bologna & Modena

Kale Caesar Salad Remixed


IMG_3687Kale salad has become pretty ubiquitous recently (I blame it on Bon Appétit calling it the best restaurant dish of the year a few years ago) but I still love it. My current favorite iteration is a take on the traditional Caesar, with plenty of crunchy greens, a lemony dressing with lots of umami flavor from the anchovies, and (the best part) a runny poached egg instead of mixing the eggs in the dressing.

IMG_3690Since kale can be a little tough to swallow (literally), I love cutting it in ribbons like a slaw to make it easier to grab with a fork and bite. You could also easily add a different protein like chicken or salmon for a heartier meal, but as-is, this makes a pretty lovely lunch.

IMG_3684Also, some news! Ari and I are leaving for Bologna, Italy (where we both studied abroad in college) and Nice, France this afternoon! It’s the first time I’m going back to Italy since studying there, and I can’t wait. We’ll be back on the 26th, and I’ll report back on restaurants, gelato, and all of the pizza–and I’m planning on writing a bit more about moving across the country and adjusting to a new city. IMG_3692

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Kale Caesar Salad Remixed

End-of-Summer Peach Galette

IMG_3613Summer is my favorite season. I love the sweltering days leading into still-warm nights, the smell of sunscreen, and of course, all of the incredible produce summer has to offer. And my favorite of all of those wonderful fruits and vegetables are peaches. In New York, peaches had a pretty short growing season (July and August) and I would eat one pretty much every single day.

IMG_3605I’m still getting used to the idea that here in California, there aren’t really seasons–at least, not in the way that I’m used to them. The idea that it could be around 60 degrees in January boggles my mind (what do people talk about when they can’t walk about the weather??) But one thing I will definitely be able to get used to is the amazing produce all year-round–and I can’t say that I’ll miss only being able to buy apples and root vegetables for six months of the year.

IMG_3614I made this galette last week when Ari’s family came over for dinner–I love galettes because you get all of the flavor of pie but without the hassle of making a double crust or worrying about shaping the dough exactly right (plus, I don’t have a pie tin.) I’m loving our new kitchen too (and the fact that it’s a separate room! And there’s a DISHWASHER! If you’ve ever lived in New York, you know that’s not something to be taken lightly.) We’re still getting settled into our new little cottage, but it’s really starting to feel like home.

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End-of-Summer Peach Galette

Sesame Noodles

IMG_3548Oh, hello there. It’s been a while. And a lot has happened since my last post–I’m officially a California resident (not used to it yet), we moved into an apartment and bought a car (my first!) All very exciting, but one of the things I was most excited about when we found our place (which was a process, as anyone who’s looked for housing in the Bay Area recently knows) was the fact that I could cook again. After staying with very generous family and friends for more than six weeks, you can bet that I was anxious to get back in the kitchen, and the first thing I made when we were moved in were these sesame noodles.


Sesame noodles were my go-to order from our local Chinese takeout in Brooklyn, and I haven’t found a place in Oakland (yet) that makes the same kind–so when I found this recipe from the New York Times, it seemed to perfect to pass up.


These noodles come together in minutes and satisfied my craving for takeout Chinese exactly–now I just have to learn how to make scallion pancakes and I’ll be all set.


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Sesame Noodles


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You might have noticed the radio silence around here (and distinct lack of recipe posts.) There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) no one wants to cook in New York in the summer and 2) we’re moving! To Oakland!

We’re finally out of our place in Brooklyn (which was covered in boxes for weeks) and I’m finishing things up at work in New York this week, then heading west this weekend. Unfortunately I don’t anticipate being able to post much until we find a new place in the next month or so, but I’ll try to add some new content when I can. In the meantime, hope you’re all having a wonderful summer–you know I’m excited for all of the incredible produce and tacos (duh) all year round in California.


Travel: Bay Area Taco Roundup

One of the things that nearly every New Yorker laments (besides the obvious, like the tourists and the un-air conditioned cars in the subway) is the lack of good Mexican food in the city. Of course, that’s a generalization, and there are plenty of great places like Dos Toros and Empellon al Pastor (also Rockaway Taco, RIP, is still the best fish taco I’ve ever had.)

But for inexpensive, consistently good tacos, California always wins. Ari and I were in Sonoma and Oakland last week for vacation, and I had tacos a total of four separate times (I know, I think I have a problem.) Here’s where we ate (plus a couple of favorites from other trips):



El Molino Central The standout at this seasonal taqueria was actually the pork tamale–super moist with plenty of meat, and just as good reheated the next day for breakfast with an egg on top. An excellent place to stop for lunch if you’re in wine country, plus they have a nice outdoor patio.

Taqueria Los Primos Cheap, delicious, super filling. We got two carnitas tacos, two chorizo tacos and an horchata bigger than my face for a grand total of $12–plus it came with free chips and homemade salsa.


Cactus All I’m going to say is go quickly and get the crispy chicken tacos. You’ll thank me.

San Francisco

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Sweet Woodruff Not your typical taqueria, this coffee shop nonetheless had delicious breakfast tacos filled with bacon, eggs, queso fresco and pico de gallo. The iced coffee was pretty spot-on as well.

Tacolicious This relative newcomer is already a mini-chain in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and does not disappoint. I had the chorizo and potato, short rib and carnitas tacos and all were equally delicious (plus the avocado salsa made everything better.)

Would love to hear about your favorite Mexican places in the comments!





Travel: Bay Area Taco Roundup

Salmon with Anchovy Butter

IMG_3096I’ve never been a big fan of anchovies–I think it stems from a childhood aversion to all things “fishy.” But like many other things I’ve grown to love (pickles, brussels sprouts, eggplant), I was intrigued by the salty, complex taste of anchovies after having an amazing Caesar salad at a recent dinner–so when I stumbled across this simple recipe using some of my other favorite ingredients I couldn’t wait to try it.



IMG_3097I’ve since made it twice and it’s officially a winner–simple with only a few ingredients and hardly any prep time–and any leftover butter is just as delicious soaked up by some crusty bread.


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Salmon with Anchovy Butter