Posts tagged Eat.Drink.Travel
Eat.Drink.Travel: Il Buco, Sorrento (Italy)
 

I had a very ambitious trip to Italy - I visited four major cities and over 8 villages during my short 6 day tour. During my 48-hour Sorrento stop, I ate at two restaurants in the lemon-infused city: L’Antica Trattoria and Il Buco. Both were Michelin recommendations and Il Buco had an actual star. I preferred L’Antica Trattoria though.

Il Buco means hole in the wall. Right in the centre of Sorrento, the restaurant sits inside a cellars of a former monastery. Considering how the majority of Nigerian christians shun alcohol, I could never imagine wine cellars in a Nigerian monastery.

I digress.

Sitting there beneath the complete stone ceilings, reminded me of dining in Ali Baba’s Cave restaurant in Diani beach - that’s a restaurant that sits inside a natural cave. The restaurant is everything you’d expect from a restaurant with one Michelin star - cooking to a high standard, exceptional plating and creative dishes with distinct and bold flavours.

Whether or not you like the flavour is a different matter.

Simple, unfussy cuisine with a blend of traditional and modern influences, an excellent wine list of around 1 000 different labels, and service that manages to be efficient yet friendly and informal at the same time. Housed in the cellars of an old monastery in the heart of Sorrento, this restaurant offers gourmet dining in a homely ambience.
— MICHELIN guide inspectors

I wanted the full experience of dining in such an upscale restaurant so I went for the “Mi fido di Te” menu, meaning “I trust you” aka the blind tasting menu. I asked for my service to lean more towards the land because I’d had what I considered to be my fair share of seafood over the past two days.

The menus are shaped by the seasons in traditional gastronomy based on the products that are available at different times of the year. A precise orientation that is distinguished by intuition, inspiration, creativity and also by the whims of those who must combine, transform and balance these ingredients. So trust becomes a challenge. But there are no chances to be taken, it is a winning bet

All that said, after entrusting my hunger to the chef, here’s what he surprised me with:

Legume foam and prawns

I didn’t expect it but I was pleasantly surprised by the beans I found hidden in the foam. The prawns were cooked to perfection not a second longer than they should have been, I didn’t expect anything less so this was not a surprise.

Legume foam and prawns

Legume foam and prawns

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

The buffalo carpaccio is the two deep red rounds (north and south) with the pink in the middle (ricotta). The cubes are actually fried beef as per like sallah meat but actually moist and chewable. The rest of is is an apple cake with celery and walnuts.

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

My pasta dish was the Homemade ravioli with smoked mozzarella which was incredible. It was served with a Neapolitan ragu which literally melted in my mouth. All their meats are locally reared - I asked.

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Course five and probably my least favourite was cubes of pork slow cooked in honey, served on polenta with vegetables (carrots) in dusted in cacao. As you’d probably expect, the flavours in this were a lot more intense than anything I’d been served all along,

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I forgot to tell the server I didn’t like chocolate so the first dessert they brought me was an overwhelming chocolate dish but when the server sensed that my spirit had sunk, he whisked that plate back to the kitchen and brought me something new, incredibly quickly - I must add

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Sorrento is an absolutely lemon infused town. They really do make the best lemon everything like this dessert. Just like at L’Antica Trattoria, the chef went for a double whammy with lemon two ways. The top was a limoncello foam and then underneath was a lemon mousse. At the base was a crumble. The entire thing together? Just wonderful.

Without a doubt, the “I trust you” tasting menu met all my expectations - in terms of the quality of the ingredients and the skill with which everything was prepared. It felt like I was eating art. The only thing that could have taken my experience to the next level was if I had gone for the wine pairing option. That wasn’t a let down though, because our server recommended a fantastic Falanghina from the Amalfi coast.

The damage in case you’re wondering was 85 Euro each for this menu alone. The cover at Il Buco is an affordable 3 Euro and I really cannot recommend it enough.


Il Buco is at 2ª Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 (Piazza S.Antonino), 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy. Reservations are highly recommended.


Eat.Drink.Travel: L'Antica Trattoria (Sorrento, Italy)
 

I arrived in Sorrento quite late in the evening, and I was very much ready to sleep. My friend was suggesting dinner and I thought to myself, forgetting the country I was in, “sis, it’s almost 9 pm”.

For the uninitiated, that’s when most Italians start getting ready to have dinner.

I hadn’t yet researched where to eat in Sorrento so after a few Google searches revealed multiple Michelin starred restaurants in walking distance including one that will send a car for you on request, I was no longer sleepy.

Profiterole with leek and ricotta cheese. Parmesan, Tomato, and spinach

Profiterole with leek and ricotta cheese. Parmesan, Tomato, and spinach

I was able to narrow down to L’Antica Trattoria because of this, this, and this. It’s not Michelin starred but it made the Michelin Guide list for Sorrento, the reviewers found it to be “fresh ingredients, capably prepared: simply a good meal”. If the Michelin Guide recommends it, I should probably oblige?

Elite Traveller also talked up the restaurant’s atmosphere using words like “enchanting” and “dreamy” so I was sold.

A traditional restaurant situated near the covered market, where the ingredients on the menu are purchased daily - a sure guarantee of fresh produce. There is an attractive outdoor terrace and a small area near the entrance to sit and enjoy an aperitif.
— MICHELIN guide inspectors

The doors of L’Antica Trattoria have been open for 89 years. It has been passed down for 3 generations in the family and it is by far the oldest restaurant I have ever dined at. I found the 50+ year old reviews, newspaper cut outs and recommendations from the Michelin inspectors, that decorated the walls to be charming.

What did I eat?

Well, I didn’t have the Concerto Tasting Menu because I was planning to splurge at Il Buco (two Michelin stars) the following day. L’Antica Trattoria offered a prix fixe option that allows you to choose 1 starter + 1 pasta dish + 1 main course and 1 dessert from the a la carte menu, so I did that.

The spectacular service, fresh ingredients and an abundance of citrus notes throughout the menu stood out to me from my experience at L’Antica Trattoria. Fun fact, we had two waiters who bore the same name - Antonino.

Sorrento is by the coast so I was pretty determined to design an experience that maximized my seafood options on the menu. My starter was the Grilled Octopus marinated with garlic and rosemary, and served with artichokes and potatoes.

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

Risotto

Risotto

For my pasta selection, I went with the Risotto with asparagus and burrata, orange peel powder. My favourite course. The orange peel powder made this dish very fragrant. A slight warning (that I didn’t get) it’s much better when you stir the orange peel powder in with the entire plate of the risotto, else it was concentrated just at the sides and it made it was a very aggressive citrus taste just like that.

My main course was the Sea Bass with fennel braised in Pernod, pink pepper, salmon eggs and almond wafer. The fennel was exactly what I’d expect from something cooked in high proof liquor.

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I ended with the Cialda alle due creme crispy cone with double lemon cream and fresh ruits. This was my second favourite course at L’Antica Trattoria. On another day, it’s would’ve been my favourite. I’ve generally found lemon to be an annoying fruit, it always appears when I don’t want it e.g lemon biscuits or lemon pound cake when I think both are just a simple vanilla.

The dessert was a crispy cone with two kinds of lemon cream - a fluffier one that filled the cone and also held the fruit up, then the second was the lemon curd that was at the base of the dessert.

Sorrento is known for its lemons and I gullibly believed our waiter who told me he picked the lemons being used this morning. He later confessed that they were a recent harvest but not done by him personally.

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On a final note, you can’t talk about L’Antica Trattoria without remembering the mandolin plays that serenades the guests. If he can figure out where you’re from he’ll play music from your country. He played a few American hits on his mandolin for the American ladies who were sat beside us. He either couldn’t figure that we were from Nigeria or didn’t know any Wizkid. Honestly, even if he had played Fela as his Nigerian flavour of the night - I would have been very impressed.

Aperitivo: The Night Buffet You’ve Never Heard About

I (Folly) was in Italy recently and my friend, and host, took me to my first Aperitivo. The first time she uttered the words, I honestly thought she said we were going for an aperitif. I asked her to clarify, and then she explained:

It’s kind of like a night buffet where the food is free but you pay for the drinks, but it only starts after 8 pm in most places

I thought I understood and then she added:

It’s like an Italian happy hour

I was unsure all over again but I went it with as you should - if you’re ever in Italy, especially in the North. It’s a big part of their culture and one way to try a varied selection of Italian food one small bite at a time. It sounds a lot like tapas and while there are similarities, it’s also very different. The closest thing that comes close in Nigerian culture is going to Giwa Barracks or Fowler after work.

So how does Aperitivo work?

First things first, it’s not like your typical Happy Hour where there you can expect discounts on drinks. During aperitivo, drinks are full price and food is complimentary.

Aperitivo buffet

Aperitivo buffet

The food can be served in two styles - buffet style and for lack of a better term, “surprise style”.

As the name implies, with buffet style, the food is laid out at tables free for all. This is technically not an “Aperitivo”, but an “Apericena”. The Italians I was with called it an Aperitivo and it’s their country so yeah, I guess I can call it an Aperitivo too.

Basically, you can dig in to as many helpings once you’ve placed your order for the first drink. The place I visited followed this style and the spread was quite impressive. Multiple pasta styles, cured meat, varied bread selection including focaccia, fresh mozzarella, veggies, dessert, chicken, sausages. I could go on.

For the “surprise style”, the food selection isn’t really up to you. Your server brings out a plate of food with each drink order you place. I’m told that the food you receive progressively gets “better” the more you order drinks. I would have imagined that the reverse would be true because drinking all that alcohol means you’re less likely to notice the food is getting better.

My guess is that, unlike Americans or Brits, the Italians drink to enjoy their liquor and not to get plastered.

What kind of drinks do people order during Aperitivo?

You can expect to see most people start with an Aperol Spritz. It’s a classic Italian drink made with Prosecco, Aperol and soda. It’s not my speed because I find it a tad bitter but Italians don’t care what one ‘Folly from Lagos’ thinks.

(NOSA note: You’re not that popping, young lady)

There’s a good reason to go with a “bitter” drink, however. Anything sweeter will definitely not pair well with all the food you’re about to eat. Also, if you’re trying to enjoy your drinking, it’s probably wise not to get something sweet. If your drink is on the sweet side, you’re likely to drink a lot more and if you drink a lot, you get very drunk.

Science.

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz

It is their drink of choice and you’ll find this sold on every street corner and even as take away. Wine is also a very typical aperitivo drink while classic cocktails are not. In our group of five, I was the only the only person who stuck to classic cocktail blends. I did have a Tom Collins to start.

Unlike Happy Hour, aperitivo doesn’t discriminate for those who don’t drink. Mocktails, sodas, juices and the likes definitely pass the drink order requirement to get in on the complimentary food.

How much is Aperitivo?

For the buffet style, prices  typically start at 10 Euro per person and that includes one drink. You can eat as much food without ordering additional drinks but you probably will.  For bars where you are served one plate at a time with your drink, you don’t pay a separate cover charge for food. Instead, you pay per drink.

It’s a very good idea if you’re a little light in the wallet.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my first aperitivo experience and highly recommend 10/10; it’s such a unique cultural experience that just happens to be delicious. For most Italians, aperitivo doesn’t replace their main dinner but the amount of food Italians eat is a story for another day. The restaurant I visited was buffet style so naturally I ate quite a bit over multiple courses so it certainly replaced my dinner. I found the food to be worth the 15 Euro price tag. I mean, they had fresh mozzarella and I could take as much as I liked.


Over the course of this week and next, I have a few travel experiences coming up, including my experience at the Michelin starred Il Buco Sorrento.

Eat.Drink.Travel: The Houston Hit List

Our Houston visit wasn't the longest, but we tried our best to cram a lot of deliciousness in a couple days. We got in just in time for Houston Restaurant Week and that was our cue to sample local favorites. 

 

Tacos Tierra Caliente

Our Order

Barbacoa Taco, Pollo Taco, Breakfast Taco.

Verdict

It's just a food truck so don't go there expecting a place to sit, but it'll be the best damn tacos you'll eat in this life. It's on every "Best Taco" list for good reason. The staff don't "have your time" so you can trust us when we say it's good. The barbacoa is absolutely magnificent. Also, make sure you get the green salsa.

Price Range

$


Breakfast Klub

thebreakfastklub.com

Our Order

Chicken & Waffles, The Breakfast Klub

Verdict

We checked this out on a Monday morning and the line for a table shot out the restaurant. The locals clearly love it and it's a Houston brunch staple. Everyone comes for the chicken & waffles and the chicken is indeed heavenly, but the Breakfast Klub sandwich is very underrated.

Damage

$$


Ruggles Black

rugglesblack.com

Our Order

Fried Oysters with Caviar, Crab Poblano Pasta, Paleo Fish & Chips

Verdict

Zagat says it's a combination of Indian, French, and American fare, but that's not really what brought us to Ruggles Black. The big selling point was the very paleo and keto friendly menu. Zoodles? Paleo pizza? And it all tasted oh so good. The paleo lemon cheesecake, in particular, is to die for. 

Damage

$$

rugglesblack.com


Crepeiffel

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Our Order

Casablanca Savoury Crepe

Verdict

This wasn't the greatest if we're being completely honest, but we're adding it here because savoury crepes are a thing and if you're in Houston, you should try some. Do Sweet Paris Cafe instead, however.

Damage

$$

Eat.Drink.Travel: The Los Angeles Hit List

FOLLY: Whenever EDL travels, exploring the cuisine of the new city is definitely a highlight. We've been thinking, for a while, about how best to curate this for our Lagos-focused blog and the idea of the Hit List was born.

NOSA: Each time EDL visits a new city, we'll try out as many spots as possible to create a Hit List for that city so that if you ever found yourself in that city, you'll have a few of our recommendations to start things off with. It's basically a one-post summary of what's hot in the city.

FOLLY: You're welcome.

NOSA: We'll still have the dedicated review posts for really special spots. 

FOLLY: Our first Hit List is for Los Angeles. It was very interesting to visit LA in the weeks following the sad and untimely passing of Jonathan Gold - the LA Times' prolific and Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic. If we'd stayed a few days longer I'd probably have liked to attend the event organized to honor him held at Grand Park. It was a unique memorial in that a number of food trucks were parked around his favorite spots to grab lunch while selected speakers delivered remembrances - how fitting. While we couldn't hit up all of Gold's faves we made sure to have a fave of his, Korean fried chicken, at the very least

 

The Gangjung

Our Order

Original and Hot & Spicy Gangjung, Rice Cake, Sweet Potato, Shack Shack Fries.

Verdict

Two thumbs up. Although after a few bites, the Original Gangjung was sickeningly sweet. The Hot & Spicy is lovely, however.

Price Range

$$


Eggslut

eggslut.com

Our Order

Bacon, Egg & Cheese and the Fairfax

Verdict

You should definitely add bacon to the Fairfax as without it the sandwich is completely homogeneous and it could definitely do with some texture. The Bacon, Egg, & Cheese is safer and if you like your eggs runny, it's the one.

Damage

$


In-N-Out 

Our Order

Cheeseburger Single, Cheeseburger Double, and Animal Style Fries.

Verdict

We prefer Five Guys and so should you. Largely overrated, but you should try it once because it's the tourist thing to do. The locals love In and Out and rightfully so. We would never accept when Ghanaians say their Jollof is better and neither should they. 

PS: Animal Style Fries are a heart attack waiting to happen.

Damage

$


SOCA

soca-la.com

Our Order

Korean Beef Dumplings, Lobster & King Crab Bites, Colossal Tiger Shrimp, Ocean Trout, Peruvian Carne Asada, and 32 oz Prime Tomahawk

Verdict 

The gin bar here puts the very best cocktails in Lagos to shame. The gin cocktails are named by numbers alone and the Number 28 was by certainly Folly's favorite. For the food, the dumplings and the shrimp were a favorites, but the mash that came with the carne asada was particularly lovely.

Damage 

$$$


Rose Cafe

rosecafevenice.com

Our Order

Breakfast Burrito and Avocado & Egg Toast

Verdict

Absolutely perfect for brunch. You absolutely MUST do this one. Mimosas in the outdoor area are the ultimate mood. Rose Cafe is also prime for celeb spotting - if that's your thing.

Damage

$$


Salt & Straw

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saltandstraw.com

Our Order

Almond Brittle with Salted Caramel Ganache

Review 

There was an avocado flavor and another with black olives, but we ordered the Almond Brittle with Salted Caramel Ganache. The Nigerian definitely jumped out. Still, it's very very worth it. 

Damage

$