Tag: Italy

Travel Swellness: How to find good food in Italy

The Colosseum in Rome was pretty freakin' cool to visit

2012 was an Italy-heavy year. I visited twice (first Parma, Milan and Florence in the early summer and then Rome in the fall).

I recently spent the day with Italpasta touring their pasta factory located just north of Toronto in Brampton (my second pasta factory tour this year — first one was in June with Barilla in Parma; from now on, just call me the pasta factory tour-er! De Cecco, have you got a factory for me to visit?? Preferably in Italy? Si?). After the factory tour, our party bus then headed back to downtown Toronto for a delicious lunch at Mistura prepared by chef Massimo Capra.

Penna Montanara

The pasta entrees were all prepared with Italpasta’s new Total Pasta, which is high in fibre. I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of a fan of whole-wheat pastas, but Total Pasta (which has 10 grams of fibre, 7 grams of which come from inulin) really tastes like regular pasta. (And you know how much I love food, so I would never steer you to try something un-delicious!) I’ve included the recipe for my one of my favourite dishes from that lunch below.

Over lunch, Chef Massimo admitted that even he has trouble finding good authentic food in Italy. It was a bit of a relief to hear this; I spend a chunk of my trips stressing about finding the best meals possible. Most recently in Rome, I was disappointed in about half of the meals I ate there despite all the legwork I’d done in advance. Sitting there with a subpar meal in front of me felt like a big ol’ glaring #FAIL.

Massimo offered three tips on how to find great food while in Italy:

Do your research and be smart about what you’re ordering
Get familiar with what dishes the region you’re visiting is known for. “Don’t order pizza in Venice or spaghetti Bolognese in Florence,” he says.

Look for the snail symbol
Out and about and looking for a spot to eat at? Look for the snail logo of the Slow Food organization in the window of the restaurant.

Trust ones that made the cut in Osteria d’Italia
If you have enough time before your trip, order the guide here (I believe it’s only available in Italian, but am not sure). Skip following the Michelin stars, says Massimo, who says that’s more for tourists.

Buon appetito!

RECIPE: Penne Montanara with mushrooms, kale and cherry tomatoes

Serves 4

Prep time 15 min

Cooking time 15 min

  • 1 package Total penne
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
  • 3 cups mushrooms, mixed to your liking
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a skillet and pour in olive oil; add garlic and onins and cook until translucent. Add the mushroms and cook gently until soft  Add the kale and vegetable stock and simmer for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes.

Cook the penne in plenty of salted water until al dente; drain and add to the sauce. Sprinkle with grated parmagiano, toss well and serve.

4 Comments January 4, 2013

Random Swellness: 2012 in review

2012 year in review Health and  Swellness

Hello, lovelies and happy new year!

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, 2012 was pretty great now that I’ve actually given it a little thought. Some highlights pictured above (starting with the top row, left to right):

Of course, there was much more than these mere nine things: the blog’s grown much in this past year in terms of traffic; I started writing for some fab new outlets including B Insider and Travelife; I was mere feet away from my pre-teen crush Rob Lowe at the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards (swoon!); I bought my first not one but two designer purses (What? I like pretty things!); I got to be inspired by Ira Glass from This American Life when he spoke about storytelling at Massey Hall; I made some amazing new friends including Chantel and Lindsay and met so many more great people.

Anyhow, I could go on about me, me, me, but what I’m trying to say is that all in all, it’s been a year full of wonderfulness. If only I’d taken the time to realize this as it was happening (hmm, new year’s resolution perhaps?).

Looking forward to what 2013 has in store for all of us!

k xo

4 Comments January 2, 2013

Swellness Sundays: Church Aperitivo’s gnocco fritto

(Anything I find swell. Posted on Sundays. Real scientific, I know…)

A few months ago, I got to try out a too-many-courses-to-keep-count-of meal at Church Aperitivo. And while everything was delicious, the one menu item I’m still dreaming about? The gnocco fritto. You take the fried, warm dumpling, tear it open and stuff the stracchino cheese and proscuitto inside, and it becomes a slightly melty pocket of gourmet goodness.


(The polenta fries get a more than honourable drool-worthy mention, too. And the killer cocktails — The Saint is a favourite, although they go down way too easily :)

Be sure to look up from the food you’re devouring to check out the cool ceiling (the space is a former church); oh, and you might luck out with some good old school hip hop playing like we did that night (if you head on over later in the night, it evolves into a nightclub vibe, just FYI.)

Church Aperitivo Bar, 1090 Queen St. West (at Dovercourt).

Leave a Comment November 11, 2012

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