OK... so all of the tarts are eating well, which is a very good thing. But, reading their posts from 6000 miles away and no chance of jogging on down the road to join their gastronomic enterprises, I feel the only thing to do is describe some nice meals for them to maybe follow up on...
Perseus- Florence, Italy
Basically Perseus is a steak lovers dream and the only time in my life where I became drunk from food. Like most meals in Italy, the best way to eat is to have the waiter bring you whatever he wants and as many flasks of the house wine as fits on the table.
Secondi is why Perseus is special. You basically walk into the place surrounded by hanging meat. Bistecca alla fiorentina is excellence. You can pick your cut if you are picky, but it doesnt matter because it's all awesome. 1 cut feeds 2 normal people. They don't ask how you want it cooked or seasoned, they just do it the right way. Black and Blue. Salt/ Olive Oil. It seriously melts in your mouth. I was so full by the time that the bistecca arrived on its carving board that i could only eat a normal filet sized amount, but its worth the pain of overeating. I am no Joey Chesnut (disgusting hot dog eater) but I did pretty well for myself, at the time I was probably a cool 160, and after dinner i carried an extra 5 or so until I collapsed into bed.
A few other places in Florence to check out... my favorite is most definitely Trattoria da Tito. A family run, maybe 10 table, beautifully quaint eatery. The tiramisu is the best in the world in my opinion and its daily changing menu is always excellent. I could eat there every day.
Il Latini is another hot spot in Florence. I went with a few people and we dodged through the hoardes to tell the waiter Peter Weller was meeting us and he needed to sit us. Fortunately we got a table before like 50 other people. Peter Weller never showed though. There were no prices and no menu that I can recall, but we had a spectacular meal. No girls with us, but the females get a free bottle of wine. When the meal was done the owner looked at us and decided we needed to pay about 40 euro each. Not bad for a good meal.
La Pantera Viola has the best dessert ever; one that I have to make on a regular basis to keep my mouth from watering at its memory. Nutella and Mascarpone Calzone with hot chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. It is RIDICULOUS. No further comment, now I need to make one.
Los Caracoles- Barcelona, Spain
I was in Barcelona for food week in 2002 and this place was booked solid for a week, so my friends and I decided we had to get in. The atmosphere is awesome, some odoriferous rotisserie leading the way and a very comfortable dining room. I think if the Weasley's were Spanish, their kitchen would look like Los Caracoles.
All that I can remember from this meal was that it was sooooo good. I had a few tapas, the garlic shrimp reigning supreme. We did have some caracoles, which were so nice in a savory brown sauce which I cared not what it was. There were razor clams, octopus, prawn, whole fish, we had a rabbit, and plenty of wine.
This place was so good I bought a postcard. But, having forgotten one somewhere else, sent it to my cousin. So I no longer have the postcard, although I am sure a few of my fat cells are thanking me for this meal.
Gambas a Go-Go- Geneva, Switzerland
I think this is the name. If not it describes it pretty well. You sit down, you get a pint, you get peel and eat shrimp. There is nothing better after a long day than working for an excellent meal. I was in a zone, peel, eat, drink, peel, eat, drink. Nothing in the world could bother me for the 2 hours we sat there. If anyone is in Geneva, look this place up. The only clue I can give to its location was that it was near the train station.
I do Barcelona a crime by only mentioning 1 place that was great, but to be honest, every where was great. I didnt have a bad meal in Spain. I had paella in Valencia on the beach. Tapas in Barcelona on Las Ramblas. Barcelona is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Italy is my favorite place on earth. Besides everything else that makes it so nice, the food is wonderful. I had warm liver in the streets of Palermo, and it was good. Maybe not good in Syracuse NY, but Palermo made it so. Bologna has the best lasagna ever. The carbonara in Rome is second to none.
The #1 reason I cant wait to move my sorry butt to Switzerland besides watchmaking..... I will be in the middle of all of this food. I look to my left, paella, to my right pasta. I wont know what to do with myself.