Tag: Italian (page 1 of 2)

Dining Solo Sometimes & A Meal At Hyacinth

Becoming comfortable dining alone is a satisfying part of adulthood.

Our parents probably warned about the un-funness of bills, cleaning, fixing things and working. Sometimes eating ice cream for breakfast is the most satisfying part of a tough day. I’ve also found that pulling up a seat at any bar to order the food and beverage of my choice is very satisfying.

Dining alone used to terrify me. One May term in college, I spent an entire month eating alone in my dorm room. My roommates and best friends were gone and I felt too embarrassed to eat in the cafeteria. I literally ate baby carrots, oranges, ramen, and grilled cheese sandwiches all month.

If I could go back in time as current me, I would stroll into that cafeteria and and sit wherever I wanted. Of course, there’s a lot I’d tell my younger self.

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Two Good Meals In San Francisco: Dim Sum At City View & Pasta at Sodini’s

These two meals in San Francisco especially stood out.

North Beach is a neighborhood that’s like a little Italy. It’s located between the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 area and Chinatown. Where the neighborhoods merge is an intriguing intersection of Asian and Italian restaurants.

As first time visitors, we felt overwhelmed at all of the dining options. We had such limited time that we wanted to make sure we didn’t fall into a tourist trap.

With all of my research, recommendations from people we met along the way, and gut feelings as we walked by a place, we were left to choose our own adventures.

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You Should Probably Try The Mucci Juice

We used to complain about the 3.5 hour commute between Minneapolis and Fargo. When we moved to North Iowa, we still complained about the two-hour commute to Minneapolis. Now, we live a 9.5 hour drive away and remember how we used to complain. The drive takes most of a day, but is still cheaper than flying (and we can take the dog) so we make the best of it. Podcasts, music, and corn nuts get us through.

Friends and readers still ask me for dining suggestions as they prepare to visit the Twin Cities for various occasions. We’ve lived away for about four years, now. Restaurants have come, gone, and changed. It’s impossible to keep up. On our visits back, we often lean towards our old favorites like Broders and Bangkok Thai Deli. Our time is so limited that we have time for maybe one nice dinner out and it’s really hard to decide where to dine.

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Hot Salami At Gioia’s Deli

Head cheese on The Hill.

On my recent day off, I decided to search for another “only in St. Louis” specialty for lunch. My last quest brought me to Mai Lee for a St. Paul sandwich. Having lived in St. Louis now for almost six months, I was overdue for an Italian sandwich on The Hill, our city’s historic Italian community. There are many Italian delis here. Everyone seems to have their favorite sandwich along with their their favorite St. Paul Sandwich and frozen custard and gooey butter cake. I suppose it’s similar to asking a Minneapolis-St. Paul resident for advice about where to find their favorite Jucy Lucy about which I’ve gotten into online brawls.

This quest started at Gioia’s Deli (pronounced joy-a). According to Gioia’s website, they’re the “oldest family owned business on The Hill and have been serving hot salami (Salam de Testa) since 1918. Their deli is even built from wood and brick leftover from the 1904 World’s Fair. On Gioia’s website you’ll find a regular menu and secret menu with extra deluxe combinations involving meats and garlic cheese bread. Hot salami is a big deal here. The deli makes this meat specialty daily from pig head parts like noses and snouts, and serves slices warm on sandwiches. Hence, the hot salami gets its name from its temperature, not spiciness. You can watch Andrew Zimmern catch some of the sausage-making process on this Bizarre Foods episode.

Gioia’s was packed when I arrived for an early take-out lunch. Everyone seemed to know exactly what they wanted and how they wanted it. The employees were friendly and directed me through the process of ordering, waiting for the sandwich to be prepared, adding condiments, and heading to the cash register. I chose the Spicy Daggett filled with hot salami, coppa, capicola, cheese (I chose mozzarella), and giardiniera and served on toasted garlic-pepper cheese bread ($8.25).

As a “healthier” counterbalance, I also ordered the Iron Man made with a hollowed-out baguette, turkey, all of the vegetables, and spicy mustard.

The hot salami sandwich was our favorite. The meat was thickly-cut, unctuous, and tender. Nothing like the salami lunch meat circles of my childhood. The coppa and capicola added a slight kick and the chunky pickled peppers cut through the richness. Layered between toasted Italian bread with the perfect softness and chew, this was pretty much the perfect sandwich.

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The Iron Man turkey sandwich tasted healthy. . . it’s hard to follow hot salami. I certainly wouldn’t want to. Both sandwiches provided us each with lunch for the next day, or, in my case, breakfast.

In conclusion, the Hot Daggett was a hit that I’d return for soon. I’ve never tasted anything like it living in MN, ND and IA. Next time, I’ll take advantage of their “Word of the Week” offer where the deli emails a secret word each week for $1-off a sandwich. After I posted a photo of Gioia’s hot salami sandwich, folks chimed in to say Gioia’s makes their favorite version. Other sandwich suggestions included the hot salami from Adam’s Smokehouse and the Amighatti’s Special from Amighatti’s.

Tell me about your favorite Italian Sandwich. Have you encountered Hot Salami before? Who makes your favorite sandwich on The Hill?

We Accidentally Dined At A Restaurant Impossible Alumna

Confession: I’m fascinated with restaurant makeover shows.

I’ve watched every single episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in both the British and American series. The British version is way better. Chef Ramsay is still fierce, but softer spoken. He acts more like a mentor. I think the American producers tell him to go bananas on the American series. In contrast to Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible, Ramsay works with the restaurant longer, focuses more on food and service than interior design, and doesn’t rush to complete a giant overhaul on a fixed budget.

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