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Showing posts from 2018

Roman Hostaria Dino & Tony

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Dining in Rome
During my recent trip to Rome, a friend and local recommended Hostaria Dino & Tony, the selling point was that it is affordable, great quality and traditional Roman fare. Without knowing it, my friend gave a description that perfectly aligned with what I like most about Roman food, so I was excited to give it a try!
Tony or Toni
While I am still learning to speak Italian (slowly), I usually feel fairly confident in a restaurant. Tonight, however, I was tired and Dino (or Tony, not sure which) greeted me, sat me down and asked if I wanted some wine with blinding speed. I was so overwhelmed that I think I said I wanted both Red and White wine. I didn't, he understood and returned with a delicious half-carafe of Vino della Casa and water.
Antipasto

I hadn't realized that this hostaria didn't see the need for menus. I'm sure I was asked what I wanted to eat, or at least if I wanted what they were making, but all I'm certain of is that I confirmed I …

Italian Culture – Mobile Phones For The Traveler In Italy

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Travel Suggestions
During previous trips to Italy, in order to have voice and data service on our cell phones, we had chosen to use our existing Verizon SIM and just add the international plan. This seemed to be the easiest approach, but we quickly learned that their plan is garbage. During our first trip (with a cell) we quickly ran out of the 100Mb of data as we leveraged Google Maps to help us navigate around. Verizon ‘helpfully’ charged us an additional $40 to add more data and we continued on our merry way. After returning home and seeing the huge bill, we were certain that there must be a better way.
Local service
One our next trip, I still stuck with Verizon’s plan, knowing it was bad, but also wanting to be able to receive work calls on this phone. I was such a good worker! My wife had read a bit and learned that getting a SIM from a local provider was a good option, so we tried it. We had probably 10X the amount of data available, a local number and voice. The price was aroun…

Holiday shopping, Italian Style!

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So it's that time of year again when you need gifts for friends and family and guess what?  Some of those folks are hard to buy for!  How many years can you give a dude a tie?  Or your mother yet another bathrobe? Let's talk Italian gifts and get you out of the gift giving slump you've been in (whether you know it or not)!

If you were in Italy, you could hit one of the many outdoor Christmas markets where in addition to hand crafted goods, you could sample local cuisines with a glass of mulled wine while listening to live music or watching various performers.  The 2 minute video below from Siim V gives you a lovely glimpse into the Milano market.



Sounds delightful, yes?  Agreed, but if that's not a possibility for you this year (it's not for us!), let's get you hooked up with Italian gifts minus the plane trip.

Before I get into the options, just remember that you'll get free shipping on all orders over $50 (as always) so don't throw away money on shipp…

Trieste, Italy (la città del caffè) - Things to do

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So my week in Trieste was mostly taken up with the 3 day Trieste Espresso Expo (which fyi, only happens once every two years so the next one will be in 2020 in case you're interested).  BTW, the Expo, while a trade show, had people there who were not in the business...students, families with strollers, etc.  The reduced entry 3 day ticket was 21 euro so a day pass without the reduced price couldn't have been more than 10 euro. 

When I wasn't at the show, I managed to squeeze in a couple of the sights below but there was so much more I wanted to do but didn't have time for.  Drop me a comment if you've been to any of these sites or have other ones I need to hit next time!

Castello di Miramare

 This was totally worth the trek outside of the city.  You had to catch the number 6 bus (there's a stop at the train station, Trieste Centrale) although I caught it closer to my B&B (you can read my review of this amazing place on TripAdvisor).  It was about a 30 minut…

Alessi La Cupola

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Alessi – History Redux
My last post  provided a brief history of Alessi that I culled from their site. Additionally:
Alessi was founded in 1921 as a “Workshop for the processing of brass and nickel silver sheet metal, with foundry”, Alessi has always stood out for the high quality of its products. In almost a century of history, the company has gradually evolved to become one of the leading “Factories of Italian design”, capable of applying its expertise and excellence in design management to many different product types.
Alessi’s mission is now one of translating its quest for the most advanced cultural, aesthetic, design and functional quality into mass production. Alessi has been described as a “Dream Factory”, which uses its products to make people’s dreams come true, providing them with the Art and Poetry that they seek.

My Next Stove-top Espresso Machine
For my “Dream Factory”, once I’m given permission to purchase a new stove-top espresso machine (caffettiera), it will be La Cup…

Alessi Pulcina

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Alessi – History
Before I get going on this post about Alessi and one of their products, I think it’s important to be transparent that much of the information I’m sharing is from their website. I’m posting it here only because I found their site to be a bit busy and cluttered, despite my love of their products.
I was thinking about this quote from founder Albert Alessi:
“A true design work must move people, convey emotions, bring back memories, surprise, and go against common thinking.”

I appreciate this thought because in a surprising way, using Alessi’s coffee makers CAN bring out emotions and memories in me and I love that feeling! Alessi has a strong bond with the traditions and cultural background of its area and continues to be synonymous with handcrafted objects produced with the help of machines. The northern Italian aesthetic is timeless and even though my family originates from the mezzogiorno, it’s still one Italy to me.
Alessi was founded in 1921, and the majority of Aless…

Trieste, Italy (la Città del Caffè) - Arrival and Lodging

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Thanks to the 2018 Trieste Espresso Expo, I now know a few things about the lovely city of coffee, Trieste, Italy.  Let me break it down for you fellas...

Arrival:

The airport in Trieste is TINY.  Like one small terminal, about 6 check-in counters and one place to grab a bite to eat.  Because of that, it's super easy to navigate! 

I arrived, headed downstairs, bought my ticket for the train into Trieste at a machine (4,05 euro) and headed to the train station. This was the only trek to be made.  Once you exit the the terminal following the signs to the train station, you'll have about a 10-15 minute walk, complete with people movers.  There are also ticket machines on the tracks in case you missed the one in the terminal.  A reminder to validate that ticket in the machines on the platform before boarding the train.  There's generally one stop (Monfalcone) before you reach Trieste Centrale and the journey is about 30 minutes total.



I contemplated flying into Venice and then…

Hacking Italian Business

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The Bialetti Moka
Yes, this blog title is a bit of click-bait, and let me tell you why. I recently read an article on Grub Street and I was drawn to the title and how alarmist it sounded: "The Maker Of The Moka Pot Could Go Out Of Business". This was the page title, but the article title was only slightly less panicky: "Italy’s Beloved Moka Pots Are in Danger of Going Extinct".
While it certainly is POSSIBLE that Bialetti could go out of business, that statement is a bit of a tautology, because couldn't ANY company go out of business? But let's not be too measured or reasonable and assume any bankruptcy is the beginning of the end. You know, kinda like Alitalia: "Global Carriers Line Up to Replace This Famous Dying Airline". If you're interested in a more sober assessment, the Grub Street article references a more detailed description of the situation on The Telegraph.

It reminds me of that line from The Godfather, when Michael said: "Hy…

Viva Bialetti!

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Background
It’s not an overstatement to say that the Bialetti Moka is an iconic piece of Italian culture. This stove-top espresso maker, sold by Coffee In Italia, was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and is considered so iconic that it is displayed in multiple museums as an example of modern industrial art. These coffee pots have gained worldwide popularity with more than 300 million sold around the globe. While there are now may variations of the original, some of which can be found on our site, there is no denying the importance of the original by Bialetti.
I Baffi
Alfonso’s son, Renato (a.k.a.: I Baffi), died in Switzerland at the age of 93 on February 11, 2016. The caricature printed on Bialetti of a mustachioed man with his index finger in the air was modeled after him, and became the logo for the company.
One interesting note is that when Renato was buried, his ashes were put into an over-sized replica of the iconic Moka. If you read Italian, or just want to see the picture…

Coffee in Italia On the Road

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This year has been a busy one for Coffee in Italia and it's not slowing down anytime soon.  We're hitting the road 3 times before the end of the year, so let's talk travel!
First up is Trieste, Italy,  home of the Trieste Espresso Expo, which I'll be attending for the first time. I'm super excited to be visiting a place in Italy that I've never been before and I'm looking forward to connecting with others in the Italian espresso industry.  Fingers crossed that I come back with some new offerings for the store!

In researching how to spend my time, outside of the Expo, I came across the NYT Travel section's famous "36 Hours in..." and now can't wait to hit Mercato Coperto which I hadn't come across before in other searches.  Of course I'll be hitting some of the gorgeous bars for un caffè and riding up the Opicina Tram to take in the view of the city from above.  And if I can figure out how to tour the Illy plant, I'll really be in…

A Moment Of Coffee Clarity

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Background
My distrust of and disdain for Starbucks is is not new, but I recently wrote about their efforts to further confuse their products with actual Italian coffee culture, and I also wrote about efforts by Italian-American businesses to push back on their desires to encroach on the beautiful Italian Culture in the North End in Boston.
While I've never liked their dilution of actual culture, is hasn't always been obvious what tangible effects this could have, beyond confusing customers and running small coffee shops out of business. Well, that was true until very recently...
Recent Events
On a trip to NYC, we ate a fabulous meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Ribalta. Their pizza is true Neapolitan style, the wine selection is fantastic, their service if great, and if you go at the right time you can enjoy a Calcio (soccer) game with a very spirited and lively crowd. We try to go whenever we are in town, and this recent trip was no exception. At the end of our delici…

A Neapolitan Experience

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Background
I was fascinated with this coffee maker for a number of years before I convinced my wife to buy me one for Christmas. It was a used one off of eBay, and at the time I couldn't have been more excited. I had assumed a couple of things that turned out to be incorrect. First, that these were no longer manufactured and second, you would need a REALLY strong coffee to enjoy an authentic experience.
Regarding the flip coffeepot (called a caffettiera in Italian), I was happy to learn that they are still manufactured, and there are even different types (aluminium, stainless steel and induction) available. We offer these at Coffee In Italia, and encourage you to take a look and see if you might be interested. If you aren't sure how to use one, this fantastic video will show you the way:

I also had the preconceived notion that anything popular in Naples would be rough around the edges. To be more specific, when you read about travelling to Naples, you run across descriptions …

When Is A Macchiato Not A Macchiato?

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In my recent posts, I have been referring to an interesting blog that had a cool image of the popular types of Italian coffee. To stick with that theme, I want to talk about one of my favorite espresso drinks, the Macchiato (a.k.a., Macchiato Caldo or Caffè Macchiato).
For the uninitiated, this drink is simply an espresso shot with a small dollop of milk foam dropped into the glass. Macchiato means stained or spotted, which brings up the obvious question: Does the milk stain the coffee or does the coffee stain the milk? I believe the coffee stains the milk, but for this I will require a nearly infinite number of shots, in situ to validate my opinions.


Until then, I need to appreciate when this drink is done correctly. When it isn't, I'd like to use it as an example of what not to do. Per esempio:


I enjoyed the above delicious cup of espresso spotted with milk at a not so local Italian bakery. Please note the espresso cup in which it is served, as well as the tiny amount of stain…

Espresso As A Solution!

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In my last post, I referred to an interesting blog that had a cool image of the popular types of Italian coffee. I want to continue with that thread by talking about a really fun way to drink coffee, and that's with a Caffè Corretto
As I've learned about the range of ways to enjoy espresso, they have mostly revolved around breakfast, or more exactly, any time before lunch. There is an exception with espresso being served after dinner, but I wouldn't suggest it if you plan to go to bed that night. If you want help going to sleep, I would recommend a caffè corretto. In theory this is coffee with a shot of liquor in it, and more often than not that alcohol is Grappa, but I believe you can (and should) enjoy other sleep enhancers (read: booze) to offset the caffeine.
There are many different Italian drinks I've tried to enjoy, but I can say with certainty Grappa is one that escapes the pleasure centers of my brain. To me, the taste is horrifically close to something lik…

Italian Coffee Is More Than Cappuccino!

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Coffee Culture Complexity
Recently, I found a great blog called My Corner Of Italy. What initially drew my attention was a post about the various types of Italian coffee, which I believe gives a great overview of the complex Italian Coffee Culture. 
Most intriguing was this picture:
For this discussion, we aren't focusing on the various roasts or grinds of the coffee bean. I'd like to focus on what can happen once the espresso machine completes it's holy mission and you have a single or double shot of this nectar of the gods. 
My Macchiato
I have had various opportunities to taste many of these varieties both in the U.S. and in Italy, and while each is beautiful in it's own right, my current go-to in a bar is a macchiato caldo, although I omit the caldo when I order and have yet to get one that is cold. 
While it's common to use zucchero (sugar), that stained milk foam is usually enough to knock down the bitterness for my tastes. It's a strong drink, though, a…