Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food & Wine survival tips for Italy


-Coffee – Even if you're an occasional coffee drinker, make sure you order coffee in Italy. A 'caffe' will come standard as an espresso, although they generally ask tourists if they mean 'caffe americano' (black coffee). I drank quite a few espressos over the time that I was there as it realy is the best way to taste the coffee as it is.... and it IS good! If asking for a 'caffe latte' (that means coffee with milk), expect something a little different to what we sometimes find in Cape Town. After all, many Italians see adding milk to coffee as a bit of a sin. A caffe (espresso) is usually between 1-2Euros. Caffe Lattes are around 3Euro.

-Gelato – if you're ever in Italy, eating Gelato is a must. Gelato or 'ice cream' shops can be found dotted all over the place and most of them have dairy free sorbets. I tried dairy free mango, melon and forest berries. Hmmmm divine … a single scoop is usually around 2.50Euros (R25 but so worth it)

-Wine – Italy has recently taken over as the leading wine producing country in the world. BY producing 25%, just ahead of France's 24%. In Venice, they love Prosecco (sparkling wine). On my first night I tried to order red wine and instead got red sparkling wine. It wasn't great. Stick to the white, or try make it clear that you want actual wine. On the second day I had a great bottle of local red wine at lunch, delicious white prosecco in the afternoon and more white and red wine over dinner. Wine is similarly priced to wine in South Africa. You get get away with a drinkable light red for about 5Euro from a grocery store (R50). Expect to pay a little more in a restaurant of course, about 20 to 30Euro (R200) for a decent bottle of red.

-Additional taxes – Some restaurants and cafes in Venice, particularly around San Marcos square for example and other main squares, have interesting 'additional taxes', such as: seating taxes, music taxes, pavement taxes etc... watch out for these and ask about additional service charges before sitting down and ordering anything. Speaking of unexpected expenses. In Venice, it is 1.50Euro to use a public toilet. That's right - R15 to pee... and the toilets are by no means near the cleanliness standards of most public bathrooms in South Africa. So save your pee for when you're at a restaurant and rather spend 1.50Euro on a caffe.

-Language – when dining out, act as you would in France and try speak some Italian. The waiters will love you for it and it will break the ice in a nice way. Some good phrases to learn:

Bon Journo (good day)
per favore (please)
Grazie (thank you)
vino (wine)
Rosso (red)
bianco (white)
si (yes)
non (no)
Molto Bella (very beautiful) - guys: use this when trying to pick up hot Italian chicks

No comments: