I recently took a two week-long trip to Spain and Italy, where I spent a week sight-seeing in each country. Of course, part of that included immersing myself in the food scene and exploring local restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Florence and Rome. What more could a girl ask for?
First up was Madrid, where I quickly learned that food and drinks are more than affordable there. Even the most gourmet and stunning restaurants offer food (which is more like art on a plate) at the most reasonable prices imaginable. Of course, that's a result of the current state of the Spanish economy. As a huge seafood fan, I could not get enough of appetizers like mussels and oysters and indulged in these at every single restaurant (along with a glass of sangria, of course). I also sampled traditional dishes like paella and different types of gazpacho (my favourite was watermelon!).
Barcelona was all about the paella and although it was available in many different varieties, like beef, chicken, and vegetable, I couldn't resist the shellfish time and time again. Serving sizes of the dish are quite large so this is a great dish to share with friends. By the way, if you're headed to Spain anytime soon, keep in mind that dinner is not until around 10pm, so take advantage of siestas (naps!) in the afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, in Italy I went crazy over the pasta. The varieties are truly endless, but I definitely recommend any type with seafood (shocking, right?). My personal favourite pasta dish in Italy is a tie between lobster penne in Rome and ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and pear in a cream sauce in Florence.
Obviously I also have to mention the delicious pizza in Italy. While vegetables were a hard topping to come by (simple cheese and sauce is much more popular), the ones I found were incredible and super fresh. I'm not lying when I say that I had pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner every single day.
Overall, the food was truly mind-blowing in both Spain and Italy. Prices are a bit higher in Italy, but great food at a reasonable price is certainly not hard to find.
by Souzan Michael