“Pizza, and pasta and cheese, oh my!” That was my first thought as I disembarked the plane at the Ciampino airport in Rome. Never mind that it was only 10 a.m. as I lugged my leopard tote off the plane—I was ready for lunch. By the time we hailed a cab and were careening through the tiny cobblestone streets at what felt like 300 miles per hour, I think everyone else’s stomachs had caught up to mine. They were grumbling, and we were ready to nibble.
Seeing as this was my first big adventure away from London, I knew that I had to do it big with no regrets. However, I didn’t want to regret coming back from my very first trip with my jeans a little tighter than when I left. That demanded a compromise between my ever-increasing appetite for cheesy goodness, and my need to maintain a decent diet for my vertically small 5-foot frame. I had faith in myself to accept the challenge.
My roommate, Mia, is an Italy fiend and quickly led us to her favorite restaurant. Passing through the covered outdoor tables, I stared with wide eyes at the gleaming plates of prosciutto and melon, fluffy balls of mozzarella, and heaping plates of noodles with red sauce. Needless to say, I didn’t need much coaxing to admire the menu as soon as it was set in front of me.
After browsing the pages of hearty Italian options, I settled on an appetizer of Caprese salad and a main course of grilled chicken.
When the salad arrived it was colorful and bright, and I was completely satisfied to see that the cheese, tomatoes, and basil were all incredibly fresh. Isn’t that the stereotype? That the food in Italy is all homegrown and essentially made in the kitchen and grown in the garden right behind it? Well I can say with satisfaction that I was not disappointed. The entire salad was drizzled in what I can only describe as the most earth-shattering, heart-stopping extra-virgin olive oil I have ever tasted. A couple twists of the pepper shaker, and I was in a mozzarella-infused heaven.
I must have been sent a gift of food-ordering intuition from the international eating gods, because the chicken complemented my salad perfectly. Whereas the salad was light and acidic, the chicken balanced it perfectly with a heartier bite and a charcoal skin. The entire inside was juicy and cooked to perfection, and I have to be honest when I say it certainly even rivals the chicken at Dino BBQ.
Italy was an incredible vacation, and I highly recommend the Amalfi Coast to anyone who is interested! I’m back in London now, but that won’t stop me from continuing to find the most delicious of foods.
I can’t wait for my next meal. I’ll eat ANYTHING but fish ‘n chips.
By Lara Gould