Food-Lessons From Our Honeymoon

When we chose to go to Salzburg and Italy for our honeymoon, we were definitely going with a wander around, follow-the-food approach. In Salzburg we planned to beer garden it up, and in Italy we planned to… I mean, eat Italian food. That’s pretty simple.

And it was pretty easy to follow our stomachs as we booked our trip. The agriturismo we stayed at in Tuscany was chosen because my friend Lindsey described it as serving the best food she’d ever had. The B&B we stayed at in Florence was run by a chef who also offered meals and cooking lessons.

One of the best things about travel is gathering new food ideas and experiences to bring home for future use. So… here are a few things that came home with me. Feel free to try them!

1. MIND YOUR MANNER(S)

Okay, that was just a punny thing to say. This has nothing to do with manners — I’m talking about Manner. It’s a delicious dessert wafer, the Austrian version of Quadratini.

Although the Mozartkugel is the official candy of Salzburg, Manner also has its own candy store in Salzburg’s Residenzplatz. We wandered around there, and were chastised for trying to photograph the chocolate fountain. (Sam still managed to get a photo.) I regret that I didn’t buy any swag, edible or otherwise. (We were going to go back, but got waylaid on our last day by a Sound of Music-worthy thunderstorm.)

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Feeling like a kid in a candy store, at the Manner store.

ANYWAY, at McDonald’s in Austria, the McFlurry comes with pieces of Manner wafer in it. After the famous Salzburg Nockerl dessert turned out to be an expensive disappointment (to be fair, our waiter warned us it was a try-it-once food), I was all about obtaining a cheap and sure-to-be-satisfying Manner McFlurry.

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Wafer-y goodness.

I’m a big fan of wafers, so I was very happy with the Manner McFlurry, and a little sad that I only had time to eat one of them in Salzburg.

Luckily it’s super easy to make these at home, because Manner is available in the United States at Cost Plus World Market. So all you need is vanilla ice cream (or McDonald’s vanilla soft serve, if you want to be authentic) and some Manner wafers, and you can be transported to the mall near the train station in Salzburg!

I’ve been making my own Manner McFlurries for dessert quite often, and am happy to report that they taste good with whatever ice cream you have on-hand. (Or yogurt. Go nuts.)

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It’s a small world after all!

The “recipe” is to break up the wafers and stir them in!

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You’re welcome, America!

2. FRESHLY SQUOZEN ORANGE JUICE IS THE BEST

I recently told Sam that I am a snob now, because I only like “freshly squozen orange juice.” He said he wasn’t sure a real snob would use the word “squozen.”

Listen, buddy — squeezed, squozen, whatever! I learned the rules of English, so now I can break them.

When I worked on a pilot in Budapest, the breakfast-makers would always make orange juice from a really simple juicer, and it came out pulpy and amazing. Maybe because Austria and Hungary have close ties, Austria also had a solid OJ game, and the same breakfast breads that I loved in Budapest.

At the grocery store near our hotel, they had a machine where you could squeeze your own juice! Obviously I had to try it for myself.

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Moments of great import.

This was at the aforementioned mall near the train station, moments after ducking out of the storm to eat the Manner McFlurry. So I was having a magical afternoon. (I don’t know what’s up with my grimace-y smile, but I really was super-pumped.)

I think Sam posted a video to Facebook, but long story short: an orange rolls down the chute and gets chopped in half and juiced when you push down on the spigot.

I have been informed that a few stores in Southern California have these juicers, and I even saw one at the farmers’ market. But I wish MORE stores had them. (Luckily we got a Kitchen Aid juicer attachment as a wedding gift, so we’re gonna be OKAY!)

3. EGGS SPEDALONE

My friend Lindsey wasn’t wrong about the food at Agriturismo Podere Spedalone. Everything about that place was amazing — the people, the food, the views. But one of my favorite things was breakfast. Eggs came straight from the chickens, and were cooked in amazing ways by Massimo, who was always on breakfast duty while we were there.

When we asked him how he made the scrambled eggs, he said he used their homemade olive oil (of course), plus a dash of herbs, some seeds, some cheese (I think)… you know, just whatever’s around. Casual perfection.

The second day, he made a frittata that dreams are made of. It had potato, zucchini flowers (from the garden, I’m assuming), probably also cheese… it was so good, I’m scared to attempt to recreate it.

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The frittata and other farm delights.

Massimo was also responsible for the latte-art that I posted in my first post-honeymoon blog. A man of enviable talents.

When we stayed in Florence, our chef-host said that most Italians don’t eat eggs for breakfast. It might be different if you actually live with chickens, but I’m not sure. She also showed us that each egg in Italy is stamped with an expiration date and where it came from, so people are very assured of the provenance and quality of their eggs.

Even though I am not quite that assured back home, I’ve been buying the most farm-raised-ish eggs possible, and scrambling them a little softer. We are lucky enough to possess some Spedalone olive oil (we brought it home with us), and I throw in some shredded cheese (Monterey Jack/cheddar blend), some dried basil, a dash of Stone House Oil’s Napa Valley Blend (Napa: the Tuscany of California!), salt and pepper.

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Egg-cellent.

They also have soft-scrambled eggs for brunch at Elysian, where we got married. So these are like a wedding-and-honeymoon trick. (And if somebody else in Los Angeles is soft-scrambling eggs for mass consumption, it’s probably not a health risk?)

And then I eat those eggs with rye toast and orange juice but NOT with ketchup, because I’m trying to limit my ketchup intake. To things involving potato, mostly.

You may have noticed that I’m eating the egg yolks, because I’m kind of over being scared of them. Who even knows what’s healthy anymore? (I also bought a full dozen eggs — normally I can barely finish a half-dozen before it goes bad — because I decided to commit to eating eggs regularly, after which I lost my taste for eggs for a while… typical shenanigans.)

Two further notes: A) Napa Valley Blend is also AMAZING if you mix it with olive oil and/or vinegar and dip pizza crusts in it. Or really anything. I highly recommend having it on-hand. (You can buy it at one of my favorite places in the WORLD, the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Or online.) B) I like to add the olive oil to the pan, then the eggs, THEN turn on the burner. I think I heard that trick on Splendid Table?

The other thing I learned in Italy is that red wine actually has something in it that triggers my acid reflux. All these years I thought I was kind of a rube for drinking sweet white wine only, but it turns out that secretly my taste buds were protecting me by only liking Sprite-flavored wines. Thanks, body! (Sorta.)

Oh — and we also took an Italian cooking class, natch. But this post is about lessons you probably wouldn’t learn in any classroom, because… well, look at them.

Let me know if you try any of these “recipes.” And don’t hold me responsible if you become addicted to Manner.

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