You know in Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts goes to Italy to get fat? That was basically us the entire Italian leg of our European trip. We filled up on pasta, wine and gelato. When we weren’t eating, we were looking for things to do until we were hungry again. Florence was incredible, and exactly how I imagined it would be. The streets were narrow and quaint. Our 3 days in the city felt relaxing and slow moving, something we needed after running around Paris and London. We even got a couple’s massage! We got lost in the city and didn’t stick to an agenda. On our last day, we took a day trip to Cinque Terre, where we took a took a tour and hiked along the coast. Our highlight was definitely swimming in the ocean. We couldn’t believe how clear and warm the water was.
Here is our guide to Florence:
EAT: Trattoria 13 Gobbi (spaghetti pictured), Paszkowski (great for coffee and pastries), Zeb Gastronomia (restaurant owned by mother and son – adorable and delicious)
DO: Gucci Museum, Boboli Garden, Desinare Cooking School, Day trip to Cinque Terre
STAY: Hotel Continentale
Embarrassing confession: for the past 22 years of my life, I have never liked tomatoes, which posed a major problem with my tomato-loving fiancé. After months of begging on his end and taste testing on mine, I am now a full-fledged tomato lover.
We got back from our European vacation with enough time to enjoy the last bit of tomato season. I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, and have made it countless times. These tomato and herbed goat cheese crostinis are the most delicious summertime treat.
P.S. Chris won me over with tomatoes, but will never get me to like mushrooms.
Here is an adapted version on how to make the crostinis:
Herbed Goat Cheese-
16 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (I prefer chives, basil and parsley)
2 tsp minced shallot
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Splash of goat’s or cow’s milk (optional)
1 1/2 lbs grape or cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
3 tbs good olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Handful of fresh herbs (We like rosemary and basil, but you can add thyme and sage too)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 loaf of cibatta, thickly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Herbed Goat Cheese-
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Feel free to add in the optional milk in small amounts to give it a creamier texture. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic slices, and herbs in a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and arrange in a single, sung layer.
- Roast the tomato mixture for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice during the process. Once the tomatoes have shriveled a bit and their juices are starting to concentrate, remove and scrape into a bowl. They can keep at room temperature for up to 8 hours and they improve the longer they stew in their own juices. It’s totally worth roasting the tomatoes in the morning and letting them sit all day long. Trust me.
- When ready to serve, evenly brush the ciabatta slices with olive oil and toast them in a 350º F preheated oven, until golden brown. Once toasted, let them cool a bit and rub the garlic clove on each slice.
- Generously smear each piece of bread with the herbed goat cheese and spoon the tomatoes (and their juices!) on to each slice.
London was incredible. We loved the city even more than we thought we would. It rained most of the time we were there, but we managed to see and do everything on our list. Our hotel was located in Shoreditch (a really cool neighborhood). When we checked into our hotel, Skrillex and M.I.A. were standing next to us!
Everyone we spoke to said that the food scene in London wasn’t very good, but we found the exact opposite. Everywhere we went, we loved! Here is our guide to London:
EAT: Pizza East, Dishoom, Poppies Fish & Chips, Flat Iron, Borough Market, Sketch
DO: Street art walking tour, The Photographers’ Gallery, Tower Bridge, Harry Potter Studio Tour
SHOP: Labour and Wait, T2, Dr. Marten, Sunspel
STAY: Ace Hotel London