Then: At 5:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, I was rattled from my sleep with an idea. The sit-up-straight-out-of-bed kind of idea. Instead of setting up shop at one French cooking school, what if I hopped around the European continent and sampled from a variety of courses in different cities and countries? That's how Culinary Hopscotch was born. Follow me on an epicurean tour of cooking schools in countries around Europe and beyond. I'll be traveling and cooking for about three months, so if you're curious about where I'm headed, just ask. Otherwise, I'll be updating my whereabouts in the Twitter section on the right. The culinary crusade starts on January 29, 2010, and I'll be doing it all in a carry-on.

Now: We live in Portland, a culinary capital in its own right. I man the stove chez nous and plan our meals weekly on a colorful pad from Anthropologie. Things have changed a bit from the old school days of Culinary Hopscotch, but it makes sense (to me) to keep it alive. Look for posts on restaurants we visit, culinary happenings in the news, what's on the menu in our kitchen, and more!

Been There, Cooked That

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dining Like a Diva on Peasant's Pennies

Ally and I had somewhat of a breakthrough in Florence. On two occasions, we were suckered (by ourselves) into having drinks at establishments that were painfully touristy. And we all know that touristy equals expensive. 

On Piazza della Signoria, overlooking the Uffizi Gallery, we each spent €9 on glasses of wine at an outdoor cafĂ©. At Harry's Bar (same as the Venice original), wine was €7 a glass. We were glamorous as glamorous could be for the twenty minutes we sat in each place, however, the ding in the pocketbook did nothing to quench our thirst.

BUT, in each case, a welcome surprise arrived on the waiter's tray with our vino: sandwiches and snacks reminiscent of High Tea at The Ritz in London. We thought it was an anomaly the first time, and then it happened again at Harry's.

And that's when it donned on us...

For €7-10, you could have a drink and eat pretty well on what they provided. Did we have it all wrong- searching the city for the most cost-effective bowl of pasta when diva dining was under our noses the entire time? We had mini sandwiches, olives, skewers of prosciutto and mozzarella in an orange, and more. And what's better? We didn't ask for any of it.

The point is, don't count this out as a method of enjoying an evening at a ritzier place than you might normally stumble into. Sure, you should probably dress up a little (baseball hats need not apply), and you would certainly have to be amenable to eating what they brought you. But if you can acquiesce a bit, you too can be a part of the 21st century libation lallygag. It's like a pub crawl...with food...and so much more fabulous.

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