Saturday, April 24, 2010

are you going to eat that tentacle?

I know you were all on the edge of your seats, waiting to see how I spent my Friday night. Marissa, Sam and I decided to go out and get some gelato (shocker) before heading to the Odeon Theater to see the only movie that was showing...The Fantastic Mr. Fox (with Italian subtitles)! It was...strange to say the last, but the roomies and I had a good time laughing at it. Plus, I didn't stay in on a Friday night and I got to pratice my Italian!

I did go to bed pretty early, though, because Gillian and I had a culinary extravaganza planned for today!
We took the train to Florida! Sorry, fam, no time to stop in and say hello.

Obviously kidding

But I did keep having deja vu all day! With all of the palm trees and the bipolar weather, I was sure that we must be in the Sunshine State. In reality, we were in Livorno, which is so much better than Florida (sorry).

Livorno is Tuscany's third largest city, behind Florence and some other unidentified city. It is a port town, and is actually well known for its population of immigrants! Way back in the 16th century, Ferdinando I de'Medici acquired Livorno and sent a whole bunch of exiles and immigrants to live there, including a whole lotta Muslims and Jews who were being ousted from their home countries at the time. It remains one of Tuscany's most diverse cities today!

Gillian and Sam actually went to Livorno over spring break, but since I missed the trip and really wanted to try cacciuco (you'll see what that is later...), Gillian agreed to go with me again (what a sport!).
After a slight train mishap (we missed both of the 11 o'clock trains and had to take the noon one instead), we rode for an hour before arriving in the beautiful palm-tree filled city. We went to one of the only restaurants that was open. Apparently the entire city of Livorno takes its siesta at 2 PM, which was exactly when we arrived. Whoops.

Fortunately, Gillian and Sam had declared this place a gem. White bread was obviously necessary, as we were starving.

We decided to go big and split an antipasto. Good call! This was the best antipasto in the history of antipastos. It included: mussels, smoked salmon, two kinds of frutti di mare (seafood salad), shrimp in a kind of tartar-y sauce, and the star of the show, crostini (bread) with some kind of mussel-seafood topping. WHOA!

The last time Gillian came to this place, they were unfortunately out of cacciuco, which is a typical Livornese dish. I thought that we had heard good things about it, but looking back, it seems like most people just wanted us to try it..not necessarily because it was delicious. Somewhere down the line I had gotten the idea that it was a soup (think Mario's and Sergio's). I was very, very, VERY wrong, and after they brought out this dish, I was in shock for the rest of the meal. Heck, I'm still in shock!

It turned out to be a kind seafood stew, if you will. But like mystery stew. You had no idea what you were getting when you pulled something out. And there was an entire, large shrimp sitting on top of the whole thing, staring at me. It still had its claws. The entire dish was coated in this thick, almost barbeque-y sauce.

Gillian performing surgery.

Why, yes, that is a tentacle! What, you never eat tentacles for lunch?

This dish was an experience. This is the kind of thing I came to Italy for: to experience the culture. And cacciuco is definitely full of cultural value (and octopus. I probably ate the entirety of Ursula from The Little Mermaid). Gillian and I could not stop laughing the entire time we were eating was the kind of meal you never forget. I really don't know what else to say about it, except that it wasn't is just something I'll probably never order again.
There are no words.

After we picked through, the waiter brough us each a GIANT shot of limoncello, which is typically served as an post-meal aperitif, to aid in digestion. I have tried limoncello several times before this, but I decided to give it one last shot. Plus, I kind of wanted to wash the taste of octopus out of my mouth. (Kidding.)
Turns out, I just don't like limoncello. We'll call this little montage The Faces of Limoncello.

Here I am, ready to give it one last good-faith try...

The initial shock of the super-sweet lemon...

And the bitter aftertaste of the alcohol.

After lunch, we were both EXTREMELY full (despite my ragging on the cacciuco, we did some serious damage). We walked toward the harbor, since, like I said, Livorno is a port city.

Note the clouds here.

And here.

More clouds (and sailboats).

Then, BOOM! Clear skies.
Are you sure we're not in Florida?

We probably walked around the city for a good hour and a half (there may or may not have been some gelato...) before heading back to the train station. Look how pretty!
We both slept most of the train ride home, the octopus weighing heavily in our stomachs. A successful day, methinks.


  1. I am jealous. your hair is approximately 4 inches longer than mine. granted, i just got two inches trimmed off like a week ago...

    no fair. ;]

  2. that montage rocks my socks. tentacles...hmm. not so sure about those.

  3. I will buy some Ursala for you when you get back to Florida for real??!!# thought of it just "grabs" you doesn't it? You are such a food adventurer who would have thought certainly not me :P <3 mom

  4. I straight up LOL 'd at your Limoncello faces. =]