When it is hot in Italy, you want to order a “caffe freddo” (cold coffee) which is sort of like a coffee milkshake. It’s a bit confusing because it is not a “frappe” which is a different drink. I include a photo here so that you can see that a frappe is a coffee which is frothed to the point where it has a frappe/froth/head on top. A caffe freddo has milk added, a frappe does not.
When you see the slush machines spinning with coffee colored caffe freddo, you know that summer has arrived. A caffe freddo is different from an iced coffee or milkshake.
As an aside, the milkshakes in Italy are quite liquid and not unlike a caffe freddo except that they are not always as cold. Also, you can get a milkshake most of the year but caffe freddo is a summer thing.
***** Update July 2021 ****** — I have revised my choice for the best tiramisu as I’ve now had many more and the one at Pierluigi’s still makes me want to go back for more.
This article is dedicated to a friend of mine who suggested I do a list of best tiramisu places (plus, it was recently the golden anniversary of tiramisu). There are over 12,000 restaurants in Rome, and I’d wager that most serve tiramisu, so I can’t tell you which is the best. Of the ones I’ve had over the past few months, these are some that I would recommend.
Before I moved to Rome, I didn’t like tiramisu. I realize it’s because in my experience, usually the tiramisu was a large cold clumpy mass, possibly made with alcohol. I don’t like the taste of alcohol interfering with my sweet dessert. I prefer my tiramisu to be creamy (more on creamy at the bottom) more like a trifle or Eton Mess.
Mimi e Coco (Via del Governo Vecchio 72, on one of the most picturesque streets in the center of Rome) serves a super creamy tiramisu in a glass, more like a trifle.
Tre Caffe (Via dei Due Macelli 107, near the Vatican) serves a tiny tiramisu that satisfies.
Fisherman Burger (Via Ravenna 34) lets you eat it as you wish, serving the three parts separately.
Di Qua (Via delle Corrozze 85B, near the Spanish Steps) have a creamy tiramisu that I even ate although I had no more appetite.
Matricianella (Via del Leone 4) also serves a creamy tiramisu.
Two Sizes (Via del Governo Vecchio 88, across from Coco e Mimi) serves tiramisu in two sizes, to go. You can take them as gifts or home to enjoy on your own.
Many pastry shops and gelato shops will sell tiramisu and every (almost) restaurant will serve it. However, cheesecake and brownies are beginning to make their inroads.
A interesting note about saying something is “creamy” — I told an Italian that I liked the creaminess of something and she said, “no, not cream, panna.” The word, “crema” in Italian refers to pastry cream/custard. For whipped cream, one uses “panna” in Italian. There is a lot of whipped cream in Italian food. It’s offered at almost every gelateria to top off your gelato, they have desserts that are stuffed with whipped cream, and even a breakfast bun stuffed with whipped cream. Panna is manna to me. I like it creamy.
As for the best tiramisu… it’s probably the one you are currently eating.
As obsessions go, cheesecake is not one of mine. But, recently, I had a cheesecake that I actually liked. Here is the recipe from King Arthur’s Flour. I encourage you to read it out loud so you can enjoy saying “zwieback” — just because. Also, for the optional topping, I would simply cook some fresh berries with a bit of sugar. Keep it simple. Or serve fresh berries and not bother with making a sauce.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs OR zwieback crumbs
Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9″, and whose height is at least 1 1/4″. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, making a thicker layer on the bottom than on the sides.
Make the filling by mixing together the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, again mixing until smooth. To avoid beating too much air into the batter, use a mixer set at low-medium speed. To avoid lumps, make sure the cream cheese is softened, and/or at room temperature.
Set the pie pan onto a baking sheet, if desired; this makes it easier to transport in and out of the oven, and also protects the bottom of the crust from any potential scorching. Pour the filling into the crust.
Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes, then add a crust shield; or shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). An instant-read thermometer inserted into the crust 1″ from the edge should read between 165°F and 170°F; the filling won’t look entirely set in the center.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool while you make the topping. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to serve it.
To make the topping, place the frozen raspberries in a bowl to thaw. You can hasten the process with a quick trip through the microwave, but don’t let the berries cook.
Add 1 tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer, and stir until well combined. Is the topping as thick as you like? If not, stir in another tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste. Stir in a pinch of ground cinnamon, if desired.
Spoon the topping over the cheesecake, and cut slices to serve. Alternatively, cut slices, and top each with a dollop of topping.
I didn’t expect to find a good sushi restaurant in Santo Domingo (sorry, don’t be offended, DR!) but I did. Shibuya is located on the ground floor of the Blue Mall (one of the most expensive high end malls in the city) and it is part of the SBG restaurant chain. SBG has a cafe on the same floor. While Shibuya is Japanese, the dishes are a fusion of Japanese-Peruvian dishes.
First, yes, they have a Japanese chef… for those who use this as a marker for a good Japanese restaurant. I don’t think he works every day so I imagine that sometimes the Japanese food is made by non-Japanese hands…
The sushi place has excellent sashimi (raw fish like the salmon in the first photo — a double portion), tiridito dishes (Peruvian “carpaccio” of fish — thin slices with sauce. See the photo of the fish in the yellow sauce, above.), and ceviches (classic Peruvian style in photo above, with deep fried sweet potato deep and Peruvian corn). Many of the other dishes are good as well, as are their cocktails. I liked their “tuna tartare” which was like a large portion of Hawaiian “poke” (raw fish salad mixed with soy sauce, green onions, sesame seed oil, and chili or mayonnaise… you get the idea) with extra ingredients.
I ate that this restaurant more than ten times and had almost everything on the menu. Their fried rice is super crunchy. I think they toss quinoa in it to make it extra crunchy.
Another surprise at this place is their coconut cake dessert. Not at all Japanese, but is a nice nod to the Caribbean. Try it! I wasn’t convinced as I recall the straw texture of desiccated coconut… this cake tasted like warm apple pie.
As for this place being the best sushi place in the DR, I didn’t eat at too many sushi places but this place was so good that I looked forward to eating there. Who needs to go anywhere else? It’s not this local fish place…
In Danish, a danish is a “viennese bread” because it was brought to Denmark in the 19th century by immigrants from Vienna. There are many names and many types of pastry sold in Denmark and the bakeries, although no longer on every corner, are still to be had (today, 7-11 bakes fresh every few hours).
My favorites are actually not the well-known pretzel shaped “kringle” or the “duck breast” or “snail” but, one that is hard to find and the other that is more common. My favorite one is so popular that it’s sold at the airport. It’s called a “tebirkes” or “tea poppy seed” and it’s a rectangular shape with a covering of poppy seeds. Inside, the bottom layers are held down by a thin layer of almond paste mixed with sugar. The tebirkes isn’t overly sweet and I like to splice it open, slather it with Lurpack butter and a slice of smelly strong cheese. The second pastry that I always get, if I can, is called a “rosenbroed” or “rose bread”and it’s made from the basic kringle puff pastry but in a long plank shape. It’s covered with a thick layer of icing and sliced into long strips. Pure sugar, butter, and puff pastry!
Denmark is known for its Danish and in the U.S., there are a few places that claim to do the original kringle or Danish. But, Danish pastry is like New York pizza… it’s something in the water… if you can, go to the source.
One day when I was in Parque Virrey, here in Bogota, there was a lady selling mini apple pies. Each pie costs 5,000 each ($1.70). The pies are delicious. The pie lady makes other flavors of pie including blackberry.
I like that the pies are perfect miniatures just perfect to eat in one bite.
So I used my oven for the first, and last, time. I tried to bake something for a holiday party, a giant meat pie with phyllo pastry. It’s been months since I moved to Bogota, yet I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I cut the pastry up into squares and placed them on top of the meat filling. My oven is a combination gas and electric oven. I couldn’t figure out which of the knobs I’m supposed to turn as the markings make no sense to me (plus some are worn off). So I turned everything. There was a hiss and then a few minutes later, the blue flames danced along the bottom. I put the pan in the oven. I watched. Eventually, I took it out. None of the pastry had risen. Some of the pastry had turned a dark bark color. At the other end of the pan, the pastry lay like uncooked lasagne sheets. I gave up.
For another holiday party, I made an artsy no-bake dessert. Here’s how I made it:
Marinate some dried cranberries in tequila (or rum) for a few days. Cook them with some sugar. Puree these with softened cream cheese and sour cream. Put in a ziplock bag for ease of transport. In a pan, toast some walnuts. Put aside. Melt some sugar (okay, lots) in a pan. Add a touch of butter to make a caramel. When the sugar is a liquid caramel, add dried cranberries and the walnuts. Put on a silicone sheet (or a greased surface) to cool. Smash the brittle into bits and put into a bag. At the party, assemble by cutting a hole in one corner of the cream cheese bag and pipette (fancy pouring) into hand blown glasses from Colombia (or a glass from anywhere). Add whipped cream if you want, or just put the brittle on top.
From now on, my desserts will all be brittle based.
Mishti is the word for sweets. To say that Bangladeshis love them would be an understatement. Many cultures love sweets but the Bangladeshis more than love them. They are in love with them.
There are some basic mishti that they love. At any celebration boxes of “rosh gulla” will appear. These are dough balls soaked in sugar water till they have a sandy sticky texture. At weddings and on the street, you will see “jallaby” being deep fried and then soaked in sugar water. At homes, you will be offered “mishti doi” which is sweetened yogurt served in a clay dish made specifically for this custardy yogurt dish. Sometimes, you will be offered “pithe” which are a less sweet hardtack style biscuit. Or you may be offered “rasgulla” or “reshmallai” which is boiled milk formed into sweet balls. The ones in Bangladesh are the size of marbles and the ones in India are the size of golf balls.
Bangladeshis also eat cake. They like their cake to have a thin frosting, not the thick crests of butter cream frosting seen on most American cakes.
In my very informal survey of the sweet tastes of Bangladesh, I have discovered that Bangladeshis love chocolate. Chocolate is exotic. Peanut butter cups are also popular and exotic. Caramel is only slightly popular and mint is not at all.
Where is the best sushi in Dhaka? At Izumi. This is probably the leading Japanese restaurant in Dhaka. On road 119 or nearby.
Where is the best sashimi in Dhaka? If you want sashimi (raw fish), then go to Goong, the Castle (a Korean restaurant that does many seafood dishes, raw and cooked).
Where is the best Thai food in Dhaka? Pan Thao on road 12 in Banani. Thai Kitchen in Gulshan is okay too. There is a new Thai place in Banani (two parallel streets behind Banani Supermarket) called Luam that makes a few dishes that are passable as well… Thai food is one of those ubiquitous cuisines you find advertised everywhere in Dhaka (along with Chinese and Italian).
Best steak? Goong. Even though it’s a Korean restaurant, they have imported beef there including Kobe beef (also called Wagyu — the famous Japanese breed of cows that get fed beer and get massages). The Steakhouse also has good steak. As does Diner 360 which has a bargain price as well.
Best Korean? Goong, the Castle.
Where is the most romantic restaurant in Dhaka? Mermaid Cafe has a few booth cabanas. Spaghetti Jazz has candles (well most do) and is dark. Panini in Banani has seating arrangements that allow for canoodling. See question below.
Where should I take my wife for our anniversary dinner? Le Souffle (it’s fancy and French), Spitfire, Saltz, Soi 71, Panini, Goong, Steakhouse. The restaurants in the Westin are expensive but they are romantic.
Which restaurant is best for taking children? Soi 71, Diner 360, Goong all have play areas or rooms for children. Istanbul has a castle for children.
Where is the best pizza in Dhaka? For American style, La Forchetta and Pizza Hut. For Italian thin style, Spaghetti Jazz and Bella Italia.
Where is the best burger in Dhaka? Have not found one I could eat all of but some like American Burger and the one at Panini was not as bad as I thought it would be.
What is the best ice cream in Dhaka? Movenpick.
Best cafe to hang out in? Northend Coffee Roasters, Cafe Italiano, Roll Express, Gloria Jeans
Where can I get the best dessert in Dhaka? Movenpick (eat in the cafe), Mr. Baker, King’s Confectionery.
Best bakery? King’s Confectionery, Mr. Baker, Do Mi Ok, Northend Coffee Roasters, and Bellagio.
Where are there nachos in Dhaka? Panini.
Where is the best fruit juice in Dhaka? Panini (ask for no added sugar, watch them make it in the sound muffling room), Roll Express, Saltz, and most places.