Tag Archives: restaurants

Mm is tasty.

Or it might be better said it makes you go “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

Mm or Mm! is the name of a favorite seafood restaurant in the center of Catania.

Today, I’m going to defer to the story-telling prowess of my friend Nick.

Click this link to check out his description of Mm at his blog, Sicily Ciao.

Buon appetito!


Filed under Food. Cibo.

Maratona di Roma in my Soul

The Rome Marathon weekend is a little ways behind me, here is the recap.

Due to the conclave at Vatican City, and the timing of the marathon coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day, and an Italy-Ireland rugby game, and myriad other events happening that weekend, Rome was a complete madhouse when we were there. It was great! Dave and I stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood, just across the Tiber River (tras = across, and “tevere” is the Tiber) from Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). We had easy access to the start and finish of the race, which are based at the Colosseo (The Colosseum).

We arrived on Friday and dined at one of several cute and well-regarded restaurants in our neighborhood, Taverna Trilussa.
Dave Taverna Trilussa












One of my all-time favorite Italian pasta dishes is Bucatini all’Amatriciana, and lucky for me, it is a Roman specialty. Bucatini is the name of the pasta, which is a dried pasta along the lines of a thick spaghetti that is hollow like a straw. The Amatriciana sauce is made of tomatoes, guanciale (a fatty bacon made of cured pork cheek) and pecorino cheese; I prefer versions that also include garlic and onion, which I saw in the three versions I have eaten in Rome. The dish does not need much cheese though, so if you try it and you are usually a cheese-heavy person, I recommend taking several bites before asking your server to add more cheese. Adding some spice with red or black pepper spices is also common and is the best way that I have enjoyed bucatini all’Amatriciana.

On the Saturday before race day, Dave and I traced our path from our Trastevere apartment to the race start, and then joined our friends on the trek to marathon village. We registered and got our swag bag, signed the marathon wall, and carbo loaded.
Jill and Dave_Marathon Wall Rome












That night, we met up with other members of Dave’s command for another pasta-rich dinner. We had several experienced marathoners in the group, so we all ate pretty lightly, and enjoyed the camaraderie of sharing our race histories, theories for success, and pre-race jitters.

Race day came quickly enough and we set off without a hitch. About 16,000 runners, walkers, and wheelchair/hand-bikers participated in the race, and you can imagine the porta-potty lines! It was a wonderful atmosphere, and as total amateurs, we were deep in the pack of the final group to launch. We crossed the start line about 10-minutes after the gun start, and with the beeeeeeeeeep of our chips engaging, our Maratona di Roma start was official!

Dave hung in with me for the first 5k and then headed out with a bit more speed. My body was dragging, and I settled into making my goal of running the entire first half. I made it to the halfway point with my wits about me, took several walk breaks to accept that my time was going to be pretty far off my personal best, and then re-engaged with vigor. As I got rolling into the second half, I faced many of the demons that plagued me during races when I was more strongly positioned to perform – panic attacks, sudden surges of emotion, and balancing the pain and anger I felt as the race progressed. Dave coined this stage “painger” and you know when you’ve entered the zone because you transition from thinking “Thanks crowd” to “F**K off, and stop smoking in the street!”

I practiced some coping strategies and though my time was a half hour longer than my Lago di Garda marathon, I feel like I learned lessons that will carry forward into my physical, spiritual and professional life.

We re-connected after the race, showered and scavenged our neighborhood for food. Luckily, we were right by a bread shop/pizzeria La Renella, and we quickly had bellies-ful of freshly made pizza. Our apartment was equipped with entertainment features, so we watched Ghostbusters and settled into our post-race stupors.

As I reflect on my third marathon in six months, I find myself asking more questions than anything else. How did I maintain mental focus? What am I running after? How will I know when I really come to my physical capacity edge? What is next? Some of these musings lead to deeper philosophical questions, like how much more do I have to give? And, from what springs my desire to find my edge?

From among bloggers I follow, I found this article to be an interesting entry into seeing how other exercise enthusiasts are trying to answer these questions in more urban settings: Is this a rave or a race? Intriguing fitness trends.

All in all, the marathon is a wonderful event and Rome definitely puts on a great show. We tracked along the Tiber River for much of the race, and passed so many notable piazzas and historic sites that I cannot begin to mention them all here. Noteworthy to my Roman soul were running through Piazza Navona, around the neighborhood where we stayed with my parents in October, and running past the Trevi fountain and throwing my coin from the race route. Finally, at the end, we received lovely medals, which I wore all night.

Rome Medals













Ciao a Roma, and Ciao to you!


Filed under Awesomeness, Running, Travel

Succulent Squid with Three Flavors, Green Island, Lyudao, Taiwan

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Monica and Marco and their special seafood restaurant on Lyudao. Thanks to their love of the island and entrepreneurial spirit, I had the best meal of the year while I was on vacation in Taiwan.

The Crazy Fried storefront.

Maddie was a most gracious host and on top of taking care of ALL of the Chinese language aspects of our trip, planning the itinerary, executing the travel details and facilitating a truly stress-free vacation, she also researched restaurants! Her epic blog research is the best way to gain recommendations for Taiwan.

The guidebook selection for Taiwan is slim and infrequently updated. However, bloggers (we rock!) are providing more and more guidance for world travelers, and I would like to pay it forward by echoing the blog post Maddie read about Monica and Marco’s restaurant, “Crazy Fried.”

See us? That’s us at the restaurant!

Based on this recommendation, we quickly found Crazy Fried along the short strip of restaurants on the main drag in Lyudao’s main town Nanliao. We ate dinner there the first night and I tried the “grilled squid with three flavors” – and was blown away. Maddie’s food was equally delicious and the prices were unbelievably low in light of the excellent quality of the flavor combinations.

Don’t get excited yet. This is Maddie’s dish. I said it was equally delicious, but that was a lie. Nothing is as delicious as the squid with three flavors.

I don’t want to oversell Crazy Fried, but this is a meal I will remember for the rest of my life.

After eating it the first night, I was tempted to order another plate of the same dish, IMMEDIATELY. Honestly, this is something I don’t do. I want to say that I have never re-ordered a dish immediately in my life. Maybe it’s happened a time or two that I forgot about, but it is not typical Jill practice. Yet, the food was that good to me in that moment. I wisely waited a few minutes and decided I was too full to be able to actually enjoy the dish immediately.

So, I returned the next day and ordered it for lunch. This became the non-negotiable option for lunch. In fact, the pictures below are from lunch because after I took the first bite at dinner, I was completely engaged in the enjoying of my food. I didn’t even think about the camera until I was 75% done with the meal.

The meal. Imagine the freshiest fresh fresh calamari squid, grilled to perfection. Then, add a savory soy and vinegar based sauce, thai basil, chilies, roasted garlic, green onion and caramelized/grilled ginger. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be!

The green onions were almost crunchy, but still flavorful; the garlic was creamy inside with a slight crackle as I bit in; the thai basil punctuated bites with flavor commas, savory semi-colons and herbacious exclamation points; chilies and ginger pervaded the sauce’s flavor, when I nibbled either chile or ginger directly, the flavors overwhelmed that bite, but overall, they blended well in the flavor. I had never had ginger prepared this way and while it was still too strong to take more than a small bite, it was refreshing and a neat presentation.

Monica was a gracious host, both by night and by day. She was funny and flirty and seemed to enjoy flitting about and making us giggle. When we stopped by the next afternoon, she immediately recognized us (on our scooter and helmeted) and waved us into a front-row parking spot. Monica’s conversational English is great. She did ask for our English expertise when she was commenting on a friend’s facebook post in English. She posed for a picture with Maddie and she was just one of those people who make you feel great to be alive.

Maddie & Monica.

Thank you Monica! Xie xie!


Filed under 5-100, Awesomeness, Food. Cibo., Travel