Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Memories of Italy

Sunset over the Adriatic SeaImage by Alex Bikfalvi via Flickr
Sunset over the Adriatic Sea.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss the pleasures of eating out in Italy, and compare Costco Wholesale and B.J.'s Wholesale Club.

More than a month after I came home, I found notes about one of the meals I had on my vacation that reveal the pleasures of dining out in Italy.

All of the restaurants I visited in Milan, Venice and Gallarate were nicely or beautifully decorated. Service was polished, and food was cooked to order.

During my visit to Venice, I stayed on Lido island, a beach resort on the Adriatic Sea that allows motor vehicles. I was on a quiet end of the island, with a panoramic view, and my hotel was across the way from a bus stop. Downtown and ferries to other islands were only two kilometers away.

My first dinner on Lido was at a seafood restaurant called La Sfera. I sat inside and looked around. The ceiling was covered with beautiful textiles, and the walls were adorned with paintings and gorgeous sconces.

I chose a fixed-price, 26-euro menu (about $35) and had a wonderful meal:

My spaghetti with clams also had red pepper, garlic and parsley, and some of the freshest bivalves I've encountered. The entree: nine grilled sardines (smaller than the fresh ones from Portugal I see in North Jersey), with a side of sauteed spinach. I finished with a cup of espresso.

La Sfera, Via Lepanto, 19, Lido di Venezia; 041.5261722.

Costco v. BJ's 

I tried to prepare the wild-salmon burgers I bought at BJ's Wholesale Club on Tuesday, but when I opened the box, I found two plastic bags, each with five frozen salmon burgers that were fused together. 

The Costco salmon burgers are in a single, large plastic bag, without additional packaging, and easily break apart when frozen. The burgers are made from fillets, according to the package.

Costco's Trident-brand salmon burgers weigh a total of 3 pounds ($12.99), and BJ's World Catch-brand salmon burgers weigh 2.5 pounds ($11.99).

I also wrote that on my second visit to BJ's, I saw frozen, wild-caught shrimp from Mexico and the U.S. for $11.99 a pound, and that Costco only sells farmed shrimp and prawns. 

But today, previously frozen, wild Pacific brown prawns from Mexico were available at Costco for $8.99 a pound.

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