Florence for Foodies: Part 2

Friday, August 26, 2011
In case you missed them, read about my love affair with Italian food and part 1 of great places to eat in Florence.

I think the oddest and best thing about eating somewhere like Italy is the lack of pretence. The food is so simple and the ingredients so fresh that it really is just about the food. Plus the prices are so reasonable - the price of food is not something I complain about when in Italy. The perfect example?

Lunch at San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale.

Mercato Centrale is the massive building in the middle of the San Lorenzo market. Mercato Centrale is full of fresh produce, cheese, meat, bread, the best balsamic vinegars and olive oils, and food vendors. Silly me forgot to get the name of the restaurant, but you can't miss it - just follow the heaps of people with plates and the long line. The restaurant was full of locals - with one father having to buy more food (a sandwich) for his son, after he'd scarfed down an entire bowl of risotto and some of his father's meal.

The bruschetta I had was amazing. The bread was crisp and the tomatoes and basil were freshly chopped. The best part? The olive oil it was smothered in was so great, softening up the bread just enough.

The bolognese I had wasn't the best I would have on the trip, but it was a good pre-Bologna bolognese to compare. I seriously love the way Italians cook their pasta. It's probably like that because it's fresh - I have not been able to replicate it with the dried pasta we have here.

 I'm not entirely sure what kind of soup we had. I think it was vegetarian. Needless to say, it was delicious. It was a bit saltier than I prefer, but at this point in the trip my palette had adjusted so it was barely noticeable.
Overall: A really fantastic place for lunch. Super quick and a great price.

Via Maggio, 46R

Ok, so for all you Vancouverites, I haven't been to Nicli Pizza. And for all you New Yorkers, yes, I've been to Grimaldi's.

Pizza in Italy is the BEST. Sorry, but it is. I love the size of the pies and going back to what I said earlier, the ingredients are FRESH.

Gusta Pizza is located on the South side of the Arno, on the same street as Pitti Palace. It's pretty much an institution. There are communal tables, no services/self service, and it is CHEAP. We ate for 13 Euros total (for dinner).

tomatoes, arugula & cheese pizza

FRESH. look at that huge parmesan chunk
Overall: GO. STAT.

Trattoria la Casalinga
Via dei Michelozzi, 9R

Located literally around the corner from Gusta Pizza was Trattoria la Casalinga. We had our last Italian dinner here and the staff pretty much had to roll us out of the restaurant.

proscuitto crudo and buffalo mozzarella
pesto spaghetti
beef carpaccio with arugula and parmesan

It was weird to have carpaccio as an entree-type dish - in Vancouver it's usually an appetizer. And it was much thicker than I'm used to - which is why I thought that I could easily finish it. Instead it was thickly cut, like roast beef. But with the parmesan and arugula....yum.

Overall: Not the best meal we had - but still good. And cheap.

Stand Tall with Standing Armed

Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Meet Standing Armed, a brand new line of womenswear straight from the 604. Designer Lindsay Walsh is a Vancouver native and is debuting her inaugural collection for Fall/Winter 2011.

While Westcoast fashion is typically.....lacking, Walsh's designs are anything but. The pieces are feminine and flattering. They are dressier and more structured than other Vancouver designers, but they don't feel out of place. In fact, there's a slight Westcoast meets Eastcoast aesthetic about them.

Standing Armed is also a semi-finalist in the Mercedes-Benz Startup competition.

Here are a few shots of the F/W11 collection:

Standing Armed is available across Canada and online.

Follow Standing Armed on Twitter or Facebook.
For media inquires, please contact Social Chair Public Relations.

Sabai Thai Spa - West Vancouver

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Sabai Thai Spa recently opened up their 3rd location in West Vancouver. After the lovely time I had at their Coal Harbour location, how could I possibly say no when Sandra of Middle Child Marketing invited me to try out the West Van spot?

The West Van location, located on the super cute part of Marine Drive, has a totally different vibe than the Coal Harbour location. It's much more sleek looking but still has the same welcoming and tranquil feeling. I don't know what it is, but Sabai Thai just oozes this warmth when you're there.

I really wanted to try one of Sabai Thai's traditional Thai services, which is what they're known for, especially since I tried the Deep Pressure Anti-Stress Massage last time. I went for the Traditional Thai Massage, or Nuad Boran:

Thai massage is a unique massage experience that will facilitate deep relaxation while wiping away your daily stresses. Your Treatment is enjoyed comfortably in loose fitted traditional Thai clothing that we provide for you here. Thai Massage techniques incorporate stretching and pressure points over the entire body, releasing blocked energy and increases awareness and well-being.

My masseuse, Anong, couldn't have been taller than 5'2" and was so adorable. She usually works at Coal Harbour - go see her!

The massage itself was definitely unlike any other massage I had ever had. I was concerned that it wasn't going to be as relaxing as other types of massage with the stretches involved, but once I got used to it, it was quite pleasant. I did tense up a bit during the leg part of the massage, but that was expected.

Overall, the massage was great (not as deep as I prefer, but it worked my tight areas (shoulders and legs)) and the service and staff at Sabai Thai are professional and delightful.

Sabai Thai Spa Coal Harbour 
571 Cardero Street
Vancouver, BC
Sabai Thai Spa North Vancouver
987 Marine Drive

North Vancouver, BC

Sabai Thai Spa West Vancouver
1867 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC