“I had to skip wine,” CRUjiente Tacos chef/co-owner (and big-time wine guy) Rich Hinojosa says, his face full of regret. “We kind of focused on food and all the architecture.” This past summer, Hinojosa and his 15-year-old daughter visited Italy for the first time, traveling through Rome, Modena, Florence and small villages in Tuscany with family friends. He shares their highlights.
“There were two things I had to eat when we got to Florence, and lampredotto was one of them,” Hinojosa says of the local delicacy of cow’s stomach, which he sampled at this food stall in the Mercato Centrale. “It was one of my favorite things I had on the whole trip.” The tripe-like dish is typically served in a sandwich, “but they were out of buns when I got there, so I had mine in broth, like in a soup.”
Hinojosa was giddy about his visit to De Nigris, the Modena balsamic vinegar producer that has been crafting balsamico since 1889. He recalls the first time he tried a true aged balsamic. “I remember it was like the first time I ever had Japanese Wagyu. It was like, ‘Oh my god, what is this?’ I’ve always wanted to go to Modena, since then.” denigris1889.com
“I called everybody except Santa Claus to see if I could get a reservation,” Hinojosa says of chef Massimo Bottura’s modern Italian restaurant in Modena, recently voted No. 1 in the world by San Pellegrino. “It was one of those dinners where I left there equally inspired and dumbfounded.” His favorite dish: fresh spaghettini with herbs, tomato, prawn and uni. “I took a bite of that and just melted.” osteriafrancescana.it