Giuseppe Verdi once claimed: “You may have the universe if I may have Italy” … I would second him and add to that:”You may have the best food experiences if You eat Italian food”…
I’ve been to Italy more than five times already and will go back again and again to enjoy its diverse regional food, varied and incredibly territorial, mesmerizing landscapes, spectacular historical monuments and enchanting vibes…
But, when in town I would content myself from either cooking Italian dishes at home or going to one of the many good Italian restaurants that we are lucky to have in Beirut!
My latest pick was: Harry’s bar!
Who’s Harry ?
“Harry’s Bar was opened in 1931 by bartender Giuseppe Cipriani.According to the company history, Harry Pickering—a rich, young Bostonian—had been frequenting Hotel Europa in Venice, where Giuseppe Cipriani was a bartender. When Harry Pickering suddenly stopped coming to the hotel bar, Cipriani asked him why.When he explained that he was broke because his family found out his drinking habits and cut him off financially, Cipriani loaned him 10,000 lire (about $5,000 US). Two years later, Harry Pickering returned to the hotel bar, ordered a drink, and gave Cipriani 50,000 lire in return.”Mr. Cipriani, thank you,” he said, according to the Cipriani website.”Here’s the money. And to show you my appreciation, here’s 40,000 more, enough to open a bar. We will call it Harry’s Bar.”
And the rest is history…
As soon as I entered the restaurant, located in Saifi Village to discover the new crafted menu by Michelin Star Chef Alberico Penati, I was offered a Bellini!
The Bellini was invented by the founder of Harry’s Bar… He named the drink “the Bellini” because its unique pink color reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini… It is a mixture of Prosecco and peach purée and should be enjoyed in moderation!
57 Calories/100g of Bellini with 5% alcohol!
Once seated, I started my dinner with a small piece of bread dipped in olive oil (a habit that’s not a sin as long as it’s done moderately)… An intriguing taste explains the story behind the olive oil you’d find at this restaurant that the waiter would happily share with you!
A dish of grilled vegetables with pesto sauce followed… It is always important to start a meal with a salad or vegetables that are rich in fiber and water and will help one feel half full with fewer calories…
“Italians enjoy a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, tomatoes, whole grains, dairy, red wine — and they eat very little red meat.” Although the fact they consume pasta and bread everyday, they are considered amongst the leanest populations in Europe!
The dishes that were served right after were flavorful, succulent and joyfully shared!
Tricolore di Burratina: Burratina on a bed of cherry tomatoes in its juice dressed in a light pesto ruccola sauce
Burrata means “buttered” in Italian and defines this cheese that’s made of fresh mozzarella with cream and is thus more caloric than mozzarella.
Vitello Tonnato: sliced veal topped with a creamy tuna sauce (to be shared and enjoyed in moderation)!
Beef Carpaccio Venetian Style (to be shared and enjoyed in moderation)!
The appetizer that I enjoyed the least was the tiger prawns with chickpeas and balsamic dressing … The chickpeas were undercooked and the entire dish lacked harmony in flavors and texture.
Opting for seafood based main courses is always the healthiest choice as they provide less calories and fat when compared to red meat and more omega-3… I truly enjoyed a good dose of proteins with an additional portion of fiber provided from the lentils… Offering lentils on New Year’s eve in Italy is believed to bring good luck, symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year.
Just Like Italians, i also enjoy sharing sweets and fell for this scrumptious and much refreshing Panna Cotta Piemontese Con Frutti De Bosco (Piemontese baked cream with wild berries).When compared to other Italian desserts, panna cotta is less caloric specially when topped with fruits!
Going back to Harry’s bar was just inevitable and discovering the remaining items on the menu was much more than enjoyable. I recommend you try it for dinner or for a gourmet business lunch!
Always remember to be sociable while eating and enable new conversations each time you find yourself on the dining table. Take thirty minutes to finish each meal, since eating slowly can reduce your intake by 70 calories per meal, which translates into a saving of more than 200 calories per day!
Italians “eat by their stomachs” not “by their heads” and since they dine leisurely, they get the signal that they are full… A habit that’s a bit close to the Japanese hara hachi bu!
The Hara Hachi Bu is a Japanese eating habit derived from the island Okinawa which holds the highest rate of longevity in the world. The habit consists of always eating 80% of your dish or eating till you’re 80% full. By applying this habit one will be definitely saving calories, feeling more energetic after a meal and decreasing the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and others.