As a family we love taking road trips, especially after having moved to Brooklyn, where we feel a bit constricted by the “concrete jungle.” It’s fun to load up the car, punch a few digits into the nav system and go explore what surrounds the city: Long Island and the Hamptons to the east, Upstate New York to the north, Pennsylvania to the west and south.
Tradition wants that we never leave for a road trip without a couple of bags loaded with food, and possibly a cooler with drinks: When traveling with kids, it’s always better to be ready rather than to all of a sudden become slave to a tantrum because of an empty stomach. Therefore, whenever we embark on a new road trip adventure, we never leave without our mortadella or prosciutto sandwiches, the absolutely necessary slices of pecorino cheese to eat with some fruit, and the occasional yogurt, cereal bar or bag of cookies. What we carry along with us goes into our “first-aid kit” in case of hunger; otherwise we usually have tons of fun trying to figure out what to eat locally and where. We ask people on the side of the road; we read every sign posted; sometimes we even track down smells. Imagine driving on a late-summer afternoon and smelling barbecued meat and fresh corn. Wouldn’t you stop the car to smell the air and adjust your route?
When we travel across Italy it is extremely easy and safe to rely on the local Autogrill, a fantastic chain of highway pit stops where the food is prepared on the spot by cooks from the area.
Here in the United States, we have grown fond of farmers markets and city fairs; from California to Long Island to Amish country, we have learned to use and feed on outstanding local products prepared with love and care. Yes, we rely on word of mouth wherever we go, but we also drain the batteries on our smartphones, searching and researching before we leave for a trip … always with faith that we will find great food to eat, discover memorable places to see and, most importantly, make new family memories. And if we get hungry before the kids start asking, “Are we there yet?” we just find a place to stop the car, open the trunk and have a great homemade snack.
Last but not least, wherever we go, whenever we go, we have our electric-powered Italian moka machine so we can brew our espresso straight from the trunk of the car or in whatever bedroom we end up crashing in.
Tune in to Extra Virgin Wednesday at 8pm ET to watch Debi and Gabriele cook up a feast to feed their car-loving friends in a parking lot surrounded by beautiful, classic automobiles.