Showing posts sorted by relevance for query autogrill. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query autogrill. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autogrill Italy

People who know will tell you that eating along Italy's freeways is not a bad deal. I used to agree without reservation and Autogrill remains the best among the several different franchises. You can get sandwiches, pizza, full meals, all drinks from beer and wine to juices to coffee with all the sodas you expect. Toll roads in Italy have service areas, much like Florida's Turnpike however in Italy they are almost villages unto themselves.
On this expressway north of Perugia the Autogrill was actually better than its advertising made it look. The Menu of the Day includes a primo -pasta - secondo -main course, usually meat and contorno which is a vegetable plus wine water and coffee...for $16 which includes tax and tips are not expected.
At a different brand stop on our way home from the Alps we paused in a non Autogrill stop where similar offerings were displayed though the quality of the food was not so good.
It's all self service with counter help, you point they plate and Italian is not required though you'd be surprised how many working people can muster a little English. Unlike the French, Italians are much more easy going with foreigners who can't speak their language and any effort is appreciated.
My roast chicken lunch was rather dry and crisp and not terribly good. I was disappointed. The puddings were better and the fizzy water was...fizzy and cold!
The place mats tried to speak English and did a piss poor job, even though I should point out I am still waiting to see Italian offered as a language option anywhere in the United States alongside English and Spanish. The Italian reads "A smile as long as a journey..." I prefer my translation.
With your lunch recipt you can get an espresso payment included and you take your receipt to the counter after lunch and get a hot freshly made espresso.
That's when the shopping begins. And let me say you can get all your Italian souvenirs and food packages here (US Customs doesn't allow raw or preserved meat products into the country, no salami and no prosciutto). Jams cookies and candies and chocolates:
They pack a full supermarket into these aisles as you wend your way out. Beauty products, toys! Snacks and pasta...
...wines cheeses and hams. Most Italians grow up with wine on the table and alcohol is viewed more as an ingredient than a source of oblivion. Drunken driving is not permitted of course but a glass of wine with a meal is entirely socially acceptable. Most table wine is not terribly strong and when taken over the course of a slow meal is surprisingly invigorating. I actually was glad t see Coke Zero has made it to Italy though it was horribly expensive, $3:20 for a small bottle which sent me back to one euro espressos ($1.35) in a hurry for my afternoon caffeine hit.
When I took this picture I was photographing books maps and magazines for sale. On closer observation they also sell porn. I had no idea and now I'm back in the US I will have to wait a year to check it out more closely!
With gas at ten bucks a gallon Italy has been promoting alternative fuels for years. Diesel is widely available for a little less money and far better mileage. Modern diesel compacts operate just like gasoline cars, you would be amazed. GPL is liquid propane gas also sold everywhere. Many cars have dual fuel, GPL tanks in their trunks alongside regular gasoline power. These guys had drawn my attention because they had been walking their dog prior to filling their tank. All I could think of was Cheyenne.

Anyone driving in Italy can check out the Autogrill and catch a slice of the whole country in the middle of the freeway.


Saturday, July 16, 2011


"What? Eat on the freeway?" my wife thought I was crazy when I first suggested such a thing. Not anymore.

It isn't necessarily gourmet eating but I don't shy away from the idea of stopping at the freeway rest stops for a not too bad at all meal in Italy. It's cafeteria style so even if you can't speak Italian you can fall back on the time honored point and shoot system.

The Autogrills are usually built across the lanes of traffic and serve everyone coming and going with salad bars, pasta stations and "secondi" which means main dishes and you can mix and match as you choose.She chose salad, I had pasta with eggplant and tomatoes.

You get china to eat off and proper metal cutlery, you can drink wine or beer and they offer fruit and dessert as you would expect from a nation that likes to eat properly. To go boxes and eating in your car are not concepts that have yet penetrated the Italian psyche.

It actually forces you to take a pleasant break from the drive, sitting upstairs above the traffic zooming down below.

These things have been around for decades and in my youth when I was a whiny back seat passenger my harassed mother driving us home for the summer holidays from our English boarding schools would get her own break by stopping at the Autogrill, though just like today she had to walk through the convenience store below with all it's gaudy plastic temptations to get to the food upstairs. These days too public smoking is mercifully banned in Italy.

Like the advertising says, start your vacation at...


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rusty Does Wawa

I was told there is this cool new gas station from Up North which is starting to penetrate Florida. I went to a Wawa when I rented an Indian motorcycle on the last day of last year and I found the sandwich okay and the lines inside daunting. While traveling through the Tampa area after visiting the Dali museum on Easter Saturday we decided to to let my critical gourmet wife make her own judgement. 
Wawa is a family enterprise from Pennsylvania and the rather absurd name comes from the village where the chain was founded, though why any English speaker would name their home town after the sound of the squawk of a newborn infant is beyond me. Be that as it may, Wawa has decided to enter the Florida market and they have got this far south so far as I can tell. Like Yuengling they are a prized institution in Pennsylvania and apparently they are to be appreciated now in the Sunshine State. Yuengling is my cheap beer of choice and I quite like it. Wawa is okay but not as special as people will tell you.  
I walked Rusty to the place where my wife brought food and we sampled the hot menu. Philly cheese steak got a thumbs up with decent bread but the mac and cheese with sriracha poured over it was not satisfactory. The cheese was not flavored like cheddar and the thing was  glop in a plate. The potato soup was okay but not particularly flavorful. Had it been 50 degrees not 87 it might have done more for us.
My wife said she liked the look of the fresh salads and we agreed that salad and a cold sandwich might be our go-to items for Wawa in future if looking for road food. We do that at Wendy's where they make a decent Asian salad and you can get a topping-free baked potato if you have a hankering for a spud. 
My mind still boggles at the sight of gas that costs less than two bucks a gallon. I fear the consequences of this inexplicable dive in the cost of energy but we have lives to live and filling up the car for twenty bucks seems a luxury in a world of increasing prices. Rusty just enjoyed watching the world go by. 
Wawa is an odd place. It reminds me partly of the Italian Autogrill freeway restaurants, fast food done well:
Italian Freeway Food, Autogrill

The man in black below is looking up the menu on a display and ordering his items through the touch screen. The workers behind the counter fill the order and bring it to you. 
You select drinks and accessories, or pick up cold items from the displays.
 And go to the pick up window to pay and there you are.
And copious quantities of alcohol are also available. One odd note is they don't carry a full line of sodas in cans so coke zero is only available in a bottle which I find less cold than when the fizzy sugar water is wrapped in aluminum.
 We cut across country driving state and federal highways across Florida. We have made it a point to see as much of the state as we can as we enjoy road trip so there weren't surprises in store for us along these roads. Having said that Robert Wilson introduced me to a new place to visit, this time in Lakeland, close by where we  passed: Frank Lloyd Wright For now I contented myself with photographing more typical Florida architecture which I labeled as Rusty and rusty houses on my Facebook page. 
We stood around with some Mexican men who were roasting peppers and cutting up fruit and ate chunks of out of a cup with lime juice and hot peppers scattered over the fruit. We shared a roasted corn cob smeared with queso fresco  and more pepper flakes and were reminded of journeys to Mexico, and we were rendered nostalgic. It was a bit of a contrast to our lunch.
Rusty is a superb car traveler curled up like a little red fox on the back seat but ready with a  stretch and a yawn to come out into the world for the occasional walk. He had been rendering the car fragrant with his farts for some tens of miles which naturally came as the highway was bordered by fences and no place to walk. At last we found a spot and I backed up to the opening. He ran and romped and gamboled and fell into a rather full ditch. I dreaded the smell but he shook off the water, rolled in the grass and loped up to me with his tongue hanging and a big grin on his face. He smelled of water  and dead leaves and we went back to the car where he had a proper drink and a treat and composed himself for sleep.
We entered the Keys in the dark as planned when traffic had subsided and had a swift trouble free drive home. We had a snack and a glass of wine while Rusty passed out, not on his couch but in his crate for which he seems to be developing a fondness. Strange dog. I think he was relieved to be home and ready to sleep off the effects of his first long road trip.