The chances are when you’re visiting a new place, you’ll be on the hunt for the best local restaurants. But what if I told you that the best local restaurants weren’t a restaurant at all, but instead in the home of a local.
Eat With is an online platform that unites locals and tourists through good, home-cooked food. It’s social dining at its finest, allowing you to immerse yourself in local food and culture and meet other travellers at the table.
In April, I took my first-ever solo trip to Italy. One of the things I was most nervous about was dining alone. So, naturally, I started to browse articles on eating tips for solo travellers and came across Eat With.
After some browsing, I settled on the experience with Leonardo and Valentina in Florence. Not only were they well-reviewed, but they were a normal Florentine couple who just wanted to share some culinary delights with strangers. This is the type of genuine experience I was looking for, so I took a leap of faith and booked.
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Booking the Dinner
The Eat With platform is pretty easy to use, you can search by city for a certain date. It works very similar to Air B&B, in that the hosts will review your profile and choose to accept or decline. Payment will only be taken once it has been confirmed.
You’ll also notice in the event information that many will show a sample menu. You can also look through reviews, the minimum and maximum number of guests, the time and some photographs.
I knew I didn’t want to be alone, so I was happy with the 2 – 4 guests on Leonardo’s event. You’ll be able to communicate with the host through the Eat With platform, where there contact details and address will be displayed.
Part of the reason I chose Leonardo and Valentina’s event was because of its close proximity to the hostel I was staying at, meaning I could walk to and from.
I had a little trouble finding the apartment, I didn’t realise I had to ring the correct buzzer and it took me too long to remember the name. Eventually though Leonardo came to rescue me and showed me to his and Valentina’s beautiful little flat.
Both Leonardo and Valentina were warm, and I immediately felt at ease in their company, I was the first two arrive so after a glass of wine I was given the grand tour.
The flat was a modest size, it was beautifully modern with exposed brickwork.
Eventually the other guests arrived, a French couple, both lovely and easy to chat with. We conversed in English over the course of the evening, swapping tales from home, do you do this? do you do that? Apparently Netflix is universal, and we’re all obsessed.
So, the food. ThE is the important part. it was DELICIOUS. Leonardo was head chef that evening, with Valentina playing waitress. Both joined us over the evening, spending minimal time in the kitchen since many of the preparations had been made before hand. Leonardo explained each dish to us, and his reason for choosing it, but I can’t remember much of the details.
I was pleasantly surprised at the starter – eggplant and mozarella. It’s not something I’d have ever paired, but it was so good I had it again in Rome.
The main course was actually not pasta, but risotto. It’s a local dish in Florence, and despite its plain appearance it was packed full of flavour.
While the cost for this experience might seem extreme to some (£25-ish) I truly felt it was worthwhile. I had a three course-meal with drinks, exceptional company and an experience I’ll never forget. I’ll definitely be doing this again elsewhere in the world.
Have you ever dined with a local? Tell me in the comments.