Thursday, March 13, 2014

FAT TUESDAY in Rome...

You may have thought when you read the title we were going to be talking about a Mardi Gras/Carnival type celebration in Italy. Well we could, we were here for it, but what we are referring to is that we landed in Rome on Saturday and we were FAT by Tuesday. We were here 32 years ago come this April and neither of us can remember being assaulted by gastronomic goodies as we have been this visit. Foodie Heaven and seriously, if you call yourself a "Foodie" you must find some way to make it to this holy land of pasta, seasonings, and storefront after storefront of Trattorias, Gelaterias, Pasterias, Bakeries and on and on and they don't give you even a street or piazza to digest that last perfect slice of Quattro Stagioni before another incredible aroma calls your name. Aaaahh...

I understand there were some kids in masks and confetti was being thrown all about the place but really, unless it was landing on my Spaghetti alla Carbonara, I wasn't going to notice.

Mama Molisana and her melanzana, (eggplant in Italian) we ran into her when she was buying gelato for her granddaughter and the owner of the gelataria told us Mama made the best food in the neighborhood...we totally agree, never have I tasted eggplant in different preparations and they all taste better than I have ever had before. All her vegetables are so tasty, and fantastic pizza. Aahhhh.
We walk about 12,000 steps a day, not for the exercise - but are led by the smells of the city.

So lucky to be in this city for a month.  We got to our small apartment in the Prati neighborhood -  it took us less than an hour to settle in with our 1 suitcase, and since the sun was out we left the apartment and started to wander.....we  are within walking distance to the Vatican and St. Peters, but still bought a monthly bus and metro pass (35 euros) for ease of getting around to explore and see all the sights.  The first sight we were interested in as Richard said, was finding the nearest Pizzeria!  This was not too difficult since there are Pizzerias all around us, the difficult part was choosing which one to go into.  Ok ok, we have to slow down and pace ourselves - a month here can be dangerous.......and Rich, speak for yourself  when you said WE were fat by Tuesday - for was Friday....

We spent the first week putting together our itinerary for the month what to see when - finding out when museums had free entrance dates etc.  The weather was beautiful the first week and we spent most of our time outdoors, exploring the piazzas and walking the neighborhoods.  The city has a wonderful artistic feel to it - the colors of the buildings look like impressionistic paintings, its no wonder artists abound here...

Our 2nd day here we had take away pizza for breakfast and lunch, then a sit down at dinner with wine.
Pizza al taglio or rustica is the take out pizza sold everywhere in Italy.  The pizza is sold by weight and cooked on a sheet pan- so yummy - most are cut sandwich style so you can take away and walk while eating.
Ordering a pizza at dinner is not meant for sharing - one orders their own individual pizza and after one bite, you do not want to share and I guarantee you will not ask for a doggie bag.

Like the Pizzerias, Gelaterias are everywhere,  in fact Italy has over 35,000 Gelato shops with 3,000 + in Rome. The history of Gelato dates back to the 16th century with the court of the Medici in Florence holding a contest to discover a plate no one has ever seen.  A Florentine cook Bernardo Buontalenti won the contest.   One of the differences between Gelato and US ice cream is that it is churned at a lower speed and not as much air is whipped into the mixture so it is denser.  Also, only 5% to 8% butter fat vs US 10%-15%.  That's why we can have it everyday it's not fattening!- so yes, the first week it was our dessert of choice each day.

Our first week in Rome we spent walking through the parks and piazzas understanding each of the neighborhoods and people watching.   Rome is a hectic city and the locals enjoy their parks and piazzas to relax, catch up with family and friends, and maybe make-out a little.  

Best restaurant of the week Vecchia Roma.  A basement trattoria in the San Giovanni area of Rome.

I ordered the specialty of the house Bucatini al'lAmatriciana  flambe with bacon and Richard the Pizza Capricciosa.  My Bucatini was made special by the big pecorino wheel that Fabrizio (our waiter) tossed my pasta into.  It was the most tasteful and richest sauce I have ever sopped up the last of my Italian bread with.  

P.S. An Italian would never use a spoon to eat pasta - that's good news because I have never used a spoon to eat  spaghetti - I'm just sorry I wore a white blouse.  As you can tell by the picture, Rich loved his Pizza too.....
We will be back!

What a great week!
Quello che una grande settimana!