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Trip Report London, Rome, and mostly Puglia-- Loved It!

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Such an amaing trip. Huge thanks to all who gave us so many good tips… and all you PUGLIA fans, hold on… just a little about London and Rome first….

Will do this log over a few days. Will try to keep it fairly short if I can… but it was a really full 4 weeks – April into May ! I will say that this was a real budget trip—we managed to keep lodging at an average of just under $100 a night for our trip— spending sometimes a little more lavishly on dining, coffees and gelato!!

We loved every rainy day in London. Our little b&b at Russell Square (Celtic) was quiet and right at the tube stop—and a busy stop it is! Loved the breakfasts at this family-run B&B and how professional the little breakfast staff was. Brought us back in time, somehow.
Did our rounds of museums. Walking and more walking.

The amazing Borough Market was a highlight for us-- just across the river. Easy to get to and such fun to explore.( London Bridge tube and it was just around to the right as you face the station.)

Foods from all around England and so much to sample. Easy to spend the afternoon going from stall to stall looking and tasting and buying. Had a memorable “Salty Beef” sandwich. But the true culinary showstopper was the cheese guy. Imagine a gigantic block of cheese under a roaring flame—scrape the entire melted & slightly burned top off onto the most delicious English potato you’ve ever tasted. On a drizzly afternoon, it’s stinky-salty-sweet heaven.

We were both surprised at how very much we liked the musical ‘Matilda.” The cast, the music, everything. How on earth they can have all those child actors onstage and not have it feel like too-much-English-honey is beyond me—but it was tremendous.

Tea in Notting Hill.(nothing special but the clotted cream was beyond.) Yummy curry in covent garden. Went to pubs where everyone seemed to know everyone. On a lark, went into a late-night club with loud music and were treated kindly (but still felt wayyyyy too old to be there) – but it was fun to get a little glimpse into this London scene. Ate good Fish and Chips in the ”smoking section” at North Sea (outside on the street.) (near Russell Tube-- the to-go is attached to the restaurant and less than half the price.)

Flew to Rome from Gatwick and arrived at Hotel Spagna. Fantastic location right by the Spanish Steps and very quiet. Wouldn’t recommend, though, unless you are good without any direction from your hotel… there’s rarely anyone there. (only 4 rooms, I think.)

Didn’t want to walk far that first night, so just went up the little street to Otello—not bad and very reasonable for the location on V. Croce. Also up the street is a divine little 4E Tiramisu-To-Go place called Pompi (v. Croce 86) which I would recommend for a lovely treat. Served Cold and in a stylish little go-box it hit the spot for an after-dinner stroll. If you're a tiramisu fan, don't miss it-- several varieties from which to choose.

Absolutely don’t miss the simply divine Granita di Caffe Con Panna at Cremoria Monteforte right next to the Pantheon. Deliciously strong coffee granite hand- stirred until it’s just right—with the most delicious whipped cream on top and bottom. We returned twice—and it wasn’t even hot out! If you want to have a good and super-budget lunch, I would recommend “Tratt. La Coppelle” at V. Copelle 38 – the pizza is huge, yummy and very reasonable, as is the wine.

We had a wonderful dinner at Maccheroni on Pz Copelle as well. Had a house-made pasta (similar to pici) with a delicious and creamy pesto sauce. Also, ravioli with cream&zucchini flower. Both amazing. 2 pasta, wine, water, veg & limoncello were 46E. Super service.

Wow—Grom gelato had a huge long line every single time we passed them. I’m not a big fan—but they seem to be the thing in Rome. (fairly ignored in NYC...??)

Took a class from “Cooking Class in Rome” on V. Franaoroli 5 and were so glad that we did. First of all, 10 people were all from different countries! (Turkey, Austrailia, U.S., England…) It started at about 11 and we cooked, talked, learned and ate until almost 4pm !! Andrea Consoli keeps things moving, is full of tips and information about Roman (specifically) cooking and is warm and friendly as well as very direct. Just a great teacher.

WE learned to make fried pumpkin blossoms, gnochetti, chicken cacciatore and an amazing crostata. Enjoyed the fruits of our labor at a long table and just had a fantastic time. This was a class worth taking—I actually walked away knowing that I could actually make these dishes and that they would work. (in fact, made some gnochetti last night on a whim—and I’m still jet-lagged! ) Walked around the Trastevere area afterward, trying to digest both physically and mentally after the long hours of cooking and eating!

(….To bed. On to Puglia tomorrow. )

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