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ROME..Trip report with emphasis on food..January 2007

ROME..Trip report with emphasis on food..January 2007

Old Jan 30th, 2007, 02:30 PM
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Franco wrote:

> Italy consumes about 11650000 tons of wild boar meat per year

I'm not sure about that number. There are 60,000,000 people in Italy so that works out to about 380-400ish pounds a year per person. That means the average Italian eats over a pound of wild boar a day. I don't even think that I can consume that much.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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Ok, back into the doghouse: artvark, you're of course right - please read kilograms, not tons! I wanted to convert it into tons in order to make reading of the figures easier, but then forgot to cancel the zeros after pasting the original figures. Otherwise, the figures are precise.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 03:11 AM
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Almost unbelievable but it is now Friday, our second to last day in Rome. Today is the day for a little bit of shopping.

As I mentioned earlier, the official sales begin tomorrow the 13th, but I have had it on good authority that if you ask discreetely, the shops will give you the sale price for a few weeks before the actual sales begin. In my experience this was true. I had already made my two big purchases at Tods: A pair of shoes (this brand is very comfortable for me) and a pocketbook. They took 40% off each purchase and I will get a tax refund at the airport. The sales help in this shop are truly kind and very patient, and I even got some complicated fashion tips regarding which color to wear with which, tips that I promptly forgot....(no blue with black was the only one I remember and plan to ignore because I happen to like navy and black together)

The entire week a strange (to me) phenomenon appeared on the streets of Rome. In every shop window, large sheets of tissue paper sheathed much of the glass. Because the paper was so thin, you could read that behind it, there were large letters announding "Soldi" and percentage amounts: "40%....50%"...and so on. I had already made my reconnaissance of various possible spending sprees, so planned on Friday, the day before the actual sale, to complete my rounds and pick up a couple of items here and there.

WRONG!!! We hit the streets only to find that many shops were, indeed, "closed for inventory" on this day before the sales! We could see the sales help inside, rearrangig merchandise and changing price stickers. Frustrating!! (Although we did find quite a few stores that were open, mainly in the Condotti district)

So I would have to fight it out with the other mad shoppers tomorrow, when the sales "Officially" begin. No problem, I planned to be up early and waiting at Cenci (a medium-sized upscale "Department" type store near the Pantheon; akin to Paul Stuart in New York; they have a branch here in New York on Park Avenue) for the doors to open. It would take me but a minute to scoop up those leather sport shoes that I'd had my eye on. More on that tomorrow.....

We spent the morning wandering around with me trying to convince my partner to enter one of the open shops and try on a pair of pants, a sweater, anything....!! But there are such great deals here!!!!
My attempts were rebuffed. I wandered along Via della Croce, one of the Trident streets with a good selection of food shops and a small outdoor market on most mornings. Tempted to buy a load of blood oranges but I held myself back since we were leaving tomorrow. (I had some in the room already from the Via Andrea Doria market; they are in season now) Along with the fod shops, there are some lovely men's small men's shops on this street; each one, it seemed, sported corduroy pants in a range of colors, along with the usual classic winter wear.

I spent some time in Nanni, which has offered "Specialita Alimentari Italiane ed Estere" at #25-26 Via della Croce since 1940. Since the unfortunate incident with the glass jars of Ortiz tuna at the Madrid airport a few years back, I have been in recovery from my food-shopping-in-foreign-cities addiction so I had to hold myself back. So I limited my purchases to a few boxes of Latini pasta, both durum and farro varieties. I was helped in my quest for reformation by the fact that prices for many items were quite high given the poor state of the dollar; many items inn thee stores are available to me for not all that much more money at my Italian merchants back home. This undoubtedly was due to the fact that I was shopping now in what must be one of the most expensive areas in all of Italy to shop for food: right in the Trident/Spanish Steps area of Rome.

One of the things I did not buy that I regretted (actually there were quite a few) was bottarga, which is the cured pressed roe of mullet used in pasta dishes, and sold for high prices back in the US. A shameful lapse on my part....

http://www.bottarga.info/



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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 03:16 AM
  #124  
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ttt
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 03:52 AM
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ek - it's not that we didn't notice yesterday's installment! We're just sitting there with knife and fork, napkin tied around the neck, and waiting for lunch!
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 04:23 AM
  #126  
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Good morning, Franco. Please forgive the shameless "taking to the top" of my lengthy missive...inexcusable self-promotion.

I see that you are hungry. Today we are not taking lunch in a restaurant but have decided to lunch alfresco on the small terrace of our hotel room overlooking the Pantheon. So, after our return from the Via della Croce, a bag filled with Latini pasta and a few tubes of tomato paste in hand, we wandered over to the small alimentari on Via di Torre Argentina. ( I cannot find the name, but there are a couple of shops clustered along this street south of the Pantheon).

Here we purchased mozzarella di bufula (I know, not very Roman); a local cow's cheese; and a nice serving of prosciutto. I asked the shopkeeper if he had prosciutto di Parma and he (somewhat dismissively) said "no," he sold local prosciutto. Next stop was a nearby bakery for a few rolls and a heavenly eggy cake studded with dried fruits and sold by weight.....


We took this small repast (along with several packages of farro....not to cook at the hotel, of course, but to take home to the US) back and snacked in the room, along with a few pears that I had purchased at the open air market close to the Piazza della Rotunda and which I had discovered only that morning. (I am not sure I could find this market again; it is very close to the square and has a nice selection of produce). The pears were an elongated shape that I have never seen outside France and Italy..

After the snack, we went upstairs to the roof of the Albergo del Senato and spent some time admiring the skyline and taking some sun and a few snapshots. It was difficult to believe that this was early January! I was in shirtsleeves. Oh how I adore Rome!

After lunch, we wandered over to the Campo dei Fiori area. For the first time, I had a look at the famous Dar Filletaro a Santa Barbara (officially known as Filetti di Baccala). This is a hole-in-the-wall eatery famous for its fried fish tucked into an atmospheric square off the Campo. Although it was shut tight in late afternoon, I placed it on my list for next time, as it appears to be a haunt of serious eaters and was quite atmospheric in a rought and tumble way.

The focus of this picturesque little square, which looks like a move set, is the Santa Barbara dei Librari church which dates back at least as far as the 14th Century and is a real gem with a beautiful Venetian plaster altar. Santa Barbara, the patron saint of the Italian navy, was a 3rd century martyr who was beheaded by her father who, in turn was struck by a bolt of lightening.

After the church, I did some window shopping on the Campo at Antica Norcineria Viola and Roscioli, two gorgeous food shops (Roscioli also sells wine) that I think I mentioned earlier in this report.

And then it was time to amble back to the hotel and prepare for dinner, which was set for 9:30 at Colline Emiliane, an outpost of Bolognese cooking on the Via di Avignonesi.

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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 05:59 AM
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Oh, ek, I'd never say it's inexcusable topping your own thread - especially with such a wonderful thread as this one (I'm even doing the same with my far less amusing threads!)
I just wanted to, ummm, NOT to urge you, of course, but to INVITE you to share your lunch with us. For me, as well, shopping cheese and prosciutto and fruits and so on is an essential part of travelling, so I think this lunch "at home" was a great idea.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 09:50 AM
  #128  
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GTG plans?
 
Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Iím back too. Unlike some people who shall remain nameless I was not in Venice - for the second time in two months. Grrr!

Ek, Only one day left in your report! Iím going to have severe withdrawal symptoms.

However, there was one sentence that struck me: ďOn the bright side, I hope certainly to return to Rome before too long.Ē May I suggest the end of May? Iíve been mentally compiling a list of restaurants, and Iím at about seven or eight establishments that require closer attention...
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 10:58 AM
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ek, I'm still reading too, and guess what? I just found out my mom is coming to Germany to visit us for 2 weeks in June and we are hopefully going to do a little mom-daughter trip to Rome together! So I am going to bring all of your awesome restaurant reviews and we are going to have a FABULOUS time!!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 11:10 AM
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topping because it's wonderful, ahhhhhhh.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 11:11 AM
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Thanks to all who have stuck with me so far.

Eloise, that is so tempting. Will you be there in May? I would not be able to go back so soon, though, but one day we will coordinate and do some serious eating together...

Dinner to be served very soon.....
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 11:36 AM
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Friday night we left the Senato, turned right, and then right again onto the Via Pastini, which is the Pantheon-Fontana di Trevi route, for a lovely nightime walk along this pedestrian street, lined with small restaurants and crowded with tourists and locals even in January.

After a few blocks we entered the Piazza di Pietra and my mouth dropped open. Not for food this time. The dramatically lit, colonnaded wall of the vast Temple of Hadrian (2nd Century) looming over this piazza was so unexpected that we literally stopped in our tracks. Amazing. I had never seen this before in all the time I had spent in Rome over the years. Do not miss this sight at night!

A bit further on, I made a slight detour to read the menu at Al Moro restaurant, which has received so much press here in the US over the years, most recently in an article in the New York Times by Mimi Sheraton, and another in Gourmet magazine. Prices are higher than the places we had been enjoying; the menu looked great, of course, and the patrons I saw entering the place were very well dressed Italians.

After a few more steps we heard the sound of rushing waters which meant that we were close to the Trevi fountain. Entering the piazza from the narrow street, the floodlit fountain is a breathtaking no matter how many times you have seen it in the past. This, too, is best viewed at night in my opinion. Oh, I love Rome.

After some oohing and ahhing, we walked on, eventually finding the long, narrow Via degli Avignonesi, close to Piazza Barberini, and entered Colline Emiliane at #22 just in time for our 9:30 dinner reservation.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 01:23 PM
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Eloise, the nameless welcome you back. And where have you been?

ek, it's sheer virtuosity how you're tantalizing us - almost each time, you're stopping just before the meal is served, and leave us salivating. As Eloise said, we'll miss the experience as soon as your report will be complete.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Before we sit down at Coline Emiliane, I wanted to let you know, Eloise, that I have taken the new Jamie Oliver "Jamie's Italy" book out of the library. The photos are truly beautiful and there are a number of recipes that I would like to try; the vegetable dishes in particular look interesting. Most of the recipes appear more complicated than those in the Batali book that I like so much (Molto Italiano). The recipe for Panzanella, for example, runs two full pages of closely spaced type.

Oliver's writing style is not to my taste and the book could do with a lot more research. Note this, in the long recipe for Pasta alla Norma:

".....This is a classic Sicilian pasta dish that everyone on the island grows up eating (I haven't got a clue who Norma is but I am sure she is a good old girl...") Excuse me.....?????

Also, he covers a very small portion of Italy; much of the book is devoted to things Sicilian; Puglia and Tuscany are also covered.

Not wanting to keep you all hungry, we will now enter Coline Emiliane. Consisting of two rather brightly lit and simply decorated rooms, the restaurant was almost empty when we arrived at 9:30. There were, however, many "reserved" signs on the tables and by 10pm, the place was full and people were being turned away at the door for lack of reservations. Except for one other table, all of the diners appeared to be Italians.

We each began with Tortellini en Brodo which was excellent. The portion was surprisingly large and by the time I finished it I was almost full.

Purely in the interest of research, I pressed on. The menu offered many of the classics we had enjoyed during our few days in Bologna last winter. One dish I have never sampled is bollito misto and this was, indeed on the menu. Instead of ordering that, however, I chose what I believe is the beef component of the dish, Manzo Lesso with Salsa Verde. Two large slices of boiled beef arrived with a dollop of delicious salsa verde (parsley, anchovy, olive oil.....). Although the meat was a bit dry on its own, when paired with the sauce in each bite it was excellent.

Wanting to enjoy his full complement of pasta, my partner ordered Fettucine with ragu and pronounced it wonderful.

With cover, water and a half liter of Lambrusco the total was 64 Euro.

Dessert was taken en route back to the hotel; we stopped at Giolitti for yet another round of amaretti with chocolate. No panna this time....

Tomorrow is our last day and I am already feeling sad at the prospect of ending this report, through which I am reliving a fabulous trip to glorious Rome.

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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 02:09 PM
  #136  
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Hello Ekscruchy,

Your reports (I admit I stumbled on to them only today and haven't read past the first couple days) are great.

May I ask two questions: a) Are you a chef? (I just find it mind boggling that someone can "understand" food so well), and b) how do you retain so much information? Do you write before/after you eat?

Someone has said (not me!) "to eat well in England, you should have breakfast three times a day". Reading your reports, I say "to eat well in Rome, print and follow ekscrunchy's reports". Fair enough ?

Okay, I am hungry after reading these reports of I-can't-even-write-and-definitely-can't-pronounce dishes so I will go and talk to my vegetables right now.

 
Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 02:11 PM
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A proposito Spaghetti alla Norma, I remember to have once read that the actual name of this dish should be Spaghetti alla norma (not Norma), so nothing about the Bellini-Catania-Sicilia connection, but "normal" spaghetti, those which Sicilians once were used to eat "normally". Like Sir James, I must profess I have no clue, in my particular case no clue if this explanation of "alla norma" is true, but at least it's entertaining...
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 03:52 AM
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Franco, well I just may be I the doghouse again. Here I was being smart because I thought that EVERYONE should know that the dish was named after Bellini's heroine (which just may be my favorite opera). Of course I got this idea from Fred Plotkin who says as much in the Catania chapter of his Italy food guide.
So...you think that is just a romantic invention? I happen to love eggplant and adore this dish, not that you asked!

Comfy Shoes, I am not a chef. I cook at home but have always loved reading about food (and everything else) and trying different dishes. It sounds corny but it really is a window into a culture. For this report, I just saved the receipts; sometimes the dishes were listed and if they were not, I scribbled them on the back of the receipt. I have to tell you that I do spend a lot of time on a trip looking at menus posted in windows.
Also, I live in New York and we have so many restaurants featuring the cuisines of all over the world so I maintain my interest. And I am fortunate enough to have done a tremendous amount of traveling so that would have initially kindled my interest. The reading is the main thing, though. I take cookbooks out of the library and read through them and try new dishes...mostly Italian but sometimes other cuisines. If I have good results, sometime I buy the book. Currently I have no room on my shelves for anything else but that will not stop me, I am afraid! I am sure I gave you far more information than you asked for, but there it is..
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 04:31 AM
  #139  
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Thanks, ekscrunchy. I guess like everyone else, I find that there are things I am deeply passionate about, and am very much into'em. I like good food but I am afraid I never spend so much care into thinking about them (I probably would by the time I end reading this lo....ng thread). I also come from a country with a very strong tradition of its own cuisine, and it is not italy or france. I wonder if there is some merit to the thought that if you grew up in multiethnic cuisine environment like the States, you tend to be more into food of a certain country because you chose to do so (like a hobby).

Anyway, all I can say is good for you, eat well, and wish you many many similar trips in the future.
 
Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 04:44 AM
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You are very welcome. I think you are right about the food as a hobby idea. I wish you lots of good eating and great travels in the future.
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