Rome Category

An EDD-ters Tour of Italy – La Finale e arrivederci!

One bullet train later, I had to blink several times before it sank in that we were back where our culinary tour de forza began. One afternoon and night left in this magical country.

What can I say? I was bummed!

We decided to visit Piazza Navona on our last afternoon in Rome. The air was slightly cool and damp, and a creeping melancholy gave me quite a chill. Good thing there were plenty of roasted chestnut vendors about to fill the air with nutty sweetness.

So the big question now was where to have our final meal? Where could we find the culinary closure we’d need to sustain us for the long journey home?

Like divine inspiration from Neptune himself, a craving for fettucine al tartufo d’Andrea aroused my appetite. Trattoria d’Andrea – homey, delicious, comforting, authentic – answered the call.

In the meantime, it was impossible not to grab a snack at a small pizzeria on our way back to the hotel. Homemade pork sausage and straight-up tomato basil between chewy, lightly cheesy, crispy pizza dough. How can something so simple be so darn unbelievable!

At Trattoria d’Andrea, we started with antipasto vegetale – eggplant, zucchini, cipollini onions – generously flavored with garlic, tomato and breadcrumbs. The antipasto italiana was fresh and comfortingly salty sweet.

Although the house fettucini was my must-have dish, Jordan opted for the ravioli bolognese. Slightly tart and meaty ragu on chewy cheese-stuffed pillows.

By excellent fortune, before my truffle fettucini arrived, they mistakenly brought a fettucine con porcini by accident. Oh no! What to do?

Andrea also recommended a especiale di pollo which was a braised chicken with tomatoes. Fall-off-the bone tenderness in a sweet, sumptuous sauce. Beautiful.

It was such a wonderful meal and it encapsulated so much of the soulful impact Italy has had on me. The country appreciates people, art, food, and simply life itself. And this philosophy is intermingled with all my memories.

I’m so glad I was able to share some of my fondest memories with you all, and I hope they inspire you to visit Italy as well! I know I’ll be back!

But for now…

Arrivederci!

An EDD-ters Tour of Italy – Rome

Buon giorno! Or should I say, buon appetito!

I’ve just returned from a magnificent trip to Italy where its sights, smells and tastes continue to imprint themselves on my culinary consciousness every day. And although I’ve only just scraped the surface of what Italy offers in terms of its proud but also surprisingly simple cuisine, one thing is for certain – ingredients are tantamount to the Italian experience. Whether they are foraged at their peak like the porcini’s or favolosi’s that were in season or roasted until caramel-ly sweet like the chestnuts I ate hot off the street, every ingredient, every cook used in every pizzeria, caffeteria, rosticceria, or osteria was prepared with love and respect.

Food across the board in Italy was fresher, more flavorful, and for lack of a better word, more “real.” The higher quality ingredients Italians use are not only apparent in how beautifully red-ripe the San Marzano’s look; you can bet that tomato is going to have the fragrant grassy sweet flavor and aroma that makes a tomato a tomato. Remember what that used to be like?

Of course this isn’t news for a lot of you, but I can’t stress enough the startling differences I tasted in such simple foods as tomato foccacia, arugula salad, or pork sausage as during my travels in Italy. Flavors popped and delighted and lingered. And it was wonderful.

Rome

Pizzerias of all kinds were everywhere in Rome. Whether the pizzas are oval, circular, or square, they were deliciously adorned with all manner of fresh toppings and glistening green extra virgin olive oil. They glittered like jewels behind those glass cases, except these ones you can eat! My favorite – sliced porcini with cherry tomatoes – was one I ate on the go from this little place near the Trevi Fountain.

This was the first hot food I ate when I touched down in Rome, and I craved the combination, especially the juicy meaty porcini’s, throughout the entire trip!

Babbo’s

As we were challenged with only a few days in Rome and had not strictly established where to have dinner every night, there were bound to be some misses in the bunch. We decided to wander around our hotel neighborhood after a very full day that included the Colosseum, St. Peter in Chains, The Roman Forum and A LOT more walking all over Rome. We settled on a bustling place called Babbo’s.

The most memorable parts of my dinner at Babbo’s were the long colorful dreadlocks on the zia taking our order and two Chinese tourists – the pair strangely Abbott and Costello-ish – wolfing down their pasta like some niu rou mien back home. The skinny one ate twice as fast as the chubby one and would spend the rest of the time watching the other eat (was that disgust I saw in his eyes)? Hilarious.

The food was uninspired, but I appreciated the freshness of the ingredients and the place was energetic and bustling, making for some fun people watching. The complimentary Vin Santo and cantuccini after dinner was appreciated as well. 🙂

Ristorante Pizzeria “Andrea”

Finally, a revelation.

Frustrated with not being able to fully capture Rome on our palettes and leaving for Tuscany later in the day, the Fates intervened and we stumbled upon this neighborhood trattoria and al forno pizzeria. I saw fresh made pasta in the window, and a warm soul of a woman (Andrea) chatting with some locals sprinkled about, and took one last chance.

Feast your eyes on some of the dishes that filled our souls.

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One of these I actually end up eating again on our last day in Italy. Can you guess which?

Yep, it was the fresh homemade fettucini della casa d’Andrea. The pasta is tossed in Andrea’s own mushroom and truffle cream sauce – each noodle luxuriously but not overzealously coated with an emulsion of these wonderfully complementary ingredients.

The traditional Roman bucatini amatriciana was fully dressed in a robust zesty tomato sauce – each hollow noodle bursting with sauce as one chewed the smokey bits of pancetta. The trippa a la romana – another traditional Roman dish – was also sensational. If you like honeycomb tripe, this dish is so rich, rustic and homey. Plate me up some trippa a la romana and a big hunk of shatteringly crusty bread, and watch as it seems I’m sinking into an invisible hot tub.

The proscuitto di parma in the salumi misti was so delectably sweet and so incredibly fresh, I pretty much hogged the entire portion for myself (sorry Jordan!). The little anchovy stuffed peperoncino was a spicy surprise along with each piece of cured meat as well. I should mention Andrea came by whilst we were enjoying ourselves to say hello and also pick some fresh peperoncino from the planter hanging above our heads.

I was tempted to stalk her as she returned to the kitchen, then beg her to teach me everything she knew. At least the fettucini, please Andrea!? But I chickened out. I figured there was no way I wasn’t coming back here before we left Italy, so I would have another chance. Mwahaha.

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Now, with our bellies full and crooked grins across each of our faces, we were ready to leave Rome and set off in our mini-Mercedes rental car on the A1 out to Tuscany.

Next up: Siena, cooking at the Castello di Tornano, and Florence!