Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Roma and no Pope?

1st day in Roma and no Pope
Travel in Italy is so easy.  The trains are comfortable, fast, and reliable.  Our trip from Milan to Rome went by in a breeze.  Michael and I dropped our bags at our apartment at Campo De Fiori (more on that later.) and went to get some lunch.  Here in Rome, we were on our own.  No friends to guide us around or take us to locations.  We were fortunate enough that our friends including Meryl, who had lived in Rome for two years, gave us a list of places to have authentic Roman food.  Using Michael's iPhone we saw that Da Francesco was the closest one to us.  This place is a small and simple restaurant.  Which I loved right away.  No fancy tourist places for me!  They handed us the menu and I went right to the specials of the day. We saw they had puntarelle so that was a must.  We were also advised to have the Roman-Jewish Style artichokes.  These are simmered in olive oil until tender.  I was expecting more from them.  Michael's favorite dish from his childhood is Lasagna, he has told me many times about how wonderful his Aunt Lucy's Lasagna was.  So he was so happy to see it on the menu and in true Italian style they only had 1 left so I had to choose another dish. Our adorable waiter Tarquinio (what a name?!) recommended fettuccine with seasonal radicchio.  This was a surprise delight.  I would have never have thought of placing radicchio in pasta but it was really delicious.  Everything here at Da Francesco was delicious and full of flavor. This meal was enhanced by our local and artisanal beer.  We left happy and excited to continue our culinary adventure in Rome. 

After two days of passing by the Campo De Fiori and seeing the incredible colors and smelling wonderful aromas of the vegetables, we couldn't resist anymore.  We had to plan our own meal at the fantastic apartment that we were staying.  I love staying in a real apartment while I am in new cities.  I adore being able to shop and live like a local.  For our own 1st "home cooked" Roman meal, we did our take on Roman pasta while trying to honor the beautiful produce that we got. We decided on Tartuffo pasta with home made tomato sauce, Italian sauge, asparagus and zuquinni.
our goodies from Campo Di Fiori
Shopping for our goodies was so fun.  The friendly vendor helped us along the way.  He recommended to us the freshest and best ones for our idea.  It was like having a personal shopper but for food not designer clothes.  What a treat to feel like a Roman.  My 1st step was to start the sauce.  I cleaned and chopped the tomatoes. However I didn't peel them as most people do because I wanted us to experience the whole tomato.  With some olive oil, tomato paste and anchovies, I started cooking them in a pot.  In a separated skillet I browned the sausage without the casing. After the meat was ready I added it to the sauce.  I sauteed the veggies, boiled the pasta and then Tah-Dah....Dinner was made.  With some great Pizza Bianca from Forno Campo De Fiori and a bottle of Chianti it was a fantastic Roman Meal sitting in our apartment high over the Campo.  
Cooking, Pizza, & Dinner.

On a cold rainy day in Rome and feeling disappointed because the Vatican decided to close the Sistine Chapel TODAY to prepare for the Papal Conclave (whatever?!),  Michael and I headed to the elegant Da Fortunato to eat our feelings. This place is a tourist spot however, at lunch time it is not. It's filled with locals and especially business men in their perfectly tailored suits. We ordered fried zuquinni flowers for the two of us.  Michael ordered ossobucco with risotto and I chose gnocchi with a meat ragu.  This was a fair meal. Nice but not amazing.  It did do the trick to heal our broken hearts on a wet day. 

NEXT....More Rome and Florence....Mamma Mia!!!!

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