Apologies for the silence–I was on a jam-packed work trip last week. But the meeting was near Rome, so I can’t complain!
Immediately after arriving in Rome on Sunday morning, I headed to a delicious lunch at the home of some dear friends, where I was treated to chicken rollatini and a ricotta mousse topped with melted Nutella. It was the start of a fantastic eating fest. After lunch, we headed to Eataly for coffee and to have a look around. Of all the beautiful things to see there, here is just one that struck me because of its appearance and name: Ox Heart (or Beef Heart) ribbed tomatoes (Pomodori Cuore di Bue). On the way back to the hotel, I counted myself very lucky to be in Rome at just the right time to see all the wisteria in bloom.
[Please note that these blog photos were taken with my iPhone — the day-time/outdoor ones turned out a bit better than night-time/indoor ones….]
I had very limited in Rome itself and since we had lived there before, I eliminated any sightseeing and focused solely on the gastronomic. And of the wealth of options on that front, I was miraculously able to eat two of my favorite things in Rome (ok, in the world). The easier of the two involved a lightening-quick pilgrimage to Della Palma gelateria near the Pantheon for a scoop of Roché gelato– dark chocolate base with crushed hazelnuts and wafer pieces, like the famous chocolates — topped off with a scoop of Duplo gelato, a rich caramel base interlaced with liberal swirls of Nutella. There are many gelaterias in Rome, including some very famous ones, but this is the one I like best because it is where we always used to go as a family. And because of the Roché and Duplo…. I am sighing now, knowing it will be some time before I taste either again.
The other dish I was hoping to have was Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia (Spaghetti in Squid Ink) — a dish that would be a serious contender on my last-meal list. The problem is that very few Roman restaurants offer it. So I owe a deep debt of gratitude to a kind friend who told a restaurant owner that an overseas visitor had a serious craving for the dish, and to the owner for going out and buying the squid-ink sacs just to prepare the meal for us on the evening of my arrival. The jet-black sauce is made with squid ink, garlic, white wine, olive oil, red chilies, and tiny pieces of squid. It is dish that tastes as if it came straight from the sea, and it’s fantastic. But it turns your lips black; you will end up looking like Cruella De Vil. It is so worth it, however.
The very last night, after non-stop meetings in a suburb of Rome where there was not a lot to see, another lovely friend suggested an outing to Bracciano, a charming town with a beautiful lake and an old castle. I loved the many flower pots the residents had everywhere: on stoops, staircases, walls, lattices, etc. And I was struck by the hardiness of the fig tree; the ones I saw were all growing straight out of high walls, having found a tiny foothold and enough nutrients to somehow survive.