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Old 02-18-2007, 03:20 PM   #21
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Somehow, in the trips inbetween Milan and UK last summer we lost our digital camera :( We have the new camcorder, but I'm not sure how we take stills from it. And, er, the chiacchiere would make a nice picture, us post asti less so!
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu
As I type now I am snaacking on my Sunday afternoon treat of chiacchiere and asti, the asti is just kicking in, so please excuse floridities and typos! Heaven, really really heaven. DH has said that he now feels chiacchiere are the single best thing to be produced in Italy, and I am tempted to agree. Its so hard to bypass these delights, as simple as they seem, and I am now dreading the end of them being in the shops If anyone wants a recipe I will find one and post it, these really must be tried.
We tried this recipe last year, worked well.(it says "frappe" but don't worry, it is the same thing as chiachiere, this treat is called differently depending on the region!) It is in Italian, if you or anyone else would like me to, I will translate it... We just used lard(strutto) instead of butter, and marsala instead of grappa though.

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Anyway, I left Lombardia yesterday, and got on a plane for Roma! Just one brief day, but a tantalising first taste of Lazio! As a citrus tree enthusiast I was enchanted by the lemons and oranges with their boughs bent with the weight of their fruit that line the railway lines of the airport shuttle train. My enchantment multiplied when i saw that some streets in Roma are lined with orange trees too, the merry little fruits bright like Christmas decorations, I wonder if people pick them for a snack whilst shopping?.
Aha... you came to the centre with the shuttle train... so you must have arrived on the far side of Termini!! I walk by that point almost every day!! I wonder if you have noticed the huge banner of Alpha Dog hanging on the station building, to the right as you walk out of the station, my gym is directly under that banner!! Yeah, those citrus trees are really cute, aren't they... but honestly I, or any roman would eat them, as they are pretty polluted by the exhausts coming from the traffic!!

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Anyway, we had to go pretty much straight to DH's Rome office for some thing, but the location, CASPITA, what a location! Urmaniac will understand this, that it is practically adjacent to the Spanish Steps in Piazza d'espagna! so from the window I was watching four horses and carriages lining up, we thouht about taking a quick horse drivn tour, but at 150 erous and tight for time, we decided on Shank's pony instead, and our little feet practically ran the narrow streets between the Piazza d'espagna and Via del Corso. The difference in temperature between Rome and Milan was astounding, and we were peeling layers as we ran/walked the streets!
Yes, Piazza di Spagna is really pretty, that must be nice to have an office overlooking it... those horse drawn carriages are really big here, they are everywhere around the centre. I really love those cobblestoned back streets of the centre, some of the bests are around the area you walked through, too. You guys chose a good day, too, the weather has been really unstable, raining off and on all the time for the past few weeks, it also poured miserably the day after you were here, too. But during the day when the sun is out, you can be sure the spring has already arrived in Rome!!

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After the party ended we had only two hours so we ran down th ehill back into the centre of Rome, crossed the Tiber and went into Trastevere, where we looked for a restaurant a friend had said we must go to called Gioacchino's, but this we never fouynd, and feeling the clock ticking we raced into a restarant in Via Pelliccia opposite Augusto (for urmanic's benefit!) where we wolfed down some crostata, one with blak olive pate and one with artichoke and truffle oil. The truffle oil was not on the menu, and I balked as I smelt it arrive but I have to admit I liked the taste. I hae a long standing repulsion to th smell of truffle, so eating it was smething of a feat, and to be honest I could smell it all through the night, but I am so glad I tried it, and it was worth it! DH then ate coda vaccina, a plate of oxtail and tomato stew, I was dithering, we were rushed and I wanted something reminiscent of the beautiful citrus trees that had captured me as I entered Roma, and to celebrate the warmth! But the only thing I fancied was the vitello al limone. I have issues with veal, and said, in English to DH, that I was saddened to not be abke to choose that. But the waiter, who spoke beautiful lyrical english, heard me nd offered to have it made with chicken instead, and knowing we were rushing, scampered of the the kitchen. It was all divne, and I wished we could have loitered longer, but the cats waited and we were latish for the plane so we lept in to a taxi, for the safest journey I have had in Italy on the roads...all though it was 8, when the shops close, the traffic seemed to part in front of us and our taxi driver was softly spoken and angelic, chatting to me aand patient with my painfully slow Italian, unliike the Milanese whop just resort to English!!
I am glad you had just the time to enjoy such a special dinner!! Probably now you know Trastevere better than I do, we drive through there often but hardly ever stopped and explored, except for a few visits to the famous Porta Portese market on Sundays.(rivals to Portbello on Saturdays!) I will remember the ristorante Gioacchino (took note of the direction, too, grazie!!), in case an occasion arises for Cristiano. Sounds like a lovely place, and your waiter was incredible, considering the average level of Roman customer service!!

Quote:
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I LOVED Roma! I can hardly wait to go back, next time I have a friend I want to meet with though!
I am so glad that you had a wonderful day out in our city!! I really hope the next time you will have more time to enjoy yourselves, it takes much more to savour this city to the full extent!! And don't forget to give me a whistle!! We are just 10min. walk from the Termini station, I will be right there to welcome you!!
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:46 PM   #23
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Heaven in a snack bar. Famous in Milan but in a little off road near the Duomo. Via Santa Radegonda called Luini, - Panificio F.lli Luini have a look. The panzerotti are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Like savory doughnuts, I have been avoiding them, but every one said I must try one sometime, today I was just there so I succombed. OH MY GOODNESS it was heavenly. I went for mozzerella and tomato, but I'll have to walk past with a blindfold and nosepeg on from now on.
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:24 AM   #24
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Piedmont: staying with locals!

DH and I had a classical dressage weekend and stayed with the head of the Italian classical dressage society and his family and other people attending the course.

Local wine was UNBELIEVABLE. DH, normally a restrained drinker these days got a little merry, as did all the other men, but the wine was so good I don't blame any of them. Amazing frittate, onion and courgette, a to die for courgette tart, a rice thingy, with a layer of risotto, a layer of vegetables then another layer of risotto all set with egg, loads of speck and lard, a local pecorino. The very best thing: a fennel salad. I am always banging on about how I wish I liked fennel, well at last I loved it! I can't wait to have it again!

Then a meal out at the local coop restaurant. Tuna pasta loaded with parsley, then more frittate, a tossed green salad, roast pork...then strawberrys, then after coffee some pretty mean limoncello or grappa.....always limoncello for me, the grapa takers could barely ride this morning!
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Old 03-05-2007, 09:58 AM   #25
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Another exciting weekend, good for you!! Yeah, fennel has always been one vegetable that irked both cristiano and me. But the other day we found this wonderful series of cookbooks called "Monografie del gusto" at a bancarella (street vendor's stall) at 2 a piece. Each book was dedicated to one specific vegetables, we immediately bought ones for mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots and radicchio, we came home and looked at them, they are wonderful, not only they were loaded with beautiful pictures, the selections of recipes are so unique and appetizing, very much of a take off from "the same old usual things". We remembered there was one for fennel too, and the next day we went back and bought it, thinking maybe we will find a way to enjoy fennel somehow. So chances are perhaps we may join you as "better late than never" newbie fennel fan one day soon!!

And yeah! We bought the first strawberries of the season this weekend, too... yummm yummm, now I will be gorging on those red sweet juicy wonders for a few months to come... woo hoo!
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Old 04-13-2007, 10:55 AM   #26
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Goodness, I've been bad lately with this. Anyway, not much news. I was madly taking photos for you all but the camera had a blip and I lost some really beautiful easter food pics DH has promised he'll scan in the menu from the pizza place opposite the new flat cause I think that would be a nice share, and I have attached a couple of pictures of my favourite Italian bread. Its amazing, its at markets and supermarkets, always in these HUGE loaves.....I tried to give someidea of scale in the pictures. You just buy a hunk of it and its wonderful: spongey and chewey and light and heavey all at the same time.

I can also confirm I have now eatedn the true delight of all take away pizza places: the nutella calzone. It was dense, it was chewy, it was very very heavy. Funnily enough though, it was like french crepes with nutella only so much more so. Personally, while I felt I had to try it once I won't mind not having it again, even though I have a weakness for nutella.

Anyway, I'm venturing out of Lombardia tomorrow to Venice! Woohoo! DH knows Venice very well and we are meeting some of his Venetian ragazzi (spelling?) for lunch before going to look at some Murano glass and then staying next to the Realto bridge in a lovely hotel (as a late birthday present we are upgrading from our normal ok hotel for a bit of glitz!) and spending Sunday getting lost in the maze of streets. I'll try not to mess up any foody pictures this time.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:04 AM   #27
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Ace piccies. No mistaking the location given the girl's top. Hope you have a good time in Venice.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:37 AM   #28
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It sounds wonderful Lulu!
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Old 04-16-2007, 07:52 AM   #29
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Venezia!

Venice is truely everything you hope it could be and more. Its glorious. I was shocked at the number of people, like us, taking only a weekend there though. I fully intend to one day spend a month there exploring more throroughly all the islands and canale thoroughly. Its my husband's favourite city in the world, even before his Italian home city of Florence and our London. He knows it well, and yet was just as excited as I was, and although we had a couple of fixtures he was happy to explore it through the eyes of a "first timer" and we explored many blind alleys and courtyards as well as the tourist spots. Because of our limited time, and the expence of Venice we decided to not do the tours of the inside of buildings and monuments, but save them for one of our future trips. I could go on and on, but I'll cut to the chase and get to the FOOD!

Venice has the reputation of not being the best place in Italy to eat, and the tourists I listen to, and indeed the ones I spoke to, seemed to concur, although with some I felt it was as if to appear to be a cognescento among world travellers rather than gourmets! TBH, it was too hot to eat much (I got sunburnt and keep having to remind myself it is April). I took some photos and will upload a couple when I have dealt with them. We shared a dryish large, pistachio biscuit type thing called (I'll have to add Italian names tonight when my memory returns and tiredness recovers!) a gondolier's biscuit (pane di gondalieri?) which was....ok, beautiful, but dry and in the hot weather we were gasping enough as it is. Most of the restaurants, as on most tourist trails were overpriced mass produced pizza some pasta and bucket loads of lasgane being sold in special oofers, like a plate of Lasagne and soft drink for 8 Euros etc etc. I am amazed tha people think that this is anything other than fuel and don't head away from this for food if they are then going to say Ventian food is bad!

Our lunch date was at the well known but modest Madonna restaurant. Fish is the deal in most of Venezia, and especially at the Madonna. The regular Venetians and special people ask for something not on the menu which I'm not to pass on to you all, but its not my cup of tea anyway so I had calimaretti...tiny little squids, lightly battered and fried and absolutely delectable, DH had crab, and highly recomends it! TBH, I think any fish and seafood there would be excellent and although not silly price cheap was certainly not silly price expensive either. The price is a reflection of the property value and fair, rather than an inflated tourist price. The house red was very drinkable too. Despite the heat the icecream was, in the main, not artiginale, and so we passed, and when we needed a refreshment paid tourist prices for a cocktail each at Florian's (you knd of have to go there or have a Belinni at Harry's Bar, but I wanted something more than a belinni so DH had a punchy refreshing Sea Breeze while I got some rum in my Planter's Punch.....the menu was typically standard but the drinks were more than fair in their alcohol content! So, having paid twice for them what we did for lunch we hit the cale again, and really did not eat till supper time, where we ate for the opportunity for a sit down more than anything else. But, how lucky we are.

We found a true, true gem of a restaurant. Really beautiful food and fair (not cheap, forget cheap real food in Venice, just forget it, but this was fair. In UK would be cheap.) prices. Now, get your note books and make a not of the address. You will never regret it if you end up in Venice...its called Ostaria da Rioba and its on the Fondamenta della Misericordia and the address is 2553 Venezia. The Addresses in Venice are confusing, but the number is the house/building number, so that's why I gave the road name too! Its closed on Mondays, but otherwise I urge you to try it. The menu was delightful and unusual (papperdelle with duck sounded scrumptious for example). Fondamente della Misericordia is a quiet "cale" or Venitian road and we sat on a table set up less than a foot from the edge of the canale and lit only by the candle and light from the restaurant. There were tables away from the edge if you are taking children or are worried, but for us, this was our dream setting to eat. Still hot we passed on wine and intended only a secondo. DH had a duck breast (rare, tender, crisp skin, not too fatty but flavourful) with carmamalised onions in there own jus which was so much more than I could ever hope to describe to you. Quite seriously, it was the best duck I have tasted ever, anywhere, including the almost as divine Michelin chef cooked duck I had the day I got married. I had a fillet steak with gorganzola dolce and silver beet. Again, so much more than the ingredients suggest, so unexpectedly perfect I would gladly eat it again, but if I went back I would have the duck. Hilariously the mixed salad we shared along with our mains, was so humble compared to the artistry of the meal that we were remided of the modesty of this place. But it was fine, and fresh and cool and adaquate.

Charmed by the location and beguiled by the food we ordered a portion of a local cheese (I'll add the name I forgot it!) which was brought with the surprising addition of chestnut preserve, the sweet kind I love on my toast . It was okay...a surprising combination, a slightly unmemorable cheese I admit. But, then a pudding (just a secondo we said to each other as we sat dowen remember). Ofcourse for me a pannacotta "with caramel" but so perfect. The most panna cotta-y panna cotta ever with a burnt sugar caramel to relieve the deep, plain perfection of this plate. DH couldn't keep his spoon to himself and so I tried his unbelievable cinnamon marscapone....a sort of cream version of cinnamon perfection not too sweet but cinnamony and creamy and as balmy as the night we sat in. This meal was less than our one plate each at La Madonna and our cocktails, but we did only have two courses and no wine. This meal will go into my all time favourite food experience memory list. Believe if you like that a tourist cn't eat well in Venice, because that means my restaurant will have a seat for me!

Nothing memorable yeasterday, DH will rreport on an eggy raisiny Venitian goody I bought on the way to the station for his today's lunch box, and I will add that there is a heavily marketed biscuit from Buranno, which is pleasant, but perhaps I was too hot to appreciate it! What I might have gone for was the icecream flavour of the biscuit that was sold on the island of Buranno.

I'll upload the foody photos and sort out names of foods later.
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Old 04-16-2007, 11:26 AM   #30
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Another exciting adventure out of town for Lulu!! Good for ya!! I hope I will make it over there sometime soon, maybe when we go to Trentino again, we could go a bit off the route over there, which is not so far away from Verona area and take an extra couple of days there.
It is good that Michael knew the city well, as I imagine to have someone who really knows the city with you could be essential just as in Rome, for instance when you pick a restaurant. There must be full of touristy rip offs. I am glad you have found a wonderful joint where you could enjoy yourself!
Chestnut preserve can be wonderful on certain cheeses, we have been doing a lot of experiment with sweet condiments (different types of preserves and honey), and we found the ones with piquant flavours are usually the best, like a chunk of parmigiano reggiano, aged pecorino, taleggio, gorgonzola (though I don't eat gorgonzola "raw", but it is a very popular choice).
Anyway I will get back with you for more advice when I finally get to visit that enchanting city!!

BTW... I really think you should write a book about your Italian experience... you could be the next Peter Mayle!!
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