Thursday, 29 September 2016

Lazy Sunday

Coffee and cornetti at Linari before heading back to the kitchen. Inspired by our time at Latteria Studio on Friday, we are making a tomato & pepper sauce (a sort of combination of Rachel's tomato sauce & peperonata recipes)

On our way to lunch we walk through the Sunday Market in the grounds of the old slaughterhouse. There are a few farmers stalls, one selling just bottles of passata and others piled high with autumnal vegetables.

The atmosphere is a happy one with children running around, doggies enjoying their walk & live music playing.

Lunch today is at Tavernaccia da Bruno, a short walk over the bridge from Testaccio

We have heard about the wood smoke oven and the suckling pig that is cooked in it but first we have to try the lasagne.

The crackling on the pork is amazing!

We accompany it with the bitter chicory dish that the Romans love.

Back to the apartment for a lazy afternoon in the garden.

We walk over the river again for aperitivo hour this evening. Pasticcio is situated in the unlikely venue of a 1960's multi-storey car park. The top of the building has a lovely roof garden with fruit trees and beds of herbs & vegetables. It also gives a great aerial view of Testaccio & the gasometer of Ostiense, which has become a beloved modern addition to the Rome skyline.

Supper tonight is borlotti beans in the sauce we made ealier , served with salted ricotta.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

European Heritage Day

Our day starts with Artenio's pizzette in the Mercato before picking up shopping. Then it is on to the butchers, Nasini Carne,  where they have ready prepared skewers and other meats that we can cook on the BBQ

Today is European Heritage Day and all over Italy there are special events and monument openings. As we are in Testaccio we have chosen to see the excavations under the Mercato. As the tour is only offered in Italian we were sent a brochure in English beforehand.

The archeological area under the mercato has been identified as storerooms for the nearby port. What is unusual is that the walls of the rooms are made up of empty amphorae piled on top of each other.

The stores formed part of a much bigger complex of  buildings for goods, conservation & storage. 'Our ruin', Porticus Aemilia, is what remains of a warehouse and Monte Testaccio is a large organised dump of oil amphorae.

Our outdoor lunch of bbq chicken skewers was accompanied by fresh salad leaves from Carla's garden that she had given us yesterday.

Late afternoon we set out into the city once more. This time we took the bus to the Quirinale Palace & walked down to the Trevi Fountain.

Then onto the Spanish Steps, where one of my favourite things to do is to feel the warmth of the marble beneath my feet.

The steps have just reopened after refurbishment paid for by Bulgari. As a result the no eating or drinking rule is being strictly enforced. We took our picnic aperitivo to the top of the steps to watch the sunset.

As part of European Heritage Day the Pantheon is open later tonight so we head there to see the night sky through the oculus

Then back to the apartment to enjoy take out pizza from our 'local 'trattoria, Picolo Alpino.

Ancient & Modern

Today was all about Market to Table where our lovely communally cooked lunch lasted well into the afternoon.

After freshening up back at the apartment we headed out into the city once more.

 The light is particularly lovely at this time of day.

As the sun set we made our way to the Barbie exhibition at Il Vittoriano.

The exhibition charts the history of this global icon and reflects the cultural transformations of society since 1959 when Barbie was 'born' Children would also enjoy visiting as there is a special area of engaging activities especially for them. Our little grandaughter would love it!

Time for aperitivo and the rooftop bar at the Hotel Forum beckons. The drinks aren't cheap here but the view of the illuminated Imperial Forums is hard to beat. The barman, who has been there for 12 years mixes a mean cocktail too.

We are heading down into the Forum ourselves for a night tour which includes the. recently opened Santa Maria Antiqua, one of the earliest Christian monuments in Rome with a unique collection of Byzantine wall paintings.
Unfortunately I managed to somehow book the tour in Italian (!) but we have visited the Forum several times before and we managed to grasp some of what the guide was saying.

It was an absolute joy to walk among the ruins with no crowds and in the cool night air. The illuminated monuments were amazing.

Santa Marai Antiqua had notice boards in English so we could follow the guide there.
Actually it is good practice for our tour tomorrow which is only offered in Italian - watch this space!

Market to Table

Exchanging chat over coffee and Da Artenio's addictive patate pizzette was a lovely way to meet fellow guests at 'Market to Table' and set the informal tone for the day to come.

It is no secret that I am a total fan of our hostess, Rachel Roddy who writes a weekly column for Guardian Cook but who I first discovered through the beautifully written blog, Rachel Eats
Rachel's book, Five Quarters, is along with Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, my kitchen 'bible'.

Rachel was sweet and unassuming as she led us around the market and chose produce that we would turn into lunch. She was joined by Alice Adams, a food stylist, originally from Australia, whose enthusiasm for Italian pumpkins was limitless!

Back at Latteria Studio we met the third partner of the Market to Table venture, Carla Tomasi. I follow Carla on instagram so I knew all about her garden, produce from which was set out on a side table in the studio.

Carla's foccaccia, fresh from the oven. was served with coffee before the serious business of cooking lunch got underway.

Everyone lent a hand and although we learnt so much from our experts it never felt like a cooking lesson, more like a get together with friends.

The resulting lunch was a triumph of simple, seasonal ingredients coming together to make a wonderful feast, accompanied by local wines.

Latteria Studio is a lovely light infused venue with retro styling and a perfect setting for the class. Our little group would probably have got along well anyway but the relaxed atmosphere created by Rachel, Alice & Carla was infectious.

Yes - we need more days like these

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Borlotti and Bananas

To the Mercato this morning to pick up produce for dinner then on to one of my favourite shops in Testaccio, Emporio delle Spezie. I usually make a list before leaving home of all the herbs and spices that are running low, then purchase them here. They also stock a smoked salt from Norway that I have not seen anywhere else.

On our way back to the apartment we cross Piazza Testaccio. This lovely square has been transformed since the old market moved to its new home and the restored Lomabardi Fountain of the Amphorae relocated here.

After dropping our purchases we head out to Piramide station to renew our weekly travel cards and take the metro to Annibaliano. We are here to visit the Mausoleum of Santa Costanza and the church of St Agnes but first, coffee.
Bar Giungiu is the cutest little cafe, all pastels and cupcakes with a super nice barista.

Loitering over our coffee was our first mistake, as you will soon see. Loitering far too long in the tranquil garden of St Agnes was our second.
This tiny peaceful garden has a wall of plaques simply saying 'thank you' for answered prayers (a similar wall appears in a scene in 'Roman Holiday').

There is a small shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary.......

..... and a wall decoration that reminds us of Andy Goldsworthy's work

It is now almost noon when both the Mausoleum & church close so we have left ourselves five minutes to see the glorious mosaics of Santa Costanza and no time left at all to visit St Agnes. Oh well, back on the list for another trip.

Lunch today is, unusually for us, not Roman or even Italian but Mexican. La Taqueria kept popping up on Instagram as a cheerful sort of place that we might like to visit and it didn't disappoint.
You can't help but smile when you see a ceiling dripping with bananas.

Food is good & margaritas excellent. Even better is that it is a short walk to Bologna station for the metro back to Testaccio.
The plan is to spend the afternoon relaxing in the garden but first we must pod beans & prepare chicory.

Aperitivo hour this evening is spent at Tram Depot, a favourite spot of ours. on Via Marmorata.

Then back to the apartment for dinner of sausages cooked on the BBQ, borlotti beans and chicory with garlic & chilli.