Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Red Red Wine

Our love of Cesanse wine goes back to 2010 when we were stranded in Rome thanks to the Icelandic volcano. Late afternoons were spent in our local bar, Vino Veritas, now sadly closed, where Andrea introduced us to this local wine.

Our favourite producer of Cesanese is Damiano Ciolliwhose family have been making wine for five generations.

In the past quantity had triumphed over quality with the wine made from the Cesanese grape sold off in bulk. When Damiano took over the vines at the age of 24 he reversed this tradition and he now produces two Cesanese wines of superior quality.

The vines, some of which are 64 years old, grow in red volcanic soil and thrive in a microclimate that sees the air cooled by breezes from the nearby coast and the grapes protected from extreme weather by the surrounding three mountain ranges.

Dotted amongst the vines are these pretty little flowers known as Silene

The grapes are harvested manually and imperfect specimens rejected.

At the Cantine  the grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats then aged in concrete or French oak barrels.

This is where we get to taste the two wines that are produced here, Silene & Cirsium, named after plants that grow in the vineyard.

What can I say.....sitting overlooking the vines , chatting with Damiano and drinking lovely wine....just a perfect moment. Honestly, tears spring forth every time I think of it. I don't think we will ever taste wine in a more perfect setting.

Thanks to Gina & Casa Mia you too, can spend spend time with this talented winemaker who understands the potential of this grape variety which dates back to the days of the Roman Empire.
Gina is a wonderful guide whose enthusiasm & knowledge make for a fantastic tour.

Back in Rome some of our favourite restaurants stock Damiano's wine, including Sorpasso & Osteria dell'Arco.
It is also available from Eataly.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Rome 365 - Trajan's Column

Trajan's Column was erected by the Senate in 113AD to commemorate Emperor Trajan's campaigns against the Dacians
(modern day Romania)

An inscription above the door at the base  records that the height of the column corresponded to the height of the hill which it replaced.

A statue of Emperor Trajan originally stood on the top but this was replaced in the 16th century by a statue of St Peter

The column is made up of 19 drums of Italian marble covered in reliefs. These scenes tell us so much about the Roman army, for example, you can see that the helmets have small rings on top so that they could be hung from a cord over the shoulder when they were not worn.

A good way to see models of the drums up close is at the Museum of Roman Civilization in EUR district but at the moment this is closed for refurbishment.

Of course, if you are in London, the Victoria & Albert museum also has a plaster cast reproduction of the column, located in the Cast Courts.

Alternativey check out this National Geographic site which gives an overview of the carvings on the column.

If you visit the Illuminated Forum of Caesar during the summer months, you can get a great close up view of the beautifully lit column.

Finally, a good place to eat with a great view of the column is Terre e Domus (formally Enoteca Provincia Romana). The ingredients for the traditional Roman dishes are all sourced locally and the project is managed by a social co-operative.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Emporio delle Spezie

For the past three years our pre Rome trip preparation has included sorting through our spice cupboard and making a list of those jars to to replenish.
Using Google translate, we endeavour to get our tongues around the Italian names for cinnamon (cannella), cloves (chiodi di garofano) and the like
Once in Rome we hot foot it to a tiny store on Via Luca delle Robbia in Testaccio. 
Emporio delle Spezie is an Aladdin's cave of herbs and spices from all over the world and all of the utmost quality.

The lovely Laura is so patient with our poor pronounciation of list items and our exceedingly small purchases are weighed out with care on the old fashioned brass scales, then bagged & labelled.
Once home these spices are a wonderful memento of Rome, whether it be peppered steak with Sarawak peppercorns, fish pie seasoned with Norwegian smoked salt or the aroma of oregano from Campania, which instantly transports us back to Italy.

Laura even makes an appearance in my favourite cookbook, Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy. All the spices, flour, nuts and dried fruit that Rachel uses in her recipes are purchased at Emporio delle Spezie.