Archive for January 2019

Our Never Ending Italian Learning Curve!

Buon anno everyone!  Before next spring rolls around and before we head back to Italy, I better post this!

I definitely think I need an eyebrow make-over! Everyone seems to have amazing, immaculately groomed ones, even some of the guys! It seems that one simply has to have amazing eyebrows!  Wonder what the next fad to strike will be?

All the research I did sussing out delicious regional foods while preparing for our first excursions into Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna, yet we never did find those lovely sounding Piemontese style meat stuffed zucchini blossoms known as Caponet.  Or for that matter, other seasonal veggie preparations in the Osteria/Trattoria’s we went to! Maybe the Michelin starred places get them all!

We prefer out food jazzed up and not just because our taste buds are getting old either! Who could not love the raw veal, cooked veal, salumi and truly amazing cheeses as well as Tajarin, a speciality pasta of Piemonte, on offer?  However, seeing them over and over again on a daily basis wore a bit thin…even though they are all fantastic products! In Emilia-Romagna it’s sooo easy to over-indulge in the fried dough, Crescentine/Gnocco Fritto and the smallish, round flatbread, Tigelle (lightly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, that is stuffed with any one of the regions’ amazing salumi or lardo).  Of course there is always a Fettuccine Bolognese to be had and no matter how good that ragu can be, and it can be outstanding, we were looking for things that surprised and/or wowed us. We would have hoped to see oh-so traditional restaurant menus offerings modernized, even just a bit, perhaps a chalk board with seasonal specialties, like those stuffed zucchini blossoms!  Just saying.

Finding tartufo was impossible (except as an ingredient in salami) but expected as we weren’t there for the crazy season (Alba white truffle season in the fall)…so no tartufo for me, not even summer tartufo and I was really desiring pasta with shaved tartufo…and I mean seriously desiring!

The lunches we enjoyed the most in Piemonte were in Alba, at a funky place called Osteria dei Sognatori and at Osteria dei Ca`tari in Monforte D’Alba where we sat outside on the patio under a “roof” of brightly coloured umbrellas. That was so cool!

We can’t help but love the food of Lazio and of Rome, (no surprise here) because the flavours are pumped up. And being artichoke central doesn’t hurt one little bit, despite those dreaded anchovies…it’s a minefield for us anchovy haters! No fear of peperoncino here either! Bring it on!

A quick day-trip to Florence to have lunch with Judy Witts Francini reminded us of how much we enjoy and have enjoyed the good eats of Tuscany…gutsy stuff!  And the express train from Bologna to Florence takes 32 minutes!!!

Time spent with friends in Rome was definitely way more fun than attempting to check off all the items on our ever expanding bucket list! Why do we even bother with that list? Oh, I know, because of all the restaurant recommendations that just keep coming, that’s why!  On top of the “off the beaten track” things to see and do of course!

Long line-ups are not what we are about…no matter what! So, 4 trips to Rome later and still no Vatican! And guess what…we just decided the other night that we will probably give it a miss again…did I say we hate line-ups?  And yes, if there was another way to go besides lining up we would love to!

We are experts at getting lost, case in point: the intent one day was to walk to Trastevere but one wrong turn, or should I say that bridge over the Tiber (I know, I know you don’t go over a bridge from our side of the river) and we ended up near Piazza Navona…as fate would have it, this error turned out to be an extremely good thing , because very close to Piazza Navona is Piazza Pasquino where one of our favouite enoteca’s, Cul du Sac is located….so we settled in with a lovely bottle of wine and a platter of delicious salumi and cheese! You have to love mistakes that turn out so well! And then what should have been an hour’s drive from Torino to Alba turned out to be 2 ½ hrs.  Like I said…we’re experts!

Borgo di Prati is a cute area, very close to the Vatican.  Just wish it weren’t not so overrun with Vatican-ites (either coming from or going to)…it would/could be fun…maybe at night! Glad we went though, as it’s been on the list since 2010!

Our new favourite neighbourhood, Testaccio! It’s Friday night and things are hopping around the Piazza di Testaccio, where we are to meet up with friends, Jo and Pino who we hadn’t seen in over 2 years at Palombi Enoteca across from the Piazza. Although we went to Testaccio in ’15 to “worship” at the altar of Volpetti, this trip found us exploring the area 3 times.  We shared an amazing lunch on one visit with our friend Wendy at Osteria degli Amici after a wandering around the “new” Testaccio Mercato for some photo ops. The Osteria is just across from Monte Testaccio (a hill that was created from broken pottery by Romans during the era of the Roman Empire).

Sorpasso on Via Crescenzio didn’t disappoint once again…great tasting food that’s really creative…would/will go back in a heartbeat!  And our favourite wait person is still there! She’s amazing! I think both her English and my Italian have improved in the last couple of years!

Are all the towns in Piemonte the same? We have to know about two that we visited…Alba and Barbaresco. Do they hire staff to lick the streets clean at dawn??? Definite a bit of a shock for us, having come up from Rome! Not a dog turd to be seen anywhere! Seriously!

Lessons learned:  rental homes/apartments, in our experience, have lousy bathroom lighting. I mean wouldn’t it be nice to apply your makeup and head out the door knowing you don’t look like a clown!

Just because the description of your rental accommodation says there‘s a pool doesn’t mean that it’s actually a usable one that isn’t full of all debris and bugs floating on the surface! Yuck!

Although Rome may be in need of some TLC, we love her anyway…but guys, get the roads and the flaming buses fixed/replaced…what about using all those coins from the fountain??? We actually heard the Mayor being quoted, when asked about some of the issues Rome is facing, say “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” A Roman friend almost fell over when we told her that one! She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

We needed to spend way more time in Bologna!!!

We have way better toilet paper in Canada! Just sayin’…no we are not taking it with us next trip!!!