Tag Archives: Rome

A little nostalgia and fun…

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In Comfort & SpiceNiamh Shields says that potato became her one of her favourite pizza toppings since her first trip to Rome. Not to worry – I *did* tell Niamh that the Maltese love that too. I remember a visit to Gozo a long time ago (I must have been around 21 I think..I did say ‘a long time ago’) while looking for somewhere to eat I was directed by a local to a lady who made the “best pizza”. I really cannot recall where this was, and I don’t know if it really was the best pizza. To tell you where you can find that I would have to get back to you. What I will say now is that it was really good.

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When I’m homesick I love to recreate recipes which take me back to the islands for a little while and a really quick way of doing that is to make a basic pizza dough and put plenty of thinly sliced potatoes on top. Make sure it doesn’t dry up on you, so add plenty of olive oil. I do have a recipe for pizza dough in this blog. Whatever you put on your pizza is up to you. Traditionalists will pull their noses up and not look at these pics, but I don’t really care. Apart from the classic Napoletana, which I think is similar to the Margherita, I love it with Maltese sausages and/or potatoes. That’s how we roll in Malta.

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I’m also posting here some photos taken on a recent visit to Malta – I managed some to do some cooking, including some pizzas for lunch. A few were made with goat’s cheese (ġbejniet) and the traditional zalzett Malti. Hope you enjoy them as much as much as I did.

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Rob x

Rome…continued…

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Despite the enjoyable chaos and drama of Roman life, the food is everything except that. There’s nothing complicated: simple food with fresh ingredients. With all the bakeries, pastry shops and salumerie in almost every corner of the city, you will get the best. J2 insisted that the first thing we had to try was porchetta. It’s roasted pork seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. That on bread and you’re set for lunch. Right round the corner from S. Maria in Trastevere on Via della Lungaretta we found Pizzarius. Despite the lack of imagination in the name we were not disappointed. It’s a touristy place yes, but our lunch was delicious and that’s what matters the most. A lovely day, blue sky, a fountain, some musicians in the piazza doing the entertaining and one of the best sandwiches you can find. You see, the surroundings complete the experience. However lunch is not over until coffee so we headed to Caffé Di Marzio for an espresso. It is proper coffee and you can’t beat the price at €0.80. You literally get a shot of the stuff but you do feel robbed when you come back to Surrey and order a (look-a-like but tastes-nothing-like) coffee from one of the chains for just under £2. But that’s another story…

For dinner we gravitated mostly towards two particular eateries. We went to L’Archetto when we were too tired to walk at the end of long day. They mainly serve pasta with all the sauces you can think of, but pizza is also on the menu. I was told that they don’t have the proper brick ovens but I wanted to have a taste anyway. You see, I was also thinking of my lovely readers and how much they would appreciate my opinion on things…! On a serious note though, I thought that the food was good…(J had spaghetti alla Norma which he quite liked) till we ate at Ai Balestrari in Campo de’ Fiori. Unlike L’Archetto, the rooms are quite dark. The first time we went there I felt as if I was in a kind of limbo. The place was not as clean. I had to change my glass which had some dust fluff in it. But the food made up for whatever other things this place lacked. Second time round we were given a better table on the ground floor. Their home-made pasta with simple tomato sauce was exactly what I needed, after having some stomach issues earlier in the day. My A-team had a couple of pizzas I think and everything was yummie. For the last day we decided to have a taste of the serious stuff: Saltimbocca (veal with prosciutto and sage), Carciofi alla giudia (deep fried artichokes), puntarelle (chicory salad with an anchovy dressing – not that much to my liking I have to say but good nonetheless) and a crostata for dessert which sadly had a soggy pastry. Pity because otherwise it could have been lovely. Having wine with meals is not an everyday thing for me, so I decided to avoid it like the plague after the second day. As good as table wine gets in Italy, two glasses in one sitting were a tad too much for me. I should have known…

TBC…

Rob x

Rome…the first part.

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As I write this, the sky is grey. Surely not great when I’m trying my best to write about Rome. But there’s nothing like the present to go back once again to that amazing place. Though I must admit that watching Two Greedy Italians last night gave me the final nudge. (What I thought of the programme is another thing but there’s no doubt that Carluccio and Contaldo know their food.) I have never been to Italy before. Not that going to Rome, once, is enough! That’s not what I mean. But it’s a start. It’s a great start…

Saying that there’s loads to see and do (and eat of course) is an understatement. I don’t even know where to begin. After three exhausting weeks in Malta (which was partially another culinary adventure by itself) we landed in Fiumicino early next morning. I was tired. No-sleep-on-the-plane-dead. That meant that all I wanted was thirty minutes of peace, but our taxi driver (such a nice man, seriously) was a huge fan of Amy Winehouse and that-a little bit of quiet time was a no-no-no. But still, I did enjoy the chaotic entry into the city. Listening to some Italian was also somewhat surreal.

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It was a whirlwind holiday from the very start. First stop: Fontana di Trevi. We were ambushed. I never saw so many people crammed into one tiny piazza! But what a piazza! After taking the compulsory snap shots my bro-in-law, who was kindly leading this quasi-gastro-tour of three, took us to L’Antico Forno, a charming little bakery and everything-in-between place. Everybody stops there on the way back and forth to other sights; it’s practically two seconds away from the fountain. The lady at the bakery counter saw me eyeing the pastries and asked me what I wanted. What I wanted? One of each please. I could have walked out of there with cinque cornetti (alla crema or al cioccolato didn’t matter). Thank God my Italian was not so fluent or I would have! J & J (like the A-team) had to drag me out of there. We had just arrived and I wanted to buy the whole shop. J2 (in case you’re wondering, he’s my brother-in-law) reassured me that L’Antico Forno was not going to relocate any time soon and also there were other pasticcerie in Rome. J (my lovely hubby, no intro needed, you know the guy) who knows me well promised me we would return. OK. Done deal. Move on. (That’s what he really wanted to say.) I, on the other hand, could feel the pain.

So we already established that if we walked towards the Fountain there would be a slice of Heaven. What I didn’t know yet was that if we headed the other side of the street there would be another slice of Heaven. Three days…three whole days went by before we went to Antico Caffè Castellino (the word antico featured yet again), not for pastries first, but for bus tickets. Nice. We were in such a hurry, we didn’t stop for something al banco. But with *that* Wednesday being a day off for all, there was not a bus to be seen, not even some sort of shuttle that would take you to the Vatican. The only big car that was not diverted was the President’s, we think…we didn’t even see him wave. Some German tourists asked one bemused Carabiniere about the buses. He said that they will come but frankly he seemed knowledgeable and clueless at the same time. If the Carabiniere said so then the bus will definitely be there…well…not? (I could not see why we couldn’t have due cappuccini and due cornetti at the bar.) Instead we walked to another bus stop and relaxed. You see, there’s no need to panic in Rome. You start learning to take life as it comes. The general attitude is if-you-missa-de-bus-you-missa-de-bus kind of thing, so you’re set for the rest of your holiday. Don’t order a cappuccino after lunch though. That can get you into trouble…

TBC…

Rob x