Traveling Through Umbria

Day 1 – A few yummy hours in Rome

This is my 6th trip to Italy and my 3rd to Rome.  Rome is a city you could visit a 1000 times and never tire of it.  At least that’s how I feel.  It is a city so rich in culture it grabs hold of you and never lets go.  Its beauty and intrigue stays with you long after you’ve left and calls to you from afar.  Of course the history and the architecture are second to none but a great way to visit Rome is to just stroll the narrow alleys, sit in a piazza and take in the local scenery…and this is just what we did. We only had a few hours in Rome and my main focus was to spend the day with a dear friend and to eat what my husband assured me was the best Pasta Carbonara he’s ever had.  Not a bad way to spend the day.

My friend Lori recently relocated to Rome from Cairo and was lucky enough to find an amazing apartment right in the heart of Rome’s best food neighborhood – Testaccio. So we started our day just a few doors down from her flat with a cappuccino from Barberini Caffetteria. Coffee culture in Rome – or Italy in general – is so different from anywhere else.  There is no coffee to go. You walk up to the coffee bar, order your drink and stand there to drink it.  There is also protocol on what is drunk and when – cappuccino or latte before 11am and espresso or macchiatto (espresso with a little milk) anytime after that. So after our cappuccinos we headed next door to Volpetti – or better known as a foodie paradise.


Inside Volpetti

Olives & Blood Oranges

New Flavor Combinations: Olives & Blood Oranges at Volpetti

I was in heaven and our short “stop and see” turned into a personal food tour around the shop from one of the friendly old men behind the counter.  We started with different kinds of goat cheese – tasted 3 or 4 – and ended up buying two.  Then we moved on to meats and this kind, and very persuasive salesman, introduced me to a whole ham baked inside a bread shell – called Prosciutto cotto in crosta.  I am not a ham fan, but this was the moistest ham I have ever tasted.  The marbled fat just melted in my mouth.  Yum…Ill take some of that too! Then on to olives.  Black olives with blood oranges, something I’ve never had before and was intrigued to try.  We finished off our order with a pound of Burrata (a silky, creamier version of its cousin buffalo mozzerella), a loaf of bread studded with dried figs and couple slices of polenta cake.  There was dinner sorted… Now on to lunch.

With our bellies full from samples we walked and walked…with a little detour to the Forum…leading to our next destination – Da Enzo in Trastevere.  

Kris had been here in November and raved about their Carbonara – he even dared to say it beat out the one we had on our last trip!  Needless to say, I had to try it for myself.  We were the first to arrive at the restaurant.  They don’t take reservations and the 30 seats fill up fast.  We had perfect timing as it was flooded with hungry tourists and locals just minutes after we sat down.  Luckily the weather was sunny and warm-ish so we took our seats at one of the tiny outside tables.  Since Kris and I already knew were what we were ordering, Lori decided on her favorite – bucatini all’Amatriciana – a very traditional Roman pasta dish made with tomatoes, pork belly and pork jowl.  We also chose a deep fried artichoke starter and a 1/2 litre of the house red.

Deep Fried Artichoke

I never had an Artichoke done like this before and it ended up tasting like Artichoke chips. Delicious!

Pasta Carbonara

Very rich and creamy and bright yellow. This is worth the indulgence… although I needed a nap after mine 🙂

bucatini all'Amatriciana

Lori’s bucatini all’Amatriciana. My new favorite!…can’t beat anything made with that much pork.

Final results – everything was absolutely delicious – but I’m still holding out that the best carbonara I ever had was that random find years ago.  The hunt for the best Carbonara continues (for me anyway!).

Ciao from Roma!

Next up on the blog – a rainy day in Spoletto, a 3 hour lunch and a simple recipe inspired by my Italian adventure so far.