Friday, October 13, 2006

Don your helmets and feedbags

Because I have no shame and because I took 300+ photos on my trip that I feel compelled to share, I will be rehashing with mind-numbing detail as much of my time in Italy as possible during the next few posts. Also because I got drunk and just plumb abandoned the blog and now feel the need to make up for lost time.

To get us rolling on What Finny Loves about Italy, I thought I'd start with the obvious - food.

I've already banged on about the glory that is Nutella, so I'll leave that alone for now (although, please note the stacked jugs of Nutella that Shelley pointed out during our travels. Oh, for a spoon and five minutes alone with just one of those tubs.)

For everything else, there is only one word, *Drool*.

Mozzarella di Bufala. Good god, folks. I could (and believe did) eat this at every meal. (Save for breakfast, which is Nutella-time. ) In fact, this should be a part of every meal. After two weeks of this, I may break up with run of the mill cheese altogether. I've already given my dairy drawer the finger. Cheddar cheese? GAH! And it calls itself cheese. Big faker. Apparently the best version of this blissful creation is made in Naples, and I was not at all subdued in my surprise at this fact. I will get into my impression of Naples in a later post. *Little hint: Ew.*

Pizza. The real stuff that doesn't come with a stuffed crust or any other gnarly American interpretation. We had Roman-style (super thin, crunchy crust) and Napoleon-style (softer, poofier but still thin crust). Both utterly yum. As soon as we were loose on the city and hungry (two situations that always coexist for me) I very humbly suggested that we go to the scissor pizza place for a quick snack. That is to say that I did not drag poor Shelley by her hair directly to the pizzeria. In this pizzeria they have a unique method for dispatching their creation - they bring it out in long sheets, cut it with scissors into good size squares and put it in a basket with any number of appetizers (For me, a suppli.) I ate this no less than three times when I visited last and was eager to get back to it.

I should also mention that there was a 4 funghi pizza that made an appearance during a dinner out that is not pictured in the above collage for the simple fact that my hands could not take a picture and shove the pizza into my mouth at the same time - and frankly, it was so good I wasn't going to compromise.

Gnocchi. When done right, this dish can make me swoon. Or, in the case of this photo, beg. Apparently our primi piatti was supposed to be penne, but when Ale saw the tears welling up in my eyes, he dragged the waitress back to ask if we could substitute for gnocchi. I think she entertained the thought of murder at the idea of substitution, but in the end, would have had quite a mess on her hands since I quickly scooped all but two portions worth (for my dear hosts, I'm not an animal!) into my stomach. It was at this moment that I wished our table came equipped with a conveyor belt. For the love of gnocchi.

Wine. There is a small miracle that happens in Italy that brings me joy at each visit - white wine, and even champagne, does NOT give me a headache. Here in the States, I can barely run my nose past an open bottle without a searing shot of white hot pain piercing my skull. However, in Italy, the sulphates subside and the grapes remain unmixed, which means I can drink it to my hearts content. And I do. Of course, I have to sample the local and regional reds at the same time. Which also does not suck. It is possible that I'm still a little drunk. An extra special bonus to any wine drinking experience is the chance to wander the cellar below the restaurant. A cellar which just happens to be at the city's original street-level. I won't stray into the exact year of this cellar, but the floors of which are the very same that the Romans crossed in ancient times. It's about 40 feet blow current street level. Neato.

Olive oil. I have a lot of this at home, but when in Italy, my intake increases dramatically for the simple fact that it is just really good there. I mean, they know what they're doing. This is no mamby-pampy, barely green, can't really tell if it's made from olives or soybeans kind of oil. No. It's bright green, eye-rollingly fragrant and just short of orgasmic. Imagine it served by a young wavy-haired waiter with a local accent and crooked smile and you'll be there. I bought a bunch to bring home and I'll be spending the next few weeks trying to talk hubby into doing his Italian impression for me while pouring it on my bread. Meeeeeooowww

Gelato. Do not call this ice cream because it is so not the same. Specifically, there are no chunks, as Ale was so savvy as to point out. Apparently when he's in the states he seeks out B&J ice cream with the maximum amount of chunkiness. In Rome, I seek out the gelato with the maximum amount of frequency. It's a complimentary activity. When it comes speared with a cookie and served at an outdoor cafe, all the better. Did I mention it comes in a flavor called Baci (kisses) which is basically the gelato version of Nutella. Wow. Have they got my number. Let's hope I'm never in possesion of national secrets. I daresay it might only take one Baci scoop to get me talking.

Artichokes. What? You didn't expect to find artichokes listed amongst all the other famous Italian stuff. I get it. Me neither. Which is one of the reasons why it's making my short list. And why, when I go back, I'll ask them nicely if we can go back to Enzo's for some more. Again, not dragging Shelley by her hair. Called carciofi alla romana, it's basically fresh artichokes fried (but not battered) and served as an appetizer. Tender, sweet, swoon-worthy. I had a few and experienced a slight bought of depression at the empty plate. Beats boiled artichokes any day. But then, most fried things do.

I just realized that this post is getting self-indulgent and rather long, but before I shut the F up, I can also assure you that the coffee, pastries, prosciutto, bread and tartufo are all they're cracked up to be. I should know, I ate them all. And thanks to four blindingly steep floors of marble stairs plus one more for fun leading up to the terrace after miles of cobbled street walking, I may not have gained the predicted one hundred pounds during this trip.

So, I'm home now. And if you can't tell, I enjoyed my two weeks in Italy somewhat. I may have shed a tear at the airport that had nothing to do with the ridiculous line for US-based airlines. I may already miss Rome. I certainly already miss my friends. And I don't know about y'all, but I'm hungry.


  1. OOH, che gioia that I am among the first to comment. Actually if you can believe it, I was upstairs reading while Ale read downstairs (two computers, seems fancy, but mine is from my old job when they told me to "just throw it away!"), so he should be commenting's a race!

    Anyways, can I just say that your writing is certainly not suffering jet lag... eloquent and hilarious as ever. It's a weird feeling to see nearly my entire last week's consumption of food on the screen!!

    MISS YOU ;-(

  2. I have just milked Pavelcow and I've to tell you his milk provides the most delcious "mozzarella di bufala" in the world......... The next time you'll be here, Lady Jessy, you have to try it
    Bye Ale

  3. Oh! Mozzarella di Bufala is currently my favorite food and yes, I eat it with almost every meal. I'm not kidding, ever since I visited Gaeta near Naples I can't get enough of that cheese. The stuff from Campana is amazingly good, I've never tasted anything remotely like it in the U.S. And when my (Italian) husband and I lived in nyc he would only eat ben and jerry's or hagendaaz (sp-sorry) because it was the closest to gelato he could find.
    Oh dio! I live here and I don't eat as good as you *drool* Where did you pick up that fine bottle of Olio?

  4. I like the idea of conveyor belts at the table. I'm hungry just looking at the pictures. Yum! Gnocci. Drool!

  5. You are absolutely killing me. I just finished eating a Michelina's four cheese lasagna that might as well have been cardboard. Did Shelley make those heart cupcakes? MY GOODNESS WOMAN.

  6. Shelley - I think you may have the most technologically advanced household in Trastevere! Fancies. No jet lag for now. I came home and crashed around 2am last night and with my new Mokka (yes, I bought one) I'm just caffeinated enough to function.

    It goes without saying that I miss you both, and Pavelcow and Betsy, horribly already. I will start planning my return trip shortly.

    Ale, my lord - I should have known that our little cow, Pavel, would make the best mozzarella. I will be back soon to see for myself.

    Avery - It's so good it hardly seems fair to call it cheese - lumped into a category with so many inferior types. I buy some when I'm at Trader Joe's here and it's OK, but nothing like the real thing. And for sure nothing like the stuff we got from Naples. YUMMMMM! I love that your husband eats B&J, too. I thought that was a riot.

    That oil was at Spirito DiVino, the restaurant in Trastevere where we went on my last night in town. It was the most scrumpioustist. (According to Ale)

    Caro - You said it, drool. I had to go get lunch after reading my own post!

    Kelli - I know the feeling. Passing a dozen Taco Bell's on my way home from the airport made me sad. I am going to have to do a lot more cooking or suffer the consequences. Shelley didn't make the cupcakes, I got those at a bar where we went for breakfast. Oh yes, there is nutella right in there.

  7. Oh God...I am bloated beyond belief and as much as your pictures are making me hungry, I can't imagine taking even one bite for fear of my body exploding all over the place. Where oh where did you get those gelatos?? When I was there, nobody served 'em up like that!! As glutonous as Rome can be, all the walking justifies it. I ate like a cow and never gained an ounce..yet another reason to love Rome!

  8. wow - those pics did have me drooling. awww the food the food! Your blog is hilarious - Im glad I found it!

  9. E&I - I'll ask Shelley the name of the gelateria we went to -- it was really good (obviously) and her favorite spot. What you don't see it the photo is the giant mob of schoolkids that ambushed the place just moments before we sat down. Miracle.

    Texas - Welcome! Please don't be put off by my food-enhanced ramblings. I promise, sometimes I talk about other things. For now, though -- yum, right?!

  10. What incredible photos!! I rented an apartment in Trastevere for three weeks in late April/early May. I miss it everyday. I look forward to reading about the rest of your vacation.

    I ate so well in Italy but lost weight! Cannot wait until my next trip.

  11. Hi folks, I'm back...the gelateria is Giolitti, not far from the Pantheon on a street leading to Via del Corso. We managed to snag a table which was NOT easy but definitely worth it. The crowds inside can get pretty rowdy--it's a popular place!

  12. Regazza - Yes! Trastevere is the nicest neighborhood. Absolutely adorable, and home of the most incredible restaurants. When you start planning your next trip, check out the At Home in Rome apartments on Shelley's site, they're beautiful.

    Shelley - Thank you for tour guiding on this one, I couldn't remember the name of the gelateria. I was clearly distracted by the Baci at the time.

  13. Ohhh yummmm..this must explain the twenty pound weight loss after moving out of my parent's home....

    of course the darned pounds have me cornered now..

    So glad you had such a fabulous time it's great that you're back!

  14. Hi, Just found your blog and love it. We will make our first trip to Rome May 16th. Staying in a hotel near Castle St. Angelo. Can you recommend any place that sells "Rice Balls"...are they called Aranchi or something like that?
    I definitely have earmarked the Gioletti??? gelato place. What do you get so you get that gigantic cookie too? Soooo neat.


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