Saturday, February 25, 2012

A trip to Roma

My husband and I took a recent trip to Rome to see the elevation of Cardinal Dolan. It was the trip of a lifetime, with so much beautiful art, history, churches and of course, food.

We had a wonderful experience at a private dinner at Aventino Palace, which is located high on a hill overlooking Rome. The view is spectacular, with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica shining in the background.
The view from Aventino Palace
The evening started with Prosecco and passed hors d'ouerves, the tastiest of which was the fried zucchini flowers, although the shrimp on bruschetta was a close second. At the lovely candlelit dinner, which was served in courses, the seafood risotto was the standout dish.

We were treated to a fantastic, authentic Italian dinner at Ristorante 34 on our third evening. Our host is a regular customer there, so the dinner started with our waiter (whom one in our party described as a "cross between Elvis Costello and John Turturro"- I found a photo of him on the restaurant website so you could see what she means) bringing our table Jerusalem artichokes, which I had never tried.
Our waiter- photo taken from the 34 website


They were crunchy and delicious, although the waiter came back to tell me I wasn't eating the best part! (I was just eating the leaves, which I honestly thought tasted better than the bulb.) It's not really an artichoke, it's more of a tuber, like a potato or onion.

Next he brought fried squash blossoms, which had a delicate outer batter and inside, the squash, mozzarella and anchovies. It was heavenly!

Another appetizer was sliced octopus with shrimp and pistachios. I was not brave enough to try the octopus, but our dining companions loved it.

Another course was brought out- pasta soup with cuttlefish and chick peas. I've never had cuttle fish, and if someone had explained to me what the fish looked like before I ate it, I would have missed out on a delicacy. It reminded me of pasta fagioli, but it had a more vibrant flavor.

After all of this, then it was time to order our meal! I was seriously full by this time, and most of our table shared entrees, like the rabbit and grilled calimari. The calimari was so beautifully plated, I wish I could have taken a photo, but I could not. It was not calimari as we usually see, in rings, but flat on the plate and it tasted as good as it looked.

My husband ordered veal meatballs and asked for pasta on the side, maybe some spaghetti. Elvis Costello shook his head at my husband and said, "No, no not that. I bring you something better." The table erupted into laughter.

The dinner lingered and it was such a great experience. At the end of the meal, our waiter spoke in rapid Italian to those in our party who understand Italian about the impact of the Costa Concordia cruise liner crash on Italy. He said that cruise ship traffic is down, which hurts tourism, including restaurants, and how embarrassed the country is about the conduct of the ship's captain. It seems many Italians feel his conduct reflects poorly on all Italians.


It was an unforgettable evening, full of mouth-watering food, wonderful companionship and we followed it with a walk to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, which must be seen at night- so gorgeous!

My husband and I at Trevi Fountain
Other culinary musts when in Roma include cappuccinos at cafes, pasta carbonara and gelato. My husband would go to a cafe near the hotel every morning, stand at the counter and order his cappuccino and drink it there like the locals. Our dinner host said that one simply must have pasta carbonara in Roma, so I ordered it at Corsetti 1921, and it was simple fabulous. And the gelato in Italy tastes creamier than any gelato you can get in the US.
Pasta Carbonara at Corsetti 1921

Rome is a spectacular place and I hope to get back there again soon. If you have been to Rome, please suggest the restaurants we must visit for our next trip in the comments section.

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food!





21 comments:

  1. What a wonderful trip! I love the pictures! Your post reminds me of one of the Gourmet magazine travel articles I used to read as a teenager, daydreaming of going to all those places. Now about the food...I have always been intrigued by fried zucchini blossoms but have not tried them. I am planning to put in some zucchini this year...do you suppose you just pluck the blossoms of a few zucchini plants and batter and fry them? I will google... Anyway, great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Libby! I've never made zucchini blossoms, let me know how yours turn out.

      Delete
  2. What a fantastic trip! Cardinal Dolan has such a great sense of humor. That carbonara looks amazing. I love that description of your waiter :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cardinal Dolan is a very inspirational man, and so kind to all he meets.

      Delete
  3. What a pleasure this post was to read! I've never been to Italy, but hope to visit in the next few years. I love pasta carbonara, but am sure what I've had is nowhere near as good as what's served in Rome. Am tempted to google cuttlefish, but will skip it.... may want to try it one day ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the cuttlefish tasted so good, but then someone described what it looks like and acts like and I'm glad I didn't know that first.

      Delete
  4. What an amazing experience. Oh I could almost taste everything! Wow. I haven't been to Rome, but now I'm dreaming of Italy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a delightful experience, getting to taste all these different dishes from bella Roma :) Sounds like your holiday was wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Italian is my favorite cuisine! I could eat myself into oblivion in Rome! What a wonderful trip! Here is mine

    ReplyDelete
  7. I enjoyed your post very much. Hubby and I are going on a Meditterean cruise later this year and our ship stops at Rome. I can't wait, especially after reading your post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lucky you! I've visited Rome twice, but quite some time ago. I love the vitality of the people, the emphasis on quality of life rather than making money all the time (like Americans).

    I remember eating as much gelato as possible and also very big lunches. It's quite a romantic country! Enjoyed your descriptions of the food. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lucky you! I've visited Rome twice, but quite some time ago. I love the vitality of the people, the emphasis on quality of life rather than making money all the time (like Americans).

    I remember eating as much gelato as possible and also very big lunches. It's quite a romantic country! Enjoyed your descriptions of the food. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really want to go to Italy and your post makes me want to go even more! What did the waiter bring your husband instead of spaghetti?

    ReplyDelete
  11. He brought him a penne pasta. You should go to Italy- you'd love it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The food looks great! I love fried stuffed squash blossoms... well the one time I ate it, anyway. ;) Glad you had such a wonderful trip.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a wonderful trip and such an amazing experience! I'm sure you and your husband will always remember it fondly. (and love Trevi fountain!). That pasta carbonara looks amazing--those Italians know how to do it right, huh? ;)

    ReplyDelete