Alone in Roma # 2
I must admit, I have not been that impressed with the food here in Roma. It hasn’t been nearly as incredible as I had heard it would be. For lunch today I was taken to an old school Italian cafe and had a focaccia sandwich with sheep feta, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, fresh basil, heavily sprinkled with sea salt, red pepper, olive oil and balsamic. It was good, don't get me wrong, just not great. I’ve had very similar sandwiches in NYC that rival it. The sorbet here, on the other hand, are fantastic. I have happily been eating it twice a day. So many seasonal flavors to choose from, so fresh, refreshing and oh so delicious.
I’m sure if I had more time here I would be able to find the best joints to eat at, but Roma was only a pit stop on my trip. I leave on a train going down the coast tomorrow to Lecce and attend The Awaiting Table.
I have always been envious of those people taking cooking classes in foreign lands alone. And now, boom, here I am, doing it. Amazing how quickly life can change when you choose to change it. Magic starts to sprinkle in and you suddenly find yourself to be one of those people you only fantasied about. And in Italy no less!
Tonight I am without plans, a bit hungry and ready to explore the streets. I go walking, feeling the summer heat guiding me along the cobblestone streets and the fresh Roman blisters on the bottom of my feet growing with each stride. All I really wanted was a nice big crisp dark green salad. A dark green salad, I have quickly learned, seems to be hard to come by in Roma. They have all been pretty much iceberg or romaine or not so spicy rocket (Italian for arugula) with tons of meat and cheese and seafood. But tonight I’m on a mission.
A tiny little place winks at me down an alleyway. I peeked my head inside, 7 tiny tables lit by candlelight with a Billie Holiday song playing. Perfecto. I sat down and the only waitress brings me a menu to which I find a bitter Italian salad! YAY! Wasn’t dark green but at least it was some bitter greens! I ordered it as well as ask the waitress if the chef could make me some other salad special with lots of fresh vegetables.
I also ordered my new favorite drink, an Apperol Spritz. Similar to the Campari Spritz I had the other night but a bit milder. It consists of apperol, prosseco, sparkling water, ice and a thick slice of orange. Perfectly bitter and extremely refreshing especially on this sticky summer night.
I took a sip and then, as if on cue, this Nina Simone song I have been listening to over this past month comes on. “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feelin’ good.” I mean - this is getting kinda ridiculous! As far as the pictures go, everyone I took came out blurry and red (as you can see with the above photo) since the only light in this joint was candlelight. Very dark restaurants seem to be a theme here.
My first salad arrives along with an overflowing basket of warm bread. The salad was a delightful mix of chicory, radicchio and endive with ripe cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and shaved parmesan. It was fresh, crisp, bitter, sweet from the tomatoes and tangy from the cheese. Lovely.
The bread was enticing me as well but I really don’t like eating a lot of white flour cause not only is there no nutritional value but it becomes like glue in my intestines and, more to the point, my goal on this trip is yes to enjoy myself and palate but not to grow my ass anymore than - it smelled so freaking good though - I think they just made it fresh or something - alright maybe just a little crust. Oh F-it. I am in Roma. Mmmmm - sooooo good.
A Chet Baker song played as my second Salad comes. (This is quickly becoming my new fav place!) This salad was made special for me, the waitress says with a smile. Spicy arugula, sweet corn, avocado, grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, black olives. It was even more wonderful as I felt that it was made with caring and loving hands. Ciao Chef!
That’s what it’s really all about. Eating and living and enjoying life with a heck of a lot of love. And that, my friends, is exactly what I am a doin’ over here alone in Italia. Grateful and enjoying every bite!