After 6 days in Rome in full exploration mode with my sister, we both agreed that the highlight of our trip was a food tour we did with a wonderful woman named Selene from RomaEat – Food on Foot (Trip Advisor page here). Warning: product placement! But how could we not? She was amazing and everything we tried was divine. We got to sneak a peek into long lasting traditions of Italian cuisine and even go behind the scenes. Not only that, but it was just me and my sister on this particular day for this particular tour – what a treat! The tour covered the area around the Vatican City and we only tried things from places which exist for at least a third generation. Think about that for a second… what a cool criterion to go by.
We started with a cappuccino and a cornetto (small croissant but sweeter) and then we dove into the Mercato Trionfale (apparently the locals’ preferred market). First stop: mozzarella, ricotta and prosciutto from the best-decorated butcher stall (not our designation, there are official contests for these things).
And yes.. with honey on top of the ricotta!
Then it was time for aged cheese – we had pecorino, parmigano reggiano and grana padano, we were also told how to distinguish them.
And also how they age. In the end I bought a piece of my favourite of the three – the parmigiano, 30 months old.
Then it was time for a surprise! Or the so-called suppli – thinly fried rice balls with a surprise inside – I won’t tell you 🙂 . And this was the master chef behind the stall.
Next on the list – truffles! It seems the area is quite rich in truffles, our guide even said they are training their dog to find them in the forest! We tasted truffle sausage, truffle cheese (speechless on this one!) and truffle spread – beautiful.
Then it was time to taste authentic, organic olive oils. We had five kinds to taste on pieces of bread and we bought small bottles of the classic one. Such a rich taste! Then, not realizing, I bought a bigger bottle from the same brand at the airport! Because now I know, “product of Italy” doesn’t mean the olives are from there, in fact it usually means they are not (so either from Tunisia or elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin). So from now on we are looking for “100% Italiano” on the back label.
And then the vegetables! I could write a separate post about this but I will do that the next time I go to Italy. A huge variety of fresh products, artichokes currently taking centerstage, as they are in season. This stall had something like 8 varieties of tomatoes and apparently the vendors get offended if you don’t ask for their advice on the best type of tomato for the specific dish you are preparing. I mean…!
We had something very traditional – a classic bruschetta. Toasted bread, olive oil and tomatoes with basil and salt.
After the market and since we simply had to keep eating, it was time for pizza. We had a piece of classic Margherita and a closed pizza whose name I don’t remember. But the place was a buzzing beehive.
What comes after pizza? Pasta! And for me this next stop was the most heartwarming part of the whole experience. We got to see where pasta is made, which is not sold in supermarkets but only to special restaurants, and only a small bit is sold to regular people, but then only those living in the neighbourhood. Selene knew the pasta makers very well and this made it even cosier. She explained the whole process leading up to this.
Which we could taste a piece of, straight from the bucket and raw! Because it’s so good. Lucky few, those who live in the area. I mean, look at this.
We also got to taste pasta from this shop in a restaurant nearby – the classics carbonara and amatriciana paired with great wine (and some wisdom on wine, tasting and pairing).
And what comes after pasta? Gelato! We descended on the Borgo Pio and stopped at an amazing (third-generation, of course) ice cream shop, while being clued in on the secret of recognising good gelato – do the tour and Selene will tell you! We should keep at least some secrets 🙂
We finished off with coffee at a rooftop terrace with a spectacular 360 degree view. A real gem and something we would have never found on our own. We lingered there in the sun a bit longer, turning the coffee into Aperol Spritz and taking in all that had happened in the previous 4-5 hours.
What a treat! On the advice of Selene I also bought the “right” kind of pasta from the supermarket, and this is what I came home with.
Rome was spectacular. Rome’s food was absolutely spectacular. I already found where the closest Italian shop is here in The Hague. I am planning a visit soon 🙂 .
And a final tip if you get to go to Rome and want to do as the Romans do – when you come across those famous street water fountains, be smart and do this.