This gluttonous day of experiencing Italy was provided by Context Travel who are happy to take you on a food tour of Rome anytime so you can spend the day Eating Rome as well! And by HouseTrip who would love to help you rent apartments in Rome. Opinions in this piece remain solely my own.
I always say that one of the best ways to get to know a country, is through its food. Lucky for me, HouseTrip took that into account when planning our “live like a local” experience in Rome. Enlisting the help of Context Travel, they planned for us to shop and cook like Italians in Rome would, as well as experience Cucina Povera.
We began a day of gluttony by meeting our first Context guide Eleonora, at La Fiorentina for coffee and Italian pastries. A better start to a morning in Italy may not be possible.
Tearing ourselves away we crossed the street to Trionfale Market and shopped till our feet almost fell off. Eleonora schooled us on how to determine fresh artichoke from overly ripe artichoke, she explained what real Italian mozzarella does when you cut it open and she inspired us to see the beauty in even the smallest of details in the market. For me, she gave fresh produce and ingredients a lure they had never before possessed. Whereas before I thought eating was my favorite thing, I began to see how shopping for and preparing for a meal could have their own, albeit separate, appeal.In our apartment overlooking the Colosseo, Eleonora prepared a lunch of asparagus with egg, spaghetti with pepper and cheese, cold artichoke salad with cheese and lemon, strawberries, salted flat bread, and homemade gelato. The local white wine she chose to pair the lunch with simply added to the happy delirium we were already floating in. I was nearly speechless when the artichoke tasted more like fresh apple than the vegetable I had previously had no desire to consume unless deep fried. What a meal it was!The smiles on the faces of my fellow bloggers Angie and Heather (seen here posing with Eleonora) definitely represent how we all felt: sated and happy!However, eating never stops in Italy so after a small break we began again. The glow of evening settled on Rome and this time, we joined our Context guide Gina just off the piazza by The Pantheon for a dinner at aptly named: Armando al Pantheon. The restaurant has changed little since it opened in the ’60s and it was that quirkiness of character that I most appreciated during the night. Despite a wealth of Lonely Planet, Zagat and Trip Advisor stickers on the door, Armando did not strike me as a place made for anyone else but friends of the owner. Its dining room seems that like of a friend, the kitchen a welcome home-away-from-home.Cucina Povera can be described as simple fare prepared only with ingredients readily available and currently in season. Our gluttonous menu: prosciutto crudo, spaghetti with bacon and cheese, pasta with tomato sauce and bacon, pan-grilled veal with prosciutto and sage paired with steamed artichoke, grilled lamb with garlic and chicory, berry and lemon tiramisu, espresso. It turns out that fresh or deep friend artichoke is the only preparation which I find palatable but picky eater that I am I still enjoyed the artistry in every course.Only the lure of gelato and romantic Rome at night, sparkling in a light rain, was able to tear us away and get us on our feet again. There isn’t a day in my recent memory when I have eaten more or enjoyed the experience as much. If this is what it is to be Italian, I think I could manage.