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3 months ...................................... adventure - explore - challenge

Monday, 30 April 2012

Food, glorious food

It's become a bit of a Holden-Fell tradition these days to partake in a cookery course wherever our travels should take us. We've done Moroccan, Thai and Vietnamese, now for a bit of Italian cuisine. To be precise, 'My Rome Food Tour' was a food tour rather than a cooking class, but highly recommended on Tripadvisor, so not to be missed.

Monday morning after a SMALL breakfast, we leisurely meandered to the Testaccio district, South West of the heart of Rome. We found the local market and wine shop as instructed by our pre-tour pack and watched the locals go by whilst sipping a coffee. No cappuccino after 11am in Italy it's the law!! It's suggested you shouldn't drink milk on a full stomach, hence not with a meal anytime after breakfast. As our fellow foodies joined us,  Kenny our tour guide for the next few hours appeared. 

After some quick introductions, we headed to the Testaccio covered market to meet some local celebrities and try some of their products. We sampled local cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella,  various cured meats and 4 varieties of tomatoes from a possible 50. Rather than choose a type of tomato, Carmelo will ask you what you're cooking and TELL you which types you need!

Cured meat in E Volpetti
Sampling tiramisu at Barberini
Kenny then took us to a slightly more upmarket shop E Volpetti, selling high-end cheeses, meats, chocolates etc. You can pick up a small bottle of 100 years old balsamic vinegar for a modest 1500 Euros. Unfortunately our holiday budget didn't allow us such purchases! Next visit on the tour was the Barberini patisserie where we sampled a cornetto (sweet croissant) and a tiramisu in a white chocolate cup, both would go well with a coffee.

As a breather from the food, we were shown around a local non-catholic cemetery for foreigners. This is the resting place of English poet John Keats, who when diagnosed with tuberculosis was told to seek Mediteranian climates to cure his illness. Alas, it didn't work and he died in 1821 in Italy.

Lunchtime brought us to a mountain, literally. Monte Testaccio is a mountain made of old un-recyclable terracotta pots from those they shipped in to Rome via the river. The broken clay was piled on top of each other year after year. One day a man decided to open a restaurant directly underneath it. People didn't think he would complete such as challenge and so when opening it, he called it Al Velavevodetto, which means "I told you so". For lunch we had three types of pasta washed down with a drop of wine.

After lunch Kenny took us to the old local slaughter house, Roma's old football stadium and to more food. This time we sampled a suppli which consists of rissoto rice in a breadcrumb ball. Italian post-pub fast food. Finally we finished at Giolitti, an ice cream parlour, where we had a lesson on the difference between gelato and ice cream (gelato less air, more natural colours, much nicer). We then tucked into some delicious gelato to round off an amazing food / history tour of Rome and the Testaccio area.

After a quick shower and change, we headed out for dinner full of optimism as we now had a guide to good recommended restaurants courtesy of our food tour. Unfortunately our first choice was not yet open, our second choice was fully booked, so we did what most sensible people do, went to a bar to drink beer. We did however have more luck at our third choice, a quaint bustling local pizzeria. After the last few night's issues, we kept it simple and all went for a pizza and were not dissappointed, phew!!!

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