Yesterday, I actually got to see a movie. In the theatre. This happens less often than you would think.
One of the previews was for the new Woody Allen movie, To Rome with Love, which was apparently shot there last summer. It stars Roberto Begnini, the Italian comedian who was the lead in Life is Beautiful, a movie I thoroughly disliked. It's been more than ten years since it came out and I still can't believe it won an Oscar. But I digress. It doesn't necessarily look like a movie I like, but the shots of Rome were gorgeous.
David and I spent four days of our vacation in Rome, which is an unruly mixture of the ancient and modern. You walk down a street of little restaurants and shops, and boom, there's the Colosseum. You turn the corner from an equally modern street, and there are the Baths of Caracalla. The latter of which closes promptly at 1 p.m. every single day, BTW, and woe to those who show up at 12:45.
We had a couple of spectacular meals in Rome, which I will post about separately, but it's mostly not the major tourist sites that will stay with me, but things like the Borghese Gallery. Unlike the Vatican museum, which was absolutely overrun with tour groups, the Borghese allows only a very tightly controlled number of people in at once and features spectacular art set in the gorgeous villa for which much of the art was purchased. The villa is set in large, beautiful gardens and was one of the highlights of our time in Rome. Tickets sell out several weeks in advance--if you're planning a trip to Rome, buy them once you know your dates.
There are certain sites in Rome that look exactly as you have seen them in movies and in photographs, the Colosseum foremost among them. Then there are places that you've never seen, like the former Jewish Ghetto and the (still active) synagogue there. If you have any interest in Jewish or Holocaust history, this is a must-stop place and is surrounded by a still active Jewish quarter full of small kosher restaurants. The food was so good that David and I returned to one kosher meat restaurant for a second lunch.
|That salad in the background is the bomb. |
It's coming at you later this week.
Since we arrived home six days ago, we've been eating a lot of Italian-style food. For our anniversary a couple of months ago, David bought me another Lidia Bastianich cookbook, Lidia's Italy, in which she picks her favorite spots in Italy and provides recipes specific to that area. This very simple pasta takes less than twenty minutes if you don't make your own pasta.
At a restaurant in Emilia-Romagna, the homemade pasta had a gorgeous golden yellow color. We asked the chef about the color, and he said that he simply doesn't use the egg whites. David had to give it a try last night. The color and texture were great, but it does yield a slightly stickier dough.
Pasta Cacio E Pepe
Adapted from Lidia's Italy
1 1/2 tbsp. whole peppercorns, coarsely ground
3/4 lb. fresh pasta or dried spaghetti
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta. Depending on whether you are using fresh or dried pasta, cook either very briefly for the fresh or until just al dente for the dried. Drain the pasta, but reserve a cup of the pasta water for tossing.
Put the drained pasta into a large bowl and toss with the cheese and pepper; it will likely be very dry, so drizzle in the pasta water and a little olive oil until the cheese coats the pasta. Adjust by adding more pepper, cheese or oil to taste.
Serve immediately. Makes four small main course servings; could serve six as a pasta course.