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Our trip so far - Rome, Florence & Venice


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Hey guys. Here is the start of our trip to Italy and France

Rome

La Rosetta

Amuse Bouche - Pumpkin cream w/ Spinach Pest, Steamed Mussel & Crispy Tuna

Pumpkin Cream - Lovely. Nicely seasoned, rich, sliky & smooth. Haven't had a pumpkin that flavour filled in a long time. Pesto was a nice contrast to the pumpkin.

Mussel - A touch over. Nice sweet onion dressing was a good foil for the flavour of the mussel.

Crispy Tuna - Tuna was rolled in a straw like crust. Pretty sure it was potato. A couple of slices of radish gave a nice contrast to the Tuna. tuna was a little dull & thought could have been left semi raw.

Mains

Turbot with Clams & Cauliflower Beignet.

Amazing clams. Super sweet and only jusst cooked. Turbot was a little over. Beignet was deep fried pieces of cauliflower which I thought wasn't really up to scratch. Wouldn;t be too hard to adjust a recipe to make a better one... Sauce was very very wierd. It's not that it had no flavour because it looked rich & luscious... it was like someone had sucked the flavour right out of it ala Willy Wonka.... Had formed a skin by the time it had got to the table. Ok dish but thought it could have been executed better.

Scallops Millefeuille with artichokes

Quite a nice dish. Perfectly cooked artichokes but the scallops were a little over. Thinly sliced artichokes & scallops. Thought it needed an acid component to it (capers or lemon juice) and maybe some fresh chopped parsley.

Bread

Good bread. Hazelnut wholemeal had a great depth of flavour. Caramelly nutty goodness. (8/10) Caper bread was perfect (10/10). Olive bread was ok. Nice olives crap bread....

Service was good but they weren't the friendliess bunch in the world... A little pricey at 95euro...

I'll keep going as I eat some more....

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Hey - stay safe over there! Italy's a rockin'

Out of italy... Already been to Florence, Venice, Lyon & Nice. Would have typed more but had some twat breathing over my shoulder to use the computer. Problem with free internet....

Expect reviews of Il Bocconcino, Tratorria Alla Madonna, thoughts on Volpetti, Antico Forno, il Matricianella, Nerbone, Trattoria Antellesi and in the France forum Nicholas le Bec, Le Bistrot de Lyon (or Leon), Le Bistrot de St Paul & La Merenda to which I have already been.... In the future we should have a whole heap more because I still have Bordeaux (at least La Tupina & Le St James plus whatever I find worth reviewing) and Paris (at least Les Bouchon des Francois Clerc, Cafe COnstant, Ledoyen, L'Arpege & Gagnaire as well as Berthillon, Laduree, Pierre Herme, Cluizel, La Maison du Chocolat as well as a few Boulangerie's (Poilane, Maison Kayser etc...)

Might take a while for me to type it up though!

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Mr Talbott has got it right about Il Bocconcino. Really really good place serving really really good food. It's just far enough off the tourist track to not be too busy and is still inhabited by locals.

Entree

Bucatini alla Matriciana - Nice dish. Tomatoes had been cooked down enough to give that nice richness you can get while the pancetta still had enough size and texture to still be noticed rather than lost in the background. The pasta was spot on. Good flavour, fresh and cooked perfecctly

Mixed antipasti plate - Really good. Highlights were some amazing salame, Grilled bread with Pecorino sauce & grilled bread with an incredible pumpkin puree. It was like having 10 pumpkins in your mouth at once.

Mains

Pork & Veal Involtino with raisins & Red Wine - Good dish. The pork and veal had been rolled seperately in a piece of savoy cabbage and poached in red wine. Had some raisins served with it. Nice seasoning, and great flavour but thought it needed a little bit of sweetness to it. I think the raisins kind of got lost in the red wine to do that job so I think the red wine could have been reduced with a little sugar to really lift it and bring out the sweetness in the pork...

Gnocchi a Ragu

The way it should be done. Nice rich tomato based sauce with pieces of chicken liver through it as well as veal & pork mince. Gnocchi was super light but had texture and held up well to the sauce. A nice grating of fresh pecorino over the top and it was foodie heaven.

Volpetti

Oh shit that was good. At least 150 cheeses at the peak of their perfection, 30-40 legs of various cured meats hanging from the roof, seafood, bread, olives, wine & oil etc. A must visit for anyone in Rome. Highlight was the Cecine de Leon. Definetely the Iberico Jamon of Beef. So lush and so sexy.

il Matricianella

Really not good. I won't go so much into the food but it was over seasoned, cold and over cooked crap. Had the Carbonanra... The pasta was overcooked and stuck together in a ball. Tasted ok but... Main for me was Lamb Sweetbreads with Artichoke. Nicely cooked sweetbreads, totally undercooked artichoke and a pepper based sauce that had skinned and had been thickened with cornflour. My wife had the Spaghetti Alla Romana... the livers hadn't been cleaned properly. It's a simple thing I thought... For mains she had the Stuffed Eggplants which was actually good. Slices of eggplants baked in a tomato sauce with parmesan. Yum... The service was terrible (20 minutes for the bill in a half empty room) and unprofessional. Just not good.

San Crispino Gelato

Choc Meringue - Great... Still had pieces of meringue in it and nice chocolate.

Valrhona Cocoa - Textbook great ingredient done simply. Rich & Smooth

Caramel- Good. A little plain. Thought it could have done with some hard set candy in it...

Pear - Great also. Good texture and flavour.

Pistachio - Wow.... Amazing flavour. Tiny little pieces of pistachio through it. The second best flavour...

Chestnut - Smooth silky & nutty. Lovely

Honey - Too much honey for me... A little restraint on the honey would be nice. Almost overpowering

Zabaione - Had some kick... Good

Apple - The best thing I put in my mouth in Rome. Great apples it even had the colour where the apples had started to oxidize. So much flavour and depth in it while still being light. You just have to have it...

So that's Rome.. It was a bit disappointing at times but there is plenty of quality about... Loved it!

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The service was terrible (20 minutes for the bill in a half empty room) and unprofessional. Just not good.

Not unprofessional, just Roman. Most places will leave you alone with a digestif (or the whole bottle, if they liked you) until you ask for the check.

Right. Getting the bill is an area where there is a huge cultural divide. In some countries, receiving the bill before one asks for it is considered an insult. As in, "They were trying to push me out the door."

While in others, namely the US, we expect to arrive in a timely manner, without having to ask for it.

Best plan is to inquire into this and other local customs before you leave home.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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At Volpetti... why would you eat "Iberico Jamon of Beef" in Rome?

What makes "Iberico Jambon" so sexy? I don't associate sexy with a dish of ham.

Why would a Roman food shop sell jamon iberico? Because even an Italian can admit that its better than prosciutto.

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We asked for the bill. They stood around chatting and having a joke. We asked again. And again. It ended up taking 20-30 minutes - in a half empty room!!!

I ate it because it tasted great. Why would you eat say, caviar in paris or camembert in the US? Just because it isn't local doesn't mean you can't have it.

It just is sexy. Rich, smooth, silky in the mouth. Definetely sensual probably sexual...

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The service was terrible (20 minutes for the bill in a half empty room) and unprofessional. Just not good.

Not unprofessional, just Roman. Most places will leave you alone with a digestif (or the whole bottle, if they liked you) until you ask for the check.

I've found that a big difference between France and Italy is that in France, only in truckstops do you go and ask for the check and pay at the counter but in Italy it's common.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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At Volpetti... why would you eat "Iberico Jamon of Beef" in Rome?

What makes "Iberico Jambon" so sexy? I don't associate sexy with a dish of ham.

Why would a Roman food shop sell jamon iberico? Because even an Italian can admit that its better than prosciutto.

Jamon iberico is not better than prosciutto. It's different, just as culatello is different from prosciutto (and of course then we get into which prosciutto) and different from jamon.

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Definetely the Iberico Jamon of Beef.
Can someone please 'splain me? Is it, like, turducken?
Why would a Roman food shop sell jamon iberico?  Because even an Italian can admit that its better than prosciutto.

OK, name one.
It also travels well.

Being an avid reader of the posts of the venerable robert brown, I can only assume this must be tongue-in-cheek.
I've found that a big difference between France and Italy is that in France, only in truckstops do you go and ask for the check and pay at the counter but in Italy it's common.

I'd have put it, "In Italy, one departs the table for the reception, confirms the items consumed with the host, and settles the bill. In France, cultural dicates require a pas de deux of delicate proportions to pay the check. At least we have truck stops, in which such cultural relics are no longer observed."
Jamon iberico is not better than prosciutto. It's different, just as culatello is different from prosciutto (and of course then we get into which prosciutto) and different from jamon.
Amen.
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The service was terrible (20 minutes for the bill in a half empty room) and unprofessional. Just not good.

Not unprofessional, just Roman. Most places will leave you alone with a digestif (or the whole bottle, if they liked you) until you ask for the check.

I've found that a big difference between France and Italy is that in France, only in truckstops do you go and ask for the check and pay at the counter but in Italy it's common.

It's only common when you simply can't sit there any longer. otherwise you are supposed to wait for the bill to be brought to you. The correct drill in a sit-down restaurant or trattoria is that even if you are the last people in the place and the staff is dying to go home, they will not give you the bill unless you ask for it. It is considered inhospitable. When you are ready, you ask for it and have every right to expect it within about five minutes. You might first be asked if you're sure you don't want anything else, but things should proceed apace. Once you are given the bill, you might be asked if you'd like a digestivo, which at that point is on the house.

In traditional (non-computerized) places, the owner will calculate your bill, not the waiter or cashier -- this is also when any discounts for friends, etc., are applied at his discretion -- and he may be more backed up than you realize, which is one reason bills often take a long time to arrive. Another is, of course, distraction and lack of organization. When you absolutely can't stand it any longer, you can get up, waving your card or some money, and approach the cash desk, saying you have a train to catch.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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At Volpetti... why would you eat "Iberico Jamon of Beef" in Rome?

What makes "Iberico Jambon" so sexy? I don't associate sexy with a dish of ham.

Why would a Roman food shop sell jamon iberico? Because even an Italian can admit that its better than prosciutto.

Jamon iberico is not better than prosciutto. It's different, just as culatello is different from prosciutto (and of course then we get into which prosciutto) and different from jamon.

Parole sante, fortedei!

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Definetely the Iberico Jamon of Beef.
Can someone please 'splain me? Is it, like, turducken?

I know this item at Volpetti (where I practically live), but am not aware they call it a jamon. It's a haunch of beef dried more or less like prosciutto and hand sliced like prosciutto. It's very good, but not "better than prosciutto," which, with all due respect, is a silly thing to say, there being so many varieties of prosciutto. I hope the OP tasted the cinta senese at Volpetti.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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I think roosterchef21 was simply using "jamon iberico" as a benchmark of excellence.

And it is excellent. I'd say the finest ibericos are superior in flavour to any prosciutto (or culatello), and in that sense "better". But then Spain has nothing to quite match Lardo di Colonnata. I'm happy to eat all of them anyway...

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I think roosterchef21 was simply using "jamon iberico" as a benchmark of excellence.

And it is excellent. I'd say the finest ibericos are superior in flavour to any prosciutto (or culatello), and in that sense "better".  But then Spain has nothing to quite match Lardo di Colonnata. I'm happy to eat all of them anyway...

Are they superior in flavor? What does superior mean?

Have you ever tasted culatello from Miriam's at La Buca?

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Also, elegant, mild flavour, texture and 'sweetness' of top quality Parma ham or San Daniele ham is something I never found outside of Italy. It's completely different from Iberico, but 'inferior'?

It's something like saying "Napa cabernet is superior to Burgundy pinot noir".

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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