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Bologna/Montalcino/Rome


Michael M
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How many ways are to permanently end a marriage? I would suggest that one would be to attempt to drive together in Rome.

To make sure you're at each others' throats, make sure you're map isn't accurate (easy; all Italian maps are inaccurate), and plan on driving into the most congested-ancient-twisted-alley area of Rome (Trastevere) to find your hotel. Also, plan on driving, illegally albeit accidentally, onto a pedestrian-only piazza, while the hotel clerk on the phone is giving you the wrong directions ("Are there any police nearby?" she asked at one point, asking us to go the wrong way down a one-way street). Also, plan on taking roads on the map that aren't there, or that on the map look like they connect when they're really 50' above your current street. Really, all of these would work, I think, as long as you kept it up for, say, 90 minutes or so. At that point you'd be ready just to leave the car in the street and hope Avis had a come-and-get-it policy for their cars. (They don't; we checked).

Driving in Tuscany: minor inconveniences here and there, but it's a farming area, and the experience was a breeze. Driving in Rome just to drop off your stuff at the hotel then drop off the car: do not attempt this, ever. We certainly won't. Oh, did I remember the part where, once we finally got the car to Avis, SO forgot the contract back at the hotel?

Luckily, this was a minor part of the trip, really.

The days before a typical vacation of ours usually goes like this:

1) Pull together all pertinent saved articles on food pilgrimages from newspapers, food magazines, etc.

2) Copy sections of food books you want so you don't have to take the whole book (Italy for the Gourmet Traveller, et al.)

3) Copy and paste the myriad posts on cities from various web sources (eGullet among them, of course) onto one file; shrink font very, very small; print

4) Google maps to all really important places, mark them on a master map, using "G" for gelato, "P" for pasticerria, "T" for trattoria (or any restaurant), "W" for wine...bar or enoteca

5) Board plane; go over previous; check watch

Sound familiar? This year we found oddly cheap tickets going into Bologna and out of Rome, from which we created this itinerary:

Part I: Three days in Bologna, a city I know well; a place to visit old favorites, reset inner clock

Part II: Rent car, drive to Montalcino and stay for four days; visit wineries in the Brunello d.o.c.

Part III: Drive to Rome, return car (!); two days there.

We've been to Bologna and Rome before, but this time, we had a digital camera. So, let's start this tale of our little food adventure; I hope you enjoy it and can put it to some future use.

Bologna:

We arrive at the conveniently small Bologna airport, hop on the bus. Ten minutes later, we are in town, and I stop the bus at Bar Pasticeria Gamberini. With suitcases still in hand, we have a cappuccino, and a brioche. I highly recommend their pastries. This has been one of my regular places for sfogliatelle, good brioche in the morning, great service, and tasty coffee.

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And here's part of an all-chocolate display they had up for Easter:

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After checking in, we stroll over to Caffe Oreficio. This is a great place for sitting and planning your next move. They've renovated an old building in a contemporary style: coffee beans sold on the lower level, which opens to the bar on the second level, which opens to the seating area above that. Their pastries and sandwiches are not worth it, but their cappuccini are above average, milkier than others, and always cute:

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This is in the quadrilatero, an area of narrow, winding roads housing one of the city's best markets, a variety of good bars, my favorite bakery and a food store to die for. Across the street is Bar Roberto, who hales from Sicily, and his best pastries are Sicilian - sfogliatelle and the like. They also serve the best cappucino that I've had in the city. If they have time, they will also decorate your cappucino.

Around the corner is Pasticerria Atti, who make pasta and pastries. I can't stop eating their riciarelli (Sienese almond macaroons), the savory pies (pastry encasing spinach, artichokes, pecorino, egg) and their sweet ravioli cookies. They also make a kick-ass panetone during the holidays, and sell it by the slice. They also make bread (including a greaty rye bread with anise and caraway) and the ubiquitous pasta, summer-sunshine-yellow from the local egg yolks. Now, this is all within the first hour or so. Instead of the hourly report, let me break down my opinions of Bologna for you this way:

Coffee

If you're a coffee freak like me, you'll start the day with a cappucino and pastry in as many places as you can stand, then un caffe (espresso) in the early afternoon. The best espresso I had was at a place whose name I can't exactly remember, I think Bar Cinquecento, and it was in the University quarter. Best cappucini, Bar Roberto, Cafe Paris and Bar Gamberini.

Gelato

The most touted is from Sorbetteria Castiglione. Here's their menu:

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Theirs is one of the higher butterfat content (for a gelato) and very intense in the flavorings they use. Superb without being too cloyingly sweet. Ugo Gelato is a smaller place, maybe 10-12 flavors, all very good as well, especially their fruit gelati. Finally, Le Vele Gelateria, apparently unsung in the usual books and magazines, makes some excellent flavors. Their fruit-only ones don't shine so much as their milk-based mixtures, which use liquers for flavors. I love their Notturno Indiana - dark, mahogony-colored chocolate with brandy. Once I ate a serving while walking away, and had to turn back to order another.

Wine Bars

Their are two that I love. The Godot Wine Store has great people working there, all very knowledgeable, and about 15 wines by the glass each day, with a light menu to accompany. One of our dinners was a (retail price) bottle of wine, their salumi and cheese platter, and a leafy, radicchio-filled salad. Good soups, too. Highly, highly recommended from three different trips there. They have quite a cellar, as well. Down the street is a wine bar with their name that we just discovered - I'd recommend this, too, without having been there.

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The other one I love is Cacao. This is a modern space run by two guys. The focus here is less on the wine and more on the vibe as a local hangout, but they serve about 8 wines by the glass, including some excellent small producers. I recommend their amazing cheese plate with mostarda, which, for 10E, will provide enough superior pecorinos for about 4-6 people. There's something about cheese plates in Italy - there's always a much larger amount of it than we expected for the price. Oh darn. This past winter they had a small producer's Primitivo that I drooled over, returning every day to have a glass. I couldn't find it anywhere (as the proprietor apologetically told me), and it's become one of those quests - I must find it again. Fun place, nice vibe, contemporary setting.

Pastries

Atti is the tops for me. My favorite brioche are the fresh, buttery one in the morning at Gamberini. Bar Roberto and Gamberini for sfogliatelle. There are others, but I keep coming back to these.

Trattoria

We are not ones to go to many high-end restaurants. One well-known one we I like a lot is Trattoria Anna Maria. Bolognese food in a warm setting, full of locals, the buzz of Italian, and good prices. First was tagliatelle with ragu and Torteloi with butter and sage.

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It's hard to beat their silky soft pasta creations; their flour is a lower protein farina, and it must be made with the utmos delicacy. Next was tortellini in brodo, the prototypical Bolognese dish, and cardoon with sausage, a dish I just love.

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Dessert was uninspired, an unimpressive lemon cake but a decent lemon gelato. A dinner like this, with a quartino of house wine (usually sangiovese di Romagna) will set you back maybe 70E.

Our other dinner was at Ristorante Therese (not Theresina next door), which was fine, but not a place I'd return to with so many other choices.

There are other places I've been to at other times and would recommend, but that was our visit. Next installment, Tuscany.

Caffe Orefici

Via Orefici, 6

Paolo Atti e Figli

Via Drapperie, 6

Le Vele Gelateria

Via Saragozza, 65E

Sorbetteria Castiglione

Via Castiglione, 44

Cacoa (Wine Bar)

Via Altabella, 14A

Trattoria Anna Maria

Via Belle Arti, 17A

closed Monday, Wed. lunch

Pasticceria Gamberini

Via Ugo Bassi, 12

Bar Roberto

Via Orefici, 9A

Ugo Gelato

Via San Felice, 24

Godot Wine Store

Via Santo Stefano, 12

Godot Wine Bar

Via Cartoleria, 12

Bar Gamberini

Via Ugo Bassi, 12D

Edited by Michael M (log)
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Very nice report on Bologna, and interesting to read your comments on Godot Wine Bar.

I hope your marriage survived driving in Rome, though that is only half as bad as driving in Naples!

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Unbelievably, but I enjoyed driving in Rome, too. Lanes are as meaningless to a Roman as they would be to a bird or a fish, but the cars all flow together with a kind of extrasensory knowledge.

Sleeping in Rome, on the other hand, was a nightmare that I intend never to repeat again. I'll stay in the countryside, thank you very much.

Glad your marriage survived!

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The smell of wood smoke was a ubiquitous, 24-hour presence, mixing with the smells of pecorino and salumi, getting into your clothes, like the whole Brunello D.O.C. was hosting a massive, region-wide barbeque. This turned out to be from the many small fires people would set to burn the olive branches they had just trimmed. It actually was very pleasant, since that particular smell does go with the region's wine and food quite nicely.

It didn't seem to bother the locals in the (mostly stationery) 1/2-kilometer line of cars from visiting Montalcino on the day we arrived. If I remember correctly, there are three roads that snake up to this hillside town. Being a national holiday, the day after Easter brought apparently every Tuscan-on-holiday to the road we were on, and probably some Umbrians, too. And also one German couple on vacation who luckily spoke English so that my S.O. could apologize to them after confusing first gear (upper-left) with reverse (push-down-upper-left) and tapped into their car while parallel parking in a move that wouldn't phase anyone from Chicago (where we're from), but visibly irritated Mr. German, who scowled Teutonically at him while Mrs. German noticed there was no damage and accepted S.O.'s profuse apologies.

We avoided the 1/2-km line of cars by parking and preceding into town on foot since you couldn't drive into it this time of the day anyway. And in another stroke of luck, located our hotel within 30 seconds of entering the city. And so began the second stage of our holiday: Tuscany.

We were here to eat, to taste and purchase Brunello, and to hike. The constant afternoon rains curtailed each one of our attempts at the latter, unfortunately. But you can't career your car along any road leading out of Montalcino, simultaneously trying to enjoy the view and keep ahead of the line of local drivers behind you 5 k.p.h short of nudging your car off the road so that they can pass, without noticing that each tiny road that forks off is labelled with 10 or 12 signs indicating the wineries down that lane. And you'll pass a dozen of those signs within two or three curves of the road. Really, I'm surprised they managed a road at all, or even houses, when it seems that every square centimeter of rocky, clay soil was stuffed with either 1) a grape vine 2) an olive tree 3) an artichoke or 4) a rosemary hedge, mostly the former. Oh, right, or a cypress, just for that postcard-perfect effect.

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The Consorzi di Brunello di Montalcino lists 183 producers, all within what seems like a 15-minute drive from the town. It would be an impossible, Herculaean effort to sample every Brunello made. Though we tried.

First, I highly recommend Montalcino as stepping stone to Tuscan wine country. A very small hillside town, way quaint, nice people. Here it is, viewed from a nearby winery:

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We started our quest at Enoteca Osticcio, where we found ourselves returning each day because of the helpful spirit and knowledge of the owners, Tullio and Francesca Scrivani. We explained that we were there to visit wineries, and could they set us up with some tastes of smaller producers. We got a sample of 5, along with a personal run-down of each producer, and something to go with:

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We fell in love with two of the producers' wines, which we later visited (Canalicchio di Sopra, slightly modern style and Siro Parente, a much more modern, fruity slurp). One day we tried the Enoteca's local olive oil tasting, which was interesting.

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They serve light food, including some excellent salumi and the usual cheese plate laden with way too much pecorino. Not that I compained.

Within those four days, we toured Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona (highly recommended), Poggio Antico (same). We tasted a a few other places, including Fattoria dei Barbi, which also has a caseficio on the property. Here are their wares:

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They shrink-wrapped a large hunk of pecorino ubriaco (drunken, not from sampling too much Brunello as we tended to be, but from being bathed in it while aging, which sounds kind of nice now that I think about it), as well as a seasoned pecorino for us to take home. We ate dinner at their restaurant, Taverna dei Barbi, where we received excellent service, and this meal:

Crostini with tomato/olive oil and one with cauliflower

A superb white bean soup in a porky/tomatoey broth thick enough to be a sauce they forgot to add pasta to.

Pici with wild boar ragu, which was a delight

Braised pork and chicken; the pork was as tender as a ripe pear, and so bacony as to be classifiable as a red meat.

A drab lemon cake in a nice pool of ricotta cream, and nice grappa, though I'm not a fan of grappa; I just mean it didn't burn quite so much going down.

...all this for 30E/person plus a 10E bottle of their Rosso di Montalcino. They also have a fireplace big enough to land a jet in, so I imagine it would be quite cozy during the winter.

The town itself has two gelaterie neither of which I particularly recommend. It has one pasticceria, Mariuccia Paticerria, which has delicious, soft riciarelli and bigne, a pastry shell filled with the most delicious pastry cream. Across the street is "the oldest wine bar in Italy," Cafe Fiaschetteria Italiana, who make excellent capuccini, and had Mariuccia pastries offered as well in the a.m. We also liked the modern-decor Caffe alle Logge di Piazza, who also served a superior morning cuppa. This is right across the street from C. Fiaschetteria.

Next: Siena (cavallucci, ricciarelli, castagnaccio) and dinner at Poggio Antico.

Caffe alle Logge di Piazza

Via Matteorri, 1

Cafe Fiaschetteria Italiana

Piazzo del Popula, 5/6

Mariuccia Pasticeria

Piazza del Populo, 29

Consorzi del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

Fattoria dei Barbi

Enoteca Osticcio

Via Matteotti, 23

Azienda Agricola Canalicchio di Sopra

Edited by Michael M (log)
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The Province of Siena in Three Slighty Sweet, Edible Parts

Or, what we did on the day we drove to Siena, besides looking at a really interesing museum of contemporary art, and trying to find the Enotecha Italiana, which wasn't at the address we had.

Or, the three confections we scouted out while in the area of Siena.

PART I: Panforte

A traditional sweet served at Christmas that the Italians have, in all good sense, decided to make available year round, the "history" surrounding this confection paints this scene: on the night Christ was born, a child arrived bearing bread as a gift that, with the blessings of San Giusseppe, was transformed into panforte. Saintly blessings at the time, apparently, had the effect of adding nuts, honey and spices, along with candied fruits.

If I were a full-fledged food geek, I would have photographed any of the dozen or so we ate, or even the four we brought home. If I were a better man, I would have remembered. Think a flat, round confection, similar to a Spanish almond/fig cake. Ingredients: flour, almonds, sugar and/or honey, various spices, candied citron, orange. Walnuts, maybe. Panpepato includes the spicy addition of black pepper and cinnamon. One version included marzipan.

In Siena, our favorite panpepato was from La Nuova Pasticceria, topped with zingy cinnamon. They also made a slam-bang Torta di Nonna. Next in line were the panpepato and marzipan-topped versions at Antica Drogheria Manganelli, where you can also buy chocolates, dried pastas, olive oils. Both places made great Riciarelli (part II). We also enjoyed our third-place contender, Panificio Lombardi in Montalcino.

PART II: Ricciarelli

There are two schools of thought among Riciarelli bakers, I noticed after googling recipes for this almond macaroon recently. One has you piping them out, then drying overnight (a la French macaroons), one doesn't. Maybe one school of thought also includes things like expediency and laziness, I don't really know since the closest I've gotten to making these is reading the recipes and copying them into a Proto-Riciarelli-Recipe file. This was a year ago.

I have eaten them, however. Ingredients include ground almonds and/or almond paste, flour, egg whites, sugar. Optionals include candied orange peel, flavorings. I have had the chewy-on-the-outside-a-la-Francaise style only at Fr. Atti in Bologna (see above) (perhaps left overnight to dry?). All the ones in the Siena province below were much softer in texture.

Le Dolcezze di Nanni in Buonconvento had four types including limone (good), caffe (good), sfuzi (infused with...something orange or citrusy - very good) and plain (a bit drab). This is a tiny city that you'll pass through on the road between Montalcino and Siena.

Antica Drogheria Manganelli had my very favorite - extra soft and infused with something that reminded me of flowers - orange flower water? Very delicate and almondy and emminently snackable. Anyone know what this flavoring might have been?

La Nuova Pasticceria had delightful ones as well, rich with almond flavor.

PART III: Cavallucci

The confection that separates those who ate the black jelly beans and those who left them in the candy dish/Easter basket, these spiced anise cookies were supposedly made to be given to the servants in the stables (cavallucci = little horses). Ingredients include flour, honey, anise, sometimes ginger and black pepper, candied fruit. They are often taken with vin santo. The ones we had were dry on the outside, chewy on the inside. We loved these, which we had only at Pasticceria Nannini, a large place in Siena (I think the oldest in the town) that has pastries, cookies, chocolates and a separate area for seating with a light lunch menu.

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EXTRA PART:

Castagnaccio is a pizza made with chestnut flour, studded with raisins, pine nuts and spiced with rosemary. This was interesting and tasty. I save receipts when it Italy because someone presciently required all Italian receipts to have addresses and phone numbers of the businesses who provided them, great for this reason. Unfortunately, the place we got this from ripped their reciept, so we only have part of their name, "Pizza..." and their address (I'll call it Pizza X).

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Pasticceria Nannini

Via dei Banchi di Sopra, 24

Siena

Antica Drogheria Manganelli

Via di Citta, 71/3

Siena

Pizza X

Via Pelligrini, 17

Siena

La Nuova Pasticceria

Le Dolcesse di Nanni

Via Roma, 36

Buonconvento

Panificio Lombardi

Via San Saloni

Montalcino

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I've gotten lots of views but not any responses lately. Is this going on too long? I'll just assume this will be helpful to someone at some time, and finish it out early if there isn't much interest.

Dinner at Ristorante Poggio Antico

We are not usually ones to go the Michelin-starred restaurants when it Italy, or even ones that are all that expensive. We lean toward the Slow-Food, meet-the-locals, trattoria/osteria-type dinners. But we splurged a little when we kept having this place recommended to us. We made a reservation when we took the tour (the ristorante is on the grounds of the winery, though are separate entities), and ended up having a very nice experience there. Service was excellent, views are amazing - the eatery is at the top of a hill, and the windows overlook the valley. But, the food is what we care about here.

We each had the 58E tasting menu, though I switched out one of the items as you'll see.

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We were given an aperitivo of white wine with some scrumtious salumi selections...

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...followed by four breads, all rich with olive oil, and salted, by the way. One was rosemary, one with cheese, and I've forgotten the others.

Next was a take on beef carpaccio with arugula, Tartare di Chianina con Rucola e Reggiano. The beef came in a ground form, shaped in a timbale, topped with truffles, and olive oil. I expect I don't quite get raw beef's subtle pleasures, but it was enjoyable.

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Next, SO had Pate di Fegatini in Salsa di Moscadello, chicken liver in a moscadello sauce, which we both really enjoyed. I had a fennel quiche with taleggio sauce. This was nice, but obviously reheated (we were two of only 10 people there that evening), and by that time I wish I'd stuck to the tasting menu, relishing the liver in a way I didn't expect to.

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Little beet gnocchi in a salsa di brasato were next, and were delicious, subtley sweet and preciously pink.

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Next was ravioli with cianghiale ragu and chicken liver sauce with frizzled cabage. Yum. The pasta was firmer than the pastas we had in Bologna, but this dish was a personal favorite.

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Amusingly written as "Dave's Breast" on the menu in English, the breast of dove was next. This was served on a salad, and was just pleasant, a little tough, but I'm not well-schooled in this particular fowl.

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We each got a different dessert plate, including gelati (zabaione, mint, vanilla, coffee - some better than others), lemon and strawberry sorbet (excellent), two ricotta-based desserts (excellent) and small sfogliatelle.

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One bottle of their Rosso di Montalcino (28E, though on sale for less at their cantina), a glass each of the new-style Altero and a late harvest Moscadello (nice, but a bit flabby for my taste), 206E, gratuity included.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed this, next time we're in the area, our personal taste runs to the less pricey joints, where a dish or two can be less-than-amazing, and we don't feel financially guilty. This was nice, and I'd certainly reccomend it, however, with monetary reservations.

Poggio Antico

Montalcino

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As I would expect the food looks marvellous. All three cities are wonderful in their own ways. I loved the picci in Siena and the tortellini and tortelloni in Bologna. I ws too tired on my only day in Rome to really register anything specific while there.

I'll never forget the first time I drove in Rome, after essentially having been up all night on the flight over. What a nightmare. I found that thje best approach was to simply point the car and go. He who hesitates while driving in Rome is truly lost. Believe it or not, as Albiston sats, Naples is even worse!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Michael, I really enjoyed your post about Siena, which brought back a lot of lovely memories. I spent a good deal of time as a student at the Accademia Chigiana in the beautiful Palazzo Chigi on Via di Citta' (just up from the Antica Drogheria Manganelli) in 1991 and 1994 and returned to that beautiful city for a brief visit in 1998, and I have been to Manganelli and Nannini many times. One thing you didn't comment on was the great gelato available in Siena, but I guess you couldn't eat every sweet thing in town on a short visit. :biggrin: My favorite gelaterie in Siena back then were a bar/gelateria on the Piazza del Campo that made excellent macedonia di frutta con gelato and the Gelateria La Costarella just above the Campo. There was another good bar-gelateria by Piazza San Domenico that also served good cantuccini and various other sweets.

You'll also be happy to know that I did a web search on Via Pellegrini, 17 and came up with the name of the pizzeria on this web page:

PIZZA AL VOLO DI GRACILI IVANO

Via Pellegrini 17/19 - 53100 (SIENA)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Please keep this going Michael, I had meant to comment on the following post sooner.

PART I:  Panforte

A traditional sweet served at Christmas that the Italians have, in all good sense, decided to make available year round, the "history" surrounding this confection paints this scene:  on the night Christ was born, a child arrived bearing bread as a gift that, with the blessings of San Giusseppe, was transformed into panforte.  Saintly blessings at the time, apparently, had the effect of adding nuts, honey and spices, along with candied fruits.

If I were a full-fledged food geek, I would have photographed any of the dozen or so we ate, or even the four we brought home.  If I were a better man, I would have remembered.  Think a flat, round confection, similar to a Spanish almond/fig cake.  Ingredients:  flour, almonds, sugar and/or honey, various spices, candied citron, orange.  Walnuts, maybe.  Panpepato includes the spicy addition of black pepper and cinnamon.  One version included marzipan.

We got a chocolate version with lots of orange zest in San Gimagnano and snacked off of that for the remainder of the trip. They are potent little gut-bombs: just one sliver filled you up.

PART III:  Cavallucci

The confection that separates those who ate the black jelly beans and those who left them in the candy dish/Easter basket . . .

Oddly enough I hated and still hate licorice flavor; my Easter basket was always filled with leftover black jellybeans when I was done. But I love fennel and sambucca and ouzo and all that anise stuff!

EXTRA PART:

Castagnaccio is a pizza made with chestnut flour, studded with raisins, pine nuts and spiced with rosemary.  This was interesting and tasty.  I save receipts when it Italy because someone presciently required all Italian receipts to have addresses and phone numbers of the businesses who provided them, great for this reason.  Unfortunately, the place we got this from ripped their reciept, so we only have part of their name, "Pizza..."  and their address (I'll call it Pizza X).

I've heard that castagnaccio is an acquired taste and doesn't always make for the best first eating. I was tempted to try it when we were in Verona but then decided against it. My wife who struggles with chestnuts more than I do was intrigued by it as well. If we're in Tuscany at the right time of year, though, I'll try snapping it up.

Again, like the organization and particularly the dry bits of wit sprinkled throughout.

Edited for not getting the quote thingie working right this morning.

Edited by Kevin72 (log)
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Oh just happened upon this, but missed it while you were posting - looks like tons of fun! We had a similar trip a few years back but didn't save all the deatils and at the time didn't know of e-gullet. We will certainly use your info. on our next trip - and if I can find our travel log, will post on some great places we found in Rome (where we had locals to tour us around!).

My SO wants to note that we obviously went to less expensive dining establishments, as we rarely got any bread that was salted!

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Our visit to Rome this time was brief, though memorable in that it was finally warm when we arrived. And the whole driving illegally issue (see above). So, only a few things to report:

PIZZA

Our favorite Neopolitan style pizza turned out to be just a few steps from our well-hidden hotel in Trastevere. Panificio Arnese makes breads and a few pastries...

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...but what draws in the locals and students are its slabs of pizza in about 7 differents flavors. The crust has depth, flavor and chew, the mozzarella fresh. We indulged in buffalo mozz/artichoke, eggplant and arugla/sausage(the latter not in this pic), all fantastic.

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The thin/foldable pizza at Forno Campo dei Fiori was also tasty and worth the seconds we went back for. Here is our pizza being made:

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Then, where we waited for our order:

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GELATO

San Crispino's crema-based flavors were dense, like American ice cream, but light in fat. Flavors were delicate (honey, cinnamon-ginger, armagnac). Fruit-based ones were better IMO (pear, wild orange). None were overly sweet but all smoothly textured.

Gigliotti's were intensely colored, with some added colorings, but not overly neon. Good fruit ones as well (raspberry and strawberry), but so-so milk-based flavors. Gelateria Monteforte by the Pantheon, recommended in some books, was not worth it for the 3 times I've visited the past 2 years; threw them away.

BREAKFAST/COFFEE

I am in love with the mysteriously smooth espresso served at Sant' Eustachio (is it the ancient aquifer's water? a pinch of baking soda? they hide the process behind the espresso machine), though I don't like that they add the sugar for you. Am not impressed with their cappuccino, but it doesn't matter when their caffe is so good.

Pain Quotidien is a Belgian chain with stores in Paris, Rome and New York (and perhaps other cities). I'm not sure why we went here this time, as we much prefer the Italian stand-up-and-eat-quick breakfast with the locals, but at least it provides a place to sit and read. They make great breads, and provide a nice selection of preserves and chocolate spreads. In fact, this and places like it in Paris were what started us on our regular at-home breakfasts of homemade sourdough, almond butter and homemade preserves.

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Pasticceria Linari is a place we happened onto last visit, but apparently gets good international press, unbeknownst to us at the time. They have great sfogliatelle, a cream-puff-like treat with the most fresh, vibrant whipped cream I have ever licked off a plate because it squirted out of the shell, crust flaking mercilessly right and left. Coffee was so so. A definite must for their pastries.

WINE BAR

Singular, because we kept returning to Il Gocetto. They had about 40 wines by the glass, and a nice selection of small eats (cheeses, salumi, etc.). Service was a little odd; I talked up the owner each time we were there, talking about wines, recommendations, etc., but it took the third visit until he warmed up to us. A small wine bar for the locals, focused on wine and not flash, with some great wines.

RESTAURANT

Dittirambo is the first restaurant a few years ago that I made a reservation at in Italian, so it holds good memories for me. It is a great value for the price, I think, and this time I took the camera. Appetizers were a fennel souffle and octopus with polenta:

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Pastas were a lasagna with a vegetable I think was broccolini, in a bechemal, and nettles ravioli with clams, both of our favorite:

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We've eaten there twice, and been pleased both times. Plates were in the 10-15E range.

FOOD SHOPPING

When I die I want heaven to look like Volpetti. It would be a small heaven, maybe 15' x 20', and I would be surrounded floor to ceiling with wines, cheeses, deli items, breads, pizza bianco, frittate, oils, vinegars. I would be offered tastes of everything as I walked through the space. I would leave clutching a bag filled with grilled artichokes, ricotta pies, pecorinos, roasted peppers. Then, considering it was heaven, I'd get to go back the next day, I suppose. Have breakfast at nearby Linari then start over again at Volpetti. We got to taste the cheese in this picture, but declined to purchase any considering the price. Yes, it was good.

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Well, finally that's it. Sorry it took so long to get it all posted. I hope this has been interesting and will prove valuable for future travelling. Please let me know!

Volpetti

Panificio Arnese

Via del Politeana, 27

Trastevere

...also opens onto 15 Via Moro

Pasticceria Linari

Via Nicola Zabaglia, 9

Testaccio

Enoteca Il Goccetto

Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14

Sant' Eustachio

Piazza Sant' Eustachio, 82

Forno Campo de' Fiori

Campo de' Fiori, 22

Pain Quotidien

Via Tomacelli, 24/5

Ditirambo

Piazza della Cancelleria, 74/5

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PIZZA

Our favorite Neopolitan style pizza turned out to be just a few steps from our well-hidden hotel in Trastevere.  Panificio Arnese makes breads and a few pastries...

...

...but what draws in the locals and students are its slabs of pizza in about  7 differents flavors.  The crust has depth, flavor and chew, the mozzarella fresh.  We indulged in buffalo mozz/artichoke, eggplant and arugla/sausage(the latter not in this pic), all fantastic.

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Michael,

very nice pizza. Only one correction, if I may. What you have there is pizza al taglio for which Rome is famous. Neapolitan pizza is quite different: MobyP posted a few good examples some time ago. In Naples you cannot get pizza al taglio as delicious as the one you get in Rome.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I had heard about Sant' Eustachio before we went to Rome but it completely slipped my mind to try to go there. Both you and SethG reminded me about it and I regret not going. Volpetti, too. Isn't there more than one location in Rome? Seems like I saw one closer to Piazza Navona/Campo do Fiore area. It's probably in that link, isn't it?

Wish I had done a little better research on Roman pizza al taglio before we went instead of getting suckered in at Baffetto. Those all looked great.

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Only one correction, if I may. What you have there is pizza al taglio for which Rome is famous. Neapolitan pizza is quite different: MobyP posted a few good examples some time ago. In Naples you cannot get pizza al taglio as delicious as the one you get in Rome.

Thanks for the correction; I'm here to learn. Guess I have to go to Napoli now to discern the difference.

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Volpetti, too.  Isn't there more than one location in Rome?  Seems like I saw one closer to Piazza Navona/Campo do Fiore area. It's probably in that link, isn't it? 

Volpetti only has one location that I know of. They do, however, have another store just around the corner, Volpetti Piu, which is more of a tavola calda where you can buy sandwiches, etc. Maybe that's what you're remembering.

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