Sunday, May 17, 2015

When in Rome...

Artichoke carpaccio salad

"If you are at Rome live in the Roman style..."
~St. Ambrose

This is going to be a short post because it's been a long, hot day, it's late, I'm tired, and, most importantly, I have to be up at 5:30 to get ready for the Vatican Museum.  I will, however, take a moment to talk about the day.

We had no real plans today except to ride the hop-on, hop-off bus around the city, walk around a few of the sites, and just enjoy the day.  Since yesterday was pleasant with highs in the high 70s and today's forecast was around 82 degrees, we thought we were safe.  Oops.

We got on the HOHO bus around 10:45, and it was as crowded as all get out. There are six of us, and the agent told us there were six seats upstairs.  Nope. There were three, so three of us sat downstairs in the un-airconditioned coach. We were, at least, by the window and got breezes when the bus was moving. Unfortunately, the bus was stuck in traffic a good part of the 90 minutes it took us to get to the Vatican (It should have taken maybe 20.).  Apparently there was a "demonstration" that blocked streets, added to the heavy traffic, and prevented us from seeing three of the stops.  About half-way through, I started to realize we had the better part of the deal.

"I think we're probably the lucky ones," I said to Steven and Deb. "We're not stuck in the hot sun upstairs. At least we have protection." Not long after that, people who were sitting upstairs started to come down looking for a seat in the coach.  No such luck. No standing while the bus is moving. Go back to square one upstairs.  ;-)

Beef carpaccio with artichoke salad
We got to the Vatican after 12:30 and after Pope Francis had said Mass and canonized four saints.  The crowd was huge. We were hot, and I was trying to get my stupid selfie stick to work. At that point, we decided to head back to the bus and find the Spanish Stairs and a restaurant.

Of course, because it was Sunday, the buses don't go by certain other stops, so we ended up near the Borghese gardens. We headed down the street, found a great little restaurant (Zinilla), and ordered water with ice.  Fast. Please.  Surprisingly, they brought us a small bowl of ice to share, much more than most places give out.

Eggplant parmigiana torta
Four of our group ordered salads, and two of us had the eggplant parmigiana (all above). Rocco, our waiter, kept calling the eggplant a torta (cake), so when it arrived, we were not surprised to see it layered one slice on top of the other.  It was delicate and flavorful.

The salads were all carpaccio salads made with artichokes, a very Roman dish.  Three of the salads had beef carpacio topped with arugula, shaved cheese, and artichoke carpaccio.  Because one gal is vegetarian, she had artichoke carpaccio (top photo) mixed with shaved cheese.  Both salads were drizzled with truffle oil. Since getting sick on truffles in Spoleto a few years ago, I've pretty much avoided truffles.

Too tired to move too much tonight, we found a restaurant across the street.  I was thrilled to find that they served bucatini caccio e peppe—pasta mixed with grated pecorino cheese, black pepper, and a delicate white wine.  It is one of the holy triumvirate of Roman pastas.

Not a thrilling post tonight, I know, but the food has been great, and it made up for the crappy heat today.  Tomorrow we're heading to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's. I invited Pope Francis to come out to greet us and join us for lunch (I'm hoping to find Carciofi alla giudia.or Carciofi alla romana (Jewish artichokes or Roman artichokes). I'm not holding my breath because I bet one of those cardinals didn't give Frank the note.

I'll let you know.

1 comment:

  1. You never know, Chris. If your phone rings tomorrow, you should answer it.