The Rome Digest, an online news portal for dining, drinking and food shopping in Rome, launches today.
I am proud to be part of this iniative, together with my friends and colleagues Sarah May Grunwald, Hande Leimer, Katie Parla and Gina Tringali. All women, all sommeliers and local food experts with a deep admiration for our adopted city.
The Rome Digest highlights 100 wine bars, markets and restaurants that reflect our beliefs in local, sustainable and seasonal agricultural initiatives. From crowd pleasers such as Pizzarium and La Barrique to a speakeasy near Campo de’ Fiori named The Jerry Thomas Project to La Tradizione, a salumeria that sells more than 400 Italian cheeses and salumi.
Having watched plenty of vacationers fall into tourist traps, we decided to take matters into their own hands by combining our expertise, and The Rome Digest was born. While our standards are high and the majority must agree for the group to endorse a venue, our selections fall across the board from casual to sophisticated and everything in between.
In addition to highlighting the best places to eat, drink and shop, The Rome Digest reports on local food-related news and includes Friday round-ups of Rome happenings, “Top Five” lists and an events calendar that compiles Rome Digest organized events and the founders’ individual tours.
Visit the site.
If you want to know real Roman cuisine, start with pasta. I recently put together an iPhone app that will give you a nice primer on classics as Carbonara or Amatriciana and other classics. It tells you in what trattorie to eat them and where to buy fresh pasta. Plus you’ll learn about ‘al dente’, (forbidden) ingredients and pasta shapes.
In the Eternal City, hundreds of trattorias have been serving the same dishes since time immemorial and nobody ever seems to grow tired of them. But who would? Picture a steaming bowl of perfect al dente pasta glistening with a velvety tomato sauce, containing tiny bits of crispy pork and grated pecorino cheese. Hungry yet? And that’s only the Amatriciana! Wait until you hear about the others, like Carbonara, Gricia and Cacio e pepe.
With only a few ingredients, these pasta dishes are prodigies of the cucina povera (roughly translated as ‘poor’ or peasant cuisine). Unless they were part of the papal court or an aristocrat, Romans’ go-to fare was rustic and filling, characterized by quick and easy to make dishes, with seasonal and local ingredients. Romans still consume them at home or at one of the city’s many family-run trattorias, (generally) no-frills eateries with harsh lighting and simple tablecloths.
However, modest looks can be deceiving. It takes an experienced chef to get the pasta just right (which is al dente, with a bite), use the right ingredients for the sauce (no cream in the Carbonara!) and mix it all together to create a dish that is far greater than the sum of its ingredients.
This tour takes you to the trattorias where you’ll eat fine renditions of the classics. At each stop I’ll tell you something about the restaurant, but focus mainly on one single dish that they do really well. It tells you about the origins of that dish and the unbending rules of preparation. Plus tips on what to drink with them.
Get the pasta app here: http://rama.is/tours/Pasta_alla_Romana
Ecco: the new 100% Rome. Updating this guidebook was the reason I came back to the Eternal City last Summer. I pounded the pavement, sometimes with 30+°C temperatures, to find exciting sights, shops and restaurants and re-checked previous entries (disclaimer: not all entries are personal favorites, but I had to make some compromises). I’m glad I accepted this gig, because other chance meetings followed which made it possible for me to be here. Now I’m working as a sommelier, market tour guide, and I’m still writing about food and wine. It’s all pretty damn good.
So, for all of you Dutch-speaking people out there who are planning a Rome trip, here’s the link.
Basta with the personal horn-tooting. I have more to share. Last month, a couple of my friends were featured in a CNN documentary on Rome, sharing their favorite Rome locations and things to do. It’s so much fun seeing Hande drink water from a nasone (and wine!) like a pro, Jess hit the Pigneto nightlife, and so on. I was supposed to be in it, too, but except for a one second shot in which I shove some goat cheese in my mouth (I don’t even LIKE goat cheese!), my part got completely cut out. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Nonetheless, I encourage you to watch it here!
For English-speaking Rome visitors, my friend Katie Parla has a book out with walking tours in Rome. Fifteen itineraries that will let you discover the best neighborhoods.
Lastly, some REAL horns. My roommate ‘Miss Tess from New York’ will be performing with her big band Bixilander Swing Orchestra all over Rome this and the coming month. If you’re a fan of thirties and forties jazz, American jazz evergreens and the like, go check them out!