Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eating My Way Around Italy I: My Rome Food Tour

You know that old saying: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."? Well, that means, if you're in Rome, one of the things you have to do like the Romans do is eat, which may seem challenging at first, but if you're able to make it, you will never go back!
When in Rome (or Italy in general), you can get caught on tourist traps, that being: restaurants with huge neon signs offering pizza, gelato, pasta and all the succulent food Italy is well known for, which are usually near to touristic sites. Now, avoiding that is very easy, really and, if you do, you will get to eat better food, more real, the real Italian deal. However, I would say that to be absolutely certain that you're eating not only the real deal but some of the best of the best when it comes to the real deal, then you'd need to go on a Food Tour -oh yes, now we're talking!

And who better to take you on an amazing culinary experience in Rome than the guys from Eating Italy Food Tours? The answer is: nobody -unless you have an Italian Nonna, that is.
Testaccio is known as the "Food Neighbourhood" in Rome, it's filled with small-independent businesses, usually owned by Italian Families that want to keep the tradition of good food alive, and it's there where the Eating Italy Food Tour takes place. For this Food Tour, you don't have to be a foodie, you can be just someone who enjoys eating good food.

 At around 11am, the Food Tour starts at  El Oasis de la Birra (The Oasis of Beer) which may sound like a bit too much for such an early time, but don't worry, that's just the meeting point. 

The real start is at Barberini, a pastry shop that has been making tasty goods since 1945. 

They have a variety of pastries as well as cakes and, of course, coffee. 

At this point, I believe it is important I mention that a Bar in Italy isn't precisely a bar as we know it in the rest of the World, but a Cafe where, yes, you could have a drink or two if you wanted, but where you would mainly go get your café + cornetto fix every morning. 

So, in Barberini you'll get to taste a really good Tiramisú in a tiny chocolate cup (so you can eat the entire thing, literally!) as well as an amazing cornetto freshly baked and with a secret ingredient.

Afterwards, Volpetti is said to be Rome's #1 gourmet food shop for quite a few years now. Just entering the shop will make you drop your jaw from the incredible assortment of gourmet products they have: cheeses (over 150 types!), prosciutto, fresh pasta, sausages, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (some as old as 100 years!), chocolate and whatnot, all of great quality. And don't worry about not having this luscious stuff at home because you can buy whatever you want and they will vacuum-seal them for you to take all the way back home and prepare yourself amazing Italian sandwiches and more and feel like you're in Rome again -that's what I did and I have to say that 7 weeks later, I still have a lush pecorino cheese with truffle and it tastes just as if I bought it yesterday. 


Just around the corner, Emilio and Claudio (owners of Volpetti) have a cafeteria called Volpetti Piu, where they serve one of the best and most fresh pizza in all of, not just Rome, but Italy! My personal favorite one: Margherita, of course. It is a simple as scrumptious -I couldn't get enough of its thin crust and melted mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes and basil...and...I'm almost drooling now, so I'd better continue with their menu. They sell a great diversity of food to eat there or to go, such as: arancini, many kinds of pasta, chicken, salads and, of course, pizza.

Then, we moved and walked towards the Cimitero Acattolicico di Roma (Non-Catholic Cemetery or Protestant Cemetery), where you can find the tombs of famous people such as English author/poet John Keats and the Bulgari Family (worldly renown jewelers), among others. They say this cemetery rivals Pere Lachaise in Paris and Highgate in London, but for me -as creepy as it may sound- there is no more beautiful cemetery in the World than Pere Lachaise.


So, after the little historic break at the Cemetery, we headed to the Fresh Food Market of Testaccio, which used to be a street/farmers market but now, due to hygiene and electrical reasons, is located in a more "settled" market which looks quite clean and modern. If you ask me, it takes off a bit of the excitement and coolness produced by a real street market, but oh well, the amazing stuff they sell there, totally make up for it. At the market, we made our very own bruschetta and found out that Italian's secret to get crunchy-not-leaking bread is a double toast -so, now you know! We also made a mozzarella di buffala Caprese salad and I have to say -though you may already know- I love cheese in general, but this mozzarella di buffala was just something, I tell ya! Super fresh, and soft, and yummy, perfect for a tasty Caprese salad or anything you like. I actually came back afterwards and bought some as well as some ravioli and pesto to make our own dinner at the B&B.


What's next? A little dessert, of course. And Constanza at Dess'Art has good cannoli for your sugar fix. They say the best cannoli is the one they fill (with cream) when you order it, opposite to the ones they have already filled by the time you buy them; however, this was the only place (in all of Italy) where they actually do that. Wherever else you go, you will for sure find your cannoli already filled and ready to eat.


Next stop was 00100 Pizza where they serve the famous fried rice croquet called Suppli', which is a variant of Sicily's Arancini. To be a bit more specific, they're balls of rice with (or without) tomato sauce and raw egg around a piece of mozzarella, all soaked in egg and coated with breadcrumbs, and then fried. This was, for me, one of the most amazing discoveries in Italian food and something that we definitely don't get in Mexico. They're absolutely delicious and one of my favorite things to eat in Rome.

If by now you think you're all done and already ate too's true, but think again, cause the next stop on the tour is Da Bucatino, said to be one of the best Trattorias in Rome, they've been serving good food for over nine decades. This is the place where you will sit in a big table with everyone on the tour and where you will get to talk and get to know each other a bit more and, of course, share a wonderful meal. We had the always-popular cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper pasta) and other type of pasta, both accompanied with wine.


Once you're super full and swear never to eat again, they make you completely disregard that by taking you to the last place of the tour: Giolitti da 1914, because -obviously- gelato couldn't not be a part of a food tour! And what better place than Giolitti, which has been making Rome's best gelato the old-fashioned way for 98 years! Oh yes, you're all full alright, but when it comes to gelato, there's always room, right? (Or was that jello? lol) Here you get to order 2 flavors in a cup and, trust me, that decision won't be easy as all of them look absolutely delish! 

And that's how this awesome Food Tour comes to and end and becomes a great experience for travelers, locals, foodies and whoever takes it. It is absolutely enjoyable and, for sure, a great thing to do when in Rome. Seriously, not only do I recommend it but I'd say it's a must!. And, this post is not all regarding Eating Italy Food Tours, stay tuned for an awesome surprise coming up soon!

Special thanks to Kenny, María and Sarah from Eating Italy Food Tours -loved eating with you!

If you wanna live this experience by yourself, go to Eating Italy Food Tours and book your tour now!


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