Category Archives: Food & Restaurants

Happy Birthday Paul!

We had a sweet surprise waiting for him at home…with a secret ingredient.


Peanut butter chocolate chip bacon cookies.

We cooked, we sang, we ate…we celebrated. Hope it’s a great day PM.

Also involved in today’s birthday celebration: a finger painted masterpiece.

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Cooking with a crew

During Jill and Drew’s visit over Christmas, we took a cooking class along with friends Molly and Giuseppe. Paul was originally planning to join but due to a broken ankle (more on this later) he had to sit it out, literally. But that just meant more chocolate cake for me, er, the rest of us.

And don’t worry about Paul on this night; Shiyama our lovely housekeeper and nanny brought him dinner on a tray. A tray! Meanwhile, the rest of us were paying money to cook our own dinner…

It was actually really fun–and tasty.

Pasta with Roman style artichokes were first.

Plus a baked pumpkin dish and Roman chicken–one of my favorite ways to eat chicken prepared with peppers.

And cake. The funniest part about the cake was this: it’s the only time I’ve had a chocolate torte in Italy that was actually moist (aka delicious) but the instructor kept saying how it would be much better the following day when it had time to air out.

Oh well, Valeria really knew her stuff and I’d recommend her to anyone. In fact, here goes:

La mia Cucina di Casa

Via Germanico 197, 00192 Roma

+39 063216620 +39 063216620

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Italian coffee

Coffee is an art in Italy with as many different varieties as one can imagine, possibly more. Cappucino is the standard morning drink and pregnant ladies like me often opt for something with less punch: a latte macchiato. This is a glass of steamed milk “stained” with coffee, sometimes topped with a sprinkle of chocolate. (Not to be confused with a cafe macchiato which is the opposite: a shot of coffee with only the smallest hint of milk.)

A regular cafe latte is also a lovely morning treat. It’s a bigger glass with more milk and more coffee, more like a latte that one would order at Starbucks but don’t expect to get a “venti” anything in Italy. While the name is Italian (“twenty”, as in 20 ounces), giant cups of coffee are not. Neither is a large takeout container or a couch nestled in the coffee shop. Almost all coffee is consumed at the bar, standing. It’s a quick part of the day, usually repeated several times. It’s also considerably cheaper than a Starbucks run; usually about one euro.

If it’s not morning, it’s not common to order anything with milk. After 10 am it’s customary to simply get a cafe, a shot of espresso. If your stomach can’t take that kind of thing, which mine certainly can’t pregnant or not, you can plead your straniero status (“foreigner”) and just order a cafe latte. Leave a little tip to make up for it; besides, tipping is also more of an American custom than Italian, but certainly appreciated everywhere.


Filed under About Italy, Food & Restaurants, Italian culture

Going Greek

Just for fun, to usher in spring and to celebrate a friend’s baby on the way, we had a dinner party last week. The menu was Greek–anything goes except Italian for this kind of thing–and mostly supplied via¬† my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I know, it’s no surprise, but honestly her stuff is delicious every time. And if you’re having a party, that’s really all you want. And maybe wine.

We started with Easy Tzatziki with Toasted Pita Crisps, which were indeed pretty easy. But delicious! Loaded with cucumber, yogurt, lemon and dill, it’s not even bad for you. A rarity in the chip and dip department.

I won’t say that Phoebe helped prep exactly but she was there for sure.

The main course was a yogurt marinated chicken breast with tabbouleh. Fresh scallions, tomatoes, mint and parsley make this salad especially refreshing. And it’s made with bulgar! Again, healthy yet tasty. I think we’re on to something here

The dessert was actually English, a rhubarb fool with fresh whipped cream. I’ve never made one before, but I’m tickled that the name comes from the fact that it’s so easy, any fool can…

Oh, those Brits.

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Big lunch

Last weekend Dan and Amy organized a great lunch in the country. The ex-pat group made our way out to the restaurant for a sunny afternoon full of food, friends and fun. Wine on the table, kids running around, parents up and down. As Paul said its the kind of thing you associate with Italy and France, in the best way.

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Here’s to our own little foodlet

Foods Phoebe has eaten so far:

  • sweet potato
  • avocado
  • pear
  • apple
  • rice cereal
  • banana
  • yogurt (new!)

Foods Phoebe has loved so far:

  • see above

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Olive picking

Paul was in heaven. He finally got to pick olives in Italy.

We were there to help a friend and co-worker with his annual fall harvest. Along with Eric and Alex, we went to David’s home in the country (actually very close to Lake Albano) on a drizzly Sunday morning. The project was spearheaded by David’s elderly Italian father-in-law and avoided by his two tween-aged sons. Wet weather only allowed for a partial picking but the Americans were all-too-happy to be involved.

Then came lunch. When he invited us, David mentioned “something casual”, maybe some pasta. But Paul and I have heard this before. Grateful that we’d brought rich and gooey brownies, as tasty an American treat as any, we were served countless courses of fresh bread, cheese, soup, pasta, polenta, sausages, grilled steak–each dish made even more delicious with their homemade olive oil poured on top–then dessert, three cakes plus brownies.

Several hours and a little wine later, we packed up and headed home, fueled by dreams of an olive harvest of our own someday. At our country villa. Why not?


Filed under Food & Restaurants, Life, Sights