Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When in Rome

Way back in 2002, Lori and I made our first trip to Rome. It was a whim, conceived and booked inside of 24 hours, scheduled a mere three months in the future.

And it was exquisite. The flavors, the sounds, the smells, nothing could have prepared us for this journey. And it would seem I'm on a quest lately to recreate those flavors. Several weeks ago, the carbonara, Rome's signature pasta dish. Freshly made, hand-crafted pizza on Superbowl Sunday.
Last night? Bruschetta, toasted over hot coals, rubbed with garlic and covered with a beautiful mix of grape tomatoes, arugula, basil and fresh mozzarella tossed in olive oil with a little S&P. My taste buds were awash with the flavors of that first trip, of lunch at Florian's, on the Piazza dell'Indipendenzia where we could watch the cook practice his art at the wood-fired hearth. The picture is not my creation, we consumed it far too eagerly to wait for photographs.

Even last night's porterhouse, purchased on sale and grilled beautifully rare, couldn't erase that flavor from my head. Though it certainly tried. Good food feeds your soul as it nourishes your belly, and it shouldn't be any other way.

On a slightly related note, despite the hell that people gave Google when they created 'Street View', I love that I could go out and capture that first shot for you.

On a completely unrelated subject, my parents informed me that a new record sturgeon was caught in one of Wisconsin's larger lakes. Two hundred pounds of sturgeon. Speared and reeled in by one man. To give you an idea of what that might look like, the fish in the photo below weighed in at a mere 100 pounds.
Caviar, anyone? Perhaps on toast?

Several food notes. First, it's pronounced 'broo-SKET-eh', not 'broo-SHET-tah'. If you have to, go watch some Giada DiLaurentis videos to get the inflection down. Or to check out her boobies.

Second, bruschetta is the bread itself, toasted and rubbed with garlic. Anything else you add, oil, tomatoes, basil, cheese, mushrooms, those are all toppings. It bugs me to go to the grocery store and see a jar of chopped tomatoes swimming in oil labeled as 'bruschetta'.

You can have your soapbox back now, thank you for listening.


MJenks said...

Giada has an inflection?

calicobebop said...

I went to Rome last May and agree that the food was Fantastico! (my friend and I agreed that we would add vowels to the end of our words in order to sound more ethnic. Not sure if it worked or made us look like assholes but I digress)

Our final night we had the best meal I've ever had in my life - complete with lessons from the owner on how to properly eat pasta. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Elliott said...

Giada sounds just fine if you mute the television, otherwise she's trying a wee bit too hard to be authentic.

Calico, there is just something about Italian food in Italy that makes it taste better. I've only eaten one place in the U.S. so far that captures that flavor. We're hoping to find out if this holds true for French, German, Irish, Spanish, Egyptian and Chinese food, to name a few.

I found that my years of French helped me to communicate, however haltingly. Did you find, as we did, that the locals would speak to you in English, pegging you immediately as Americans?

MJenks said...

If French worked for you in Rome, then, after reading 58 weeks worth of Friday posts, you ought to be golden if you ever go back!!!

Melissa said...

I adore your avatar MJenks.

So true about Giada. The inflections and the boobies. But I say better to overpronounce than butcher it. Hello Emeril!

Elliott said...

I suspect that knowing a little more of the language would help. We honeymooned there in '04, and somehow it was more difficult once we got out of the touristical areas of the city.

Melissa, what? It's totally pronounced 'gaaahhhlick'.


tracey said...

Giada makes me want to go on a hunger strike. Not a fan. She's not as bad as Sandra Lee who makes me want to hurl my 200 lb Kitchen Aid mixer at the screen, but Giada is annoying nonetheless.

On an unrelated note, I'm really craving broosketta ( I know how to pronounce it too) now. I'm on my own for dinner tonight, so I'm thinking that's what's on the menu. Thanks for the idea.

Elliott said...

Tracey, you're most welcome. Glad I could be inspirational. I have to be in the right frame of mind to watch any Food Network shows anymore, I don't like being talked down to. Even if I do end sentences in prepositions sometimes.

carissa said...

That bruschetta looks delish. And i was already freaking hungry... damn you!!

Sarah J. Bradley said...

I like Giada, but I agree about Sandra Lee and her matchy matchy EVERYTHING! Please, if I thought matching my decor to the color of my food was important, my house would be painted in the vibrant colors of take out.

The one who REALLY annoys me is Ina Garten. I know, she's so wonderful, she's such a great cook, blah, blah. There's just something about her that makes me want to run screaming from the room.

But that's just me!

And E-I remember your awesome pics from that jealous!

Elliott said...

Carissa, I look upon myself as the human equivalent of 'Hungry', the Weight Watchers mascot.

Sarah, Sandra Lee is the epitome of everything that's wrong with Food Network, but Ina is so contrived, so rehearsed.

The first trip was incredible, the second was still a thrill, but we were done with Rome by the end of that week. We really should have taken a chance and gotten out of the city. Now that Garmin has most of Europe available, I'd feel much better renting a car.

Check out, their Sandra Lee digs are my favorite.

Melissa said...

FNH is pretty funny. Then again, you can amuse yourself just looking at Sandra's recipes and reviews on Food network itself. Hoo boy...

By the bye, I don't mind the "gahlik." And I was always kinda fond of the guy. But I kind of also mind when he pronounces orecchiette "ork-ee-ette" and "ortch-ee-ette," both horrifying, both in the same episode. O_o

Also? Very jealous you got to eat in Italy at all. *Sigh*

Bev said...

"Ya don't spell it, son! Ya' eat it!"

Sorry, I had to.

Turns out I've been mispronouncing one of my favorite Italian appetizers all this time. Shame on me!

Now if you tell me that I'm saying "antipasto" wrong, I will flog myself with a wet linguine noodle!

Also, I want to go to Rome.

That is all.

Elliott said...

Sandra's 'recipes'? It frustrates me that she's become wealthy destroying all semblance of edible food.

Amazing what a little deal-hunting can get you, Italy cost less than you'd imagine. Of course, for what we spent on a five-day cruise with excursions, we could have spent a week in Paris, too. It's all about choices.

Bev, thank you, , makes me think back on the good old days of high school movies.

As long as you're going to pronounce it right going forward, that's all that matters. We've been led horribly astray by untrained servers.

Again, Italy is affordable. Fun. Educational. Delicious. Go.

Be nice and share!

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