Sunday, December 31, 2006

Buon Anno

Wishing everyone a happy 2007! Aguri e buon anno.
A few Italian traditions for the New Year:
1. eat a bowl of lentils (lenticchie) for good luck and financial security. Each lentil represents a coin for the coming year.
2. Wear red for good luck.
2a. A friend from work is from Campagna near Naples and she told me to buy red underwear/lingerie to wear on NYE. The next day burn it for good luck. T laughed when I told him I was determined to find some red underwear to burn for the new year. Apparently this isn't a custom for Romans. And since I couldn't find anything for under 10euro I decided to abondon this idea.
3. Take something old and at midnight throw it behind your back (off the balcony is best). If it breaks it means good fortune for you, if not it's bad luck.
4. Kiss everyone in your vicinity at midnight because it's just a really nice thing to do.

Baci to all and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006's cold outside

It seems winter is finally here. The temperatures have dropped to about 7ºC and the northern winds are brisk. Okay so it's not THAT cold but Romans are really sensitive to the slightest change in temperature for fear of falling ill. It is probably 85ºF inside our house because we feel "the chill". (read low and suspensfully: Dumdadumdummm.....)
But it really seems like winter because the trees lining our block were viscously trimmed to the core last week. Not a single leaf left and most of the branches were butchered as well. As if Edward Scissorhands had gone mad and was seeking revenge, but solely on our block.

The other blocks were lucky enough to escape the wrath of the Italian tree pruners.
It's really sad and I hope they grow back to their full glory because they make the street feel so empty and abandoned.
Here's a nice shot of some paper advertisement crumpled and stuffed into the neck of the tree outside our building.

Ironic isn't it?

Why would they do this you ask? Well, Rome is a pretty dirty city and people like to litter. I know there are many cities in Italy that are immaculately clean and spotless but Rome is not one of them. As for the trees being whacked we think it was to protect people from falling and slipping on the wet leaves when it rains and hence suing the city if they get hurt. Couldn't someone just sweep the leaves away? Probably but c'mon that would require too much time and energy and it maybe costs less just to kill the trees. Or maybe they were infested with termites aphids or something of the sort. We may never know the whole truth yet in my naive brain I am thinking they just trimmed the branches to encourage new growth. I am patiently waiting for spring. New year, new growth.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

uovo sbattuto

Literally this means smashed, or beated egg. T made this lovely concoction this morning for breakfast.
2 raw eggs
40 tsp of sugar, more or less according to how sweet you like it

Beat egg with sugar enthusiastically until heartrate is well above resting rate for 2 minutes.

For me, raw eggs and sugar are prime heart attack material but for Italians like my husband they are considered breakfast during your childhood years. Apparantly he ate this religiously between the ages of 6 and 12 because it was considered *good* for you. Raw eggs=protein. Sugar=energy. As a former vegetarian (ahem, vegan for 2 years) I have a really hard time believing this is good for anyone, let alone children. Needless to say I was slightly aghast when he concocted this up for breakfast this morning. But then again, who am I to judge? They say the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest on the planet. Although I'm not sure this falls into that category....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tour del Gelato

As one of Tour del Gelato's Rome correspondents I am more than happy to take on this difficult task and share my favorite gelaterie. Rome has some great gelato and some not so great gelato so it was not easy to do and I had to filter through a lot of places but I managed to narrow down my favorites to 4 (!!!). Also I want to apologize to the Tour del Gelato team because I didn't exactly follow the rules.....meaning I bent the definition of gelato a bit. But bear with me because I think you will be happy with what I have to report.

My absolute favorite would have to be Gelateria Beautiful, Via Tagliamento 65.

Their specialty is Sicilian ice cream and desserts. I can't comment on the desserts like cannoli and cassate because I am always seduced by the 75+ flavors they offer (not really that many flavors but when I'm trying to decide they all look so good and it seems like so many to choose from). Their pralinone is another of their specialties which is a Sicilian praline gelato and it's literally heaven on your tongue. Verramente. I also like their limone and frutti di bosco. Plus they are always open late on the weekends for those after-hour cravings.

The next on my list is not really a gelateria but it is so worth mentioning. De Angelis near Piazza Crati on Via di Priscilla 18/20_Roma is actually a bar that serves the most amazing cremolati in Rome. Cremolati is similar to a granita or sherbert but it contains the fruit pulp as well. And I don't have a picture because they only make this in the warm summer months. However I can assure you there is always a line and their strawberry flavor is definitely the most popular. It's a bit pricey at 4euro but damn is it good.

There is also Lanzallotto, Viale Somalia. 96. tel. 06 86212257. This place is near Villa Ada and on Saturdays and Sundays it's always packed. Yummy yummy yummy is all I have to say. Cappucino, ciocolato, nocciala, and zabaione. They also make really good fruit flavors.

The last one I have to mention isn't a gelateria either and shame on me for this bit of self-promotion so I'll just quickly mention it. The restaurant I work at serves sorbetto and semifreddo handmade by a local Roman woman. This fall she made sorbetto all'uva fragola which is when concord grapes are in season here and we would sell out every night. A beautiful purple color with a sweet (but not too sweet) grape taste. She also makes a nice sorbetto al pompelmo rosa (grapefruit) and right now we are serving semifreddo ai croccante (hazelnut) with a spoonful of chocolate on top. It's becoming a favorite fast. If you are ever in the neighborhood stop by and try some. You won't be disappointed.
Risorante Pupina, via Marianna Dionigi, 37, just steps from Piazza Cavour. 063223338.

Of course I have other gelaterie that I like but maybe I'll save those for another post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

City Swap

My City Swap gift arrived today!

My swap partner Maryann from Astoria, NY sent a gorgeous photograph of the the new york city skyline being reflected in a lake in Central Park. As she explained to me it is a very special place in Central Park as her mother would take her and her brother for walks there as a child.

My photo of a photo doesn't even do it justice but I can tell you the photo is very special. I lived in nyc for 7 years and I know exactly where this spot is in Central Park and it brings back so many memories. I can hear the traffic and the cars honking along Fifth Ave. right now. I feel as if it were yesterday that I was in the big apple yet it also feels like a lifetime ago. And I love the way the photo emits a quiet calm, a sense of peace and a little oasis of nature amidst the sprawling skyscrapers (or grattacieli as we say here in Italy).
It's beautiful.
Plus she wrapped it in an I (heart) NY shopping bag. *sigh* I miss NY!
Thank you so much Maryann for sharing your city with me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Please explain the logic in this....

We have seven ashtrays for a one bedroom apartment with two people living inside and one (that would be yours truly) doesn't smoke.
Freakin Italians.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's HERE!!!!!

I just picked up my Permesso di Soggiorno this morning from la Polizia. It took just over a year to get but it's finally here.

*smile smile smile*(big toothy grin)*giggle giggle*
Yay! I feel like a little schoolgirl who just won first prize in a contest.

The best part was when the police personally greeted me this morning "oh hello Avery." And the other man behind the desk smiled "ooooh, its Avery. She'll be very happy" They know me on a first name basis because I was there almost every week this past year trying figure out what happened to my permesso. I'm sure they are happy to finally be rid of me. At least for the next two years until I have to renew.
Yay! It's finally here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


It's that time of year again.
The holidays. White lights, snowflake decorations, reindeer and Papa Natale.
In Italy most people (I've been told) use fake trees. Last year I made a big protest arguing that Christmas really isn't Christmas without a real live tree, the scent of pine and needles littering your floor. There are live trees here but they come in pots and can be kinda expensive not to mention the care they require the rest of the year. Thus we have a plastic tree (I always grew up with real Texas there are plenty and it was always tradition with us no matter how much my inner environmentalist screamed). However I have been forbidden to put the tree together until before Dec. 8. Why? I was told this is the proper tradition and I must wait. It's The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary but since I'm not Catholic I didn't know this. I therefore am not allowed. Hmmph!

My husband suggested this year I make a presepio. This is basically a minature nativity scene like the one below.

But here in Italy it gets very complicated and at this time of year the stores break out the minature mangers, Jesuses, thee kings et al. But it doesn't just stop there. There are lakes, rivers, women cooking over mechanical flames, animals that move their heads back and forth, I am talking the whole nine yards here. It gets very complex and involved and people spend A LOT of money on acquiring their minature nativity scenes. For those of you who like pictures this might give you an idea of how involved this all is.

So when T suggested I make a presepio this year I couldn't help but laugh. Sure, I scoffed. I'll just grab my whittling tools and carve some wood or better yet I'll cast a few resin figurines to really get into the spirit of things. I mean, come on. But when I realized he was serious and he mentioned that his mother (uh-oh here we go...) always made a presepio when he was a child I didn't want to be a complete Scrooge so I pleasantly suggested I could dress some potatoes up in little cloth suits and make a river with aluminum foil. I was trying to be creative but he didn't buy it. A presepio??? WTF??? how am I supposed to MAKE a presepio? Since I'm not Catholic doesn't that give give me an alibi in this case? I think I might just make some cutouts and tape them up on the wall. Oh God, how tacky is that? Now my inner aesthetic is screaming. Oh, the torture. The tinsel and fake snow is bad enough but now a presepio? What did I get myself into?