Bar, Food, Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup, Rome,

Trying something new: Tales of the Table

As this is my last semester, I decided to jump out of my normal zone, also somewhat as a way of distancing myself from Archaeology and more Roman history. So, I took Online Journalism, still a little nervous as I am bad at talking to people, but I thought it would be fun and another great way to use my photos. So I chose to focus on Food, but more than that, how food is in our culture and what it means to people. It won’t be a constant line of reviews, or recipes, but more of individual stories surrounding food.

My first story was about Michele Ferrero‘s death, as it was meant to be a “hard news” story, you can read it, and future posts on Food here:

I hope this new blog will be able to push my comfort zone and get out there talking to more people throughout Rome!

Side note: weebly is so frustrating, I wish we could just use WordPress.

My next piece will focus on the culture of Aperitivo in Rome, and hopefully further through Italy. If you have any great aperitivo spots or stories let me know and I will include them!


A day at Ballarò


The Ballarò Market of Palermo is quite a sight, filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables, but turn around and their are tables lined with squids and full fish.

This food market has much to offer and was one of my favorite adventures in Palermo. Every vendor yells out in a deep voice what they are selling, sometimes the deep shout comes from a boy who looks no older than 13.

We found the most delicious fresh strawberries, along with lemons, oranges and olives, all that were then wrapped up in newspaper for us to take as our lunch. The market neighbourhood reminded me a lot of Old Cairo it was just as if the mosques had been replaced with Churches, but it was very similar.

All around were men shucking artichokes and keeping water on the fish, many would ask for a photo as I walked by (it’s hard to miss a large shiny red Nikon DSLR). It was hard not to buy all the food they had to offer as everything looked so much more fresh and cheap even then what we have up here in Rome.



The market is all food, but even if you think you’ll be eating out while in Palermo, take a walk around and grab some wonderful fruit as a snack, it will balance out all the Cannollis!





E’ tempo di caffè


But isn’t it always? In fact I am making a cappuccino as I type, because yes I am one of those girls whos social media feeds are entirely composed of arty coffee images, and who will make coffee at least 3 times a day. I’d like to say I am not addicted because I have never had a headache and that makes coffee sound bad. In reality it is the greatest thing on earth.

Here in Italy I love coffee sometimes to just give me that buzz to survive a 9AM onsite, but mostly I love it because coffee gives me an excuse to take a break. It’s the best way to relax and have a moment to myself, or a moment to enjoy a friend’s company and catch up. Since I have had to start thinking of thesis topics and post grad options, coffee has become my escape.

Many people say Italians are all about the quick bar coffee culture. Just get it and go. This is true if they are working or on their own, but really if they are standing they will always take the time to catch up with the barista or a friend in the bar. It just so happens that for sitting we are charged more so it’s a special treat to sit in the sun and have a coffee.

I took this photo while taking a break with With Love From Roma, who will post more photos of the Roman afternoon soon!
Buon weekend!

Chocolate, Coffee and Shoes are always a Good Idea: A trip to Terni

After three weeks of rain we finally had a weekend of sunshine and 60 degree temperatures, it also happened to be that, this weekend, the annual Cioccolentino, a chocolate festival, was held in Saint Valentines home town of Terni located in Umbria. The city of Terni is only an hour out of Rome so a few friends and I decided to hop the trip to experience divine chocolate, and see a mini carnivale/valentines tradition.  It was definitely one of the best decisions I have made being here!


The festival was small, but had plenty of free samples, and not only included chocolate but also cheese, olives, meat, jewelry, and other artistic goodies (including soaps shaped as cupcakes!). The streets were also filled with images of carnivale, confetti thrown everywhere and little kids dressed up in colorful dresses or as superheroes. We quickly found an artiginale chocolate vendor, who sold dark and white chocolate with cranberries, a banana chocolate, lemon ginger chocolate, chocolate with peperoncino (the spicy hot pepper) coconut, pistachio, you name it! They even had chocolate covered orange rind, figs and lots of truffles. The stand was run by two girls who seemed to enjoy speaking with us in English and sharing their delicious chocolate samples with us.


Another stand even had chocolate covered raisins, this as well as the cranberries were quite incredible to find in Italy so a friend had to grab some! Vendors also had the chocolate covered Castani (chestnuts)a  perfect seasonal treat. Many stands carried chocolate shaped like the classic espresso maker, an image typical of Italy.  But one even had chocolate shaped as shoes, Fiat 500s, and other goodies. I was able to buy a set of chocolate spoons here, which I knew would go perfectly with a cafè, that is a straight espresso. Well boy were we in luck!


The company Kavè has sponsored a tent bar of their own, where all coffee was offered in a sunny piazza, completely for free!  I was able to enjoy my espresso with a dark chocolate spoon, it was perfection.


But before our coffee we decided to follow our noses to the sweet fragrance of the Sicilian pastry vendor. It is a very different region, but it is nice to get some different cuisines every once and awhile. I couldn’t think of having more sugar, even though the cannoli, the cassetini and sugar covered cream filled donuts were very hard to resist.

Terni had much more to offer than we expected, outside of the festival we wandered the small cobbled streets seeing adorable picturesque houses, alleys with Fiats and Vespas, balconies overflowing with flowers (more photos to come, but today is about food). Terni also had no small amount of shopping, and it turned out to still be sale season here! We spent time looking in all the stores where I was able to buy made in Italy black oxfords, and where we all spent hours looking and getting real leather bags and makeup cases for very little!

On our way out we bought some beautiful hair bows from these two girls who made accessories and jewelry from wood, they were very kind and if you are in Italy you should check them out: Falegnameria Di Domenico. We continued on where we grabbed samples of the sweet olives of Umbria, and delicious fresh cheese.


It was finally warm enough for gelato!

ImageTo finish the day, we did as any Italian would, we grabbed aperitivo with a nice glass of wine to counteract the sweets of the day. The festival is now finished but there is always next year! Cioccolentino occurs every year on Valentines weekend, if you are not in the country during that time, you should take a day trip to Terni, it is a beautiful relaxing town, absolutely beautiful.


Children dressed up for Carnivale, throwing confetti on the ground, they were just too cute!

In love with the Nikon D5300, and Italian Breakfast

In love with the Nikon D5300, and Italian Breakfast

(Click photo for larger image)

As well as this coffee.
I just got the new Nikon D5300 for Christmas (in RED!) and it is my favorite thing in the world. I have finally figured out manual shooting which also opened a whole new world for me. ( If you are looking more into manual, or need more help with it, this website is the best: I am so excited to be back and Rome and start getting some much better quality photos!

This delicious breakfast you see is cafe ginseng and cornetto with cream, because all you need for breakfast here is a shot of caffeine and sugar high. But truly if your hotel or host family has been giving you juice and bread with jam, you need to get out and experience this. If your new to this Italian breakfast ordering situation, which can be intimidating at first, I suggest starting with just a cappuccino, or espresso and point to whatever pastry in the window looks good. Also though the chocolate ones may look the best, you will crash of a sugar high in about 5 minutes.


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Looking Back: Travels of 2013

This year has been filled with travels. Other than my home in Rome I went to, Kosovo,Macedonia,  Florence, Corfu, Cairo, Pompeii/Naples, Torino, and then back to the states twice! It was quite an adventurous year, and I am so glad I have been able to share all these travels with every one of you! As the year is coming down I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my favorites from the past year.

Favorite Photo: It is not one of my bests necessarily, but I love this photo all the same, something about it just feels right. I have included it before but I thought I would share for this post.Image

Favorite Place I visited: It is a close tie between Torino and Cairo. I loved Cairo but I really wish I could have seen more in the daylight and had a bit more touristic freedom, rather than acting as a guest to a local. It was good for some things, but limited my desire to adventure at random. Torino I had full freedom and it was very enjoyable, however I was only there for a weekend so it might have been different had I stayed. These two are just so different it really is hard to compare!

Favorite Meal: I will have to say Kosovo for this one. We got dinner at Tiffany’s for 30 euros, which was split between three of us and included an amazing salad which had beets, 4 main course dishes which was shared among the table, as well as other side dishes and drinks. It was mainly veal, with very different sauces. Everything was so fresh and the restaurant had an open kitchen so you were able to see the food being prepared. The whole thing was incredibly filling and just so different from anything I have ever and before it was wonderful.

Favorite Drink: Bicerin in Torino of course! Nothing could compare, this is pure ecstasy in a glass, one of them and the day becomes 50 shades brighter. Don’t be the person who points out how many

espresso, then chocolate, then heavy frothed c...

espresso, then chocolate, then heavy frothed cream… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

calories are in the chocolate and whipped cream… no one likes that person.

Best memory of the year: This actually has nothing to do with travelling, but it was coming home for my friend’s wedding, I was able to see all my friends from high school and have a fantastic weekend. That was absolutely the highlight of my year.

Italian Christmas Traditions

Italian Christmas Traditions

Since there hasn’t been much to tell you about this semester, I figured I would tell you a bit about Italian Christmas. I haven’t been able to spend a full Christmas here, but hopefully next year!

Even though Rome is the site of the Vatican, there is surprisingly little in the way of Christmas decoration and events, or at least less than one would presume. Nativity’s are set up in every church, with a large one at the Spanish Steps. Christmas trees are decorated by large companies such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi. There is even one in Milan decorated completely with dildos…. Lights are put up, but not as excessive as America, there are a few decorations but I would expect more. It could be that I am not staying with a very Italian family, or it could really be they aren’t as excited as the rest of the world.

Food: At this time, oranges and clementines are the number one fruit. I have heard Oranges used to be a christmas present because they were so rare. Apparently this has stuck on in Italy. But there are no smells of cinnamon, gingerbread, apple or pine. In fact real Christmas trees are rare and expensive. They don’t really bake Christmas cookies, but there is the traditional Italian Christmas Cake: Pannetone. I finally bought one of these, I was worried it would be dry and boring like all other Italian attempts at a cake, but it turned out to be very good! All it is really is a large muffin, in look and taste, you can get fruit or chocolate ones. Of course there is also lots and lots of chocolate, mainly with nuts. Candied nuts and figs are also big at this time, at least in the grocery stores….yet I never see anyone eat them.

Traditions: Now, let me explain why there is a witch as this photo, rather than reindeer or Santa Claus etc. Well, Italians have two Christmas Characters, Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) and Befana, the witch who brings presents.

Befana comes on the Feast of the Epiphany, being the Night of January 5th. She comes and fills children’s stockings with sweets and presents, unless they have been bad, then coal and sticks. She also sweeps the house as she visits, sweeping away the problems of the past year. Sticking with the Italian mindset, rather than leaving milk and cookies, families leave wine and small food, sometimes figs and dates.

Befana was the old lady who sheltered the Magi on their way to visit Jesus, she declined to go with them, then later changed her mind and tried to find him, as she never could , she continues to search for Baby Jesus leaving gifts for all the children she encounters.
Her name really just comes from the Italian accent on the word Epifania.

And of course she is also connected to Pre Christian beliefs, she is connected to the Festival of Strenia and Iannus, as at the beginning of each new year, Romans gave presents to one another.

Babbo Natale used to be simply the character of christmas, however due to large commercialization, he is beginning to be the one bringing presents, rather than Befana.

Beautiful Rain and The Campagna Amica Food Market

Beautiful Rain and The Campagna Amica Food Market

Well, this photo has nothing to do with the market, other than being taken a few feet away, looking off at Circo Massimo. But it began to rain and the sunlight made it all sparkly that I thought I would share.

So what is the Campagna Amica Food Market?
Located just around the corner from Circo Massimo, at San Teodoro, it is the most local and freshest food market you can find in Rome. It follows the 0 km rule meaning everything has to come from Lazio, and no further. They have fruits and veggetables,bread, cheese, local beer and wine, pies and other baked goods, meat, and my favorite: olive oil and these sweet olive oil spreads.

The whole thing takes the space of one small warehouse, it is not very big but it is packed full of good things. It does happen to be a little more expensive than your usual bakery or fruit stand. In terms of fruit and vegetables though, most of what you pick up at a fruit stand will not be local but it will be cheap. Bread they make fresh at every bakery so really it does not matter. However, it is easier to get wheat bread at this market.

Most vendors offer samples, and are very helpful, though it can be busy and everyone will be jumping for the attention of the seller.

When I was there I bought an olive oil spread from Il Colle del Gusto (Full Name: Azienda Agricola Conti Santa Maria il Colle del Gusto). They had an amazing range of flavors, they have chocolate, nocciole (basically nutella with olive oil to make it spreadable rather than whatever they use) pistacchio, orange, and the one that i bought was MandorlaArancia, Almond Orange. These spreads are sweet  and so creamy, they are perfect. Though they are also highly addicting and I really need to go back to get some more….

If you are into agriculture and local food, you should absolutely stop by this market, otherwise you should go anyway to grab some of the best quality goodies. Especially for presents for people back home, the olive oil would make a perfect gift.




AUR is having a food photography competition and though I have lots of photos of food, I don’t have as many of people with food so I thought I would venture out today and take some. Many of my shots didn’t turn out exactly as I planned, especially with the reflection of all the glass cases, but this was one of my favorites of the day.