“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

IMG no 11625

Well, I’ve returned from Rome having eaten my body weight in pasta and prosecco flowing through my veins! It was a well needed and if I say so myself, a very well deserved break too. :) For a while now, I’ve been looking into how people lived during the 30’s and 40’s ,  the war and post-war times when they had little to go by and while researching about places to stay at in Rome, we came across this old pre-war apartment that promised no bells and whistles but had managed to retain a lot of it’s antiquated glory. Slatted windows, high ceilings, ornate ghouls sculpted on the ceiling – the allure was endless! It fit in beautifully with the image I had built up in my head about what it might’ve felt like to live in Italy during Mussolini’s time. Since I wanted a complete break with life here in the UK, I wasn’t troubled by the lack of wi-fi or any other technolgical amenity, though the younger amongst us felt decidedly bereft of oxygen! The place was spartan, run by an 80-year-old who understood very little English so though it worked for us, I won’t recommend it.. It’s not what most would look forward to on holiday. :) If you’re a first timer in Rome, then you will probably want to click away at every building you see..I did – until I realised ‘I’m in Rome, and everything’s beautiful!':)

The song that stayed with me all through the holiday was El Pasador’s Amada Mia, Amore Mio- Have a listen while you scroll through the pics! :)

Apartment, Rome, architecture
Where we stayed on Via Ottaviano
Apartment, Rome, architecture
On the other side, a beautiful breakfast room!

My daughter enjoying the first day of sunshine …we’d had two very rainy days before this which was just tragic :)

apartment, rome, architecture
Rayna at the window…enjoying the sun in Rome. This pic was taken by Daniel Simm

We braved the weather and went into Vatican City on day 1 given that we were staying a ten minute walk away from it. Thankfully, the queue lasted about 20 minutes and we were in, macs, brollies and all!

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome
Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City, Rome

Nothing prepares you for the scale of opulence that awaits you. The medieval art and architecture are breathtaking and it all starts becoming real – the art of the most grandest artists in history right before you in unimaginable grandeur just leaves you spellbound. My daughters on the other hand were left a tad underwhelmed that all that talk about Raphael and Michaelangelo wasn’t really about the Ninja Turtles after all! 😛 Here are a few pictures from inside the Basilica, I’ve limited it to the well lit places where I could focus on the details of Michaelangelo and Bernini’s art!

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Piazza San Pietro Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
The ornate domes at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Michaelangelo’s paintings on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
The gilted plasterwork inside St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Gilted plaster engraving on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Bernini’s masterpieces at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
One of the showstoppers at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Michaelangelo’s renowned Pietà at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

 

Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum
The opulent hallway leading to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum. Sadly we couldn’t take photographs in the chapel!
Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum
The gilted spiral stairway at the Vatican Museum

The best advice I ever got was to take my walking shoes… We walked pretty much everywhere and by the end of our stay, we realised we’d walked almost all around Rome. The magnificent ruins, the gorgeous Piazzas never seemed to run out of things you could see…Most of the newer buildings in Rome are built in the style of the old, blending seamlessly into the renaissance landscape of the city. Here are some pics of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Forum and The Pantheon.

The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
The Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon, Rome

I was personally bowled over by the Fontana Di Trevi! There was something so large and overwhelming about it that held you captive for the longest time – that for me was the highlight of Rome! The buskers that played nearby, amplified by the natural accoustics that the ancient world knew so well left an indelible impression of the place. For a while, with one particular Spanish guitarist playing Ottmar Liebert, Paco De Lucia and other Bossa Nova artists, I almost believed my Spotify playlist had been hacked ! :)

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
The Majestic Trevi Fountain, Rome. This pic was taken by Daniel Simm who’s great at long exposures! :)

There was a small carnival on at the Piazza Venezia during our stay and the local children were out, dressed up in costumes, throwing rice and confetti at the performers! There was an air of celebration as vibrant tunes of Electonica and Italian Pop filled the air.

Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Every woman’s beautiful 😉 -Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Venetian Masks at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Venetian Masks at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
New Sheriff in town - Venetian Masks  and more at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
New Sheriff in town – Venetian Masks and more at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
 Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia

 

 Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Levitating Yogi at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia

We wandered into a lovely restaurant right near the Trevi Fountain called Sacro & Profano, which boasted the best Calabrese food in Rome. We weren’t disappointed and I highly recommend anyone visiting to snag a seat here in this deconsecrated church dating back to 1199! The price tag is modest for what it offers and we had a meal with drinks and coffee for 3 adults and 2 children for around €125 . The owner was very accomodating and welcoming, inviting me to take pictures anywhere I chose to and use it as I saw fit. The more than affable staff made our meal very comfortable, conversing amiably about restaurant favourites and the history of the place! The interiors date back 100’s of years and the improvisation is achingly cool. It’s a pity that I got there after dark and couldn’t get good pics as I’m dead opposed to artificial lighting :) but here’s a taster, you’ll pretty much get the picture of what awaits you when you visit.

 

Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano

The menu was extensive and I ordered me a linguine with squid ink and calamari, the photograph was lost to the low lighting and the jet-blackness of the dish, but it was lush and I won’t hesitate to have it again! This is what the rest of the family ordered :)

Pizza Rustica Calabresa

Pizza Rustica Calabresa, italian food
Pizza Rustica Calabresa

Gorgeous lasagne with parmigiano and meat sauce which was a massive hit with my daughter who’s not keen on food! It doesn’t taste like British Lasagne in the least, I wish I knew why :)

Lasagne Rustica Calabresa
Lasagne Rustica Calabresa
Fettucine with pancetta and fennel!
Fettucine with Pancetta and Fennel!

 

Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole

I manged to bag the recipe for the Spaghetti alle vongole, a classic central and southern Italian dish –  here it is :

500g (or 300g, if dried) Spaghetti, fresh
50g Shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
50ml Extra virgin olive oil
500g Clams with their shells
100ml White wine
20g Parsley, flat leaf, roughly chopped
½ Lemon, juiced
Get cooking…
  1. In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook your spaghetti following the cooking Instructions on the packet, and keep aside covered with a damp, warm towel
  2. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, soften the shallots and garlic in the olive oil for Three minutes with no colour. Add the clams & white wine, cover with a lid and cook on full Heat for 2 minutes until the shells just open. Add lemon juice, parsley, the cooked spaghetti and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. Serve in a large bowl immediately with fresh garlic bread and a glass of white wine. Birra Moretti or Birra Peroni goes well too!

No day ends well if you haven’t had Gelato-the classic organic, fresh, natural ice-cream that’s synonymous with fun, not just for kids! How can anyone resist the lure of flavours like hazelnut and butterscotch praline, sour cherry, nougat, coconut & lime and cinnamon strudel? That apart from the regular strawberry, chocolate and crema; albeit they’re all amped up a few notches from our best supermarket buys…Ben& Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs paled in comparison to even the more casual gelatos we had at L’Arena del Gelato , a delightful Gelato house right outside Vatican City! Again, a fine little place for little ones to be themselves, you’re not rushed, in fact you can stay as long as you like and taste as many flavours before you make up your mind. Giuseppe Longobardi, the owner,  is friendly and warm and is keen on making his business a place you associate good times with!  At a gentle 21, he’s keenly focussed on getting L’Arena Del Gelato a big spot on the culinary map of the city. All the gelato is handmade by his family and is totally free from any nasties!

Giuseppe Longobardi, owner of L'Arena del Gelato
Giuseppe Longobardi, owner of L’Arena del Gelato. In many ways, the man makes the place; check out his fab Tripadvisor reviews and make sure you visit!
Butterscotch and Hazelnut Gelato
Butterscotch and Hazelnut Gelato
Fresh organic gelato, homemade
Fresh organic gelato, homemade
Heaven in a cone! Gelato
Heaven in a cone!

Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve had to remind myself that No, it’s not Ok to want to have a Prosecco with your lunch in England, especially if that lunch is had at home, by yourself! 😛

Prosecco, bubbly, wine, spumante
Everything’s better with Prosecco!

I didn’t throw a coin in at the Trevi Fountain, I’m far too much of a realist for that ; but there’s something magical enough about the place that draws you to it long after you’ve left and I don’t doubt that I’ll return someday!  For now, I’ll have to be content with my Duty Free pleasures of Rome and with every biscotti and every sip of Limoncello, it’s Arrivederci Roma! :) x

My daughter's goodbye note to Italy! :) Postcard, Rome, arrivederci roma
My daughter’s love note to Italy! :)

end-symbol

You might also like to read :

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things…

Woody Allen, ‘Fell-apples’, Borscht and Lurve!

 

We are away in slightly sunnier Italy! :)

IMG_9634

 

Italy, postcardm out of office

We are away in Rome and Florence for a week so I’ll get back to all your lovely comments when I’m back! :) I’m looking forward to the downtime and a total break from the internet (You know how we bloggers get sucked into Social Media overindulgence!:P) . It’s going to be all about the sights, the food and drink and having some quality time with the family! :) I’m also dead excited about the phenomenal photo opportunities that I’ll have-I do love my camera! So, there’ll be a travel post and loads of pics on here over the next few weeks, do check back in! :)

See you shortly, please do stay and look through some of my popular posts and if you’d take a moment click here and nominate me for the MAD Blog awards, I would be chuffed beyond words, Thank you!  :)

You might like to have a look at :

Would you like to nominate me for the MAD Blog awards? :)

The Department of Tweed and Trilbies!!

end-symbol

Prawn Masala&Curry-A photo-tutorial!

The Two Left Spatulas Kitchen!

So the tales continue from The Two-Left-Spatulas Kitchen- and today I have for you a quick and easy recipe that can be mopped up with a nice naan or seeded loaf as well as effortlessly, with the addition of a glass of water, be transformed to a wonderfully delicate curry that makes a perfect meal with rice!

Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala

In India, this dish is equally popular in the South as it is in the North (that’s a vast cultural space for us!) I remember watching Rick Stein’s India series on Food Network and him actaully saying that this was one of his favourite curries during his time there.  Jhinga Kadai, ie: Prawns made in a heavy bottom pan, or in fact, any Karahi or Kadai dish is one that requires a gentle browning of the spices and a quick flash-in-the-pan treatment of it’s ingredients! That’s something most of us time-poor folk could fall in love with.  I love this recipe because I’m not a fan of a lot of curries, and my husband is- so in 15 minutes, I have the semi-dry prawn masala for myself and a prawn curry for my husband! (Again, in common Indian parlance, curries are recipes that have a runny, gravy’ish feel whilst as terminology such as semi-dry, masala or sukha mean a thicker constitution.)

Let’s get started, here’s what you’ll need :

Raw Prawns – 500 gm (Always use raw prawns, frozen are fine too.  The cooked ones don’t really do well as they lack enough flavour to compete with the spices, so all one tastes is the spices…bit dull, if you ask me! :) )

  • Oil or ghee-1tbsp
  • Whole Mustard Seeds -1 tsp
  • Whole Cumin Seeds-1tsp
  • About 10 fresh curry leaves
  • Ginger&Garlic Paste-1 level tbsp
  • 3-4 dried red chillies (available at most British Supermarkets, they keep forever so don’t worry about them going out of date)
  • Salt
  • Make a mix of 1/2 tsp each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric and coriander powder
  • I tin of canned tomatoes ( I tend to prefer the Essential/Basics/Value range here as the tomatoes are tangy and best suited for Indian cooking. Better known companies tend to be a bit sweeter and probably better for Italian cooking!)
  • Corriander…as much or as little as you prefer. I use about 2-3 tbsp chopped up
  • Tamarind pulp -sold at Tesco and Sainsburys, but if you don’t have it or are uncomfortable about using/dealing with a wholly unfamiliar thing 😛 , you can comfortably substitute that with a one and a half tbsp of lemon juice!
Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala
Frying dried chillies, mustard and cumin!

Method :

  • Heat a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil
  • Add the whole dried red chilli, mustard and cumin
  • After it’s lightly browned, follow with curry leaves and ginger garlic paste (this sputters for a few seconds, you have been warned! :))
  • Make sure the heat is now lowered and none of the ingredients are burning.
  • After that, add the mix of all the powdered spices mentioned earlier and fry till they don’t seem raw anymore.
Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala
Adding the Spices!

After the spices have all had a while to cook and the flavours seem to have blended, add the can of tomatoes and finely chopped coriander, stems included..they’re quite flavoursome! :)

Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala
Adding the tomatoes!

Cook this for about a minute or two till you can see the tomato is wholly been incorporated and is near bubbling in temperature…you should have something that looks like this :

Prawn curry, Jhinga curry,  prawn masala curry
Cook it all together till the spicy aromatics blend together!

Only at this juncture do we add the prawns as they really cook in 3-5 minutes and it’s a shame to overcook their subtle sweetness!

Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala
Add the raw, deveined prawns!

After they lose their transluscence, you know they’re done. At this final stage, add the tamarind pulp or lemon juice.  It’s believed that the acid should be added right before the flame is put off and not boiled too much. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t a clue 😀

Et voilà , your Jhinga Karahi (Prawn Masala) is ready to be served with naans, rotis, biryanis, pulaos, seeded rolls or some good ol’ sliced bread 😀

Prawn Masala, Jhinga Karahi, dry prawn masala
Serve with pride!

A Twist on the Prawn Masala- -Prawn curry !

With one more step, you could take this to a whole new dimension :)

IMG_0675 2

To the prawn masala, add two canfulls (the can of tomatoes you used earlier) of warm water and bring to a boil…of course, hold off the tamarind or lemon juice till the final moment before you take the dish off the heat! Let the whole dish infuse for about an hour before you serve it, you won’t believe the way the prawns intensify and absorb the flavours and aromatics of the spices. Trust me, this is so simple to do and so utterly delicious, you won’t be in a hurry to quit making it! You could use fish or any other shellfish if you prefer, though prawn is the official star of the dish!

Prawn curry, Jhinga curry,  prawn masala curry
Warming, delicate prawn curry!

TIP : If you or your friends find it hotter than desirable, you could always add a bit of coconut milk or dairy cream to mellow it down! Kerala cuisine actually has a version of this with cocunut milk in it, and Lucknow cuisine uses cream so you’re still serving an authentic, Indian meal! Enjoy it rather than endure it, that’s how we roll here…authenticity is lovely only if it’s palatable! :)

Happy Cooking :)

If you’ve enjoyed coming on here and think I deserve it, could you be real nice and nominate my little blog for the MAD Blog Awards? They’re the lovely people who look into what we bloggers do and recognise new blogs if they think we’re worth it! :) Thank you. xxx

end-symbol

You might also enjoy :

Spicy Tadka Dal, Steamed Rice and Mughlai Shammi Kebab!