I live only a two-hour drive from Rome, so now and then, I hop in the car and drive to the Eternal City for some food, culture and buzz. My favourite things to do in Rome are strolling around Piazza Navona, gazing at the ceilings of Baroque churches, visiting numerous galleries and flea markets and, naturally, eating. When Walks of Italy suggested that I join them for one of their Rome food tours I said “yes” without thinking twice. Who can say “No” to food tastings and pizza-making in Rome?!
We met our guide Andrea, a cheerful Roman and foodie, at the market of Campo di Fiori and headed to a small bakery at the piazza. The shop was choke-full of delicious goodies: sweet and savoury, they had all been baked right there on the premises. We got slices of pizza bianca, golden and oily, sprinkled with sea salt. Simple and delicious, like all food in Rome.
Our next stop was at a stand selling olive oils from all over Italy. We tasted six of them and admired the pretty bottles that surrounded us. After that, Andrea told us about different types of balsamic vinegar from Modena as we eagerly smelled and chewed our bits of bread with drops of the precious vinegar on it. Perhaps, 10am is a tad too early for sipping a liquor but nobody protested when little plastic tasting glasses with sweet limoncello were handed to us. I also asked for a sample of chocolate and chili pepper liquor. And then for a few sips of almond and lemon concoction.
The divine smell coming from the salumeria nearby hit our nostrils and we, like rabbits in trance, stepped in. Salami with truffle, salami bathed in Barolo, prosciutto from Norcia, and other cold cuts were waiting for us neatly arranged on a plate at the back of the shop. Usually not a big meat-eater, I couldn’t refuse to try them. While we were smacking our lips and nodding in approval, one of the butchers energetically worked a mix of cold-cured pork bits smothering them in garlic, vinegar and fresh parsley. It was a custom-made Roman blend for a regular client and he offered us a few slivers to taste. Need I say it was exquisite?
From the salumeria to a latteria, off we went, nicely full and happy, chirping away in the Roman sun. Andrea brought us to a small old-fashioned dairy shop where we gorged on pecorino, burrata and mozzarella washed down with Umbrian white wine.
Food experience in Rome would not be complete without a pizza, so we were brought to a small pizzeria. Each of us shaped the prepared balls of dough under the guidance of a pizzaiolo. I topped mine dough with mozzarella, mushrooms, courgettes and olives and it was transferred to a hot wood oven. Ten minutes later we devoured our tasty creation sitting outside, just a few steps from piazza Navona. Good food, sunshine and Rome, – what else is there to wish for?