coming in hot [vegetarian]

It’s 12:30 p.m. and you’ve got a slight, nagging pain.

Is it the silk cords of the glossy bags containing fresh purchases from Lyme and Monkee’s digging into your forearms? Or, perhaps, the ache of your heels in those new Tory Burch booties you’ve been breaking in?

Either way, you know it can only mean one thing: you’re wicked hungry.

A long day of perusing the picturesque downtown streets of Pinehurst, North Carolina, thankfully has a local-favorite remedy: Sweet Basil.

A quaint and quintessentially Southern lunchtime bistro, Sweet Basil is sure to hit those midday munchies deep in the heart of Dixie. The casual, friendly atmosphere is a lovely complement. Be prepared, though, to wait a little– (thankfully, Monkee’s is literally a hop, skip, and a jump from it, so yes, you can go back and purchase that BCBG jacket you had your eye on).

Now for what you’re really hungry for:

The sweet tea you’ll be guzzling gets even sweeter with the fact that it’s customizable: it comes in a glass unsweetened, and accompanied with a bottle of simple syrup with which you can pour your heart’s contents to craft the perfect concoction.

Order the Hot Vegetarian sandwich– this open-faced, pesto-basil-aoli-basted beauty is complemented with tomato, onions and avocado, and then covered in a blanket of melted mozzarella. Fries as your side or the mixed greens and you’re in business.

Sweet Basil
134 Northwest Broad Street, Southern Pines, N.C. 28387
phone: (910) 693-1487

36 hours of yoga, jamming, & vegan food trucks

Close your eyes and inhale the crisp mountain air of Floyd, Virginia. Exhale. Now open your eyes to a renewed sense of being and strength. This is Floyd Yoga Jam: a music, yoga, and arts festival nestled in a valley of lush greenery and celebrated by joyous spirits seeking a rejuvenating weekend escape. Yogis of all ages from across the United States have come together since 2011 to spend a blissful three days challenging their practice and trying new asanas. Endless laughter, chants of “Aum”, and sensual rhythms await your ears while savory flavors from colorful food trucks are prepared to tantalize your tastebuds. As interactive as it is entertaining, nightly performances by artists such as Nahko and Medicine for the People, MC Yogi, and DJ Drez set the soundtrack to the visual smorgasbord of talented performances of fire dancers and the Montreal AcroYogis. Let your soul, mind, and body be invigorated as you take the plunge into pure nirvana and let your freak flag fly.

FRIDAY

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A drive through the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia set the stage for the bliss that awaits. As you cruise down the highways that curve around the countryside, you’ll find yourself further buried away from everyday hustle and bustle. Roll down your windows and watch the September afternoon sunshine hover and peek every so often through the shade of the trees. Cue some classic rock or even the meditative hip-hop beats of MC Yogi to get you in the mood for a weekend full of yoga, mantra-chanting, and dancing. It’s only an hour-and-a-half picturesque drive from Winston-Salem.

Open 24/7| Indian Valley Road | Willis, VA

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If it isn’t an imminent storm that’s growling from the sky, it’s your stomach. With many a food tent from which to choose, the options are endless. Each meal is made in full view with only the freshest local ingredients. If you’re craving flavors from the far East, head to Thai This for a mouthwatering plate of pad Thai, or to Greenlight Café for a spicy Thai peanut tempeh wrap. If a coconut mango smoothie and colorful bowl of quinoa, avocado, and fresh vegetables are more up to speed, the Goatacado stand boasts multiple options that are each vegan and gluten free. As a festival that supports a healthy body, soul, and mind, justice is also served alongside non-GMO food.

Times Vary | BlissLand Food Tents

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Head to the main stage of JamLand field and cure your ears with the seductive beats of Nahko and Medicine for the People. As entertaining as it is educational, Nahko Bear and his band seek to stimulate global-awareness and cultivate a healing force through their music. Their percussion-heavy sound will resonate with fans of Moon Taxi, Pepper, and Slightly Stoopid, while the poetic lyricism will speak volumes to the audience that is invited to dance at the base of the stage during each track. A technicolor conglomeration of lights further create a visually spectacular performance.

JamLand | Main Stage

SATURDAY

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Find your center and set your intention for the day on your own at the Om Meditation corner. Secluded from the buzzing energy of the yoga workshops in BlissLand, it is the perfect quiet place to clear your mind and concentrate while lying in savasana or seated in lotus. The creek that traces one corner of the arena and the cool breezes drifting through the trees create a tranquil ambience that is sure to help you find your own inner nirvana before trying your hand at an AcroYoga or a The Lion’s Roar Jivamukti class. Before you return to BlissLand, be sure to take a gander at the handcrafted rice mandala that serves as a centerfold art spectacle.

Open 24 Hours | Om Meditation in BlissLand

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Initiate yourself into MC Yogi & DJ Drez’s YogaTribe yoga workshop class in the lotus petal shaped Brahma Nirvana tent. Inspired by the sounds of hip-hop cult classic A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Drez scratches his turntables as MC Yogi waxes poetic live to bring out the best in each member of the tribe through personal anecdotes. Highlights include the group tree pose as well as the rhythmic, inspirational stories from MC Yogi’s recent pilgrimage. Arrive early to grab a spot in the shade and cure your “truth decay with some mental floss.”

2:30 PM | Brahma Nirvana Tent in BlissLand

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Summers in Virginia can be brutally hot. Pack along sunscreen and invest in a hammock. Hang it along the trees by the creek and you’ll forget about the sweltering 90-degree heat. It’s a wonderful way to relax, as well as to meet a new friendly face and enjoy the lush scenery and cool breezes that surround you. If you forgot a hammock, one of the shop stands sells locally-crafted ones to create a nap-worthy swing.

Open 24 Hours | Any tree along the creek

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Floyd YogaJam showcases a variety of local talents, particularly through its food and drink tents. Buffalo Mountain Kombucha is Floyd’s first kombuchery and offers two refreshing flavors: hibiscus pomegranate and ginger fizz. Kombucha is a tea beverage that boasts a plentiful supply of probiotics that provide healing benefits and is great for rejuvenating your muscles after a long day of yoga workshops and slacklining. The crisp carbonated flavors will tickle your senses and complement the cool, evening atmosphere.

Hours Vary | Buffalo Mountain Kombucha Tent in BlissLand

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The JamLand arena is an open forum for dancing as freely as possible. From the lively folk melodies of the Ragbirds to the electrifying neon light display of MC Yogi’s experimental mantra-studded hip-hop, it’s almost impossible to sit down. As the sun has set, dancing with your fellow yogis in the cool atmosphere around you is a great way to keep warm during the evening performances. You’ll be surrounded by fire dancers and aerial silk acrobats. Other notable acts include the Deer Run Drifters, Dave Stringer, and Spoon Fight.

Evenings from 6:00 PM and to Midnight | JamLand

SUNDAY

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Floyd YogaJam provides many opportunities to try something new and exciting. Head to SlackLine Park in JamLand to try your hand at the growingly popular art of slacklining. You’ll learn how to synchronize breath control with balance while simultaneously deepening your yoga practice. Don’t let the idea of attempting an arm balance pose on a 1-inch thick cord intimidate you. Hop into a Slackasana class and you may surprise yourself with a newfound sense of empowerment and balance.

Times Vary | JamLand SlackLine Park

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Continue the energy flow with a piping hot cup of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster coffee. Brewed locally in Floyd’s downtown area, the company seeks to serve customers nothing but the freshest organic roasts. Delicious black or with a hint of milk or flavoring, each sip is sure to invigorate and energize your senses before you delve into a prana-focused yoga workshop. Take a bag of the Funky Chicken or Farmhouse blend home with you as a delicious souvenir.

Times Vary | Red Rooster Coffee Roaster Tent in BlissLand

36 Hours in Rome

Juxtaposing the old with the new, the Eternal City is one that never ceases to excite. Whether you are inside a café invigorating your senses with the stimulating rush of espresso or at a local outdoor market flocked by natives whose workers fold ribbons of pink prosciutto into a succulent sandwich, each day in Rome provides a unique experience that will consume and enchant you. Characterized by two millennia of vibrant culture and passion for la bella vita, Rome is abuzz from the moment the sun peeks through the trees shading the Tiber River. From the mesmerizing fresco walls and elaborate domes of a cathedral tucked in a piazza to zipping mopeds you dodge as you weave your way around the cobblestone streets that lead to ancient ruins, Rome is a heart pulsating with spectacular endeavors that invites you to explore its chambers.

FRIDAY

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When the sun hovers over Rome in the late afternoon, Piazza Navona and its treasures of Sant’Agnese church and Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers become radiant. The pale sunflower Sant’Agnese is almost transparent in the cerulean sky, and there is a golden glow about the cupola. The Egyptian obelisk atop Bernini’s masterpiece has hieroglyphic carvings along its sides that are visible without squinting in the sun. The square has a diminished crowd, making it a perfect opportunity to see Piazza Navona during a less congested time.

Piazza Navona 56-84 | Open Daily, 24/7

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Rome is renowned for its beautiful sunsets, and it is best viewed from the Ponte Garibaldi. This presents the Eternal City in a calmer state and is a wonderful time to reflect on all of the hustle and bustle. The salmon pink sky and the shadows of the surrounding city reflect on the surface of the water. The dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica is illuminated with its night-lights that project over the immensity of Rome. It is a stunning transition into the nighttime when its vibrant culture is alive in full force.

Ponte Garibaldi | Lungotevere degli Anguillara

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Tantalize your tastebuds with cucina Romana at Testaccio’s trattoria Flavio al Velavevodetto. Tucked behind greenery on Via di Monte, chef Flavio de Maio’s tavern is a favorite of food-savvy locals. The lively staff zips in and out of the low-set vaulted ceilings and mazelike cocci walls as they endow guests with hearty portions of traditional Roman delicacies. Not to be missed are the trippa alla romana—simmered animal stomach in a rich tomato sauce—or their cacio e pepe—pasta in a pepper and cheese sauce. Also not to be missed is their highly acclaimed tiramisu, which is a creamy coffee wonderland encased in a martini glass.

Flavio al Velavevodetto | Via di Monte Testaccio 97 | http://www.flavioalvelavevodetto.it+39 06 5744194 | Casual; Reservations Recommended | Open Daily, 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

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Jumpstart the day with an early morning run along the Tiber River, when the city is just waking up and the air is cool and light. Start with Ponte Palatino on your right, on the Trastevere side. As you run along Lungotevere towards the Vatican, take a right to cross Ponte Sant’Angelo and let Bernini’s angelic statues cheer you on. Another right and down Lungotevere, head back to the opposite side of Ponte Palatino and stop to behold the oldest Roman stone bridge, Ponte Rotto. The broken, ivy-covered bridge is like a lost city in the shadow of the Tiber Island. Kudos to you, as you’ve also tucked five miles under your belt.

Ponte Palatino | Lungotevere delgi Alberteschi | Open Daily, 24/7

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Il Nuovo Mercato is a gastronome’s paradise. It’s not a tourist market, but rather an honest, working-class market with a selection that will amaze you if you’re used to more limited assortment of products found in American markets. In addition to the fresh, colorful meat and produce packed into many of its 103 stalls, there are critically acclaimed street food stalls such as Mordi e Vai, which is famous for its sandwiches filled with cucina Romana. Il Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio is a place where culture fuses with the lives of the locals.

Il Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio | Via Beniamino Franklin 12 | Open Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

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Afternoon siestas aren’t just reserved for Spaniards. Head to the Borghese gardens for a little rest and relaxation beneath a canopy of greenery and ancient Roman ruins. It is an ambience perfect for escaping the business of the city as well as the hoards of tourists. Spread a blanket on one of the grassy knolls and share panini and a bottle of Chianti. Walk along the pebbly pathways and discover the charming secret gardens dotted throughout, or delight your inner art junkie in the “villa of delights” as you behold the various pieces of artwork. Villa Borghese is an invigorating breath of fresh air and a free pass to beat the heat and unwind.

Villa Borghese Gardens | Viale dell’Aranciera 11

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Among the kebab stands and ancient obelisks dispersed throughout the piazzas, Middle-Eastern influence further extends to Sciam. Ranked one of the best hookah bars in Europe, it’s an eclectic hookah lounge that transports its clientele into an Arabian utopia. Rustic jeweled Turkish lamps hang from the ceiling, and seductive sounds from Syria are the backdrop for conversation over a glass of chilled lemon and mint tea. The sweet aroma of Jordanian hookah tobacco lingers in the air through the various nooks lined by woven pillows and intricate Persian tapestries, further immersing its hip clientele in a souk of secrets and shisha. 

Sciam | Via del Pellegrino 56 | Dietro Campo de’Fiori | +39 06 68308957 | Open Daily 3:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.

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If you’re thirsty for a unique aperitivo, head to Trastevere’s 8millimetri bar. As colorful as the neighborhood in which it resides, the walls of 8millimetri are covered in artsy doodles and bottles of syrup and liquor. Its Super8 menu poses eight special drinks that are as flavorful as the bartenders who mix them. Tequila poured over Tabasco and sugar in a glass lined with absinthe is garnished with a sundried chili pepper, and is sure to spice up the evening. Also not to be missed is the Rum Rhapsody, which is garnished with a grapefruit wedge that is set on fire before served.

8millimetri | Via del Moro 8 | +39 06 64562508 | Open Daily, 6:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.

SUNDAY

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One of the most characteristic aspects of Roman culture is the heart and soul artisans pour into their craft. At Oriani on Via Torre Argentina, Rosario De Simone puts his into making a custom-fitted sandal. De Simone embraces his customers into his cozy 20-foot-long by 3-foot-wide shop and within fifteen minutes, patiently whittles colorful bands of leather into a sole that can bear the strain of the cobblestone streets. At just around 70 euros a pair and a plethora of styles and colors to choose from, women can take home a keepsake made classic by the legendary style icon Jackie Onassis Kennedy.

 Oriani Gioielli | Via Torre Argentina 43A | http://www.orianigioielli.itInfo: email info@orianigioielli.it | Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., tentatively | Sunday, dependent on weather

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Gelato is a renowned favorite for its smooth, creamy texture and decadent flavor. There is a gelateria in each piazza, but the challenge is to separate the fake from the real deal. At Gelateria del Teatro, there are neither gimmicks nor puffy foot-tall mounds of artificial neon imposters. Visitors can watch as artisanal flavors like lavender and white peach or ricotta, almond, and fig are crafted by hand with local, fresh ingredients. The coronary artery is vital to the heart’s function, and on Via dei Coronari, gelato at Gelateria del Teatro is the heart of authenticity.

Gelateria del Teatro | Via dei Coronari 65 | +39 06 45474880 |Open Daily 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.

Trippa and Tribulations

There it was, nestled under a list of typical Roman entrées. Fully embracing “doing as the Romans do,” I pointed to trippa alla romana and said, “Questo.” 

“You do know that that is animal stomach, don’t you?” the waiter asked, smirking.

I ignored his qualms and insisted on being adventurous. I’m in Rome. Isn’t Italy known for its food?

Upon first impressions, I understood why my server had been unconvincing about my selection. The sauce was blood red and the slivers of tripe looked like a cross between newly hatched albino snakes and shriveled squid tentacles. A few bites in, and all I could say was that the sauce was, at the very least, palatable.

After learning of this, famed food and travel blogger Gina Tringali smiled and said, “Wow, you really will try just about anything.”

Regardless of the freshman experience, I was determined to undertake the challenge of finding the best strips of simmered stomach with which to fill my own.

Not-So-Fit for Kings

Little did I know that the cultivation of the recipes for tripe and other classic Roman dishes had much history behind them.

In ancient times, nobility feasted on the best cuts of meat while the working class was paid with the butcher’s rejects. They then gathered this offal to craft a satisfying meal using fresh seasonal ingredients.

Roman-style tripe was one of the many inventions of the working-class, created from the fruit of a slaughterhouse wasteland. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

Roman-style tripe was created from the fruit of a slaughterhouse wasteland. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

Some dishes were even reserved for certain days of the week. Trippa was the Saturday Night Special, while gnocchi tantalized taste buds on Thursdays.

Although originally intended for peasants, the flavors of trippa alla romana are anything but humble, and every step of preparation is precise.

Notes of onion and garlic, traces of carrots and celery, the warmth of cloves, and the hint of mint intensify the body and complexity of the slowly simmered tomato sauce that settles in the honeycombed pockets of the strips of stomach. Pecorino or Parmesan cheeses pack a flavorful punch, and the final texture is much like that of grilled octopus or extremely al dente pasta.

The passion for culture and tradition erupts from every building and cobblestone alleyway of Rome today, particularly through cuisine. As recipes for trippa alla romana passed through generations of family, tradition was preserved by inventing modern takes on the classic dish.

Traipsing through Testaccio

Both Tringali and distinguished Rome-based food blogger Katie Parla pointed me to Testaccio for the best trippa to try, tourist traps not included.

Testaccio has been the cornerstone of trade and Rome’s slaughterhouse district for two millennia. Trademarked by a mountain of ancient broken amphorae, it was the birthplace of trippa alla romana and other traditional recipes. Testaccio is called Cuore di Roma— the heart of Rome— yet is often overlooked despite its dense history.

For those who venture south of Aventine Hill, it offers an invigorating gastronomic experience that rhythmically beats with the passion for life and quality ingredients. It has a thriving culinary scene and serves authenticity aficionados the most innovative and traditional foods.

Just beyond the Jewish Ghetto district, Testaccio is both a hip and historical mecca for those seeking flavorful meals and conversations. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

After multiple tasting trials in other districts, Testaccio reigns sovereign due to the pedigree and proximity of its slaughterhouses, such as Macelleria Sartor Daniele in the Nuovo Mercato. These restaurants and street vendors have garnered a loyal entourage that return weekly to get their hands on genuine cucina Romana.

For those on the go, chefs at Trapizzino and Mordi e Vai craft the perfect portable panini. If a full-course Roman dinner is more up to speed, locals flock to Flavio al Velavevodetto.Through conversations with the masterminds about their heirloom recipes for tripe, I found that each chef’s versions were inherently different despite presentation under the same moniker. Visits to Testaccio thus ensure unique experiences.

Tripe Trifecta

At Trapizzino, strict attention to detail is key in preparation. Using the freshest cuts of tripe from the nearby macelleria, strips are soaked for hours in pecorino cheese and Roman mint. Various genera of tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil are then added to the mixture and simmered as a unit.

Owner Stefano Callegari opened Trapizzino in 2008 after extensive experience of running pizzerias and studying street food. A worker behind the counter explains that the name “Trapizzino” is a play on words, as she gestures to the triangular slice of pizza bread she transforms into an Italian pita pocket by stuffing it with fresh-from-the-pot trippa alla romana.

At Trapizzino, those in line watch as their fresh cucina Romana is prepared in front of them with local ingredients. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

Those in line at Trapizzino watch as their fresh cucina Romana is prepared in front of them with local ingredients. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

She describes Callegari’s biggest success as juxtaposing old and new by making a classic accessible any time of day. It is taking bite out of history with a modern reminder of tradition.

Down the road in Testaccio’s Nuovo Mercato is Mordi e Vai, nestled into box 15 among other street food stalls.

Just like at Trapizzino, queues of native Italians wrap around the corner, each waiting to grab a warm panino filled with chef and owner Sergio Esposito’s trippa. It has a chicken-like texture and each bite is consecutively more satisfying.

Esposito’s take is as enticing and portable as Callegari’s. Situated behind his stall, Esposito doles out hearty portions of his critically acclaimed street tripe.

Chef Sergio Esposito serves up an innovative way to carry a delectable part of Roman culture on the go at Morde e Vai. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

“This is a very old family recipe of many years. It is close to my heart,” he says, pointing to a pot of tomato sauce.

Esposito incorporates a special type of mint that gives each bite a crisp zing, distinguishing its flavor. The final touch is sprinkled Parmesan and pecorino cheeses before folding the stomach tissue into a delicious and portable sandwich.

In the evening, a flavorful dinner awaits at Testaccio osteria Flavio al Velavevodetto. Cool summer breezes drifting through dual-level outdoor terraces create an ambience that embraces gastronomes into its organ-like chambers.

The outdoor terraces at Flavio al Velavevodetto create an intimate atmosphere that complements the Italian custom of quality dining with good company. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

The outdoor terraces at Flavio al Velavevodetto create an intimate atmosphere that complements the Italian custom of quality dining with good company. Photo by Ashley Hamati.

Tucked behind greenery on Via di Monte, chef Flavio de Maio’s tavern oozes authenticity. The lively staff zips in and out under the low-set vaulted ceilings and between mazelike cocci walls as they endow guests with hearty portions of traditional Roman delicacies.

Their trippa is as flavorful as it is fairly priced and aesthetically appealing. The sweet, savory tomato sauce was filled with the fresh-picked flavor of pomodori from the vine with carrots and celery enhancing to the colorful visual display. More importantly, the gently curved slivers did not appear the least bit intimidating.

It was also clear that meticulous measures were taken to ensure the consistency. At Flavio, the spongy strips are so tender that they can be sliced with the side of a fork, while at the first touristy trattoria I found myself sawing with the vigor of a woodsman to hack off a bite-size sliver with a knife.

A friend of mine was even pleasantly surprised. “It tastes just like grilled calamari!” she said.

The presentation is also beautifully executed. One look around the room and my qualms of appearing as a kooky food blogger were quieted in seeing other food-savvy Romans snapping shots of their suppers. Atmospheric lighting and lively Italian conversation set the soundtrack to my organ meat odyssey as a whole.

Curious Epicurean

While the household names of pasta and pizza are commonplace in any American-in-Italy’s vocabulary, classic dishes remain unsung heroes of cultivating a more worldly palate. The allure of the traditional trippa alla romana di Testaccio lies within the creativity and passion of transforming the unwanted offal into a satisfying meal.

Tripe is likely the last choice in mind when it’s nestled on a menu between cacio e pepe and carbonara, whose relationship with “Italian food” is analogous with that of Roman Holiday and cult classic films about Italy. However, its unparalleled history has an enticing quality that reels in those hungry for the real deal.

Although Hepburn famously samples gelato on the base of the Spanish Steps, I found I prefer to walk down the path less traveled by tourists to Testaccio to send my senses on a new Roman holiday and culinary escapade that evolved out of survival and passion for la bella vita.

WHERE TO GO

Flavio al Velavevodetto|Via di Monte, Testaccio 97, 00153 Roma|Tel. +39 06 574 6841|http://flavioalvelavevodetto.it

Trapizzino Testaccio|Via Giovanni Branca, Testaccio 88, 00153 Roma|Tel. +39 06 4341 9624|http://trapizzino.it

Mordi e Vai|Via B. Franklin, 12 E (Nuovo Mercato Testaccio), Box 15, 00153 Roma|Tel. 3391343344|http://mordievai.it

gettin’ saucy with it

You’d be lying if “pasta” wasn’t one of the first things to pop into your mind when thinking of Italy.

A few nights ago, our group convened in the gardens of the Pantheon Institute for a potluck dinner. Some of my friends brought decadent desserts from artisan sweetshops while others provided pizza from a marble-top oven pizzeria in Trastevere. Then there were some, myself included, who opted to channel our inner Giada De Laurentiis’.

While I’ve perused the pages of her personality-filled Everyday Italian cookbook, I used one of my all-time favorite references: my mother. Before I embarked on the nine hour flight to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, she left the pages of my little blue Book of Brilliant Ideas filled with a few recipes to try my hand at if I took a trip to the markets (Ed. note: among emergency contact lists and endless copies of my boarding passes and passport).

After class, my friend Molly and I noshed on the idea of cooking pasta with homemade sauces. A walk to the Conad in Trastevere, 30 euros, and 45 minutes later, we strolled back to the Pantheon Institute with flimsy grocery bags towering over our heads stuffed with the freshest ingredients.

My tomato sauce á la Mama Hamati was a huge hit, as the sides of the pan were licked clean in the aftermath of our dinner. In addition to being incredibly simple to make, it doubles as a dip for fresh bread toasted with an olive oil drizzle and is quite healthy. The sawwce is the souwwce of life, so without further ado, here’s the recipe: (Ed. Notes & Cautions — spicy and made for a party of 16. Many tomatoes were harmed in the making of this sauce.)

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INGREDIENTS:
> A variety of tomatoes — (I used four or five different types, including both cherry and regular. It’s entirely up to you)
> Olive oil — (I guesstimate; you need enough to cover the large flat pan but I also added a little more here and there to give it body)
> 1 can of tomato paste
> Fresh parsley, chopped
> Fresh basil, chopped
> Chili oil, ~2 tbsp
> Oregano, to taste
> Salt, to taste
> Black pepper, to taste
> Crushed red pepper, to taste
> Paprika, to taste
> Rosemary, to taste
> 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed — (I used a travel-sized mini garlic press from Sur La Table, which you can get here)

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PRET A MANGER:
> Wash and chop the tomatoes into a variety of sizes. It really depends on how chunky you want your sauce, which aids to the simplicity of this. I halved the smallest tomatoes, and for the larger ones (of which I only used two), I thinly sliced them, quartered them, and halved them until I had smaller-than-bite-sized cubes. Set aside.
> In a large frying pan, pour olive oil to coat the base and turn a stove to medium or low heat, stirring. (Ed Note: I played around with the heat levels in creating this– fluctuating between medium and low as needed. Whenever the garlic was ready, I turned off the heat completely. I only ever turned it back on to low/lowest setting when I added the tomatoes/paste just to make sure all was well mixed.)
> Finely chop garlic.
> Add garlic, being careful not to singe it; you want it lightly sautéed. Keep stirring lightly.
> Add the tomatoes, continuing to stir with a spatula or wooden spoon.
> Drizzle a little more olive oil and ~2 tbsp chili oil, and add a couple pinches of salt to taste, stirring.
> Add the contents of 1 can tomato paste and mix well with the tomatoes. (Ed. Note: at this point, I’d turned off the heat completely)
> Add the peppers, paprika, dry rosemary, a little more salt to taste, and any excess garlic as necessary, stirring.
> Garnish with basil and parsley, let cool. A bottle of vini bianchi, a side of pane e insalate Caprese, some good company, and you’re in business. Buon appetito!

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gelatamoré

Among the most accessible of Roman delicacies such as pizza or espresso, gelato is a renowned favorite, not just for its refreshing powers in the summer heat, but also for its flavor and smooth, creamy texture. From Trastevere to Monti to the Vatican City, there is almost a guarantee to be at least one gelateria on each piazza. 

The crossroads for travelers then becomes one of which path leads to glacé heaven and which leads to a folly tourist trap. Food and travel blogger Eleonora Baldwin agrees, revealing the most obvious giveaway (apart from sweaty sightseers donning Indiana-Jones-meets-Hawaiian-safari attire) for gimmicky gelato as having an overly puffed and unnaturally technicolored presence. “When it’s that big and puffy, it’s not authentic, fresh gelato. For all you know it could be recycled from a week or so ago.”

As aesthetically pleasing as it is delectable, this is the real deal.

As aesthetically pleasing as it is delectable, this is the real deal.

With the euro trumping the U.S. dollar, the last thing any foodie wants to do is drop five bad boys on aesthetically deceiving, subpar gelato.

Luckily, Gelateria del Teatro is sure to garner a standing ovation for not only its authenticity and diverse flavor combinations but also for its quality. In fact, passersby can palpably visualize the quality through the window as they watch employees craft the flavors by hand with the freshest ingredients.

An employee blends fresh lemons to create a beautiful flavor.

An employee blends fresh lemons to create a beautiful flavor.

After a sweltering tour through the Vatican Museum, my professor treated us few brave souls who dared to walk from the Vatican to our classroom by the Pantheon to Gelateria del Teatro, known for some of the best gelato in Rome.

As soon as I saw it nestled on Via del Coronari among handmade leather goods shops and artisan restaurants, I believed them. Furthermore, the line was almost out the door and almost every customer was engaged in an animated and entirely Italian conversation. “This,” said my professor, grinning from ear to ear, gesturing at the grand parade of flavors, “is where it’s at. This is where the locals go.”

My mouth began to water at the sight of flavors such as Sicilian pistachio, sage and raspberry, and ricotta with cherry and amaretto. There were so many options it was hard to narrow it down to just the two we were allotted. My selection of ricotta with almond and honey and lavender with white peach brought me straight to sorbet Shangri-La.

Ciao, bella!

Ciao, bella!

With two locations at Via del Coronari and Lungotevere del Vallati, your ticket to gourmet gelato is upgraded to first class. Superb service and seasonal flavors are guaranteed to make dessert a definite decision. I know for certain another trip will be due to try the chocolate infused with Nero d’Avola wine.

bartenders and brews and brains, oh my

Whoever said that all good stories start with someone walking into a pub was an absolute genius.

Trying to beat the scorching 94-degree hellfire weather seemingly blasting from ancient times, two of my friends and I found refuge in the air-conditioned Trinity College pub. We immediately ordered ourselves a pint of either Smithwicks and Carlsberg and sighed with relief.

Trinity College pub proved to be more than a healthy selection of brews.

Trinity College pub proved to be more than a healthy selection of brews.

Ciao, beautiful girls,” greeted the young bartender, who then seemed to display complete shock upon discovering we were American.

“There’s no way you’re American…you’re not fat, ugly, or obnoxious,” he said, “but I know you Americans will want the wi-fi password, so here, I write it down for you.”

He continued to chat with us and joke around with us but I couldn’t help but think, Is that really what Europeans think of Americans? I didn’t want that to be the main impression, but thankfully he delved into the topic a little more without me even having to ask.

Our bartender, who had lived in San Diego for a few years, said that his main problem with Americans is that we are ignorant of our rights, especially when it comes to the government.

“You know, you have [GMO] food that your government puts out for you in the store, and you don’t know what you are eating,” he said. “Especially here [in Italy], we know our food hasn’t been tampered with.”

A signature smirk from our charismatic philosopher of a bartender.

A signature smirk from our charismatic philosopher of a bartender.

Upon discovering we were here in Rome studying journalism and travel writing, he said, “You see, in Italy, at least we know that we are…controlled by government with journalism. You think you have freedom of speech but you don’t.”

It was interesting to me mostly because he was able to verbalize his thoughts, but when he asked us if we had any concrete negative impressions of Italy, we couldn’t pinpoint one that rivaled the educated notions he had. Lack of air conditioning and iced coffee seemed very trivial to mention in comparison to a general lack of awareness about our authoritative rights.

He then told us about two documentaries about journalists and politics that he said would further stimulate our brains on this topic.

After about an hour of deeply intriguing conversation, the beer bubble that surrounded the four of us popped and we continued on with our day. I’ve come to realize a trend in Roma: walk into the most unassuming building and exit reborn with a new perspective (and a loose wallet, as we tipped him heavily).