Mangia! Mangia!

After our first holiday dinner party with friends we said that we had to do it again. Of course organizing multiple families to find a date that is free for everyone is pretty difficult, so it happened that it took until April to get together again.

porchetta

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I wanted to try out making out a porchetta again so i made it an Italian theme. I roasted a 3lb roast with 3lbs of pork belly for a few hours and it came out delicious. I wasn’t sure if everyone was going to be ok just going at it with their hands so i also bought some rolls, arugula, and grilled onions to make some sandwiches. Robin made a spicy sausage pasta, Jimmy bought some pasta from Costco, Teresa made some fruit tarts, and of course Tiffany made more desserts of Nutella Cookies, and Strawberry Italian Ice.

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Besides Jimmy being new to the dinner, we also got to meet Lailani, Andy and Jen’s newborn baby. Andy texted me all day to make sure the dinner was still happening because he was going to man up and take the kid out all by himself. Jen had to work the night shift so Andy was all on his own and he did a pretty good job and i think he got a few bites of food in before he had to attend to the awake baby.

I had to cut my time at the dinner short, because i had to catch a flight to New York at 11:30pm. I can’t wait for the next one in the summer.

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When in Rome …

 do as the Romans … hey where are all the Romans at?

The sites of Rome hit you right as you enter the city and at every turn there’s some old building or ruin that looks really important. The streets are lined with building from different eras of Roms’s past and it can be all confusing when you’re dropped into the middle of it. The biggest thing that i noticed was that the city is full of tourists and all the shops and restaurants seem to know this. All the restaurants around where we were staying and going offered the same Pizza, Pasta and Cola combo.

We bought a Roma Pass at the train station which gave us access to the Public transportation for the time we were there and allowed us access to two sites for free. The first one had to be the Colosseum which sits right in the middle of the city with all the city’s roads seem to converge to. There were crowds of tourist milling around outside and just as many local tour guides trying to hustle you to use them as a way to get in without waiting and getting tour guide in one. The Roma Pass line wasn’t that long and just had to squeeze through the different lines to get in.

Once inside there are multiple levels that you can walk around and see what it was like to be a Roman citizen watching different events from Gladiator fights, Execution by Lions, and even shows put on by the Government. It was really some screwed up entertainment as most of the people in the arenas were slaves, and animals from conquered lands. The floor of the arena were filled with sand so it could soak up the blood of the combatants. We probably spent an hour or so inside and headed out to lunch afterwards.

To get away from all the bad food around the sites we had to go to some extraordinary measures to get some good food. We basically did the Bourdain tour and headed out of the city to the suburbs to find i porchettoni for some Porchetta. The journey there was a little sketchy but once we were in, it was well worth it.

There’s one old man, picnic tables and Italian variety shows on the television. We ordered a few 100 grams of porchetta, and scarfed it down with the table bread and of course a cold glass of Peroni Beer. The skin was nice and crispy and the meat tender full of herbs.

For dessert we headed back across the city for another Bourdain stop Gelateria Dei Gracchi where we learned that you typically get two scoops of gelato per order but didn’t know that so Joy ended up getting a double scoop of Coffee and i got a double scoop of Pear. We learned our lesson for the rest of our time in Italy and tasted many many scoops of gelato.

After refueled and sugared up we headed back out into Touristland and went to the Spanish Steps where everyone else decided to go at the very same time. People were just hanging out on the steps all the way up to the top so it lost its appeal to me right then and there.

One thing really cool is that throughout the city there are these water fountains that provides cold drinkable water so if you ever get thirsty you don’t have to go to the store to get some bottled water. It really helps when you’re travelling through random streets and not really knowing where you are going because the streets signage is weak at best and streets don’t have a rhyme or reason for how they’re laid out. From the Spanish Steps we headed to the Pantheon, Four Rivers Fountain before heading back to our home.

For dinner we decided to skip out on the tourist traps so we went to the market and picked up some meats, cheese, and olives and had a picnic by the Trevi Fountain. This place was also filled with lots of people just hanging out, with lots of street peddlers trying to sell everything from tripods, to Polaroid pictures to spinning flying light up things. A long day of walking around the city had us turn in for the night after eating dinner..