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Tag Archives: Villa Borghese

Weekend Miscellany

18 May
Friday night we undertook to make dinner for some Italian friends. I am still a bit nervous about making Italian food for Italians, so we built a “Mediterranean Menu,” incorporating preparations from Sicily and the Middle East, with a left turn to France for dessert. It turned into THE GREAT GARLIC DINNER: with the exception of dessert, there was garlic in every course. I had not planned the menu to be so. Only in the implementation did I realize how much the little wonders were incorporated. Luckily each person was a garlic fiend.
Gigi, Eleonora, me and Emanuela. Why do I always forget to take pictures of the food?

Gigi, Eleonora, me and Emanuela. Why do I always forget to take pictures of the food?

We started with pancetta-wrapped garlic, which must be tried to be believed. Our guests had never seen garlic nor pancetta treated this way. Even our vegetarian guest downed several of the savory cloves. Of course olives were present, also in a garlicky/spicy treatment. Antipasti included balsamic-roasted red-peppers, hummus, and Ric’s very wonderful Sicilian caponata, also with an adequate amount of the pungent bulbs. Served with hot, crispy-crusted-tender-inside focaccia we probably could have quit eating at this point. Ma è non finisce qui! (But wait, there’s more!) The garlic-fest continued with garlic-crusted rombo and rosemary potatoes with olives and –  you guessed it – garlic!
Rombo

Rombo

The rombo is a type of flat-fish, a member of the turbot family. I used to make this recipe with halibut in Portland. In fact it is a recipe our son taught me. Although Italian has a word for halibut, ippoglosso, you cannot get the fish fresh. So I asked at the pescheria what type of fish might work as a substitute and the rombo was the considered decision.  I was quite flattered at the fish shop to be asked how I would prepare scallops. There was another customer there contemplating scallops as they were on special and according to the fishmonger Italians only have one way of making them: baked with breadcrumbs, a sort of Coquilles St. Jacques. He knew an American (between my accent and my marginal Italian it’s easy to tell that I am) would have other preparations so we had quite a 3-way conversation about pan-frying, in cream-sauce with mushrooms, stir-fried in an Asian style, etc. This is constant conversation in Italy wherever food is sold: How are you going to prepare that? Everyone has an idea and the exchange is quite interesting and informative. I am glad my Italian is now at a level where I can participate. But I digress…. The fish is spread with roasted garlic, then sprinkled with herb-seasoned panko, and broiled for a very few minutes. Yum!
The potato recipe came from my friend Heather’s aunt, and is a real winner, perfect with this fish. New potatoes, two kinds of chopped olives, roasted garlic, herbs and olive oil = fantastic! No ketchup required.
We finished the evening with a very French pots di crème served with fresh whipped cream,the intense chocolate being a fine counter-point to the savory dinner.
At the very elegant Villa Taverna gardens. I was so wrapped up in the auction, wine and food, I forgot to take pictures. This was the cake-topper.

At the very elegant Villa Taverna gardens. I was so wrapped up in the auction, wine and food that I forgot to take pictures. This was the cake-topper.

Of course that was only Friday. The gastro-fest continued at the annual embassy auction at the ambassador’s residence, Villa Taverna.  Because U.S. government procurement law does not allow taxpayer money to be spent on employee functions, each year the Community Liaison Office holds an auction to raise funds to allow a couple of parties for staff, morale-boosting efforts for the Marine Security Guard, such as visits by their parents, and so on. The auction is a big deal, with great food and an opportunity to spend money. So of course we did. It looks like we have a couple of weekend trips ahead, including 3 nights at an agriturismo in the Brunello di Montalcino region.
Ric and me in our little risciò, perfect for touring the park. V.B. is the largest public park in Rome.

Ric and me in our little risciò, perfect for touring the park. V.B. is the largest public park in Rome.

Sunday we decided it was finally time to rent a risciò in Villa Borghese. A risciò is a pedal-cart for two-to-four adults and two little ones. It is power-assisted so you don’t kill yourself pedaling, but it does take some thigh power to get around. We have a mind to take our young great-nephew and great-niece for an outing when they are here in August, so we thought a trial run would be a good idea. What a fun way to see the park! We walk through V.B. almost daily, but there are parts of the park we never get to see. So Susan and John, when you two are off seeing the Vatican Museums, we may be cycling your kids through the park.
Anyone who knows Ric knows that pizza is a weekly menu item, usually on Friday night. Since we had company Friday and the auction Saturday, we had to push pizza to Sunday night, so very shortly we’ll be off our local pizzeria to feed the need. Great way to wrap up the weekend!
The lake in Villa Borghese. Very small, but quite sweet.

The lake in Villa Borghese. Very small, but quite sweet.

Hope you all had fun this weekend too!
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Villa Borghese goes New Jersey

5 Apr
I traverse Villa Borghese almost every night on my way home from work. In fact I traverse it almost every morning too. It’s a very nice commute.  Last night, in the  pleasant light of the 6 o’clock hour, I happened upon an odd scene: two old cars and a group of strangely dressed people milling about.  Cars are not allowed in this part of the park, and these were clearly 60’s era and not in good shape. The people were dressed in a style befitting conservative working-class Americans of the era: purses, hairdos, men’s jackets all reflective of my childhood. As I approached it became clear I had happened upon a movie set, not uncommon around Rome. I passed the scene then turned to look back for a photo op and this is what I saw:
Where the heck are we?

Where the heck are we?

I have no idea what movie is being filmed.  I think the scene is supposed to look like a couple of cars have broken down or had an incident in the New Jersey woods. Perhaps one of my Italy-based readers can tell me what movie it might be.
Actors - note the hairstyle of the guy on the right. I wish I'd gotten a shot of the women: headscarves, handbags and up-dos.

Actors – note the hairstyle of the guy on the right, I wish I’d gotten a shot of the women: headscarves, handbags and up-dos.

Distant shot of the set

Distant shot of the set

One of the vintage cars on the set in Villa Borghese.

One of the vintage cars on the set in Villa Borghese.

The Streets of Rome

22 Apr

Rome is ever-changing and full of surprises. Around almost every corner is not only a bit of history, but also encounters with people, art, and experiences that are in contrast with the setting. Sometimes it is a statue that has been there for years and years…

Statue

…but frequently we see performance art or installations that are more temporary.

Walking through the Villa Borghese one sunny Saturday in January, we happened upon a temporary installation of warriors on horseback, along with this rather unusual giant head. All made of a lightweight resin, I think. A few weeks later they had vanished.

Warriors on horseback

This installation was in Villa Borghese near Piazza Napoleone in January. Now it’s gone…

 

Terracotta head

Part of the same installation as the warriors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day in Piazza del Popolo, there was live art for Carnivale.

Street performers

Many things to be found happen in Piazza del Popolo: Trains, politicians, concerts, street performers.

And yet another, this duo entertaining a crowd with a Zen-like balancing act.

Yes, also in Piazza del Popolo.

Yes, also in Piazza del Popolo.

My favorite of late was walking into Piazza del Popolo on a Saturday and finding a shiny-red train engine on display with a backdrop of churches from the 17th century.

Frecciaroosso engine

21st Century train, 17th Century piazza

Frequently on my way to work I see this lovely parade of horses being exercised.

Cavelli di polizia

Many days the police exercise their horses, parading up the Via Veneto into Villa Borghese.

Yesterday we took a walk up Monte Mario, the highest hill in Rome at 139m (456 ft). Lovely day, fluffy clouds, not too hot, great view of Rome from above, and this.

Monte Mario

Jeans drying in the sun, Parco Riserva Monte Mario

 

Never boring!

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