During my recent trip to Rome, I was invited along on one of the foodie tours ran by The Roman Foodie and The Roman Guy. There I was, taking to Twitter to share the excitement about my upcoming break, when the lovely lot asked if I'd like to give their local Roman experience a go. Naturally, I accepted the challenge. Who wouldn't want to go on a restaurant crawl around a beautiful Italian city? I hope you aren't hungry, because this post will make you want to book a flight to Rome. Or at the very least, order a pizza.
The food tour experience began at Piazza Farnese at around 5pm, where we met Jen and another family taking the tour. They were a lovely couple from Texas who had brought their children along. With such a small group, we were lucky to chat away and get to know each other pretty quickly - plus all the more food for us!
The tour began as a Roman local's day might - with breakfast. We stopped by Forno Campo de'Fiori, forno meaning baked or bakery, to sample a ciambelline al vino. These hard, doughnut-like biscuits are made with wine, and are often enjoyed with a cappuccino. The biscuits, which were non alcoholic by the way, had a crunchy layer of sugar on top that reminded me of a Nice biscuit. We were also informed that a cappuccino after midday was a big faux-pas, so I avoided this for the rest of the holiday as to keep up the Italian facade.
Next up was a classic starter enjoyed with a bit of fizz. Bruschetta with Prosecco of course. On the tour, you're likely to try around 6-8 dishes with a glass of bubbles and wine along the way - they definitely kept their promise. The tomatoes on the bruschetta were out of this world, whilst the artichoke cream inspired me to try it once I was back home. (Which I did).
Ready for more, we went for a short walk to Forna La Renella to experience the classic margarita. Everyone had their own take on the legend of the margherita, but I like to believe that it was made with the colours of the Italian tricolour to impress Queen Margherita during her visit to Italy. Whoever invented it, I salute you.
We pottered around the same area (I say pottered, I visited in 37 degree heat), and Jen showed us a local cafe which is flying the flag for organic and vegan produce in Rome. The establishment sold a variety of organic wines, beers and fresh vegetables too. I would assume it's pretty difficult to be vegan in Rome with all those lashings of mozzarella, parmesan shavings and fresh egg pasta, but it's nice to see vegan friendly cafes dotted about.
Here again we tried some delicious tomato, aubergine and artichoke nibbles and some freshly squeezed juices.
We were now on our merry way across the river to the more traditional side of Rome - the Trastevere. With rows of pastel houses along quaint cobbled streets, here you'll find family run restaurants and a real taste of Rome, and at a reasonable price too. We went back to enjoy a full size pizza here for just 3 Euros! But more on that in my later Rome instalments. For now, it's all about the pasta.
Carbonara in particular that is. We tried the classic spaghetti combination, along with tubes of rigatoni arrabbiata. The Italians like simple flavours done well, there was no need for much meat as everything was packed with delicious ingredients. I love how different pasta is used for different dishes, depending on the texture of the sauce.
We also tried a baked Jerusalem artichoke - such stunning vegetables. I found the crunchy outer a tad bitter for my tastebuds, but loved the roasted artichoke beneath. The sun was starting to go down by now and the Trastevere was beginning to bustle with happy diners sipping wine and enjoying pizzas. And not overpriced pizzas either.
Now no Italian feast is complete without dessert; take your pick from tiramisu, pannacotta and panettone. On this occasion it was their famous gelato from Gelateria Artigianale Corona. Around 10-15 minutes from the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, here our delicious journey ended with two scoops of pistachio gelato.
A fantastic foodie tour that left us hungry to explore Rome. We went on the Roman Foodie Tour on the first night, so it was perfect for picking up tips for the rest of our trip. The trip is usually $84 dollars for an adult which today would be £55 or €75, although there are student and youth discounts. My foodie round up will follow shortly, but here are a few pointers from the tour:
1) Head to the Trastevere for fantastic quality grub and local wine at modest prices.
2) Avoid hefty price tags - don't eat near a monument.
3) Look for artisan gelaterias. Remember if the pistachio flavour is bright green, it's probably not all natural.
4) Wear flats. Carrying a food baby on those cobbles with heels on won't end well.
5) Never order cappuccino after 12 midday.
I don't know about you, but I could devour a bowl of spaghetti carbonara right about now.
Have you ever been on a city food tour? Do you have memories of eating out in Italy?
Note: I was a guest of The Romany Guy Food Tour. All photographs, opinions and appetite are my own.