Happy New Year! I’m writing this from a slightly damp and foggy, but incredibly beautiful Umbria. After a glorious December with both daughters in Rome, once they took off , Domenico and I decided to spend the rest of the never-ending Italian holiday season up in the country. Friday is the Epiphany so the entire country is still in vacation mode. Our days up here are mostly long walks, picking vegetables in the garden (cabbage, kale and more cabbage) and making soups. In other words: perfetto!
I haven’t really made any resolutions. None of last year’s dry January, thank you very much. I’ve decided that I’m not giving up anything. Instead, I’m going in a more positive direction, and am trying to fit in more steps per day. Not just to get in shape, but because it makes me feel so good - mentally and physically. Once I have my walk, all is right in the world.
New tours are coming next week! On Tuesday January 10 Premium subscribers will receive a newsletter listing new tours for 2024 to Sicily, Puglia, Parma and Umbria. If you’re signed up for the paying version of this newsletter you’ll have first chance to join us for the tours. Some of them are with me, some with Sophie and some with both of us.
If you’re not part of the Premium Newsletter, no worries. I’ll be posting the updated schedule to our tour page towards the end of January. I know 2024 seems like a long way off, especially since 2023 just started, but since the tours fill up way in advance, I wanted to share this news so you can begin to make plans.
In the meantime if you’re still planning for 2023, we’ve had a few spots open up for some of our upcoming tours:
March 13-18 : Puglia and Basilicata with Sophie 4 spots left
April 17-22, 2023 : Puglia and Basilicata with Sophie: 4 spots left
April 2-8, 2023 Puglia with Elizabeth and Sophie : 2 Spots
May 14-20, 2023: Umbria with Elizabeth & Sophie: 3 Spots left
Send us an email to receive the brochures for these tours and find out more details.
WHAT I’M READING
I’m not a huge fan of the previous pope but I’m fascinated by the conundrum his death has presented in terms of protocol. Does he get a pope’s funeral since he was Emeritus? Who will come?
I finished the Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. While I loved it (and recommend it) it was very dark. I’ll definitely be going back to this author to read some of her other science fiction works, but felt I needed a break. So now I’m reading Kate Atkinson’s latest: Shrines of Gaiety. It takes place in London in the ’20’s and I’m loving the atmosphere and complicated cast of characters.
Love this idea of fashion designers donating their seconds to charity shops. Trussardi is leading the way in this Rome shop.
Evidently there’s a fine line between seasoned and grimy when it comes to baking sheets.
WHERE I’VE EATEN
This past month we stuck close to home, in Rome. These days it’s pure luxury for me when I get to stay in one place for 30 days in a row . I’m lucky enough that it gets to be Rome! We did go out to dinner quite a bit, though, which made me realise maybe you could use a mini guide to my top five places to eat in Rome? It’s not a definitive ‘best of’ list. This is only the places that I love to go to. Yes, they serve great food, but they are not fancy. These are just family favorites.
Ristorante al Pompiere - Pompiere is one a handful of restaurants I’ve been going to regularly with my father for just about all of my life. It’s located in the Jewish Ghetto but is neither Jewish nor Kosher. Instead it is decidedly old fashioned Roman, with all the standards from carbonara to saltimbocca, with a few Jewish dishes like carciofi alla giudea thrown in. My favorite: Taglioini al Limone
Giggetto - Don’t look to Giggetto for fancy, or creative. Do run here for all the Roman classics – amatriciana, carbonara and gricia are all excellent. Since they are located in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, they naturally specialise in Roman Jewish dishes, and have been doing so long before it became trendy. Definitely order the carciofi alla giudea. My favorite: Penne alla Arrabiata.
Ristorante La Matriciana - Although this restaurant has been around forever (since 1870 evidently), I first went there for the first time about 3 years ago. Since then it’s become one of my favorite places in Rome. Very old school, with all the Roman specialities. It’s located across the street from Rome’s opera house. A bit more upscale than any of the other places on this list. My favorite: risotto al crema di scampi
Trattoria Valentino - One of my favorite restaurants in our neighborhood of Monti. Very simple, straightforward, delicious food. My favorite: Steak Tartare.
Alle Carette - Our local pizzeria. It’s not that different from other pizzerias in Rome, but it’s our local and we love it. My favorite: Marinara con Cipolle e Salciccia
WHAT I’M EATING
This is the time of year when I eat as much puntarelle as I possibly can. It’s a type of winter chicory that is grown in such a way that it has a crisp, bitter heart. The heart is then cut into curly cues and dressed with a tart anchovy garlic dressing. I realise that puntarelle can be almost impossible to find, but at least you can use the dressing on other types of chicory. Radicchio, curly endive, and even Belgian endive are heavenly doused in this dressing. I also use it to dress blanched broccoli and cauliflower. Basically I use it on everything!
Puntarelle Salad Dressing
(enough to dress about 6 cups of puntarelle, or other salad)
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and mix till blended. Taste and adjust. You might like it a bit less lemony, if so add more oil. But it is a very strong tasting dressing. Sometimes I make it more fishy, sometimes more garlicky.
I know a lot of you follow me on Instagram, and I continue to post stories there. But more and more of my videos are finding their way to TikTok so I hope you can join me there.
Thank you for the Rome dining suggestions. We used to live there and return quite often. We typically ate out on our own neighborhood too. When we return in early June, I’ll try your suggestions. In the meantime, yes to Instagram and a big NO to TikTok. Please reconsider.
Love your newsletter, Elizabeth. Hope to do one or more of your tours one day. Meanwhile I read and absorb everything about Italy, my love.Australia can feel a long way away at times. Love especially food, history of food, market tours and produce, cooking and restaurant reviews. Oh and love seeing/reading about your evening cocktails! (As well as art, history and culture obviously). I have been to various parts of Italy many times but not for a few years now but did learn Italian on DUOLINGO everyday for 16months after first lockdown in 2020. Will also join a conversation class when I retire (not any time soon!). Won’t be scrubbing sheet pans, and definitely won’t be reading/watching in TikTok.