Monday, April 30, 2012

Roman Holiday: Castel Sant' Angelo

Bonjour mes amis!
And now for day two in Rome!  We decided to take that day to go to the Castel Sant'Angelo, a former fortress of the Pope (and another location for Angels and Demons!)  We took our time getting there to wander through Rome and enjoy the Italian Sunshine.
Some column whose name escapes me at the moment...
High Courts (kinds of like the Supreme Courts)
Eric setting up a sweet pic of the bridge.
Castel Sant'Angelo
Built by Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD to be used as a mausoleum, and later Popes used it as a castle/fortress.  There is a passage between the Vatican and Sant'Angelo.
This was at the end of "Culture Week" so entrance was FREE (I love the word 'gratuito') but many other tourist were there too. 
Angel on the Ponte Sant'Angelo and the Italian Flag.  Viva Italia!
St. Peter's Cathedral
Archangel Michael on top of the Castel
View of the Ponte Sant'Angelo

 Loving the good weather in Rome..
 Abby, Ariel, Eric and yours truly.
Traveling fools...

 Archangel Michael and the Papal Seal

 Now I know that nuns like to sight see too....there were a lot of nuns at the Castel and at the Vatican

 busted up Papal Seal

The castel was really interesting and offered wonderful views of Rome.  I loved it!  Next post will  be about our trip to the Vatican...



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roman Holiday: Cooking Class and Some Sightseeing

Bonjour encore mes amis!
The Italian adventure continues!  Two posts in one day, I am on a blogging roll!  Ariel and I arrived in Rome on the afternoon of April 21, and wonder of wonders, the sun was out!!  We found our hostel(only about 10 min walk from the train station) and met up with our other friend Eric (also on the Sweetbriar Program).  The next morning I headed off to the Travestere area across the Tiber for my Cooking Class!

The Pasta Making Station in the corner at Cooking Classes in Rome
 Apron on and ready to cook! 

All the dishes we made were regional dishes from Latzio, where Rome is.  Italian food is quite regional (Pizza is from Naples, Cannoli are from Sicily, etc.)  I decided to spring for the wine paring for the meal too.  When in Rome....
Spoiler Alert: skip to the sightseeing part of this post if you are hungry.  Go get a snack, and then read the rest of it.  There are a LOT of food pics!  I'm getting hungry writing this and uploading my pics...

Here is our menu:
Appetizer: Deep Fried Artichokes with Southern Style Pesto
First Course: Taglioini Carbonara
Second Course: Saltimboca alla Romana
Side Dish: Sauteed Flat Beans with Cherry Tomatoes
Dessert: Chocolate and Pear Souffle
Our Ingredients

Chef Andrea explaining what 'guancaile' is.  It's pig cheek that will be used in the Carbonara sauce.  It tastes like the best bacon ever.  You can substitute with pancetta or bacon. 
Making Saltimboca!
Veal or beef wrapped around prosciutto and provolone cheese, topped with a sage leaf. 
Before and after carving artichokes.
It's tricky! I had never carved an artichoke before...
Whipping up eggs for our fresh pasta.  The flour is sprinkled in to the eggs and eventually forms a dough.  Quite the wrist workout! 
Rolling out sheets of fresh pasta...I need a pasta machine now!
It's really not that hard to make fresh pasta, you just need to be willing to spend some time to work with it...
And now it's time to is the southern style pesto (tomato base, not basil base) and the fried artichokes in the background.  SO GOOD
Chef Andrea prepping the carbonara.  The fresh pasta only takes about 30 seconds to cook, then you add it to the pan with the "bacon" and egg mixture, off the heat.  You want to have a creamy delicious dish, not scrambled eggs with pasta!
The finished dish of Pasta Carbonara.
Translates to "jump in the mouth"  The little parcels were sauteed in olive oil and were so good!
Chocolate and Pear Soufle: The before picture

And the after picture. nom nom nom
The group all together after our meal!  I was the youngest one there, there was a mother/daughter group, another wife who left her husband home for the day, and a group of French women on a bachelorette weekend!  I got to practice some French with them, which was fun!  I missed speaking French.

The website for Chef Andrea's Classes is here:
A must do for any food/wine enthusiasts in Rome!
Yes, that woman in the toga is brushing her friend's teeth.  She is getting married in a month and was in Rome for the weekend.  She and all of her friends are dentists.  So they were doing some bet thing that she had do demonstrate how to properly brush your teeth, and if she did a good job you could buy a toothbrush from her.  She had to sell all of them before she left Rome.  I bought one for 10 centimes. 
Overall, the cooking class was a wonderful experience and a good "vacation from my vacation".  It's exhausting walking and sightseeing everyday!  I learned a lot and the meal we made was one of the best I ever had.  It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip to Italy.  I can't wait to try out the recipes when I get home! 
After I left the cooking class, I crossed the Tiber again to meet up with Ariel and Eric.  It was a beautiful day in Rome, and I loved exploring the city.  On my way to the Pantheon, I stumbled on this little gem.......
Yes, DUFF BEER!  Shoutout to the TN MacDonalds and all you other Simpsons Fans out there. I saw a lot of people wearing Duff T-Shirts as well.  Who knew that the Simpsons were so popular in Italy???
And back to the culture/sightseeing! Here is the Pantheon!  It is one of the most intact building from Roman times, used to be a temple (to Venus I think) and is now a church.  It is an amazing example of Roman engineering. 

 back of the Pantheon

 Oculus at the roof of the building

Inside the Pantheon

 Random Ruins! They are everywhere in Rome. Eric and I passed by them on our way back to the hostel.

We both had to use the bathroom, so why not pop into a free museum to use their facilities?  There was a lot of cool religious artwork, porcelain, statues, and a lot of other stuff there!  I think the name of the building was the Palazzo Veniza, but honestly I am not sure.   
Photo Op at the Palazzo!

 Piazza Venezia
This is a massive monument in the center of Rome, I believe it's for a past King of Italy

 You can see the Colosseum in the distance!!
This was one of those "Holy Cannoli I am in Rome" moments. 

 Trevi Fountain!
Such a beautiful fountain, and so many tourists!  Legend says if you throw a coin in, you will return to Rome...

Bernini Fountain 
I think this was mentioned in the book Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (same guy who wrote the Da Vinci Code)  I need to reread the book now that I've been to Rome!

Ciao for now, I'll do my best to get up to date on my blogging!

Siena: But really, where is the Tuscan Sun?

Bonjour again mes amis!
Now for the updates on Siena.  After Florence, hopped on a train heading for the picturesque Tuscan town.  Now I have heard a lot about the Tuscan sun, but we did not see it in Siena.  It was raining. A lot.  After quite the trek to drop off our bags, and a cappuccino to warm us up, Ariel and I started to explore the picturesque town.

Sweet Church in Siena
Unicorn Fountain!
Piazza del Campo
This square hosts horse races twice a year.
Another rainy day in Tuscany...
boy feeding the pigeons
Clock tower at Piazza del Campo
Fountain at the top of the square.
She-Wolf statue representing the wolf that nurtured Romulus and Reumus, the founders of Rome.  Remus's sun was named Senius, and fonded the town of Siena

Another cool church
The Duomo(Cathedral) at the top of the hill
Beautiful Romanesque-Gothic Architecture!
I love how all the churches in Italy are so different from France.
I think this is the church of San Dominico...
Wonderful view of the town!  The rain stopped for a bit in the late afternoon.
Cool arches...
There are a lot of hills in Siena...
One last view of Piazza Del Campo
Me reading 60 Million Frenchmen Can't be Wrong on the train heading for Rome.
I love traveling on trains because: there are no luggage or liquid restrictions, no security line, and you can look out the window at the countryside.  The ride from Siena to Rome was stunning!

Tomorrow I will start my updates on Rome!