Andy and Stevie’s Sicily Travel Guide

Palermo

Funny. I hadn’t really heard all that much about Sicily but when we said we were going for a week there, I found it’s a regular destination for international tourists. And why did I think it’s a small place, being an island, and way at the bottom of Italy, when it is in fact an economic powerhouse for Italy, and well-populated?

I was worried that a week wouldn’t be enough, when I started to do my research, but in fact, we found it a good amount of time. I suppose our success was in not trying to do too much, but just enjoying what we saw.

Monreale. Bling.

What was wonderful for me was that Sicily was so varied. You can get the feel of some fairly big cities, metropolitan, and you can also get the sense of a rural, country village. With one week available to us, we started in Palermo, and drove around from there in a counterclockwise direction until we reached Messina, to grab the ferry to continue our journey in Puglia.

I think that people can really design their trip to Sicily according to how they like to travel. A more cosmopolitan adventure is available by spending time in Palermo, Catania and Siracusa. You could certainly find luxury resorts (Taormina, for example) and do a fine dining tour, or try to become an expert at the local markets and cook your own dinners! History and historical sites abound.

Siracusa

For us, we tried to do a few different things each day and settle into our accommodation. We caught some history but didn’t focus on it. We made sure we had one high-end meal (which was memorable and wonderful). We’re not beach people, and are not so crazy about crowds of tourist or wealth. We mostly drove around, listening to Italian pop music on the radio (RDS was our favourite), from place to place, enjoying ourselves. I can’t believe I managed to drag my husband to the Sicily Outlet Mall (not great and certainly no bargains, but fine for a change of pace, and wasn’t out of the way from our tour).

One of our agriturismo hotels.

Where to stay: We really loved the Italian Agriturismo system where you stay on properties attached to farms (hobby or commercial) and slightly out of the way (but close enough to cities and other attractions). With some research, you can find some real gems: historic farmhouses and other old buildings. Many have pools and are nicely renovated. And they’re inexpensive. We had one miss: a rundown farmhouse without wireless at the foot of Mount Etna. Do your research! In retrospect though, it’s good to switch things up, so as much as I loved the agriturismo venues, it’s fun to stay in the old part of a city or town in a hotel.

About to eat at Duomo

Where and what to eat: Sicily is big enough that there are Michelin-starred restaurants all over the island. So, why not treat yourself to one? We loved Il Duomo in Ragusa (and we loved Ragusa). In terms of local specialties, there are lots. We liked the salads with oranges as their base. Gelato and brioche (for breakfast) is popular in Southern Italy. Seafood is everywhere of course (fresh sardines!). Fried things seem popular and while I tried the fried chickpea fritters, once was enough. Of course, the arancini are famous and delicious and you should try all varieties of them, as well as many helpings of granita (loved the pomegranate flavour) and gelato. There are a multitude of pastries to try, and we only sampled a few. I found the famous cassata cake too sweet, though loved the cannoli.

Seafood everywhere

For drinking, aside from the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz (or Campari Spritz) as your evening aperitif, you could try a bitter (or amaro) to help your digestion after dinner. Local versions are available and I slowly downed a quite bitter Amaro from Etna while travelling. I love the various versions of carbonated mineral water (frizzante) and take them over still, to accompany a meal, any time. And of course numerous coffees all morning should help get you through the day. My favourite was a caffè macchiato, an espresso with a small shot of milk. I love that these cost a euro or less, and you drink them at the counter with a little cup of water (although Italians love their environmentally unsound plastic cups for water). They’ll charge you more if you sit down. For wine, I barely nicked the surface of trying the local grapes: Nero d’Avola, Zibibbo, Inzolia, Grillo, Fiano and more.

Bitters

Finally:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We preferred Selinunte over Agrigento (less tourists and easier to get close to the ruins) in terms of Greek ruins.

Selinunte

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Loved all the hilltop cities, especially Ragusa.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Often, you are NOT allowed to drive into historic areas without a permit, so watch out. Also, don’t overstay your parking. We had a funny experience where we managed to chase down a parking inspector and pay her less than a euro for the time we were over; if we’d had to pay the ticket, it would have been 20 or 30 euros.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Both of us found Taormina too full on with so many tourists, and so many shops. It’s a scene though, and good for people watching, and the ancient theatre made it worth it: so beautiful, and especially at night.

Taormina

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I think I would have liked to spend longer in Siracusa. Loved the dark volcanic stones used in the buildings and streets.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Nothing much to shop for (which is good, since I shop too much anyways). Perhaps some souvenir olive oil, pasta or another food item (if your customs allows you to take them home), and a well-chosen piece of ceramics?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Apparently, one of the best bakeries in Italy is in Erice… I didn’t read this advice until after we’d passed through!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And watch out for the prickly pear cactuses, nicknamed ‘Il Bastardone’, the ‘Big Bastards’. There are fields of them, so it’s evidently a crop of some sort (we only had a bit of sweet sauce at Duomo), but you’ll see them everywhere!

The big bastards

Questions? Your own travel tips? Leave them below in the comments!

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Book Review: Klaus Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle

My Struggle (#1, #2, #3)My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A deeply personal reflection on the death of Knausgaard’s father, My Struggle is universal in its exploration of how we observe the world, how we interact with it, memory, grief and loss.

I’ve always been interested in reading literary bestsellers or award-winners to find out what other readers find of value and are attracted to. So, I’ve been long interested in reading this ‘literary phenomenon’ to find out what the fuss is about. I seem to recall a focus on Knausgaard’s detailed descriptions of his actions and thoughts in his writing, and I also read a profile of him (where was that? The NYT? The New Yorker?) that described him as so self-conscious, so awkward and introverted that he was ill-equipped for the attention that comes from being a best-selling author.

It’s by chance that before reading this book, I completed Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, four books that tell the lives of two women from being girls to older women. Ferrante’s descriptions of the relationship between the women and their social and community context may have a different tone and culture, but there’s some similarity in the detailed, precise analysis of emotional states and observation, as well as how who we are as children or adolescents relate to our older selves. And because there are four more Knausgaard books, they seem to have a similar scope. And I also had to put some thought into why I enjoyed the books and wanted (want) to read all of them.

Having lost my father eight years ago, there was much that touched me about Knausgaard’s exploration of his relationship with his father, the aftermath of death, and his complicated grief. I also relate to, but not completely, with what seems to be his basic emotional state. Writers about the Enneagram, a model of human psyche, describe humans falling into the same fixations, the ways we react to the world, and the three negative emotional states of fear, anger and shame. Knausgaard is clearly all about shame, and the descriptions of key incidents of his childhood or his relationship with his father and brother or the start of his writing career: they’re excruciating but also telling. He writes about the aftermath of a failed interview with a famous author: for Knausgaard, it is one of the worst things to ever happen; for his brother, the co-interviewer, it was simply unfortunate.

And I guess that’s why I found the book interesting and engaging, the detailed and sometimes mundane descriptions of his surroundings and life (his reported dialogue is stark, recording simple statements of agreement or disagreement) that suddenly go into a wormhole of memory or philosophy with challenging outcomes.

I kept thinking of Jonathan Franzen. The NYT’s recent profile of Jonathan Franzen describes how, when freed from ‘the impetus to educate’ because he ‘realized that the arguments and social criticism he wanted to assert… could live and breathe on their own. He didn’t have to Trojan-horse them into his novels’ characters or plot points anymore’, he went from a novelist with mediocre reviews to a literary superstar.

There’s something similar at work here too, the combination of detail (to some, mundane) and powerful intellect. They’re both introverted and awkward people, clear about their faults (I found this more expressed in Franzen’s book of autobiographical essays), but have the ability to tackle big questions in a literary form with an intensely personal voice full of detail and minutiae that has commanded the world’s attention. There seems to be a bit of fascination with each of them, and perhaps some jealousy, that flawed people can produce such well-regarded literature.

I wonder how I’ll feel about his writing after I’ve finished the next book. Stay tuned for another review…

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Sydney Food Diary: Casa Barelli’s Burgundy Truffles from Aldi

Aldi is a phenomenon. I love it. The middle aisles, filled with their current specials, are like a surprise door from a game show: What’s behind door number 3 today? While Aldi has provided me with various delights over time (mmm… truffle butter), a few days ago, I stumbled on a tiny jar of truffles, so to speak, from Casa Barelli labelled as Burgundy Truffles, for $8.

I was preparing an afternoon birthday party (my own) with snacks from Italy, as we’ve just returned from there. So, I thought I’d figure out a way of using them; I’m sure I was first introduced to truffles in Italy. I searched online and saw that while a number of people online have bought them from Aldi, and asked what to do with them, no one has really reported on the result. So, I thought I’d do a favour for the next person to do an online search…

The one piece of information that I found was someone who said these are a Chinese variety of truffles, and brined (yup, that’s how they came) and that they lacked the flavour of the real deal. I was going to douse them with truffle oil, but even the smallest bottle I could find at Harris Farms was $20, so I thought I’d be brave and do without.

While I really wanted to find savoury tart shells, I couldn’t! So, I made my own out of frozen shortcrust pastry (that turned out much better than I thought), filled them with fresh ricotta (delicious, and better than when I’ve made it myself, and relatively cheap as I went for the cow’s milk version rather than buffalo milk), and then put thin slices of the truffle on top (with a bit of basil to top it off).

The result? Not bad at all. It had the texture of shaved truffle that I’ve had in the past, slightly woody, almost a nut-like texture. It was missing a hit of truffle flavour so perhaps I should have gone for the truffle oil (or mixed in a bit of truffle oil with the ricotta). But for only $8, this was worth a try. I might try another jar sometime in a pasta sauce or a risotto. If anyone’s reading this and has used this, tell us about it in a comment!

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Book Review: Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, Fiction

LessLess by Andrew Sean Greer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Arthur Less, the protagonist of the novel Less. I’ve occasionally fallen in love with the voice of an author or one of their characters but then realised that I liked reading about them, but wouldn’t necessarily want to spend time with them. So I’m not sure I’d like to hang out with Arthur, necessarily, but it was very fun to follow him around the world in this book.

Plus I have much more in common with him than I’d knew before I started reading. He’s 49 years old at the start of the book, and I’ll reach 49 in less than a month. We both have mispronounced Pulitzer for our entire lives. We both have grandiose plans, abandoned, every vacation to somehow fit some form of exercise into our trip.

These similarities and more made it the kind of book that I wanted to share anecdotes about with friends, mention phrases and situations that made me chuckle heartily. I loved how carefully it was plotted, and was surprised by the big reveal at the book’s end. And it’s lovely, unabashedly romantic conclusion.

The writing was engaging and skilful, drawing one in with a light tone or cajoling, and then surprising with amusing but not forced metaphors and then suddenly (when appropriate) beautifully poetic and emotional sentences.

I loved how casually gay Arthur and the book are, and that the book wasn’t consigned to the category of ‘gay fiction’ and has instead won the Pulitzer Prize this year (and I loved the meta-fiction that there is a discussion about winning the Pulitzer Prize in the book, which the author I’m sure couldn’t have predicted).

Perhaps most of all, reading it on a flight to Canada to spend some time caring for my mother, who fell and had a serious brain injury, I was so grateful that it made me laugh with such enjoyment in the midst of a difficult time. Thanks Arthur Less, and to his creator, Andrew Sean Greer, for this bit of light.

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Sicily Food Diary: Duomo by Cicco Sultano, Ragusa

Il Duomo was everything I’d hoped for and more: an exquisite fine dining experience, rooted in Sicilian culture, food and ingredients that would be unrepeatable elsewhere. An elegant atmosphere, a chance to try a range of interesting Sicilian wines, and treated like kings by the wonderful staff: it was all very happy-making.

Ciccio Sultano is apparently one of Italy’s most famous chefs, and Il Duomo has a reputation as one of its finest restaurants with a two-star Michelin rating. It’s located just down the hill, behind the magnificent church at the highest point of this old part of Ragusa, a gorgeous place to visit. For some restaurants, the setting really does make a difference, and this added some extra magic.

We arrived when they opened, at 7:30pm. The décor is classy and quiet; there are only a few tables in each room, and multiple rooms. We sat as a table of two with another table of two across from us (but not too near). There was a window with a partial, leafy view outside, and some nice artwork. The waiters had fabulous silk ties and matching pocket squares.

There was a choice of a five-course and an eight-course option, with or without matching wines (though one could also choose a la carte). We chose the eight courses (since when are we going to back in Sicily?) and as I’m the lush in the family, I got the matching wines. Though we started with a cocktail each (at 11 euros, cheaper than most cocktails in Sydney, Australia). They were sweet but with a very complex combination of flavours. Yum.

Our menu was focused on seafood, and as explained with local flavours and flourish. There were some pretty fantastic techniques used, but mainly as an element of surprise. The food wasn’t too tricky. Appetizers were awfully fun. A spoonful of raw tuna with a thin layer of watermelon over it and bottarga. From an olive, they’d somehow extracted the pit, and stuffed it with something that had the crunch of a pit but was edible.

The artfully displayed tower of other appetizers, three each, was fun. A tiny delicate rice ball, a pastry with cream and blue roe on top of a raw shrimp, something that looked like an olive on top of a rice cracker.

I’ve never had oysters matched with pistachio cream (delectable).

And tiny pieces of a fine dining version of the local pizza… A thick, moist Sicilian pizza called Sfincione.

And on the side, a spoonful of sea urchin with cream (I can’t remember exactly what it was).

Of course, there would be pasta served in Italy. This was handmade angel hair pasta, with clams and an intense saffron cream. Yum.

The next dish was a delight. A sort of pumpkin ‘cake’, with sardines layered into it, a bit of bottarga and cubes of basil. A fun mix of textures and flavours.

The tiny fillets were red mullet, I believe, were served with a complicated molecular sauce, so wonderful and buttery and rich; I think it was perhaps a lobster butter, with that yellow round sitting in the middle of a clear circle. Sort of like an egg yolk surrounded by its white. Plus a piece of perfectly charred and crispy green onion, and a crisp sage leaf.

But my favourite was this tiny individual lasagna ‘Lasagna of the Queen’, with pillowy delicate pasta wrapped around ricotta and on top three pieces of the most intensely flavourful treasures of the sea: blue lobster, calamari and shrimp. And sitting in a bed of Sicilian bisque.

The tuna was an intense, steak-y piece of tuna, full of flavour and texture, and served in a really rich sauce (‘a sauce of itself’ the menu said) along with a caper sauce and a little onion that looked like it was whole, but then you slid the top layer off and it was filled with an onion confit.

As a palate-cleanser (how I love the idea of a small course in the middle of the meal to allow you to take a break…), a mouthful of truffle gelato. Seriously.

The catch of the day, grouper, was brought over in a pan, and then dished out by the waiter into each plate with vegetables on the side.

I loved, coming to the conclusion of the savoury dishes that the chef had decided to focus on seafood completely and not bother with red meat, which also meant I got to try a really interesting variety of white Sicilian (and one Slovenian) wine. I’ve had great seafood, in many places, so what made the dishes different were what was on the side, as the fish was cooked perfectly and simply and allowed to shine that way.

Dessert were numerous treats. A refreshing piece of pink grapefruit atop some creamy orange mounds and a gelato of yoghurt, I believe.

This was the best cannoli I have ever had and no doubt will ever have. Every component just tasted somehow better and more fine dining than anything I’ve tasted before. On the menu, it’s described as ‘Ragusa’s cow’s milk ricotta cannoli with warm San Cono prickly pear soup and Pizzuta almond sorbet. I was really intrigued by all the prickly pears we saw in Sicily, so I’m glad we got to try some!

We then had fresh cherries, tiny ice cream cones dipped in chocolate, a jelly and some chocolate… and thought that was the last dessert.

And then comes a gorgeous piece of pannetone, which apparently they sell as well, not just for Christmas but year round. As a side note, in Canada, growing up, my family would receive these cakes at Christmas from friends or acquaintances, and I never understood their appeal, as they were pretty dry. I think that not only had they taken rather a long time to get to Canada, but they weren’t the high-quality ones. When our friend Sina in Sydney gave us a first proper pannetone, it was a revelation: soft, pillowy, delicately sweet. Having a special piece of this cake at Il Duomo was fun.

I loved that there were so many traditional Sicilian desserts, humble desserts, amped up to fine dining. The wines, by the way, were delicious. I’m not such an expert, so won’t try to describe them except that I appreciated how they matched up with the food, and how they changed flavour with the food! Among the wines were:

  • 2016 Astraio, Vioginer, Maremma Toscana DOC, Rocca di Montemassi
  • 2012 Anas Cëtta’, Langhe, Nascetta di Novello DOC, which tasted to me, of honey and mead.
  • 2016 Kolbenhof, Vigna-Gewurtraminer, J.Hofstätter, which seemed to me to have a lemony, open flavour.
  • 2016 Blazic Rebula (Slovenia), which was lovely and dry.
  • 2016 Tenuta Capofaro, Salina, Tasca, Conti D’Almerita

As a final note, I’m always surprised on the food review sites that amidst the rave reviews of top restaurants, it seems like some people, because of the good reviews and reputation of a restaurant, are ready to give the opposite reaction, just to beat it down, as if a restaurant could never live up to a reputation lifted by so much praise. Then again, my husband and I see a lot of musicals and I’ve found that for the opening nights, or expensive shows, that people seem to give a standing ovation regardless of the quality (which is usually pretty good… but a standing ovation?) It’s almost as if because they’ve paid a lot of money, they’re determined to enjoy themselves and that what they paid for is worth it (husband thinks it’s about peer pressure and cultural norms though). If I think about it, I’m like this for fine restaurants. If I’ve chosen a restaurant based on its reputation and reviews, and if it’s going to be really expensive, I’m going to expect it to be really good AND I’m going to be rooting for it to do as well as it can.

So, on that note, Il Duomo, I give you a standing ovation. The smile on our faces was from a meal and evening that I will not forget.

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Food blogging in Rome

I was lucky enough to spend about four days in Rome before my holidays in Sicily and Southern Italy. Good meals are always on my travel agenda, and writing about those meals serves a few purposes for me: it allows me an additional souvenir of the experience and recording that experience pushes me into considering the experience more deeply and fully.

So, I enjoyed eating in Rome, and blogging about it and putting up reviews. As I’m based in Australia, my preferred review site is Zomato. It bought out another Australian review site that I enjoyed using, eatability, but mostly they’ve suckered me in by gamifying my reviews so that I can be ranked as a top reviewer in a city. TripAdvisor has systems for giving various points and rankings but it just doesn’t excite me to ‘reach level 32 for hotel reviews’.

When I first got onto Zomato, I found pretty much right away that by regularly blogging my meals in Sydney that I could appear in the top ten of Sydney food bloggers (I’m currently number two). There are so many instagrammers in Sydney though, and reviewers (who put short reviews directly on Zomato, rather than writing a blog and linking to Zomato) that I am not on any top list of reviewers, and think I’m around #40 as a food photographer.

In Rome, however, Zomato is not very popular. In Italy, they’re only available in Rome, so it seems like an experiment as a business decision. The bad thing is there are not so many reviews up. The good thing, for me, is that after four days of blogs and reviews, I’m the number one blogger in Rome, the #15 reviewer and the #13 photographer. This won’t last that long I suspect (and after six months, the “points” expire) but for now, it amuses me.

What is clearly most popular is TripAdvisor. It is pretty great to have such a huge number of reviews for each of the restaurants and hotels, as I do think that data doesn’t lie. Even if there are unfair reviews in one direction, the same amount of unfair reviews in the other direction should balance it out.

I do have a problem of the phenomenon that if a restaurant receives too many good reviews, other reviewers may just try to knock it down, or be extra grouchy because of the good reviews. And I also think in popular tourist destinations like Paris and Rome that you’ll see that the restaurants that are most visited are in the most touristy destinations, and some manage to garner great reviews because of their ability to be hospitable over the quality of their food (for me, the most important factor is food).

I recently read that every one star loss or gain on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9% decrease or increase in review… Is that a good thing or a bad thing? If you believe that the wisdom of the crowds correctly assesses a business, and rewards good businesses with good reviews, it would be a good thing.

I do worry if ratings end up being unfair though, and I know how hard restauranteurs and their staff work, and what a tough business it is for the owners. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that restaurants these days get better ratings because either their food is instagrammable or they have a good marketer who knows how to attract reviewers, bloggers and instagrammers to their restaurants.

But on the other hand, because I believe I am a fair reviewer, I feel good about contributing, with honesty, to the wisdom of the crowds, and it’s like a nice tip to the restaurant, if they’re good, and I can give them a good review.

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Rome Food Diary: Alla Scala Gelato, Trastevere

So, I didn’t want to neglect this gelato place just because it was right beneath my AirBNB.

I thought they had an interesting mix of classic and unusual flavours. I tried a ricotta gelato with pomegranate and who knows what the green stuff was on top. But this was delicious and creamy. Well worth a try.

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Bangkok Food Diary: Kalpapreuk, Central World

A pal who has lived in Bangkok many years said that the green curry with sticky rice, a lunch special that I don’t think is always available, would be one of his all-time favourite dishes. So, I decided to stop here for a last meal on my two-day stopover in Bangkok.

It’s up on one of the top floors of Central World, in the food court. Their daily special was sold out (a green curry dish) so I went for a Northern noodle dish, the classic that mixes crispy fried noodles, with soft noodles, and a curry sauce. It was only 150 BT and I thought it delicious, particularly with a Singha beer. I’m glad I came.

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Sydney Food Diary: Dongtian Kitchen, Chinatown

So, I just tried to google why so many round shapes show up in Chinese architecture and decoration and I couldn’t figure it out. So, they’ve made a skyscraper… that’s round. And while it says it alludes to a coin, I’m not quite sure why. And I’m Chinese. Shouldn’t I know?

This was just one of the many mysteries of Dongtian Kitchen. When I asked the waitress about the name, she explained it’s a very famous fellow who does make-up for China’s biggest film stars. And he decided to open up some restaurants as well.

We just stumbled across it as Friday night in the CBD is busy, and my favourite Korean place was packed. In any case, the food was fine: it’s Beijing mixed with Sichuan cuisine. It was tasty, and not cheap, but not super-expensive either. We split a bottle of wine between the four of us, and ate as much as we could (but didn’t quite clear off the plates) and it was $65 each with a good tip.

We chose pretty well. I always like the cold cucumbers (with garlic) and it seems so simple I should be able to make it myself at home (but can’t). The spring onion pancake was perfectly crisp. Looking at the photos now, I’m disturbed by the random orchid decorations in the appetizers, but I didn’t notice at the time.

I thought our pipis in XO sauce were a highlight though my mates said after eating quite a few of them, they weren’t so into them at the end; and the $60 or 70 price tag surprised them (I kind of expected that it would be expensive for fresh seafood).

The crispy golden prawns, battered in thousand year old egg yolk, was very tasty (as it should be). The seafood fried rice, which even had sea cucumbers in it, was pretty good, though I suspect if I’d just ordered plain white rice, my table would have been just as happy with it.

The pork belly (we only ordered one meat dish, as one of our party was pescetarian) was mixed with squid and prawns, and was the only disappointment. It was savoury and not terrible, but didn’t really stand out either. The pork belly was sliced so thinly, it was a sort of elevated stir fry but not great (and at $27 a dish, you want it to be great).

Weirdly, instead of a proper menu, we got this summary on a double-sided A4. The service in general was endearingly not quite there.

On the other hand, in terms of the decor, my pal Paul said that there was nothing that he didn’t like about it. With Asian notes, like big pots of bamboo and the aforementioned round shapes, the restaurant is mostly English countryside, with floral wallpaper and hundreds of framed artwork of flowers and plants. I thought it was insanely weird, but my friends loved it.

Dongtian Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Rome Food Diary: Pasta E Vine Come Na’ Vo, Travestere

Where, oh where would I treat myself to homemade pasta for Sunday lunch? That was my question. I considered going back to the exquisite Le Mani in Pasta but decided why not? Let’s try something else, and be guided by TripAdvisor, which seems extremely popular in tourist cities like Rome and Paris.

The funny thing about TripAdvisor reviews though is that the best ratings may have to do with other factors besides just food… So, I was surprised to arrive at Pasta E Vino (which Google Maps has translated to “Pasta and Wine”: knock it off Google, you shouldn’t translate the name of a restaurant) and see what a humble place it is.

There’s no table service, the cutlery is plastic and the plates are paper. For such a casual place, they have an extensive menu though, with all you could ask for in an Italian meal, including wine, which I decided at noon on a Sunday, I could do without (hurrah for Andy’s willpower).

I decided to just go for a pasta dish (along with delicious mineral water with gas) and opted for fettucini with pesto and crispy bacon (only 8,50 euros). There are daily specials, but also a choose your own menu for matching your preferred pasta to sauce. For my special, the noodles were thick and wide. The sauce was creamy and salty, and the bits of bacon perfectly crisp. It was quite al dente but obviously homemade.

So, I can see that the stupendous rating on TripAdvisor (currently #210 out of #10,250 restaurants in Rome) would be that 1/ This is a very busy tourist area 2/ The food here is cheap and easy 3/ Especially in comparison to the many other more expensive areas closeby, and 4/ The food is tasty. So, perfectly fine for a cheap and easy meal. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but I was happy to eat their delicious pasta (and my first pesto on this trip).

Pasta e Vino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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