Every Calorie I consumed in Rome

I’ve been back from Rome for quite a few days and I’m still feeling full. Someone commented on my instagram feed “stai sempre a magnà” and I was like, duh. Did I or did I not come here for that purpose?

I ate in Rome. I like, ate. In some places I forgot the name of the cafe- forgive me. But here it is, all laid out for you to copy me.

La Matriciana O Amatriciana at Salumeria Roscioli

A little bit busy with the lunchtime rush, but with a wonderful atmosphere and friendly staff. My dish was bombolotto paffuto pasta, Campania passata, guanciale and pecorino.

Gelato at Fatamorgana

The rated gelateria in Rome. This was not too far from Salumeria Roscioli. For €2.50 you get two generous scoops of true, home made gelato and there are plenty of experimental flavours. I kept it simple with fior di latte and nocciola which, if you’ve ever had ice cream with me you’ll know that is always my order!

Heart biscuits in Trastevere

“Avere un cuore in due non è facile!!” Which is why I ate these to myself. Bought in a cafe somewhere in Trastevere, they tasted a little bit like the crispy and delicious edges of a cake. The server was cute and flirty (but not flirty enough) and I enjoyed them looking over to the river.

Rigatoni alla Gricia at Flavio del Velavevodetto

If you’ve looked at where to eat cacio e pepe, this restaurant will come up. It’s popular but fairly out of the way and still quite quiet when I went in. There were very few tourists. I kicked up my cacio e pepe a notch with guanciale to make it Rigatoni alla Gricia – pecorino, black pepper and guanciale with al dente rigatoni.

Perugina jellies from a cute little shop near Vatican

I went in because I was drawn to the cute tins of food. I wanted to buy something but it was too pricey, so I bought these perugina fruit jelly sweets instead. I like chewy, artificial sweets but these were nice too, and 25c each.

Bucatini all’amatriciana at Taverna dei Fori Imperial

The final meal was bucatini all’amatriciana. How could it not have been? I was feeling pretty tired and with a banging headache but I made space in my heart, life and belly for a massive plate of this dish. It was of course, wonderful. Nicely located by the Forum without being touristy or gimmicky – this restaurant was a shout.

Am I satisfied? Well, yes and no. There are so many more meals I could have eaten with more time. But all roads lead to Rome, and Rome is literally down the road. I’ll surely be back. And then I’ll be trying Roman pizza!

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An Illustrated Guide to Why Madrid is not Shite.

I will admit that I expected Madrid to be a bit like all your favourite celebrities in 2016. A bit dead.

2017 was the year I learned to appreciate underrated cities. Like Mandalay, Da Nang and Salinas before it – cities I previously didn’t give a toss about managed to impress me beyond realisation. Madrid was one of them.

I didn’t do my usual circuit of Catholicism, museums and restaurants that sell pasta, so what was it that sold Madrid to me?

The Architecture

Romantic in that wistful summery way that the continent does so well. I was expecting the architecture to be a bit concrete (which, when done well *cough* London’s brutalist babes *cough* is fine… but Madrid is pretty.

The food is good.

It’s not Italy, and I’ll never say that it is. It’s not croissants at Des Gateaux et Du Pain in Paris and I’d be lying if I said it was. But, if you are like me and can eat your actual body weight in churros and serrano ham, then Madrid is definitely a strong contender for any foodies. I had an impeccable honey mustard and black pepper pork at a restaurant I didn’t learn the name of, and the rest of the time I ate my body weight in churros.

Culture

I first wanted to go to Madrid to see Los Miserables (Spanish Les Mis) which had such a strong cast (Ignasi Vidal as Javert, what a husband). But equally there’s lots of other cultural things, none of which I involved myself in but I appreciate they were there.

They don’t take themselves too seriously

The range of hills called Seven Tits. Seven of ’em. *Red from Orange is the New Black voice* “It’s fucking funny!”

The Autumns are Like The Prettiest Springs

How beautiful are the reds and oranges and yellows? The weather of summer but the colours of a New England fall. It was disorienting, and beautiful.

Buen Retiro Park

Words are not necessary. Just go.

Madrid surprised me pleasantly, like so many of the cities I visit by chance. Where I expected “fit for purpose” and a city that looked like London without all the things I liked about London – I got a city that charmed me in all the ways that London charms me, and in its own way too.