Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roman Holiday!

Yes I am well aware that it is Tuesday, however, in my defense, yesterday was the first night of Passover and I hosted my first Passover Seder all by myself.  That translates into shopping and cooking all day which I couldn't do over the weekend because I was in Rome with my Cousin Kent and his girlfriend Judy!  
I left for Rome on Friday morning and I got there at about 8:30 pm (there was a layover and delayed flight involved).  I met up with my friend Danny at the metro stop near his house.  Danny studied in Murcia last semester, which is how I met him, and is from Manchester.  I stayed at his apartment for the weekend, although I didn't actually get to spend very much time with him.  
Saturday morning Danny and I walked over to the Testaccio Market, we got lost on the way, where we were meeting Kent and Judy! We walked around the market, got our picture taken by a journalist who wanted to show that tourists do come to that market, and had a little breakfast.
Judy, Kent, and Me
After that Danny went to class, he had class on a Saturday, not very fun, and we went to another market....Victor Emmanuelle.  Highlights include: some very odd veggies and crabs trying to escape.

From there we went to a pizza restaurant near the Vatican City called Pizzarium.  It was delicious!  
Mine had mozzarella and basil, Judy's had bologna, and Kent had one with cheese and potatoes that was AMAZING! From there we went to the Vatican where we met our tour guide, Katie.  We were in the museum for 2 and 1/2 hours, 2 hours longer than last time I was there... She told us some really interesting history and anecdotes about the paintings as well as answering all of our questions about, literally, anything.  
We went from there to the Palatine hill and the Roman Forums.  Katie told us all about the different emperors who had lived on the hills, their building styles, the innovations they made to architecture, etc. 

This is what remains of the dining room of the house on the Palantine hill.  This was the first dining room EVER to be a semi-circle with a domed roof.  This palace was also the first to having heating in the actual rooms as opposed to just the bath houses.  There are spaces between the walls and floors that lets the hot air out into the room which then rises, as heat tends to, effectively heating the palace.
These are the Roman Forums center of all things Roman; political, social, etc.  When they first began excavating, in the 16th century, the arch was covered with dirt all the way to the top of the tallest space.
 Judy, Kent, and Me overlooking the Collosseum
Unfortunately for us, the Collosseum stopped letting people in at 2 that day because they were practicing for the Station of the Cross which happens on Good Friday.  Instead we went to the Pantheon, which was also closed, for mass, so we settled by having a gelato snack.

I was the only one who partook in this snack, they missed out.  I got rose gelato with a hazlenut semifreddo mousse on top.  It was delicious!  We then went back to Kent and Judy's hotel to rest for a minute and clean up for dinner.  Their hotel with near the Piazza Navaro so we walked around there for awhile before heading in and found a cute bar for aperitivos and drinks.  I did get my bellini, finally!!  We then went back to their hotel for about five minutes or so and then we started out towards the restaurant.  Katie, along with being a tour guide, is also a food blogger and so we went to one of the restaurants she had recommended on her blog.  I had a delicious meal of mixed grilled veggies for an appetizer and risotto con fior di zucci (risotto with zucchini blossoms).
We then followed Katie's instructions to an absolutely AMAZING gelato place, waaay better than the one I had for a snack, and the location was more fun, you had to work to find it.

Kent and Judy got the same kind of gelato...it was kind of a mixture of a bunch of flavors...chocolate, coffee, nuts, coconut.  It was really good though.  I, being my father's daughter, got the two oddest flavors that they had.  I got thyme, lemon and raspberry and fennel and almond.  They were both delicious (the fennel one was better), they were not, however, delicious together.  Kent and Judy then walked me to the metro stop at the Piazza del Spagna (the Spanish steps) and I took the metro back to Danny's apartment.  The next morning I woke up at 3:15 am for the longest travel day of my life...I still haven't recovered.  

Yesterday, I spent all day shopping and cooking for Passover.  Not only was it the first time that I have hosted my own Passover dinner, I feel so grown up, but I was doing it in a Catholic country.  This was a process that involved 3 butchers (1 for ground meat, 1 for brisket, and 1 for the lamb shank bone), 2 grocery stores (the normal one and the expensive one for the horseradish sauce and other random ingredients) and 1 fruteria.  I made matzo ball soup, sweet and spicy meatballs, brisket, charoset, and a flourless chocolate cake.  Sinem, my roommate from Turkey, made babaganousch, mixed veggies, and a salad.  All together there were eight of us; myself, Sinem, Annalisa, Camila, Paige, Tammy, Brennan, and Cecy.  We did not eat all of the food, but we got pretty close.  We definitely consumed a good amount of wine...despite my warning that four glasses of wine does not actually need to mean four glasses of wine, that's what ended up happening...we demolished 4 bottles.  Cecy found the afikomen so her reward was the largest slice of cake.  All in all it was a great seder and very multi-cultural as it was accompanied by the sounds of the first Semana Santa parade!

!חג שמח
¡Hasta dos semanas! (Next week I'll be traveling in the UK)

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