Friday, July 03, 2015

Week IV

We had a restful weekend, here at the AA. Monday was a holiday in Rome. We’re in the middle of a heatwave here in much of Western Europe with temperatures a few degrees shy of 100˚, so we didn’t do much besides lazing around the AA and reading.

I’m in the middle of two books right now. The first is The United States of Arugula which is David Kamp’s account of food history in the States during the last century. It’s enjoyable because he clearly had fun writing it. Every page has a few footnotes with extra bits of trivia that don’t quite fit into the story, but that Kamp couldn’t resist including in his book. I read Heat while I was in MA and this book follows it nicely. The other book I’m reading is one that I’ve been slowly reading for months: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. It’s valuable, but not the most gripping of volumes. Chapter by chapter, he covers various aspects of kitchen science so that a layperson can understand it. It’s very dry, but I there is quite a bit of satisfaction when you can put some theory into practice. Understanding how an emulsion works when making an aïoli in the kitchen becomes useful when your mayonnaise starts to break. It’s also nice to understand why browned meat is so delicious (In brief, when food browns it undergoes a process called the maillard reaction, a sort of caramelization.).

Temperatures feel more civilized (but only by contrast) after the sun sets, so we did venture out during our evenings. On Saturday we had pizza and on Sunday we decided to go to a restaurant.

The place we had planned on eating at was entirely full when we arrived, so we walked around until we settled on Dar Sor Olimpio al Drago. I’m unsure what the mouthful of a name means, but our mouthfuls there were wonderful, especially because it had more than a hint of a French influence, which I found a nice break from Italian food. To start, for my primi, I had baby octopi swimming around in some sort of a briny-wine-y seafood broth. Each octopus was whole (head and all) and tasted like seawater. Gone too soon, I then soaked up every last bit of the broth with the house-made bread. I was only sad that I had finished it for a moment because it was followed by duck with fennel salad. It wasn’t the most visually appealing, but it was super tasty:

As previously mentioned, we had a long weekend. Apparently the 29th of June is when apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul died. I didn’t know that either. Appropriately, I visited St. Peter’s Basilica earlier this week.

During the day, Lorenzo and Sarah decided to go to the beach. Not much of a beachgoer, I decided to wander around Rome. When I got back, I made some pasta all’Amatriciana. I dropped my pasta in the water as they walked in the door. They had just been shopping at Eataly:

After we ate my pasta, we tasted the cheeses and a few other goodies they’d purchased.

Cheese from Eataly
It was nearing sunset, armed with champagne flutes, we walked a couple blocks so that we could see Rome’s skyline and watch the fireworks (the AA is at the top of the Gianicolo Hill, so we can see most of Rome from it and from the rest of the neighborhood).

This coming week will also be short: the American Academy is closed for the 4th of July.