Eating Italy Food Tours in Rome
Given that I’m in Santa Fe at the moment with our Culinary Tour, and this week IS all about food, I thought it would be good to step back in time (not THAT long ago, just two months) and revisit Italy for a food tour there.
When in Rome, I had a chance to join Eating Italy’s Rome Food Tour. Jon and I spent half a day walking the Testaccio neighborhood with our very enthusiastic guide, Kenny (left).
Though Kenny is American, he’s been living in Rome and gotten to know the area quite well. He seems to have even taken on the hand gestures of the locals
Our group spent about 4 hours walking this particular neighborhood, popping in and out of markets, shops, delis and restaurants – sampling, oggling, sipping and devouring.
While it wouldn’t be fair to Eating Italy to name where we stopped, here’s a little visual journey of what we experienced:
We started at a local market where we sampled buffalo mozzarella (in Italian, mozzarella di bufala). This is a far more moist mozzarella than you might be used to at home. Not so great on pizza (because of the high water content) but excellent for caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella and basil). To our delight, Trader Joe’s carries buffalo mozzarella (nowhere near as good as Italy, but it’ll do in a pinch).
In addition to cheese, meats, fruits and veggies, there was a lovely little flower section at the market.
Next stop was an old neighborhood deli where Kenny served the group a platter of meats and cheeses. (They were kind enough to create a special veggie platter for us vegetarians.) Everyone got to taste a few different types of traditional specialties from this shop…
… which was packed from top to bottom with pastas, chocolates, breads, pizza, meats and cheeses. Other than our tour, this really was no tourist stop. No English was spoken by the employees and you could tell it’s where the locals buy their quality foods.
Of course, what’s a food tour without stopping in at a pastry shop. Here we took a break from the healthy eating, and tried some sweet treats. Though we didn’t sample the cannolis above (my favorites) we did try an Italian croissant (known as cornetti) as well as some fancier sweets.
My teeth ache just looking at this one!
We had a bit of a cultural lesson, too, when we visited the non-Catholic cemetery for foreigners, featuring a pyramid . Strange but true.
It’s also where the poets Shelley and Keats were both buried.
But we had more important things to do than to linger over the dead poets… we had pasta awaiting.
Two months later, I can still taste this pasta, very simply prepared with a bit of cheese and black pepper. It’s the al dente texture that I enjoyed so much and the fact that with so few ingredients, the pasta itself was really the showcase.
A food tour in Italy would NOT be complete without a stop at the gelato shop. This one was a very traditional one – where the equipment used has been handed down for generations and the family takes pride in their craft. The owner can be a bit bossy (but of course, in a good way!). He won’t let you order flavors that won’t pair well together. Fruit and chocolate? Nope. A couple of fruits together, for sure.
Whatever you order take his advice – he knows his stuff!
If you’d like to book a tour through Eating Italy, do so well in advance of your trip. These folks run a couple of tours a day but sell out quickly – particularly in the summer, their high season.
You get a total of 9 tastings for 65 euros. The food alone is worth it, but the cultural lesson and perspective on Italy, Rome and this neighborhood are total bonuses.