Contributing Monkie Aria Alpert
Published on April 2, 2012
Photographer: Aria Alpert
It’s my last night here in Roma before I take to the train. Time just seems to go by smoothly here. There is a flow that has effortlessly slipped into my Roma life. Well, in my life in general but I am here now so…
Tomorrow, I am off to the town of Lecce, to attend, hopefully an amazing week long authentic Italian cooking school. Which happens to be in the Region of Puglia, right along the Adriatic Sea. Damn. I can’t believe this is my life. I have always been envious of those brave people taking trips like this, alone. And then, boom, here I am, doing it. Wow, how quickly your life can change if you choose to change it. Magic starts to sprinkle in and you suddenly find yourself in Italy. In ROMA!
This is also my first night without plans and I am hungry. A familiar loneliness crept in to my mind but thankfully quickly left. Aria, I said to myself, you are in Roma, get over yourself. No time to get depressed. No need to wallow. Get your ass up and out and explore the streets. Stumble upon a cute little café for dinner and embrace life. This moment. As is it is. Cause, remember the last post? I am here now. And it is perfect. And if it wasn’t, well, then, it would be different, right?
So I go walking, feeling the gentle warm breeze guiding me along the cobblestone street and the fresh Roman blisters on the bottom of my feet growing with each stride. It’s already 8:30pm and I seem to be falling right into the late dinner schedule here perfectly too. What do I want…hmmmm…a nice big crisp salad. Greens. Dark. Bitter greens. Simply, that is all I want.
For lunch I went to a classic Italian deli and got a side of sheep feta, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and a slice of focaccia bread that was heavily sprinkled with olive oil. It was salty and oily and the only thing I really LOVED was the black olives. They were the only things not too salty if you could believe that. And I am happy and proud to announce to you all that I am now a black olive lover. I know. I am as shocked as you are, believe me… :)
My point for mentioning lunch was that this is why I am craving the greens based on my not so satisfyingly salty and oily lunch. Salads are hard to come by in Roma, it seems. Veggie salads that is. They all pretty much are meat and cheese and seafood based. But I’m on a mission. And I won’t stop until I get what I want, until I am satisfied.
I walk down many different lovely streets over looking the Coliseum. Everything is pasta and pizza and meat and fish…and everyone was watching the world cup so very crowded with loud Italians and tourists crowded around the outdoor TVs.
But then, in the corner of my eye a tiny little place winks at me. Divin wine bar. I walk by. The outdoor patio is packed so I peek my head inside and Billie Holiday is playing. I know. Perfecto. And it’s adorable. Seven Tables lit by candlelight. I sit down and the only waitress brings me a menu. I look at it and, of course, find SALAD! YEAH! I ordered 2 different ones and another classic Italian aperitivo called a Spritz. It’s Apperol (which is a milder version of Campari), Prosseco, sparkling water, on the rocks with a slice of orange. Wow. Delicious! Slightly bitter, extremely refreshing and not that strong. Just leaving you with an ever so slight swavy feeling.
A Nina Simone song that I have been listening to over this past month comes on. The opening lyrics: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feelin’ good.” I mean…this is getting kinda ridiculous, right!
My first salad arrives. A delightful bitter mix of chicory, radicchio and endive with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and shaved parmesan. It was fresh, crisp, bitter, sweet from the tomatoes and tangy from the cheese. Lovely. My only problem was that the mushrooms were raw and I hoped for them to be roasted or sautéed or something. But it was fine. I got over my self quickly. Oh and in Italy you dress your own salad so they bring you an incredible bottle of olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and balsamico. You choose what and how much and do your thang. I am an old school olive oil and sea salt kinda gal. Lemon if they got it. But not an Italian thing so oil and salt it is.
Forgot to mention that the bread basket was staring at me. Hmm, do I or don’t I. Since I had some for lunch and since I really don’t like eating a lot of white flour cause there is no nutritional value and it’s like glue in your intestines and my goal is not to grow my ass anymore than…. well…. maybe just the crust…that part’s not that bad…right? F-it. I am in Roma. That’s gonna be my answer for everything I have a feeling on this trip. Mmmmm …tasty.
A Chet Baker song plays as my second Salad comes. (This is quickly becoming my new fav place!) This salad was made special for me. All veggies. Rocket (which is what they call Arugula in Italian), sweet corn, avocado, grapefruit., cherry tomatoes, artichokes, black olives (I know too much in one day but f-it…!) The salad sounds like an odd combo and it’s certainly not food combining friendly but it goes down wonderfully and it was made with a lot of love. As was this café and that’s what it’s really all about. Eating and living and enjoying life with a heck of a lot of love…and that, my friends, is exactly what I am a doin’ over here alone in Italia…and I’m lovin’ it!
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