Rome’s Desert Edition – by Rakshita Kapoor
If I were to choose any three things in the world to survive with, in a heartbeat I would choose family, travel and DESERTS. I have a fair share of space in my heart saved for savory delicacies, but Man! Me ogling at a pretty deserts bar is worth a sight. My love & lust for sweet treats can well be compared to the drooling face of a dog with a big meaty bone in front of him.
Having said that quality matters most for me. Much like in every other part of my life, I prefer my food to be of best quality possible. I am happy eating less and pay more if I am sure of the product genuineness.
Being the second visit to Rome, Italy, I decided to check out finer details of this culinary capital of the world in the sweetest possible way. I took a desert tour with a fabulous guide Valeria. You can follow her on Instagram.
Italian Gelato: the moment you’ll visit any square or monument in Rome you’ll find a plethora of gelato shops with bight colored heaps of stuff that is sold to tourists as gelato. And as you might have guessed, it’s not Gelato. It’s highly processed ice-cream, with powdered milk, sugars, inferior contents and artificial food colors. A real gelato is made with au natural ingredients, fresh seasonal fruits and is natural in color.
Gelato at Punto Gelato
There are three things that can help you identify a genuine gelato from a fake one:
- Colours & Texture: Real gelato will have all natural colours with no added food colouring. Pistachio won’t be bright green, but muddy pale with earthen green, pineapple will never be bright yellow, it will be very light yellow. Same way banana gelato will never be white or yellow, but natural nude shade etc. The heaps of ice-creams sold in touristy shops is icy and fluffy, a good gelato is heavy and dense in texture, and a single scoop is good enough to satiate your sweet craving, unless of course you love to dive in it, the way I do. 😉
- Seasonality: Genuine gelato is made with seasonal & local products. Nuts etc. are imported from different parts of the country and world, but fruits for fruit gelato menu section is mostly locally sourced.
- Kitchen: Any gelateria selling a genuine traditional gelato will have it’s kitchen visible to the visitors. Best Gelato shops make their batch of gelato fresh everyday mostly in the morning. So if you can see the kitchen, you can trust the product and its maker for quality and authenticity.
Gelaterias to visit: Punto Gelato, Gelateria Del Teatro, Ciampini
Coffee: Coffee is a staple drink for most of us, from early morning’s wake up call to midnight meetings, a single concoction that can keep us going is coffee. But wait! The way it things move in today’s world of consumerism and over consumption, most of us have abused this drink per our liking. Italians are a big snob about their coffee, and rightfully so. It’s a morning/ breakfast drink for them. Any other time is a no-no. So a cappuccino after meal is a sin, a vice for Italians and it will give that you are not an Italian (in case you were pretending to be one).
Italian concept of coffee is pretty straight forward. A shot of espresso at a bar (yes, they call their coffee place a bar and place where alcohol is served is called a pub), standing and getting on with the day. When you enter and order a coffee at bar, billing person will ask if you’d like to have it at the bar or would like a table. If you have time at hand to sit and savor your coffee, you’d ask for a table and in this case you will be charged higher than what you would have paid for the coffee at the bar. So do mention clearly where you would like to have your coffee.
The most famous Italian coffee types are:
- Espresso: Espresso is brewed by using an espresso machine. Espresso is thicker in consistency than coffee brewed by other methods or using other machines. It is served in a shot coffee cup.
- Cappuccino: is prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam.
- Latte: A concoction of espresso and steamed milk, in a 1:3 to 1:5 ratio of espresso to milk. It usually had a little milk foam on top
Since Italians are crazy about their coffee, it’s vital to mention their most famous coffee desert during hot summer days.
- Coffee Granita: it’s a strong shot of espresso on shaved ice, topped with big dollop of whipped cream. It’s quite strong in the first bite, the bitterness of espresso and chill of shaved ice, is balanced with whipped cream. I had a small size of it, but couldn’t finish it as I almost got brain freeze.
Coffee Bars to visit:
- Caffé Tazza D’oro – Probably one of the oldest and among the most popular cafés in Rome, Tazza D’oro is also known for their exquisite blends of coffee including Kopi Luwak. Frequently visited by locals, its great place for coffee lovers and to buy coffee bags for friends and family back at home.
- Antico Café Greco – Started in 1760 – It is the Rome’s oldest café and probably the most luxurious one. Located in a heritage building its one of the most beautiful Cafés in Rome. If you plan to sit and enjoy the ambiance, be prepared to pay a little extra for all its gorgeousness, its history and of course the excellent coffee, gelato and tiramisu made by Italian experts. It’s worth it.
Tiramisu: List of favourite Italian deserts can’t be complete with the mention of Tiramisu. Original Tiramisu is made with a layer of biscuits called ladyfingers, eggs, mascarpone cheese, brewed espresso, Kahlua or dark rum & cocoa powder. Here is a traditional tiramisu recipe.
Where to eat Tiramisu: Pompi: They pride themselves in making and serving the first takeaway Tiramisu. And I am serious when I say it’s divine. Even if you skip all of the above (though you must visit all ;)), make sure to visit this place for their Tiramisu. You are welcome.
Till next time,