Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roman Markets 1: Testaccio

I recently had a working trip to Rome and had lots of time off to go grocery shopping. The supermarket near the hotel was mediocre, so I hit some real markets instead.

Il mercato di Testaccio is in the southern part of central Rome, just south of the Aventino hill (Piramide Metro). I’d been there before, but this place is devoid of tourists and has some great specialty shops, so always worth going back. The market is not huge, but has some good quality stalls under a covered square. You can find fruit and veg, all really fresh and mostly local. In February, the romanesco broccoli is enormous and gorgeous. Expect to find pristine radicchio of several types as well as piles of all sorts of greens. Real roman specialties are puntarelle, curly, handcut salad greens often served with olive oil and anchovies.

At a baker’s stall, I bought fresh focaccia and a couple types of cookies. Brutte ma buone (“ugly but good”) are a Roman cookie basically made of a hazelnut meringue. They look a bit like a turd, but taste wonderful. Ideally, they should be slightly crunchy on the outside and soft inside, which means eating them within one or two days of baking. Damn. The other cookies were some sort of marzipan. Yum.

I also bought “transparent” slices of mortadella, cut so thin they melt in your mouth, and prosciutto and a bit of some sort of hard goat cheese. Had I a kitchen, I would have bought some fish. The focaccia, sliced meats and a blood orange were consumed in the Giardino degli Aranci on top of the Aventino, sitting in the warm sun with a view of Rome and a cat politely awaiting a handout.

Where I ate my meal, in the sun, with a view of Rome below.

Check out all of the cool greens and salads to buy!

A close up of huge, fresh, BEAUTIFUL roman broccoli.

Where I bought my radicchio and broccoli.

Fishy fishy. All fresh fish from around Italy.

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