Category Archives: Rome

Garbatella stopover in January

Garbatella in January

It’s been a busy few weeks: Christmas in Norway, back to Accra for New Year’s, now a two-week trip to Rome for work, and we head back to Accra this weekend. Unfortunately I picked up a bad cold in Norway, which turned into acute bronchitis. Denial and paracet only gets you so far, I discovered, though I tried! January is also harmattan season in Accra, with dry dusty winds from the Sahara making the city look foggy from dust, which did not help the coughing. So I have had some days sick in bed while in Rome, missing work, and am slowly recovering. Wonderful to be home in our own apartment (the friend of a friend staying here moved out while we are back). We felt the four earthquakes last Wednesday, spooky though no damage here.

Bar dei Cesaroni
 It is weird being back in Rome after 14 months in Accra. The bar up the hill still has good coffee,  tattered Roma signs and the grey parrot outside. Good coffee bars everywhere, lots of public buses! Romans may complain about AMA (rubbish collection), but AMA just collected our broken washing machine and and old armchair, free of charge. No open sewers, no chickens. Lots of people wearing black, and the cars look so small and new! Wonderful food — fresh salads, pizza margherita, mozzarella, rughetta, pasta amatriciana: it’s all been amazing.

Cheese at Garbatella farmers market ….and CHEESE! Real cheese!! Not just expensive plastic “Irish cheddar” from Shoprite. We bought cheese at the farmers’ market up the hill: pecorino stagionato, ricotta fresca con tartufo, carciocavallo affumicato, scamorza, more pecorino with walnuts, with pepper and with peperoncino, formaggio di capra, ricotta secca…….ahhhhhhh. Much of it vacuum packed, going back to Accra with us, and some it being enjoyed fresh now. Bliss.

Garbatella

Here in Garbatella we have an excellent pasta shop downstairs. We had a busy schedule to see friends for dinners most nights, but with me being sick, we had to cancel most and have been living off cheese, and fresh pasta: ravioli con pistachio, agnolotti (meat stuffing), ravioli all’ carbonara….  I am hoping to squeeze in ravioli con carciofi before we go. Every day the selection   changes slightly. Maybe I can get some fresh pasta Friday, and hope it survives the flight back.

Garbatella cat Random Garbatella cat enjoying January sunshine. My goodness, just going for a walk in a pretty neighbourhood seems such a luxury now.  Like being able to drink the tap water, or have an elevator. Internet fast enough to watch videos! Seeing friends and neighbours is lovely too.

Garbatella Via Passino, Garbatella. The pine trees look like they are leaning more than last year. There are changes since we were last here in July last year: the corner pub is now a tattoo parlour, and the ferramenta (hardware store) that closed is now a nail salon. The bar across the piazza that was renovating for ages opened last year and is still there, quite trendy – we went for a drink last summer, and there were actual hipsters there. But most things are reassuringly familiar, which nice. Nice if not too gentrified here, I love this neighbourhood.

We fly back to Accra this weekend, which will be nice too. Accra is great in a very different way, and I am really looking forward to Ghana mango and pineapple again, as well as seeing the wonderful people we know there too. Now we just need to think about what we pack in our 2×23 kilos of checked luggage each: cheese, pasta, more cheese, what else?

Marching in spirit today

In Rome this week, but bedridden with acute bronchitis, so unable to join the #womensmarch taking place at the Pantheon.

But I am following the marches online, and am with you in spirit. Friends are at the Womens Marches in Rome, in Oakland, in DC and in Oslo, Copenhagen, Geneva, London – wish I were there.

And in Geneva:

And in London

Summer cake with yoghurt and cherries

cherry cake

Another hot day, 31C inside (cooler than outside) and I am drinking iced tea and recovering after a sweaty walk to getting groceries. Even the locals were complaining today: “Madonna! Che caldo! E insupportabile!”. Now after lunch,  those who are not at the beach are secluded indoors, blinds are dropped and fans are on, it’s OK if you do not do much.

On the way, dragging my carrello (personal shopping trolley) along the bumpy sidewalk, I met a neighbour, loading her car on the street, with bags and dog, who explained that they were departing. “Buona vacanza! Mare o monti?“, I asked: sea or mountains? Those are the options from Rome. Oh, the mountains, she said, but actually it was only her dog who was going on holidays. He was going to her sister in the mountains, to cool off for a couple weeks. When the dogs get moved, it is definitely warmer then normal.

We even had mystery packet ramen noodles for dinner the other night. Cook three minutes? Perfect! Still, we had watermelon and peaches and cherries, and a friend arriving, so this impromptu cake was made – then the kitchen was barricaded off to block the heat.

Quick summer cake with yoghurt and cherries (and a peach)

3 eggs
120 grammes sugar
120 grammes yoghurt (I used banana)
80 grammes melted butter
100 ml semi-skimmed milk
250 grammes all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of vanilla salt

12 cherries, pitted
One small peach, chopped

Optional: icing sugar to serve

cherries

Whisk eggs and sugar, add the rest and whisk  (not too much after flour is added). Layer baking parchment on base of 24 cm springform tin. Add half the batter, then fruit dropped over, then spoon on rest of batter. Bake in middle of the oven at 200C for 40 min or so. Cool and serve; sprinkle over a little icing sugar if you wish.
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I did not use much butter, which means the cake might be bit pale, but the structure was fine and the fruit comes through well (depending where you slice the cake…..). Wishing you all cooler days soon!

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