Category Archives: Rome

Enjoying Rome, and helkornbrød II


It is very strange, being back in Rome for a few weeks. Being slightly cold most of the time, taking the bus, brushing your teeth in tap water, having a hot bath. How cheap food is, especially cheese and celery. Horse meat in the supermarket, not goat. Not hearing chickens at dawn. Still being a badly dressed foreigner (a straniera, an obruni). Seeing so many friends and neighbours, who exclaim: “You’re BACK!”  Explaining that the move is pending, that in 19 days I head back to Accra, and wanting to make the most of it while we are here.  Enjoying the food: the coffee, fresh pasta, Roman pizza. The thrill of seeing prepped puntarelle. Rome is amazing. Not that Accra is terrible, by all means.


There was a Garbatella street run today, so the police had closed the piazza and we could hear the loudspeakers and see runners meandering through. Here, the kiddie section is passing by.

Last Sunday I baked bread, reveling in being cool enough to knead dough comfortably. I made helkornbrød, whole cracked wheat bread using the cracked wheat packet recipe. Today I made it again, halving the amount of fresh yeast and adding rye flakes.

Whole cracked wheat bread II (helkornbrød)

100 grammes whole cracked wheat
50 grammes rye flakes (or coarse oatmeal)
250 grammes water
2 tsp salt
* This should be mixed and soaked overnight – this time I did that. Then added to dough with water and yeast next day.

750 grammes plain white wheat flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes coarse rye flour
600 ml tepid water
25 grammes fresh yeast
50 grammes vegetable oil

Mix ingredients, knead 4-7 minutes. Cover and leave to rise until pillowy, and dough is doubled in size, a couple hours in a cool kitchen, bowl covered with a hotel shower cap. Fold dough for a few minutes in the bowl with a spatula, it helps the structure. Shape and split dough between two loaf tins. Leave to rise an hour or so, then bake at 225C on lower shelf in oven for 45 min. I slashed these slightly right before baking. If you take it out of tin, and tap base, it should sound hollow. Take out of loaf tins and cool on rack before slicing.


I was a bit overwhelmed by the supermarket selection today: ricotta, mascarpone, broccolo romano, pecorino cheese with truffle…… So much I have missed, and now I hardly know where to start. But yes, I bought puntarelle, and anchovy fillets in oil, so that will be a lovely puntarelle salad tomorrow night. Maybe with this bread.



Two very hot days in Garbatella

Piazza Bonomelli, deserted in the afternoon heat. What a luxury, 48 hours at home in Rome! Our suitcases are packed for the return to Accra: freshly baked cantucci from Tuscany, truffle salami from the farmers market here Sunday, migraine medication for three months, and a little mozzarella. Let’s hope my suitcase is not delayed 24 hours again…

The Lucifer heatwave is still in force, too hot to do much. Quiet streets, 37.6C right now but not yet passing the 2003 record of 40.6C. 

Caffe freddo at the Bar dei Cesaroni up the hill, a Roma stronghold. Nero the parrot is still there. Good that things do not change too much here!

Photo from January when it was MUCH colder.

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.


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?