A Guide to Local Wine.
Discover the best places for tasting local wine in Rome in 2014
Would you believe me if I told you that food in Rome has changed?
I know it sounds absolutely absurd to say this about one of the food cultures which is MOST famous for never changing anything on the kitchen table.
What I see is less hanging to the apron strings of Nonna as the Holy Grail for food joy, and more about celebrating the local farmers, ways and evolutions of the traditional dishes, AND how they are made.
I have always perceived Italians and their food connections to be as emotional and strict as French with theirs. A great attachment, especially as an Australian – we have little food history – , and something that I find charming. At times a little claustrophobic, but generally charming.
The identity of Rome has often been the basis for the typical dishes of typical dishes of gnocchi on Thursday, baccalà (salted cod) on Fridays, and trippa on Saturdays. But as we see seismic shifts occur, a German chef holds the only 3 Michelin stars in the city, and offbeat cafes generate column space in reviews without even having ‘proper’ ambience concept.
There is a freedom in celebrating more the small scale producer. Also a trend we are seeing world wide in gastronomy. And this small scale producer, if he is close by and putt-putts into the city to deliver his produce directly, is even more cause to be celebrated than the big hitters from Veneto, Piedmont or Tuscany, the agriculture big wigs of times gone by.
My tips for tasting local wines in Spring 2014 in Rome:
Vino Roma – One of only two Italian wine educators in Italy, Vino Roma is the epicentre of wine history and tasting all in one. You just HAVE to go. Book your time in Rome around her event timetable.
Palatium Enoteca Regionale – the ONLY wine bar in Rome which strictly serves local wines from within the marble walls of Rome, and breads, honey and confits from guys within the radius. Here you will get a great explanation of the region, and also someone who can explain that while you look at a roman wine and think Sicily from the depth of golden colour, the minerality will lighten anything you expect from you see.
Aromaticus di Francesca – Nestled in the trendy suburb of Monti, this gorgeous café is both green finger heaven and a haven from the madness. Entering through a garden-style shop which sells seeds to offset your C02 footprint and greeted by a guy who can consult you on how to build the best balcony vegetable or herb garden in the middle of Rome. Out the back you find a charming little kitchen with locally grown and procured salad, soup or light meat or fish dishes to fulfil your heart and soul. One wine at a time is chosen, again locally, to highlight the proud chef choice of the day.
Passaguai – A secret around the corner of the Vatican and a definite refuge from the barrage of tourists and cheap pizza venues. Focused both on close regional delights like wine and ham from the guys over the hill, to their own small honey collection, olive oil and marmalades that are produced by the family and sent to city centre as the pairings for amazing cheese and salami starters.
Urbana 47 – Focused and proud of direct supply chain relationship to the kitchen. They don’t deal with markets or middle men, and have a rule that there is no second hand that helps them choose their tomatoes or lemons. A great atmosphere that has the fairy godfather touch of some Michelin star men of times gone by (Angelo Trioani) you can happily groove there but make sure you to prepare with a well organised reservation.
Bir & Fud – Fun and beery is how I call this place. Their own microbrewery and in the theme of loving all things local, this place touched my heart. Again, you need to fight through the locals (not tourist trade here) to get a spot so be sure to organise that reservation.
2 Periodico – Looks like you’ve walked into someone’s Nonna’s living room at first, and then a cavernous entertainment area opens up with a series of mismatched furniture that immediately makes you think of the cupboards and second hand sofas that you bought during university days. Cocktail selection that uses local sparkles took my heart and a big DJ stage that looks like it hosts everything from photographic exhibitions to raves. Like the modern bohemia go here and you don’t need a piercing or tattoo to fit in, or a hipster jean or thick rim glass, you just need to be strong and proud of WHO you are, and you’ll have a great time. Oh and sneak your hand under Nonna’s cookie jar on your way out :)
As spring is approaching, DIY picnic in the backpack is absolutely my favourite way to enjoy Rome.
Franchi – is a cornerstore deli and will get you fanging from the first 5 hanging hams all with their story about what is fed what and when, to the warm dishes over the cheese counter. I cannot say anything but, take an empty backpack and some picnic wine glasses. You will get the rest of what you need for a romantic picnic at Franchi. No web infos available so you just need to wander over to Via Cola Rienzo or call them 06 687 4651 and ask them to pack a picnic ready to pick up. But seriously, you need to go, ooooogle and fall in love with the sexy ham legs and breasts of buffalo that as round and pert as something you see on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Of worthy mention on the side:
The only 3 stars in Rome these days pin on the chest of Heinz Beck who is the heart of luxury eatery La Pergola. Apparently his spaghetti with red prawns are to die for. I was told three times. But my budget didn’t really extend that far.
To read more about the recent development and the rise of local wines in Rome, head over to BEAUTYCALYPSE to read about Roman Holiday: Local wine rising.
—by Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl from blysschocolate.com
Photos: Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl