Rome, Del Frate


There is little doubt that the most wonderful pool in Rome is situated in the Foro Italica complex. The complex, a premier example of Fascist architecture was actually not constructed until some years later for the 1960’s Olympics. The walls and pool deck are all decorated with marble mosaics and the basin itself is completely clad in white Carrara marble. Membership can be obtained for no fewer than five days and up to one year. If you are planning to be in Rome for a long enough stay and are a serious swimmer it is by far the best place to swim. Be prepared with a doctor’s note stating that you are physically fit for swimming or you will not be admitted.
Tablesetting

On our last swim we headed over to one of our favorite restaurants, Del Frate. It is technically a wine bar and is connected to a shop specializing in wine and fine spirits. The actual bar and restaurant serves an eclectic mix of classical Italian fare as well as some slightly French and Asian inspired dishes. We have been for both lunch and dinner and it has never disappointed.
Cheese Plate
We started with a sampling of two cheeses, a Blu del Monviso from the Piemonte region and Quartirolo from Lombardie, and two glasses of Borolo, Prunotto 2011. The Blu del Monviso is very reminiscent of a french Roquefort style cheese. The Quartirolo, textured somewhat like a goat cheese, had an appealing array floral and fruity notes. The cheeses were served with a condiment of Orange Blossom Honey, pickled watermelon rind and a basket of fresh bread.

For one of our main dishes we ordered the risotto cooked in red wine with Parmesan cheese. It was deliciously garnished with crispy bits of sausage and fresh Thyme. For our second main course we decided to try the chicken cooked in a Wok. The chicken was cooked with an assortment of julienned carrots and zucchini and served in a rich aromatic broth of soy sauce and sesame oil with a sprinkling of fresh ginger. The carrots were perfectly cooked, retaining some of their crunch while the zucchini was soft and mellow but not mushy as can often be the case. It was a startling and very delicious combination of dishes! With friendly service, great food and wine this is a sure bet for lunch, aperitif, or dinner.
www.enotecadelfrate.it

Rome: Palazzo Spada

Saturday was once again rainy and a bit dreary.  But the upside is that the tourist stay in while we venture out.  And, frankly, Rome not unlike Paris is actually quite beautiful in the rain. The cobblestone streets and sidewalks come alive; wet, shiny and reflective.  The green of vegetation becomes exaggerated and enhanced creating a contrast to the otherwise gray smog stained buildings.

We took a nice walk over to Palazzo Spada and spent  a few hours or so touring the picture galleries of this wonderful renaissance palace.  Only one floor is open to the public but enough paintings and period furnishings to keep us occupied for the morning.

After the picture galleries we headed downstairs and out the back into a wonderful courtyard to view the perspective colonnade by Borromini.  The rain was pouring but nothing could take away from this fascinating three dimensional perspective.  Be sure to check it out here: http://www.artbabble.org/video/ngadc/empire-eye-magic-illusion-palazzo-spadas-corridor-part-5

 

After spending some time photographing and pondering the genius of this architectural wonder we headed back out into the wet city.  Not far from the entrance to the gallery there is a restaurant, La Quercia, that we have passed many times but had never tried.  This time with so much rain and no other place in mind for lunch it seemed destined for a first try.

laquerciaI
La Quercia Interior

We were the first to arrive for lunch. This is typical for us. Somehow we have not gotten accustomed to eating lunch as late as the locals do. Lunch here does not really get started until at least one and really even later on weekends. The interior is very warm and cozy; the perfect place for this rainy day.

LaquerciaII

We started by ordering a bottle of Poggio Dei Gelsi. This was the least expensive bottle on the menu but the only white from the Lazio region which is to say a local vineyard. The wine was fairly dry and went well with everything we ordered; the perfect table wine.

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Sauteed Porcini Mushrooms

Our waiter soon arrived with a basket of fresh Porcini mushrooms and suggested we try them in one of two ways; either sauteed or with fettuccine. We opted to share the sauteed version.

PumkinrisottoI
Pumpkin Risotto with Clams

The mushrooms were sliced and diced into nice size chunks and sauteed in olive oil along with garlic and rosemary.  Grilled whole wheat bread was nestled in for soaking up the sauce.  These were really really good.  So succulent!

Rabbitwitholives
Braised Rabbit with Black Olives

Next we decided on one of the special dishes of the day which was risotto and pumpkin with clams.  Again, a really delicious dish. The salty sea infused clams contrasted nicely with the creamy background of the pumpkin while the rice, cooked al dente, offered texture and balance.

The final dish we ordered and shared as well was the rabbit cooked with black olives.  A beautiful presentation with glossy black olives and creamy puree of potatoes and again some bread nestled in for soaking up the sauce. The rabbit had been braised with herbs and garlic and was super tender and succulent.

All in all a wonderful rainy Saturday here in Rome.