Upon telling our friends and family we were heading to Rome for a long weekend, the universal response was 'You'll love it'.
Bunking off work early on the Friday, with a toothbrush, passport and heightened sense of expectation, we flew to the Italian capital. And boy did it not disappoint.
The weekend centred around the Wales versus Italy Six Nations rugby match, which Wales won (prosecco all round!). At times it felt half of Cardiff had been teleported to Rome. Not least around the bars of Stadio Olympio where strains of 'Delilah' could be heard long into the damp, dark night. Even the Colosseum the following morning had a sense of a Celtic invasion as bleary eyes Welshmen attached to audioguides trooped round.
Of course a trip to Rome isn't complete without fully enjoying the local cuisine.
Most of the restaurants initially appeared to be pizzerias geared towards exhausted tourists stumbling out of a four hour tour of the Musee Vatican. But exploring the streets just a few minutes further afield from the main sites resulted in hearty, honest Roman dishes.
On a chilly, soggy February weekend the gallaterois of Rome perhaps weren't quite as appealing as they might have been during the height of a Roman heatwave. We braved the hyporthermia to tuck into the extraordinary flavours at Fatamorgana. But don't just take my word for the fabulous flavours: both The Sunday Times and David Lebovtiz have devoured the Smoked Black Tea ice cream, Rose, Orange and Hibiscus Flowers ice cream and Lobster and Vodka ice cream on offer.
But how on earth to do the Eternal City justice in just three days? Truth is, I don't think we did. Focusing on seeing some of the key sites helped. But just strolling through the city streets was my favourite time- stumbling upon hidden piazzas, grand palazzos, ancient monuments, opulent fountains, many of which didn't even warrant a brief mention in the guidebook due the sheer volume of remarkable sights.
I originally wrote this post on the back of my boarding pass on the flight home while simultaneously daydreaming about a return visit. As I write I am fervently hoping that those few coins I threw with vigour into the Trevi fountain work their magic and a return visit isn't too far into the future.
Inspired by our trip, I made these individual banana tiramisus on our return.
Individual Banana Tiramisu
2 tbsp coffee liquor
75ml strong black cold coffee
4 fine ladyfinger biscuits
1 banana, sliced
1 egg separated
2 tbsps caster sugar
125g mascarpone cheese
80ml double cream
1 banana, sliced
20g dark chocolate, finely grated or cocoa powder
1. Mix together the liqour and cold coffee and set aside
2. Divide the biscuits between two glasses, press down and pour over the coffee mixture. Place the sliced bananas over the biscuits and set aside
3. Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and caster sugar until thick . Beat in the mascarpone until it is smooth.
4. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the cream until thick, and then fold into the mascarpone mixture.
5. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the creamy mascarpone mixture.
6. Cover the biscuits with the creamy mascarpone and dust with the cocoa powder or scatter over the chocolate. Place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours prior to serving.
- Sorry if you are disappointed this is not a recipe for lobster and vodka ice cream
- Yep, that IS a chocolate spoon! Bought from a lovely little Roman deli near the Vatican. And somehow surviving the plane journey home when I was ravenous.