Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wrapping Up Rome: Pizza, Shopping, and Some Sightseeing

  This is going to be the last post on Rome, not because I've run out of places/restaurants to review, but because I want to cover Mallorca (Majorca) before we go on another trip. So, I'll just mention a few places quickly.....
 First off: Dar Poeta pizzeria, located not too far from where we stayed in Trastevere. We'd really wanted to go to Ai Marmi (another pizzeria also known as 'the morgue' because of its stone tables) but they were closed for the holidays. Bummer. They must be amazing, as when we tried to go, we met another couple outside the gated entrance who'd come halfway across the city to eat there too. Much disappointment was had by all that night!
 Anyway, back to Dar Poeta. First time there (we ate there twice, since as I said, they were really close by), we got carry-out and ordered a marinara pizza and one with anchovies and olives. Marinara was good, anchovies one was way too salty for my taste. Second time, we ate in and had another marinara and then one with cheese and mushrooms. The restaurant got quite crowded while we were eating (we arrived maybe a half hour after opening and were lucky to get a table right away), and there was a line outside by the time we left. Service was efficient but hurried as the waitresses had so many tables to cover. I wasn't impressed by the mushroom pizza either, and we actually left about a third of it on the pan. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Chicago pizzas and all the good food we had in Florence, but I can't say that I was terribly impressed by this place, and we weren't sure why it had so many raving review.s Decent pizza yet, but nothing spectacular. However, prices are reasonable and as long as you don't set your standards too high, Dar Poeta is all right for a casual meal.
 Dar Poeta Vicolo del Bologna 45/46, Rome (in Trastevere)

Next up: Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, in the Torre Argentina ruins (home to Pompey's Theater, among other buildings). This cat sanctuary is non-profit and run entirely by volunteers. When you need a break from sightseeing and want some relaxation time with furry friends, this is the place to go. The sanctuary is home to about 250 cats, many of which love any extra attention they can get. To enter the sanctuary, just look for the sign at the corner of via del Torre Argentina and via Florida, then go down the nearby steps. Donations are always needed, although we didn't feel at all pressured to hand over any cash when we visited. They also have a little gift shop, so you can help out that way if you feel the need to get something material for your monetary gift.
  Here's the link if you want to check them out: Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

   I REALLY wanted to take this little guy home with us! Good thing we couldn't fly him back, as I doubt that Wasabi and Sushi would have approved.

    Cat in the Torre Argentina ruins

Finally, a great little store in Trastevere: Polvere di Tempo, literally 'powder time' or 'powder of time'. In a time when shops and merchandise is becoming increasingly globalized, Polvere di Tempo transports you back to the age of the artisan. This shop, according to their website, 'specializes in time-keeping devices- but not clocks or watches - and in all manner of scientific instruments, ancient measuring devices, and old fashioned curiosities'. The interior of this shop is simply amazing, and since I asked, the owner's daughter was kind enough to agree to my taking a few pictures. (Note, if you do get to visit this lovely shop and want to take photos, be sure to ask. I always ask, but apparently lots of people don't think to do so, and I can definitely see how it would get annoying to have unapproved flashes and shutter clicks going on in such a peaceful shop).
 We bought a lovely compass-inspired keychain to take home, and there were so many more items that I really wanted to purchase! Polvere di Tempo is definitely THE store to hit up for unique souvenirs,  or especially for gifts for the man who has everything.

 Polvere di Tempo, Via del Moro 59
Here is their website, complete with a map for locating the store: Polvere di Tempo.

                 Some of Polvere di Tempo's wares. Simply beautiful pieces.  

So, that's it for Rome! Next up: Malloraca and all its amazing restaurants!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yotvata Kosher Jewish Restaurant In Rome

How do other people with toddlers manage to blog? I feel like it's all I can do to keep the house from smelling most days, let alone find time to write a post! So here it is going on May, and I'm still writing about our trip to Rome last December! This may/may not be the last post on it, but I definitely wanted to (quickly) talk about this restaraunt: Yotvata. We ended up here after another restaurant we'd been wanting to try was full, and am I ever glad our #1 choice didn't work out! Yotvata has the BEST Jewish artichokes! And basically just the best fried food in general. My husband said it was like eating tempura, ie not a greasy battered mess, but rather light and crispy. We ordered one of Yotvata's fried plates, which included white fish, some vegetables, fried cheese, and of course the Jewish artichoke. Yotvata's Jewish artichoke was so good that we promptly ordered another! They aren't cheap (5 euros per artichoke or something like 12 euros for a fried assorted platter), but they are definitely good.
 The decor and atmosphere are a bit dated, but the pasta was pretty decent and need I mention again, the AMAZING FRIED FOOD! Service was ok but nothing to write home about. It was quite busy when we were in though so that may have been part of the reason it was hard to flag down our waiter.
Don't go here if you've got a heart condition or are trying to be at all healthy. But if you're on vacation and want to indulge in some delicious fried goodness, then by all means hit up Yotvata.

Yotvata (Kosher Jewish Restaurant)
Piazza dei Cenci, 70 Rome Italy

    Homemade pasta at Yotvata

Massive fried platter at Yotvata

Fish egg pasta that I can't remember the name of...too salty for my taste, though

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ristorante La Campana in Rome, Italy

Still trying to wrap up Rome before I start blogging about our Mallorca getaway....hopefully I'll have time to get a few posts in this week!  

 Before we visited the Spanish Steps in Rome, we decided to lunch at Ristorante La Campana. Advertised as a local family restaurant with authentic Roman food, it had pretty good reviews and was recommended in a Japanese guidebook that we had on hand, too.
 We arrived just past opening time and there were only a few patrons inside already, but the restaurant filled up rather quickly (mostly with Italians) as the hour progressed. Our servers spoke English well, and they quickly provided a high chair for Keila and making a happy fuss over her snoozing form. In Europe, you never know if you're going to get a high chair or not, so it's always a pleasant surprise when a restaurant has some. Of course, since there actually was a high chair, Keila chose to sleep through most of that lunch in her backpack carrier. Murphy's Law. 
 I can't remember everything that we ordered, since it was over 3 months ago now, but I do know that arancini (fried rice balls), a steak, and some seafood risotto made the list. Didn't try the steak myself but apparently it was good, and the risotto was wonderful. We had the arancini as a starter, and they arrived piping hot and full of pumpkin (I think it was pumpkin) cheesy goodness. The menu was quite extensive and had lots of classic dishes on it, but I'm not a huge meat fan so baby lamb, ox tail, and other choices were definitely out. Other reviewers all seem to say that they're quite good, though.
 All of our dishes arrived promptly, and our waiters made sure we were happy but weren't overbearing. The only part of the meal that disappointed me was dessert: homemade flourless chocolate cake. It was way too dry for my liking, and I recall wishing that we'd just gotten some gelato afterward instead.
 Overall we had a really pleasant experience here: nice atmosphere, service was great,  and the appetizers and main courses were really good too. I'd go back again if we happened to be in the area.

Ristorante La Campana
Vicolo della Campana, 18, 00186 Rome, Italy

                    Most seats were full by the time we left

            Sleeping Beauty


   Arancini, dissected

Steak and potatoes. Sides are separate at La Campana

 Great seafood risotto

   The amazingly dry flourless cake

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Keila is 2 and 1/2 Years Old!!!

Quite a few things have kept me from posting anything this past month....various illnesses, a mini-vacation, tax season, you name it. I promise to get a few fun posts about our trip to Mallorca up within the week (and maybe I'll even finish up Rome at some point this year!). For now, we're going to keep on schedule with Keila's monthly update. And it's a rather big one: she's 2.5 years old today!!!

1. Keila's language is still progressing rapidly. So fast in fact, that even I notice how much it's increasing week by week. And I'm around her all the time. We are using more Japanese now, too, but still combining it with English into sentences. She also pretty consistently will say 'Thank you Mama' or 'You're welcome (Mama/DaDa)' whenever she's given/gives something. Very polite little girl!
2. I haven't come up with anything to fill in the teething category since last month. Maybe we'll just drop #2 altogether and move #3 into its spot.
3. Sleep is better for the time being! Keila is napping again and also sleeping through the night for the most part. Had a few bad bedtimes during which she'd lie down to sleep, then start screaming in terror as soon as I left the room. Luckily the pretty pink flower lights from Ikea that Grandpa was so kind to install solved that problem. No more darkness, no more fear!
4. Keila's favorite activites for the time being....she's started to get more into coloring (colouring if you're British), and I often hear her chattering away at imaginery play with her dolls if I'm just outside the room. Not sure if I mentioned that she was talking about an imaginary man for a while, but luckily he seems to have gone. He mostly resided in a corner of our dining room, and I was constantly being warned not to step on him if I was in there. Funny but a bit creepy at night!
 Keila also had a great time with her Grandpa when he visited last month, and she's been talking about going on the airplane to see him soon. Sometimes she will pack a bag and tell me 'Bye Mama', then head for the door. Maybe Grandpa should come see us again soon!
 5. Story for this month. Keila will do just about anything for chocolate. She fell down last week or maybe it was the week before. While crying as I hugged her and rubbed her knee, she wailed 'Chocolate! Chocolate make Keila feel BETTER!' Hah! Smart girl!
6. Have forgotten to weigh/measure her yet again. We measured her while Grandpa was here but I've forgotten what she was exactly...I want to say around 90 cm? Which, if you check the growth charts, means she's below average for height. I kind of find that hard to believe, since most of her little friends are all around her size. Either that or we only happen to have short friends.
 That's it on Keila until May!

Playing at the park today. Run ducky run!

On the swings