In Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavours and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City co-authors Katie Parla and Kristina Gill want to show us Rome as it really is. This they do by reference to the food found in the different neighbourhoods around the city and through the many tempting recipes that they have included in this sumptuous book. With the turn of each page, the reader learns new things as they are brought on a gastronomic tour of the city.
Despite its Imperialistic past Parla and Gill show us that there is little that is lavish or ostentatious about Roman food but rather that it is characterised by its simplicity and a no-nonsense approach to the ingredients that are used. Put simply, Roman cooking is instinctive and based around using whatever produce is freshly available and in season. I was keen to start cooking and try out some of the recipes.
I decided to kick off my recipe road-test with Cacio e Pepe Suppli (Rice Croquettes with Pecorino Romano & Black Pepper). Here Parla has adapted the flavours found in Cacio e Pepe – a pasta sauce made from Pecorino Romano and coarsely ground black – and has used them in an updated version of the deep-fried rice croquettes which are a popular street-food in Rome.
I love classic suppli and didn’t believe that they could be improved on… but the recipe in Tasting Rome surpassed all expectations. The recipe was easy to follow and whilst some technique was involved even someone with limited cooking skills could make them. I loved them and thought this updated version was inspired.
|Biscotti just out of the oven|
I love biscotti so this recipe containing whole almonds and cinnamon immediately appealed. Although American Cup Measurements were used, the book contains a handy conversion chart and in no-time at all I had the ingredients weighed out and the dough mixed up. I then shaped the dough into two logs and popped them into the oven for their first baking. Once out of the oven the logs were sliced into individual biscuits and baked for a second time to dry them out. This recipe makes a large amount of biscuits, but I wasn’t complaining as they were absolutely delicious. They also were easy to store and remained beautifully crisp, stored in a tin for a number of days after I had made them.
Panna cotta is served in most Roman restaurants, so I felt duty bound to make the Panna Cotta alla Menta con salsa di Cioccolato (Mint Panna Cotta). At its simplest panna cotta is a set-milk dessert, commonly flavoured with vanilla but easy to adapt to incorporate other flavours. This version was gently flavoured with vanilla but had a good hit of mint. It was incredibly easy to make and I quickly had it mixed up and poured into ramekins. They were left to set in the fridge overnight and the following day I turned them out onto individual serving plates and served them along with the wonderful chocolate sauce suggested in Tasting Rome. They were outstanding.
|Crostata prior to baking|
I defy anyone to read this book and not want to immediately book a flight to Rome.
Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavours and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City is published by Clarkson Potter and is available to buy at Amazon
This book review first appeared in TheTaste.ie
|Crostata ready to serve|