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I am on the train, going back to Milan after a 30 intense hours in Rome.

Oooooh I missed this city so much. The last time I was there was 2016, three times in one month: for a wedding, for my 33rd birthday with 8 of my girlfriends and for my first trip with Jace. I guess that's the only picture we took of us, less wrinkles and no white hair yet.

Last year my friend Maja and I started L'Ost, a project to share our passion for wine and food, hosting dinners in different locations picking different regions of Italy. While I was in Italy in May, she met Laurence Faber at the opening of Zerozero and they came up with a special collaboration for one of our events, a Jewish-Roman dinner. I was thrilled to hear he wanted to join us with L'Ost but I also got intimidated as: 1. I am not Jewish 2. I know Roman food but not Jewish-Roman.

What a great opportunity to take a trip to Rome and do some research though! My goals were eating as much Jewish-Roman food that my body could handle and explore the Jewish quarter. (Actually also having a girls' night out with my bestie Vale who was there for work). Over the century the Roman and Jewish culinary heritage blended making it impossible to say exactly where one begins and the other ends. The Jewish traditions and practices are very fascinating and there is so much to learn, I had just a smattering during this short trip. It's been quick (as I left Lea in Milan with my parents) but intense and very productive. In 30hours I collected 40k steps, 4 meals a rare 8 hours sleep and a luggage of knowledge.

Milan/Rome is an easy and pleasant 3 hour train ride (if there are no strikes or delays, I have been very lucky both ways).

If you happen to be in Milan Central Station, check out the food market, Mercato Centrale. It is a really cool food hall but not very well indicated unless you know it. You have to go to the ground floor to the left side, facing the front of the station. I had a veneziana brioche from Davide Longoni bakery. Perfect way to start the day.

I arrived in Rome at lunch time and went straight to the Jewish district that I will call "Ghetto" from now on, as it is still called in Rome. I went to Giggetto, an established Jewish-Roman restaurant and got a table in the nice outdoor small sitting area in the back. I wanted to try everything on the menu but my belly was still full from breakfast. Priority was the Carciofo alla Giudia that was incredible, crispy on the outside, soft at the heart. I had Roman pastas many times and wanted to try a secondo so I ordered the Coda alla Vaccinara as is one of the dishes of my childhood but I only ate it at home so I wanted to compare. My mom's ox tail won. Hers is softer and pulls apart, you can just cut it with a fork and it melts in your mouth. Not complaining, just comparing :-)

Most of the restaurants in the Ghetto look pretty touristic, you just need to order the right things. For dessert I went to the famous forno Boccione, one window, no sign, just a sweet smell of yeast and raisins and candied fruit. 200 years of baking, I couln't choose any other place for the Ricotta and Visciole cake (pic 1): two layers of pie crust filled with sweet ricotta and small slightly sour cherries. Delicious! They bake different types of Crostata, with jam, chocolate, but only the one with Ricotta has to be covered by a second layer of pie crust as in the past it was forbidden for Jewish bakeries to sell dairy products. Pizza di Beridde or Jewish Pizze (pic 3) is another specialty, a dough mixed with dried fruit and slighlty burnt on the surface.

The afternoon was all about digesting and relaxing till Vale arrived and it was time to eat again. We had a long list of restaurants we wanted to try, some more traditional, others more creative. Most were fully booked or too far and we just walked from our hotel in Trastevere to Isola Tiberina to Sora Lella where Vale had the best Carbonara of her life. Surprisingly... no Carbonara on the menu anymore. They said we had to order some true authentic Roman dishes and not Carbonara!!! First time hearing that. We opted for a Fritto with Zucchini blossom, Mozzarella and Suppli. It wasn't great so our expectations went down. The Paccheri con la Coda alla Vaccinara (Ox tail sauce again on pasta, for lunch and dinner ahahahah) was really good as the Saltimbocca alla Romana with mashed roasted potatoes.

But the real hit was the Maritozzo: A very soft and light brioche bun stuffed with fresh whipped cream. To die for if you are a fan of whipped cream like I am.

I didn't plan much in advance as I wasn't sure about delays, weather etc. Just yesterday on the way to Rome I texted Micaela Pavoncello, a girl I have been chatting on IG for a while regarding some info about the Jewish community in Rome. I asked if she had any tour of the Ghetto scheduled for today and she said: "yes, come at 10 in front of the Synagogue". That was the best decision ever. She is such a great guide and person. She took us to the Jewish museum, to the Synagogue Tempio Maggiore and through the Ghetto sharing so many facts and personal stories. I was surprised to be the only non Jewish and non American. I strongly recommend booking a tour with Micaela to anybody going to Rome.

We finished our tour joining Micaela at Renato al Ghetto: Concia di Zucchine, Pomodori a Mezzo, Tortino di Aliciotti e Indivia, Carciofi alla Giudia, Cervella Fritta con carciofi. Another light meal before the train. (As soon as I got off the train, my sister pick me up at we went to Shri Ganesh Indian restaurant with a couple of friends and still... I could eat).

I feel like I am going home with a little treasure thanks to all the stories she shared.

I can't wait to share them with during the next L'Ost dinner on Tuesday, October 17th at Zerozero. Laurence and I will cook some of the most iconic dishes of the Jewish-Roman traditions while Maja will tell us everything about Lazio's wines.


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