Travel

Rome at Night and the BESTEST gelato ever – Rome Diaries (3 of 3)

Ohai all! It’s been long overdue but here it is, this post shall be the third and final post for the 3-part Rome Diaries series. Our last night in Rome turned out to be the icing on the cake that was the entire Rome trip. Armed with a map and comfortable shoes (“We learned the hard way.” -Mel’s tootsies), we toured and drank in the picturesque sights of the city. It seemed that no one could take bad photos, all angles were just beautiful.

Rome is even more beautiful at night. (Clockwise from top-left: St. Peter's Basilica, Bernini's Fountain of Four Rivers, Castel Sant'Angelo)

The city is gorgeous during daytime, but it is magnificent at night. Thanks to Father Par,  the very welcoming, kind, and jovial head of the Augustinian order in Rome, our small group had an extra special tour of the city at night. He took us to the places we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find while dishing out information about them that very few people know of (Did you know that they marked the spot in the Vatican where Pope John Paul II was shot with a piece of porphyry rock?).

The Old Bridge Gelateria is where Rome's men of cloth get their gelato fix. And us too.

Part of the very special night tour of the city, Father Par also brought us to the BESTEST gelateria in town- the Old Bridge Gelateria.  Located near the Vatican walls, this little gelateria has become a frequent stop for many Rome residents, including religious folk. When we got there, it was amusing to see a group gathered outside the small stall, getting their gelato fix, just like we were about to.

BEST GELATO EVER!

My camera battery was nearly out of juice by the time we got our ice cream cups (the day was spent taking snaps of everything!) but I knew I had to take a photo of the best gelato ever. This cup of melt-in-your-mouth pistachio and double dark chocolate gelato from Old Bridge Gelateria is the best I’ve ever had, bar none. It’s creamy without being too rich, it’s soft without being too sloshy, it’s tasty without being too sweet. It was really, really, really good. If you’re planning a trip to Rome any time soon, you have to find your way to this place. Having a nightcap of gelato ice cream from the Old Bridge Gelateria was the perfect end to our Rome trip.

For taking us around the city, sharing insider information, introducing us to the best gelato ever, and for your kindness-Thank you, Father Par!
Travel

McDonald’s of the World: Italy’s 1955 Burger – Rome Diaries (2 of 3)

Okay, first things first. I would like to thank all you wonderful people for liking the BaconTunaMelt Facebook page. Warm hugs, double-cheek kisses, and chewy chocolate chip cookies for everybody! If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? There’s cash involved! Look to the right side of the blog and you’ll see a Like button there somewhere, or you can simply click this link- www.facebook.com/bacontunamelt, and then hit Like. (I’m kidding about the cash of course. Or not.)

Second order of business is the topic for this post. Like the title suggests, it’s another notch up the McDonald’s of the World belt. Anyhoots, I notice that the entries in this series drone on and on. We’ll try to keep this one short.

When you’re in Rome, you don’t just do as the Romans do, you also do as the tourists in Rome do. Which means you’ll have to visit this part of the city (refer to the pictures please). Between the iconic Trevi Fountain and the magnificent Pantheon are little sidestreets lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and tourists. It’s where we found the McDonald’s along Via Delle Muratte. It’s difficult to miss as there a handful of posters pointing you to which direction to head to for burgers.

Seems like this American fastfood is a hit in Rome.

There were restaurants aplenty around the area, most were near empty at lunch while McDonald’s was as packed and as busy as it could be. The lines were long and perhaps they were stressed but the crew wasn’t as friendly or helpful as you’d expect. They get the job done somehow and I got an order of the 1955 Burger half an hour and some yelling later (I forgot to mention that you pretty much need to shout to be heard).

This is the McDonald’s 1955 Burger-

McDonald's 1955 Burger

It’s a mighty fine-looking burger composed of 100% pure beef patty, some bacon, good old tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and onions. But wait, that’s what they say. Here’s the actual McDonald’s 1955 Burger-

The actual McDonald's 1955 Burger

The patty was dry, the garnishings a mess, and I don’t know where the bacon went. It looks like they halfheartedly threw parts of a burger in the box. The burger actually didn’t taste bad, but I was expecting a burger at least resembling the one in the adverts. Suffice it to say, after a long morning of walking, getting this for lunch was a big disappointment. The only consolation was the Pistachio McFlurry for dessert.

That is all I have to say about McDonald’s in Rome. Please don’t let that deter you from visiting the city, it’s wonderful. But if you have a craving for a McDonald’s burger, try to wait until the crowds thin out, maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

Etc., Noms

A Perfect Cup of Coffee with Nescafe Dolce Gusto

Lianne from BuhayKuneho showed me a couple of interesting pictures today. At first glance, they can be mistaken for the latest gadgets you can find in any gadget geekery site. The photo below looks like a modern iPod dock (but maybe that’s just me). Anyhoots, as we’re a food blog, you’ve probably already figured out that it’s not related to Apple or their products. This one’s a modern-day coffee maker.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto: Get a perfect cup of coffee day in and day out.

Read about this shiny looking piece of equipment over at BuhayKuneho.com. They have an excellent review up on their site. Here’s an exerpt-

The Nescafe Dolce Gusto has finally hit Philippine shores, right on the heels of its release in the other Asian coffee-loving regions of Japan and Hong Kong. These adorable little gadgets promise to revolutionize the way caffeine junkies such as myself take their drug of choice, and to do it in style. Click here to read the full post on BuhayKuneho.com.

I personally wouldn’t mind having  the cute penguin-shaped one in the review called Picolo (nope, not this or this).

Travel

Pinoy Connection in Italy – Rome Diaries (1 of 3)

“Visit Rome.” was on my bucket list for the longest time. Home to hundreds of beautiful monuments, a clutterful of landmarks, and of course, Vatican city. I was able to tick it off the list a couple of weeks ago for a short (but memorable) visit to the Eternal City. And it was even better than I imagined. Every turn of a corner brought us to a new magical place- an intricately designed fountain here, a magnificent church there, a pile of ancient ruins on the next block. I felt like Bim a kid in a toy store.

Rome is bee-yoo-ti-ful. Clockwise from top-left: the Colloseo, a statue with marble eyes, pillars of Vatican, and the Pieta

What made the trip extra special was finding out that the Filipino community is alive and kicking in Rome. Besides  beautiful sights, you’d also find a friendly kababayan or two in nearly all corners of the city. In Europe, hearing snippets of conversation in Filipino is like a warm hug from home. Or at least I think so. Add in the terrible traffic and Rome felt almost like home.

1. Pizza Express (Via Marsala, n° 34 /A-B, Rome, Italy)

One of the first kababayans that we met was Ate Nida. She owns Pizza Express, an awesome little pizza stop sandwiched between Hotel Stromboli and Hotel Marsala (both of which she also owns) across the Roma Termini station. They serve quick meals at affordable prices.

Ate Nida and the AWESOME pizzas of Pizza Express

What’s fun is that Pizza Express reminds me a little of sari sari stores in Manila. Besides main courses on the menu, you can also get popsicles, drinks and various little snacks on display, just like in your suking sari sari store! Also, Ate Nida told us that she cooked up all the recipes on the menu. We ate there more than once and I definitely liked everything I ordered. If you’re in that area (the city center, right across Termini station), you should definitely try out their pizzas (and then thank me). Did I say that you get 10% off in Pizza Express  if you’re booked in either of the two hotels flanking it? Yup.

Main dishes cost about 4-8 euro each and are served in 5 minutes

2. Pio err Caffe (Borgo Pio, 136 (San Pietro), Rome, Italy)

Now this little restaurant along the sidestreets outside Vatican City isn’t owned by kababayan. But the servers are Pinoys and are extra helpful (even for queries not concerning the menu, read below). They are located conveniently along the street full of of inexpensive souvenir boutiques just outside the Vatican walls. The nomz are regular fare at restaurant prices, but what’s juicy is the tidbits of chismis that we picked up while dining there. (Chismis#1: Papa Piolo himself had lunch there not too long ago and was his usual pogi self.)

Spaghetti, Lasagna, Lomi-like noodles

3. Pinoy Fastfood (Via Gaeta 21, Rome, Italy)

Last in the Pinoy connection list is this Pinoy Fastfood not far from the central train station. With a name like that, there’s no doubt that they serve Pinoy nomz and are run by Pinoys. We found out about this restaurant through other kababayans we met along the way. At the entrance, we were welcomed by Filipino staff and crew (it seemed like it was a family business). Not unlike Pinoy carinderias, they had a selection of cooked Pinoy food like Afritada, Bicol Express, you get the drill.

Pinoy Nomz in Rome

What got me excited were the silogs on the menu (thank you self, I’m now hankering for SEx’s tapsilog or Good Ah’s tocilog. Heck, I’d even take jollijeep’s longgalog). The nomz okay at best, but the novelty is that you get very Filipino dishes in Europe. They didn’t have adobo that night, which is kind of wierd, because it’s possibly the most common Pinoy dish of all time.

There's Jufran in Rome! Jufran, tocilog, and bangsilog.

I’m way too sleepy to be completely coherent at this point (but let’s face it, I’m rarely coherent) so this shall be my disclaimer for anything stupid that I might say or have said.

Running into many kababayans in a foreign land was icing on the cake that was the great Rome trip. It’s an amazing city and that trip was enjoyable than Paris (shh, don’t tell anyone I said that). It’s far more interesting than they make it out to be.

Watch out for more posts in the Rome Diaries, I’ll get around to writing them eventually (if I don’t get sidetracked again).

Spaghetti, Lasagna, Lomi-like noodlesBorg