Italy – Imperia and Rome

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you Richer!”-unknown

I really think travel opens you up to new languages, customs, wonderful people and of course good food!

We are all more alike than different, and food and music always has a magical way to unite us.

Let me share my most recent Trip to Italy and show you all the sights and beautiful food from my point of view.

I must stop and have a glass of Prosecco at the Dallas airport to celebrate that I am going to Italy !

I have been lucky enough to go to Italy each year for the last 4 years.

 It all started with a phone call and a friend telling me I needed to become an olive oil sommelier. Once I decided to do it I located the oldest and most reputable school, which happened to be located in Imperia Oneglia, Italy. This is in the north of Italy about an hour from Nice, France.

 ONAOO is the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters and is dedicated to teaching people about tasting oils and identifying defects from all over the world. I started with the first class which basically sees if you have sensory ability to taste. This is a 5 day course in order to determine if have the sensory ability to taste. I have been taking an additional 3 year course to become a Certified Professional Olive Oil Taster (all of these previous years are in this blog -search Travel to read)

THIS post is my last year of this course and my travels to Rome after.

Flying into Nice is always spectacular even in December but if you get a chance to go when it is warmer please do it is sooooooo beautiful!!

I meet my fellow student Karen in London where we take the 1 hour train to Imperia. Of course we have a bottle of wine for the train!

You are just passing the French and Italian Rivieras.

Imperia Oneglia is a little port town with a wealth of people with generations of olive oil knowledge. It’s sister town of Porto Maurizio is a pretty little harbor with lots of giant yachts parked waiting for  sunny days to sail these beautiful waters.

The town square and port are easy walking distance to the school and our hotel. My favorite big olive tree  is right by the water.

It’s almost time for dinner.

We stop by Gusto for an aperitif before dinner. They have a great selection of wines by the glass and affordable prices by the bottle.  I love how in Italy when you stop for a drink they bring a big plate of appetizers for you to enjoy with your wine.

Dinner at a pretty little restaurant we have never been to before. Dalla Padella alla Brace is fantastic and great value for the money.

This is the Liguria region of Italy and the home of Pesto. This is a typical dish from the area. I love it Trofie pasta with pesto.

Always fish because this is a seaside town.

We have 2 days of prep before our exam in class

Tasting defects- YUCK

Getting our overview on the global status of production for this recent harvest and being prepped by the Master Taster Marcello Scoccia.

Our translator Silvana is really really good !

More tasting oils both good and bad from all over the world!

Isn’t it amazing the differences in color! By the way color does not indicate quality of oil – it can deceive you!

After my last day of prep I am taking home my best defects so I can study tonight and first thing in the morning before the exam. You have to memorize smells and tastes and they can be strong or mild and you have to be able to determine the levels. It’s not easy and we are all anxious!

There are people coming in that will be our unbiased judges. They will give us our exam and we are just known to them by our number. I am number 15. We have to smell, taste and evaluate several oils determining the positive attributes and  those levels. We then taste several more with defects doing the same. A theory exam and an oral and we are done. Phew!!

 A coffee and a Rum Baba from Picardo. Remember a cappuccino is only for the morning!

 

Melograno (pomegranate) is always great for a pizza and wine at crazy good prices!

 No visit to Imperia is complete without a trip to Salvo Cacciatore always elegant with great service.

A beautiful risotto with artichokes

Grilled Tuna was so tender and perfectly seasoned.

 Sarri is a 1 star Michelin restaurant with fantastic food.

stuffed anchovies

Tuna that exploded with flavor

a foam with Bacala (salt cod) and pesto, was probably my favorite

Oh wait the ravioli with fish and lemon zest maybe that was my favorite?!

 more beautifully prepared fish.

Apple pie and raspberry sorbetto! Roll me home I am full!!

Now on to Roma!

The eternal city is fantastic to just wander and explore It is also a great food town!

 No matter what your religious point of view you cannot be amazed at the beauty all around you.

could that sky be any bluer? wow what a day!

I just love churches and St. Peter’s is the most magnificent.

Michaelangelo’s Pieta greets you when you first arrive.

look at this light! sometimes things are just magical.

Time for dinner!

 look at those truffles…..YUM

 Our first dinner in Rome was the best!! at Roscioli right near our apartment. We sat in the deli in front of these cases and had one of the best meals ever! 

The most tender beautiful Iberico Ham – Pata Negro

 (I know its from Spain but seriously folks!! Ahhh!!!)

That’s really good mortadella with Parmesan shaved on top

Ok ! this is 7 euros worth of pasta and 40 euros for 5 grams of white truffles…yup I ate every bite and it was worth every penny.

Typical dish from Rome Cacio e Pepe – 4 ingredients but to make it well is an art!

Cannoli to die for and a Vin Santo to finish. Just when we thought we were done they brought us some shortbread cookies and warm melted chocolate to dip in ! Mamma Mia!!!

Our apartment was a few feet away from the Campo de Fiori and each day there was a fabulous market. I love seeing what is available at different markets while travelling.

artichokes were on every menu- I love them

This was my new find! I couldn’t stop ordering it. This is Punterelle- a slightly bitter chicory that is typical of Rome. They slice it thin and make a salad served with a garlic, anchovy dressing!

bitter greens

they will even clean your artichokes for you.

How is it that this is December and these tomatoes look so good?

Karen taught me how to make coffee in a Moka, Now I want one!

My husband would be out of his mind with this Parmesan!

Roasted chestnuts always remind me of my father. Hi Dad!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- another typical Roman dish of bacon and eggs

oooy gooey Torrone! (nougat) I love it

Turn a corner and out of the blue a magical courtyard invites you in.

Another beautiful day to explore

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 More gorgeous pasta with ricotta and spinach -sitting beside the window with a woman rolling pasta.

Arancini and Supli – rice balls

come on!

pasta with black truffles

I cant forget the Gelato

Torrone and chocolate from Venchi

Caramel and chocolate from Fatamorgana

Mint choc chip from  Fatamorgana

this is really good by the way!

glaced chestnuts reminded me of being in Paris

Piazza Navona

The Spanish Steps with the sparkly Bulgari Tree

Ah Roma!

Oh by the way Karen and I both passed!! we are Certified ONAOO Professional Tasters !!

 It’s official I made a wish at the Trevi Fountain so I will be back!!

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