Winter in Rome: Eat with a Local

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Speeding through the busy streets of Rome, with a Formula One-style taxi driver at the wheel, we finally slowed down to thread our way through the early evening crowds. Craning our necks to find the address, we arrived at a suburban apartment block, said ‘buona sera’ to our wannabe racing driver and scrambled out onto the footpath. Ringing a bell, we were buzzed into a large courtyard and followed directions to a building where a small lift awaited to transport us to the fifth floor.

On arrival we were greeted warmly by the owner of the apartment, Maria Laura, Roman born and bred, a qualified sommelier and a home chef.

Maria Laura Bon Appetour

Maria Laura

And what a pretty apartment!

Winter in Rome l ©ornaoreilly.com

A glass of sparkling wine was pressed into my hand and I was then introduced to her fellow chef and long-time friend, Amanda, a lovely English lady who was born in Italy and has lived here for most of her life.

We were in Rome for a blogging event: Winter in Rome. This was organised by Linda Martinez, who runs the friendly Beehive Hostel near Termini Railway Station. The event was a gathering of bloggers happy to promote the various activities that are available to visitors to Italy’s beautiful capital city.

On our first evening we were invited to ‘dine with a local’. This innovative service is provided by a company by the name of BonAppetour and gives visitors to Rome a unique opportunity to meet local Romans and eat in their homes.

All the other bloggers were there already, enjoying the antipasti of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, caper patè and cheese bruschetta.

Winter in Rome l ©ornaoreilly.com

The wine flowed, the atmosphere in this sweet apartment was warm and friendly and Alexandra Bruzzese of Bon Appetour stood up and chatted to us about all the various activities that her company organises for travellers to Rome.

Bon Appetour's Alexandra

BonAppetour’s Alexandra

Alexandra told us that the idea for these eating tours was born when some visitors discovered that they had nowhere to eat one winter’s evening and felt that they would have loved the opportunity to meet up with some locals, perhaps sharing a meal and getting to know Rome more intimately. So BonAppetour was born.

Quite apart from the ‘Dine with a Local’ experience, BonAppetour organises pizza making classes, where one can learn the art of pizza making in a wood-burning stove. Cake design, handmade pasta and tiramisu-making classes are also available with local chefs.

Another interesting tour is their ‘Aperitif and Shopping in Monti’. Monti is described as ‘a little town in the heart of Rome’ which is artsy, bohemian and glamorous. A local fashion guide will take you around the quaint designer boutiques and vintage market for a three-hour born-to-shop visit, finishing up with an aperitivo.

And how about BonAppetour’s ‘Food Photography Workshop’ teaching you how to style and light your food, which has become such a popular pastime!

Our dinner menu was typically Roman. We started off with Amanda’s Primo (starter) of Pasta con Carcoifi (pasta with artichokes and parmesan cheese) a recipe inherited from her mother-in-law. Or ‘ex’ mother-in-law, as Amanda informed us.

Pasta al Forno Bon Appetour

Next, for secondo (main course) we ate succulent polpette (meatballs) in a white wine sauce, with patate e spinaci torte al forno (oven-baked potato and spinach pies), served up with stir-fried winter broccoli and an absolutely delicious insalata di finocchi, arancia e olive (fenell, orange and olive salad).

Dolce (dessert) was whipped ricotta cheese – really light and fluffy – with pears, steamed in red wine, with a warm dark chocolate sauce. As I am probably quite mad, I don’t like chocolate so my dessert was kindly prepared separately by my kind hosts, who knew of my eccentricity in advance.

We drank sparkling rosè, red and white wines, followed by a sweet Passito di Pantelleria to go with our dolce.

Maria Laura and Amanda also hold cookery classes together for a maximum of 10 people during winter in this pretty, eclectically decorated apartment.

Maria Laura's apartment

Maria Laura’s apartment

In summer they told me that they get together in Amanda’s home nearby to cook and eat under a gorgeous Linden tree.

For full details and to make a booking contact BonAppetour Follow them on Facebook @BonAppetour.

Orna O’Reilly

Ostuni, Italy

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21 thoughts on “Winter in Rome: Eat with a Local

  1. That sounds so fun, eating with locals and other bloggers. Also the food photography course. I would love all of it. I love Rome!

  2. What a wonderful experience, I am quite jealous! I would love to meet like minded Italophile, Roma-phile bloggers in the most wonderful city on earth. 🙂 On another note, I completely understand your not liking chocolate, I don’t eat pasta and the concept makes Italians look at me with a mystified, unfathomable expression. We is what we is and it doesn’t impact my love for Italy in the slightest.

    • Meeting fellow bloggers in Rome was fun…. As for my dislike of chocolate; I have been to quite a few restaurants here in Italy where there is chocolate in one form or another on every item on the dolce menu. My brother and one of my daughters don’t eat chocolate either. 🙂

    • Meeting up with like-minded bloggers is always fun. Though there is always a lot of jostling for position when everyone wants to take the same photo at the same time! Not liking pasta in Italy….what can I say?! I love pasta in all its shapes and forms and am always intrigued by the different pastas that are popular in different regions. For example, when we were in the Veneto we ate bigoli. Now in Puglia we eat orecchiette.

  3. Sounds like fun and I particularly like the look of those meaty sun-dried tomatoes.
    Interesting, your aversion to chocolate. I have one to nuts in which I include coffee and coconut, and have thus passed up many a dessert course in my day.

    • Interesting indeed! I have always disliked chocolate, though some white chocolate or pale milk chocolate is sometimes okay. But, I love coconut in anything! And almonds. But am not much of a coffee drinker. The occasional macchiato after lunch is about all I can manage. Irish ‘builders’ tea is more to my liking!

  4. I have used BonAppetour in the past in Florence and it was so fun getting the local vibe and chatting with them. I’d love to visit them again. Linda has done a great job for this event!

    • Yes indeed. Linda was very well organised and kind to all of us. We didn’t take part in some of the more challenging activities, though others loved them and I am sure you will be reading about their adventures in other blogs. But we had a great weekend for sure and learned loads about how to spend winter in Rome.

  5. Dinner – or lunch – with locals and bloggers? Can’t imagine a better way to get to know a city and make new friends as a traveller. Wait…this sounds familiar! Xx Really enjoying your new Rome in Winter blog and photos.

    • That’s for sure Jill! We are hoping to repeat our Venetian lunch with a Pugliese one soon! Our ‘winter in Rome’ blogging event was great fun and interesting to meet other bloggers too.

  6. Hi Orna,
    What a great idea! I would be happy to promote the idea to the participants of the Arpino Film Experience, a five day workshop on Italian Film Classics, that we are running in Arpino in June and September. Take a look at http://www.arpinofilm.com to see if you might like to promote us to your lists as well. Be in contact. We are offering nice incentives as well as a free trip to Arpino!! 🙂
    Love to hear from you.
    Kim

  7. I enjoyed reading your blog Orna, which I got from your cousin Judy O’C! I am in Rome now for a bit and also have an ‘ex’ Italian mother-in-law! They are the best for learning the secrets of italian cooking!

    • Thank you! Good old Judy…a publicist for sure. I am hoping that she will come to Puglia to visit us soon. Lots to catch up on. I have another Winter in Rome blog almost ready to publish and four more in the pipeline, so if you need any information about things to do and who to contact, please just let me know. Enjoy your visit to Rome. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Winter in Rome: Cocktails with the Locals | Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

  9. Pingback: Winter in Rome: Palazzo Massimo | Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

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