Tag Archives: italy

Bar Ai Nomboli for Sandwiches in Venice

Looking for a cheap snack or an entire meal of sandwiches while in Venice?  This is definitely the place to go: Bar ai Nomboli.  So friggin’ good, so many choices and very reasonable, especially for Venice.  They also make great fresh juices.  Try one with carrot.  The best sandwich I had was salami, mushrooms and truffle oil.  Whoa.

Bar ai Nomboli
Sestiere San Polo, 2717
30125 Venezia
+39 041 523 0995 ‎

00100 in Testaccio hits the spot

00100 Testaccio front

If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary by Rome standards, check out 00100 for their famed Trappizini.  They’re basically these little pizza bianca triangles, cut open like a pita pocket and stuffed with your choice of fillings.  My favorites include, Lengua with Salsa Verde, Coda–braised oxtail and Tripa alla Romana.  It’s also in a kind of neighborhoody area of Testaccio that’s nice to walk around.  Below, Coda and Tripa.

Coda Trappizini

Tripa alla Romana

Open Everyday 12-23
Via Giovanni Branca, 88
Testaccio, Rome

Thanksgiving at the American Academy in Rome

Fall came and went at the AAR pretty quickly.  We finished it off with quite a week!  I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life while having so much fun.  In addition to our regular meal service schedule, we had to prep a bunch of stuff each day and night for the big meal on Thursday.  Luckily, I love Thanksgiving, I love turkey and I love stuffing.  Oh, and I love eating it all, preferably together, on bread with cranberry sauce.  And mustard.  Weird?  No.  Delicious.

Fall came and went at the AAR

We began with 13 turkeys and a turkey beauty contest to choose the prettiest, bustiest one.  This is the winner.

turkey beauty contest

I actually, very surprisingly, have few pictures of the food because I was running around doing so many things.  I was also shooting a lot of video which will be up soon once I cut out all of the sassy lip.  Here’s Mona, ready to direct traffic.

and we're almost there

And then we’re off: feast and GO.

feast ready to go

Our two dashing waiters, Alessandro and Gabri with our showturkey, the winner of the turkey beauty contest.

alessandro and gabri with the show turky

There were also so many pies.  Pumpkin, fresh, obviously and apple.  Also fresh, obviously.  Pretty darn yummy.

so much PIE

Happy, happy diners.  One hundred and five in all.

happy AAR diners

A little post feast wiffle ball with the Rudester and the director, Chris.  Go America.

paul rudy batting

And finally, some delicious wines to celebrate and very successful thanksgiving.

some special wine

A Day at Giovanni Bernabei’s Farm

Giovanni Bernabei is kind of becoming an Italian farmer/celebrity.

He is the RSFP’s closest ally, an eccentric farmer with a simple and bold manifesto. In addition to farming, he is making a name for himself on Italy’s Rai Television News network as a special daily guest, discussing farming and growing Italy’s staple food items. I’ll get back to this.  His manifesto, which he sometimes hangs at his table at farmers markets and which hangs in the American Academy’s bar, is as follows:

Dear Consumer, All the produce displayed at my stall is made by the person who sells it.  The produce is ALL cultivated in the open, under the sun and frost, without any chemical products according tot he method of Organic agriculture, certified since 1995 by the Bioagricoop.

My name is Giovanni Bernabei.  Ever since 1983, I made a pact with myself to touch no longer with my hands any fodder, fertilizer or any chemical products whatsoever.  So long as I have the strength to raise a HOE, I will labor for those who believe in me and appreciate my produce.  Hippocrates “Let FOOD be your first medicine.”

An assortment of OFFICINAL greens among which: sorrel, yarrow, yellowrocket, borage, sow thistle, chicory, crepide, berberry, dandelion, hedge-mustard, wild fennel, hawkbit, mallow, sweet clover, josierola, plantain, dock, corn poppy seed, mustard.  Everything in season. PS Drink the water used for cooking.


  1. Organic food will never be beautiful like non-organic food.
  2. It might even be beautiful, but with hidden defects.
  3. It must never make one feel nauseous, have strange tastes, etc.
  4. It must have a “flavorless” flavor, be WHAT IT IS.
  5. It must not stink during cooking, but smell good.
  6. It must never fill you up or be difficult ot digest.
  7. If you have reflux, it is not good organic.
  8. It must have few nitrites, which are responsible for illnesses.
  9. It must have little water and be endowed with many vitamins.
  10. Good organic prodcuts never look exactly one like the other.
  11. PS Procure if you can, an organic agricultural diet from a producer, insuring that the producer is at least a “HOMO Sapiens.”

From Personal experience, Giovanni Bernabei

Whoa, right?

Giovanni’s farm is wild.  There are plants and weeds growing together randomly everywhere.  He practices a form of permaculture which I have never seen before, not that I have been to many farms or know very much about farming.  But, it’s not what you would expect.  Giovanni lets his plants grow to full maturity, lets the seed and then lets them die or chops them down and tills them right back into the soil.  This explains why there are volunteer plants growing among all his other plants.  It also explains why there are often little random bits of other veggies mixed in with the stuff he delivers to us.

He showed us his cardoons, about 25 plants (4 grueling cases the following week), 6 or 7 types of broccoli, cavolo nero (kale), fennel, garlic fields and other fields that he had just tilled.  He also would stop every so often and pick a small plant from the ground and say, “this plant is very healthy, it has the most iron of any plant found in Italy.”  He repeated that statement maybe 5 times, each time about a different plant.

Giovanni also has chickens and pigs.  He feeds them food that he grows.

Later, after lunch, Giovanni took us up into his apartment near the farm above a pizza restaurant.  He eagerly sat us down in front of his new giant flat screen TV, served us some digestives including homemade grapa and Yaegermeister.  His wife fumbled with the VCR and put on a recording of him on RAI.  It was awesome to see him on such a modern, flashy television show.  He was so lively and entertaining.  He joked with the host and at one point, even told him to shut his mouth so he could finish.

The Farm

After today I’ve decided I’m moving to a small farm in Italy and cooking and eating all day long for the rest of my life.  I was very lucky to be invited to come along and I would say it was a once in a lifetime experience but I’m not going to let that be the case….

getting to the farm

We arrived early and went for a tour with Giovanni, the farmer.  He showed us various plants and the bugs that eat them and explained why each bug likes each plant.  Then he went on to state his theory of the creation of the universe.  I think.  He was talking really quickly and my Italian isn’t exactly perfect yet but I think I understood most of what he was saying.  The part of the farm that we saw isn’t huge but supplies most of the food to the American Academy.  There are a lot of different kinds of leafy green lettuces and vegetables growing including cardoons and fennel (okay not sooo leafy).  We stomped around and tried the bits of leaves he handed us to taste.  Afterwards he’d say things like, this thins your blood or this is medicinal.  Blind faith.  We followed him back up the hill to the road and over to his villa.
tomatoes and more veggies

Giovanni showing a cardoon who's boss

rows of lettuce

Giovanni explaining why bugs like certain plants (i think)

The villa is under construction but the view from the large terrace was amazing and there was a small cooking shack with an open fire and a pizza oven ready for us to use.  We set to work.  I helped prep the meat, which consisted of tearing open the packages and sprinkling with olive oil and salt, and then spent a good amount of time eating and drinking.the pizza oven

the setup

The meal started with fennel salad, fresh sausage and little blocks of cheese (some kind of parmesan I think).  The pasta with some kind of meat was next and so good, followed by an endless stream of delicious pizzas.  Toppings included anchovies, tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, caramelized onions, lots of olive oil, spices and the potatoes I prepared yesterday.  All the pizzas were amazing and the dough was so easy to work with (compared to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods dough).  I made a potato, onion and mozzarella pizza with a sprinkling of rosemary.  The meat was cooked over the open fire and sliced and we ate it with our hands along with the pizza.

pizza doughs

my pizza (terrible picture)

We had to take a stroll around the grounds after dinner to prepare for desert.  A huge cake, special for Halloween and a huge apple tart awaited our return along with espresso.

post-dinner stroll


A little later we said our goodbyes, crammed into the van and headed home, singing songs inspired mostly by two of the more musical kitchen interns.  I would do this every weekend…. so if you know anyone looking for a farm hand, email me.

the view

Bagnoregio and the Umbrian Countryside

At breakfast today downstairs at our Locanda I heard the chorus of “American Boy” echoing in from the kitchen.  I can’t believe, in this random hill town in the middle of nothingness, people know and listen to this crap.  Blows my mind.

Our first stop today, about 50 miles away, was a small town called Potigliano.  There’s a synagogue in the town and of course, it was closed because we got there during naptime.  Sadly there are only three Jews left there, not nearly enough for a minion or to have a traditional Shabbat service.  But still, it was cool to see.  The town is built into the top of a hill and the façade is very impressive.  I would say it’s worth a visit.

Continue reading

The Arsenale at the Biennale and the 4th day

The 4th day in Venice begins with sleeping in. Oh man oh man, another long day of art. So much art. The Arsenale is the old munitions depot of Venice. It’s basically a few huge buildings with loads and loads of art in them. On the way there we saw an awesome mobile fried fish kitchen on a boat. Hmmmm. Awesome. Pictures below.

So, the Arsenale: smashed mirrors, African villages, bread and bread, mechanical moons, cool benches, neon with mirrors (always cool), bird-feeder-chandeliers and much much more.  My favorite installation was a video piece made by two Catalan  filmmakers, David Bestue and Marc Vives which I found a pasted in below.  Enjoy.

We met our old friend Max, his wife and his new baby girl Margarita for drinks (Margarita did not drink) and then returned to Birraria for a late dinner.  Makin’ zucchini flowers for breakfast!