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i’m getting quite proud of myself.

to be honest, cooking for myself is turning out to be quite the joy, considering that most meals are actually pretty decent and most of my improvisations have actually worked without the taste becoming too odd, piquant or something of that sort. somehow the ingredients here and this kitchen seem to sing to me. i think i’ll be getting more ambitious soon. =)

anyways, this dish is the typical last-minute i-need-to-clear-all-the-food-stuff-from-my-fridge” dish, which is made kind of a difficult task when my kitchen isn’t exactly well stocked – i lack flour, many sauces, bread crumbs and the likes, so alot of recipes couldn’t work. furthermore, i don’t have an oven where i can just chuck some meats and vegetables in and wait for something magickal to occur (that was my default action plan in my kitchen in US).

so it was time to improvise, and i did a balsami-garlic mushroom chicken from this recipe.

ingredients – chicken: 4 x chicken fillet, marinated briefly (10 minutes) in pepper, soya sauce and olive oil

sauce: 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a bowl of chicken stock (to be honest, the recipe mentioned 1/2 a cup.. and i honestly don’t know what half a cup is, so what i did was to use the myojo chicken stock thingy and make my own chicken stock, which amounted to roughly 1/2 a bowl), some balsamic vinegar (to be honest, i just squeezed in an amount i felt was ok..) and some lemon juice, followed by a plate of porcini mushrooms

as you can see, ingredient amounts don’t mean anything to me, cos half the time i don’t understand them, and the other half of the time, my ingredients are not exactly the same/i forget etc.. so to be honest, every single dish that turns out right.. is kind of a “praise God” moment. =)

anyways, this dish is really simple and tastes pretty good!

first pan fry the chicken with some olive oil and butter till the both sides get golden-ish (something like teppanyaki eh?), cut through the thickest piece to see if it is fully cooked then take off heat. the good thing about fillets as that somehow the time taken to get it browned is roughly the time the entire piece gets cooked, since it is sliced quite thinly.

next for the sauce, use the pan with the remnant oil and dump in the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce. hmm, my sauce didn’t exactly thicken and i question whether flour is needed to do so (anyone knows?) but nevertheless when the mushrooms looked cooked (the mushrooms went in last), and the sauce was kinda diminishing due to evaporation, i took it off the heat and drenched the chicken fillets with the sauce.

yummy stuff. yay!

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food ecstasy

I didn’t know this when i stumbled upon the restaurant on my way home with steph & ben, but anatra grassa translates directly to “fat duck” – which is interesting, considering the fat duck restaurant by heston blumenthal is a three star michelin restaurant in UK. tough act to follow eh?

names aside, anatra grassa is quite the stylish restaurant located along the quiet via savoia close by to villa borghese. the interior is awash in black minimalistic furnishings with the predominant feature being a wall-to-wall wine shelf that stretches across one side of the restaurant. nice stuff, but let’s talk food eh?

appetizer – four way seafood antipasto: (from left, clockwise) tuna tartare with balsamic vinegar, octopus with cherry tomatoes and julienne of asparagus and salmon carpaccio with aioli

appetizer (continued) – mussels in tomatoes and white wine (42euro for 3 people)

i’d be first to admit that this ain’t cheap, but what with the celebratory mood of a last meal in rome with friends, it was a delicious and wholly satisfying quartet of seafood dishes. with raw seafood, the freshness of the seafood determines almost 75% of the overall taste, to which anatra grassa really excelled, with the tuna and salmon being utterly refreshing and crisp, perfectly accented by the balsamic vinegar and the aioli respectively. steph and I particularly enjoyed the octopus, finding the pieces chewy, tasty and fresh. and last but not least, you really can’t go wrong with mussels in tomatoes and white wine – and with the basket of bread used to soak up the remnants of the delicious sauce, this appetizer was literally a five course start. =)

 main – moulard duck with caramelized apples, 19euro

what with a moniker like “fat duck”, we practically had to order their duck dish. and what a great choice. the duck was well executed, but what really sold it was the harmonious way the caramelized apples complemented the duck, lending the duck meat an extra sweetness, that together with the savory flavor of the duck, made for an awesome combination.

 black truffle spaghetti, 14euro

when this dish came out and was served to steph, the smell was so heavenly that it took all my self control and manners to prevent myself from reaching over to grab some of the noodles and chow them down. the truffle is generously spread across the dish and as i said about truffles before, you really can’t go too wrong with anything cooked with truffles. yet another good dish.

dessert – creme brulee with tahiti creme (see top image, 8euro), chocolate finger (chocolate mousse with white chocolate), drizzled with pistacchio and paired with cinnamon ice cream (9euro).

dessert time came, and this was where the restaurant really won me over and created that food ecstasy experience that I rarely get nowadays – you know, the feeling of happiness just surging from within when you taste something, where an inexplicable smile spreads across your face and you literally develop tunnel vision for your food. yup that’s what happened here.

we initially each ordered one dessert, with intention to share it out – steph got the creme brulee, ben the tiramisu and me, the dessert special which was explained to me as a chocolate finger with pistachio. but when the desserts came out, i lost all intention to try the other desserts, because the chocolate finger was both a visual and gastronomic feast – so beautifully plated as though it came out from the top chef just desserts kitchen and so so good. the three flavors of the chocolate finger, pistachio and cinnamon ice cream were individually really awesome, clean flavors, but together they really melded and created harmony. =) 

and well, the creme brulee was good. (i snuck a taste after i finished my chocolate finger. =))

all in all, a great restaurant for that special meal to end of a wonderful trip in rome. this place ain’t exactly cheap, with the bill amounting to slightly under 50euros a person (complete with awesome wine – a sauvignon blanc from laimburg, sudtrol-alto adige). but methinks its kinda justified, what with a swanky ambience, great food and above that, wonderful service. the service really deserves special mention, because its one of the restaurants where the servers spoke near perfect english and made it a point to explain all the ingredients within the dish, as well as suggest proper wine pairings for the food. it is so far the only restaurant i felt comfortable enough to ask all sorts of questions (in english nonetheless) regarding the dishes, which also elevated the experience.

i’ll be back.

anatra grassa | via savoia, 68 | italian (venetian), desserts, seafood, fine dining | 9.0/10

when you like something, go really like it.

readers would know that I’ve been on a serious nazi-esque cupcake hunt ever since my sister dropped by Rome and influenced me to watch episodes of Cupcake Wars. This time round, thanks to revealedrome.com‘s tip of a new american cupcake outlet along via dei coronari, I made immediately plans to steer my friend Steph’s rome visit toward that area, so I could serendipitously stumble upon this bakery and grab some awesome cupcakes.

and boy, the shop itself looks really delicious – the window display decked in many bright, miniature cupcakes and pastries whilst the interior was a breath of fresh air, with a minimalistic, clean aesthetic dusted with a little feminine aesthetic. if ambience could be eaten, this would be a nice frosting to pair with the many cupcakes on the glass displays!

bright airy interior of made creative bakery  

the cupcakes aren’t cheap, by the way, so be prepared for prices of between 3 – 5 euros for the cupcakes. I selected a hazelnut cupcake with hazelnut frosting and flower fondant because to me it was unique enough of a flavor to infuse into a cupcake , and well, also because it was one of thecheaper cupcakes going at 3.50 euro (the chocolatey cupcakes were going at 5.00 euro a piece! scary..).  the verdict? a super moist, delicious cupcake that has a natural, delicious hazelnut flavor that permeates the cupcake and the frosting. this is seriously a great midday treat for the travel weary tourist! do visit! 3.5/5 cupcakes

made creative bakery | via dei coronari, 25


break time.

having coffee at a cafe sitting down is just about as touristy as lugging a roma guidebook in one hand and a camera in the other. real romans stand at the counter of these cafes enjoying their indulgent expresso shots before bustling off to mind their business. and well, at times there really is a price difference between standing and sitting.

interior of angelina a trevi – courtesy of angelina a trevi website

but nevertheless, with surroundings as cosy, tranquil and artsy as angelina a trevi’s cafe space, one is really tempted to just settle down on one of the plush leather sofas and engage in some restful people watching (or tourist watching since this place is mightily close to the trevi fountains). ambience is a large draw in this case, and the coffee is decently good, as can be said for most cafes in italy. their website recommends you to try their caffe angelina and tiramisu in a jar, which sounds pretty awesome and is on my list for a next try.

or better yet, go try out their restaurant located right next door. maybe you’ll see me there sometime soon.

Angelina a Trevi | Via Poli, 27 (closeby to Trevi fountain)
Opens daily 9am to midnight


bakers, the battle for cupcake supremacy has begun!

[update: faithful readers might be quick to realise that i reneged on my decision to move blogs – well the honest reason is that it is really too painful to just “move shop” like this, and honestly, for all the foodies out there, good food in rome is still good food, albeit to be savored with the proper opportunity. so yeah, this blog stays and hopefully grows. contact me for collaborations and stuff guys!]

i’d admit it isn’t the most masculine of shows to watch. but geez, when you have a sis that comes over to rome to bunk in for awhile and insists on watching CW’s cupcake wars, you can kinda get caught up with watching these stressed bakers try to incorporate wacky ingredients like chai spice and coriander (yuck) within their cupcakes, with various degrees of success. plus, with its nice 30 minute bite size episodes, it makes a good meal-time show. =)

and of course, watching such cupcakes shows is like force-feeding cupcake temptations upon yourself and i set out to find some cupcakes in the sprawling city of rome. it ain’t easy, to be honest, because foreign craves (especially foodwise) don’t seem to create much of an impact in this country abundant with good food and culinary tradition (which explains the dearth of starbucks). luckily, on my way back home one day, i spotted a patisserie and went in to find.. gorgeous cupcakes!

its a really quaint shop along via savoia called officina dolce with a nice shop-owner that speaks decent english fronting the artfully designed store. in it you find different pastries, pies, italian-styled cupcakes and most importantly, the american-styled cupcakes! my mom nabbed a lemon curd cupcake (2.00 euro, foreground of picture) whilst i got for myself an angel cupcake (2.50 euro, background of picture) which is a vanilla cupcake topped with a cream cheese with lemon frosting and drizzled with white chocolate shards.

the verdict? (let me try to be like florian bellanger).. the cupcakes was executed well, with the cake being moist, but what stole the show was the amazing cream cheese frosting with light lemon hints that went very well with the vanilla cake and chocolate shards. yummy! i was so happy eating the cupcake!

[update 2: i went back to officina dolce and tried the counterpart to the angel’s cake, which was a devil’s cake – dark chocolate cupcake mixed with a little cayenne (i suspect) to give it a slight spicy taste. to be honest, after comparing with made creative bakery’s cupcakes, this cupcake isn’t as interesting or as moist, so i’m assigning taste rankings specially for cupcakes as well.. and this deserves – 2.5 / 5 cupcakes.]

you can read a more extensive review about officina dolce at elizabeth minchilli’s blog here.

Officina Dolce | Via Savoia 52
Opens Mon-Sat 8:30-8, Sun 8:30-2