Buon Appetito! An Italian Food Experience…

Buon Appetito – and in Italy we learned one cannot help having a great meal each time you sit down. The ingredients are so fresh!  Restaurant tomatoes usually make me cringe, but here they really did taste like they were fresh from my garden.  Our favorite part of the Italian restaurant experience was probably the waiters… handsome, charming Italian men playing their part wonderfully well!

One handsome, charming Italian man stands out as our family favorite!!  His name is Angelo and he was our official Make-A-Wish Wish Grantor.  Today’s post will be a record of the wonderful day that we spent with Señor Angelo…

Jackie’s official wish, “A Food Experience in Italy,” was a mystery to us all.  Our local representatives were also unaware of what it would entail.  This would be our final day in Rome and we simply did not know what to expect.  All that we knew is that we were supposed to go and stand in front of our hotel at 10:00 a.m. and that a driver would come for us.  We had read about food tours that went to several restaurants and thought that this would be our activity.  We had spent the week in hot, crowded conditions and were simply hoping that we could be on a small tour, ideally just our family.

Pizza samples, sold by weight

Our worries were put to rest by the appearance of a gentleman who introduced himself simply as Angelo.  His kindness and his charisma put us at immediately at ease and we could see that we were in for a very special day!  He centered his attentions on Jackie… this was her wish and he often referred to her as “Queen for the Day” or introduced her, “This is Jackie, today she is the mayor of Rome!”

Fried Rice Balls

Angelo Amorico, of Access Italy, is Oprah Winfrey’s personal tour guide when she chooses to visit Italy.  His list includes Sharon Stone, Diane Sawyer, and others.  On this day, he was ours, and our day was fantastic.
An open air market was our first stop.  We have been to these markets in Mexico and the Philippines, but a market in Italy is a much different experience – primarily because it smells so good (no dead chickens hanging here!).  The produce smelled delicious.  A man was demonstrating a fun kitchen gadget which has many interesting uses such as cutting carrots into corkscrews.  Angelo bought one for Jackie and she has enjoyed using it at home.  We proceeded to a cheese store for a few cooking ingredients.  Along the way we kept meeting members of Angelo’s office staff.  He had given them the day off to spend with us!  They are all young, personable and hospitality-oriented… just the kind of people that make you feel welcome.  We popped into a couple delis to sample different pizzas and a couple flavors of some sort of fried rice-ball.

Natalie and Angelo add Olive Oil

 

Learning to roll the dough
The pizzas cook quickly
Heart pizzas for parents
Many hands make light work

 

Two chefs magnifico!

Back in the van, we could hardly believe it when we pulled up to a pizzeria and they met us with hats and aprons for the four children.  The kids washed up and were led into the kitchen where they mixed a large batch of pizza dough to be used that evening, enough for 50 pizzas.  Dough was supplied for each of them to create their own pizza.  Italian pizzas are much more simple than ours – and it was a bit of a surprise to the chef when Natalie requested ham and pineapple… but he supplied some chunks of fresh pineapple and prosciutto.  Mark and I were sent outdoors to the table so that we could not see them preparing heart-shaped pizzas for the parents.  Each staff member then ordered a pizza and we all ate together at tables set in the narrow street.

Adding a layer of chocolate
Making tiramisu at Angelo’s

At this point Angelo was going to take us for some amazing gelato – we had eaten gelato at least once a day for a week, but Angelo assured us that we were in for a treat.  Unfortunately, we were all very full… so we moved on to an even better surprise.  Señor Angelo took us to his home!  Here we met his charming wife – she grew up in Boston, but when she married Angelo he informed her that she would need to learn to cook Italian… and she has.  We all crowded into her kitchen and were taught how to make tiramisu!  Only one problem – the biscuits are supposed to soak in coffee… and here I had to let them know that we do not drink coffee but usually just substitute milk.  These kind women did not miss a beat – immediately they were making hot chocolate and we soaked with this instead.  They had us add a layer of chopped chocolate in the middle so the flavors blended beautifully – it was delicious.  While it soaked we simply enjoyed being in their home…

Angelo, Jackie and
an un-named, but famous, pope
Angelo’s door – look at the step

 

I really loved this door!
If I remember correctly,
this stonework was
originally at St. Peters
until it was remodeled.

Angelo had told us the building in which they live was built in the 1400’s.  When we entered there was a plaque with a date in the 1600’s – so he clarified that it was built in the 1400’s but remodeled in the 1600’s.  The door into the building was so old – I was enchanted because the step below the door was also quite worn with age.  We saw a lovely garden and a small chapel which housed a vault in which a pope had been buried.  This pope is famous – in St. Peters Basilica there is a large statue of Christ, Peter, Paul and a pope… this is that pope, but I do not recall his name.
Sadly, our adventure came to a close.  We would like to have walked through more streets and heard more stories – For example, a fun fact he shared with us was that a plaque on a building banned putting any sort of trash in that area – this “law” had been in effect for hundreds of years on that street because no one is allowed to change it.  I wondered what all the other plaques had been saying.
Angelo has been doing this for a lifetime – and for us, spending a day with him was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Jackie is an official
Italian Chef!

Just for fun – after being dropped off at the hotel we had to choose our final activity.  We decided to return to St. Peters Basilica because we liked it so much the first time.  As we left we remembered that Angelo’s neighborhood was also near the vatican… we wandered the streets until we came to a gelato shop – hoping that it was the one that we had missed earlier.  With the best flavors and no labels in English – we think we found it and… YUMMY!!!

We think we discovered
the Best Gelato Ever!

Italy held many delights and adventures for us – ancient ruins, fountains, the Vatican, Pompeii, pizza, gelato… but Angelo truly stands out as a Wish-Come-True!!
Thank you to Make-A-Wish… and forever thank you to Señor Angelo Amorico.  He’s the best!

 

Thank you Angelo!!!
We made some delicious tiramisu
last week but had to use Vanilla
Wafers – couldn’t find ladyfingers.
We wore our Make-A-Wish buttons
as we traveled.

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