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Saturday 10 October

Tuesday (Oct. 6) [. . . I] did laundry. It poured rain all day. [. . .]

Wednesday it poured rain all day. The laundry didn't dry. I did some shopping in preparation for James's visit; and moped and ate leftovers.

Thursday although that was James's arrival was a fairly simple day: I left at 10, bought various train tickets in Foligno, and switched trains in Rome almost immediately; the trains to the airport run hourly thru the day (half-hourly at rush hour) but the trip takes over half an hour: then I waited at the airport — successfully avoiding food except for 1 oz. of chocolate — and James's plane was about 20 minutes late. I read a Spanish newspaper — keeping up the Spanish practice [. . .] — and James popped up suddenly, looking fit and pretty rested.

We took the Fara Sabina line to Roma Tiburtina and switched there to the Ancona line, which cut 1½ h off the instinctive thing to do (wait for the later Termini train and change to a later Ancona train): clever thinking on my part, for once. We were at the apartment a few minutes to seven, and the day had been clear and pleasantly mild after all that cold rain — although the fields around Trevi were quite flooded, and the Prato behind Spello was sodden or even slightly flooded in spots.

James wanted to get on Italian time so we went out to eat at the Bastiglia, about which under their new since February chef I'd heard a fair amount of good; but we were disappointed. The space is very pleasant — attractive irregularly-shaped room, lots of good plates (some old) on the wall, wooden beams, and several kitschy pieces of modern painting, quite bad, curiously unobtrusive. The wine list is excellent at mostly reasonable prices except for the better Montefalco which were outrageous. The service was perfunctory with a feel of muted surliness to it. The food was pretentious and poorly executed: James had tagliolini in some kind of tomato sauce, his comment was that it tasted like Hamburger Helper, and indeed, I've eaten about the same at cheap restaurants in Rome, Rieti and Narni. My primo was a gnocchi tartufati dish which wound up including broccoli florets in it — curious, but not intrinsically bad — but which had 3 separate technical flaws: a distinctly gritty sauce, not pleasant; the tartufo adulterated with black pepper (the usual stretches are mushrooms — which is often quite good — or nutmeg, which can be OK when cleverly used) and not successful; and worst of all, the potato gnocchi were very pasty, which is of course a major flaw that nothing can camouflage. Similarly, my secondo was something di faraona etc. but guineafowl is quite distinctive in flavor and dark-colored, and that was almost certainly young turkey: bland, very white and close-textured, although pleasant. Sfogliatina alle pesche: the pâte feuilletée was slightly burnt, like caramel, very possibly on purpose since all the way thru evenly but a peculiar bitter flavor which didn't go with the slices of slightly green peach. Not a success, in sum. An Antonelli rosso di Montefalco, good, at a reasonable restaurant price (30 ML) — Home, to bed (laundry finally almost dry, didn't argue it, took it down).


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Page updated: 22 Aug 99