Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Volpetti & Testaccio Market

We had a choice of going to the most famous Roman market, Campo dei Fiori, or to Volpetti, a fine foods store recommended by Europe expert Rick Steves. Unfortunately, I chose Volpetti because it was late when we got ready to go (and I didn't know that the market in Camp dei Fiori lasted through the day) and I thought the Testaccio market next to Volpetti wouldn't be much different from that in Campo dei Fiori. I was wrong, because the Testaccio market was small and Volpetti, although a wonder store, was overpriced.

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Black truffles and salami.

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We preferred meat suppli to rice suppli.

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Pizza rossa (tomato pizza) is lovely but I found Volpetti's pizzas not as good as those in the regular pizza shops. Pizzas in shops are usually sold by weight.

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On the left, toppings were anchovies and zucchini flowers and on the right, potatoes. Superb flavors!

We spent hours in Volpetti, picking up parma ham, black truffles (I bought two only for about 30 euros each; Hub was to bring them home while I stayed back in Europe for another 6 weeks), truffle salts, a couple of cheeses and unusual canned food. After the damage to our credit cards, we walked by the Testaccio market again (only 1 block away from Volpetti) and I realized that everything we bought in Volpetti was more expensive than those in the market. The prosciutto hams especially were much cheaper and the locals all shopped in the market. They seemed to prefer prosciutto crudo instead of parma. I sampled both prosciutto crudo and parma and couldn't tell the difference. I must tell you about the salami. Since I wasn't very familiar with cured meats, I bought two kinds of salami, one with a white coating and another without. The salami without the white coating was excellent, fresh, sweet and wonderful but the white one was too hard and strongly flavored. If I knew that salami can be so tasty, I would've saved all my luggage space for it. I also picked up excellent grana padano, pecorino and Parmesan in Pisa, my port of exit. The grana padano especially was surprisingly savory-sweet and smelled fantastic, without the stink of baby vomit like the ones we get at home home. Good grano padano is only about 9 euros per kg in Italy and it was an Italian in Pisa who told me that a good grano padano is just as good as any other fancier Parmesan. That was quite a tip for me. The cookbooks always tout prosciutto parma and parmigiano reggiano but the Italians themselves use proscuitto crudo and grano padano, which are cheaper.

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Tomatoes from Sicily are the best, I was told, and this stall in Testaccio market sold only Sicilian tomatoes. I asked for the best, and the friendly Italian guy gave me a couple to sample. So sweet of him.

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I love the fountains in Italy where you can drink from and wash your fruits and veggies.

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I bought enough to last me a year or two.

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Did you know that rocket (arugula) grows wild in Italy? Seems like the only Italian veggie we hear and read about is rocket but, just as in China, there are so many other types of veggies that we don't know about.

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Poor guy had to hand cut (I preferred thicker slices) 3 kgs of proscuitto crudo for me. I left Italy with 5 kgs of prosciutto, 1.5 kg of sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 kg of dried porcini, 3 kgs of cheese, a couple of salami,1 kg of pancetta, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of vin santo and 4 jars of white/black truffle salt.

If you want to visit a market in Rome, make sure it's the one at Campo dei Fiori. I hear it's as good as La Boqueria, if not more lively, because Campo dei Fiori is an open piazza.

6 comments:

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

I'm planning to go to Rome early next year. I guess I know what I'll be stocking up - salami, prosciutto and porcini!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that must have accounted for most of your baggage allowance?

terri@adailyobsession said...

ccc: oh yes!

anon: would you believe tt i didn't bust my baggage allowance? i'm very proud of the fact tt i could stay in europe for 2 1/2 months and still travel so light that my checked in bag was only about 23 kgs. same thing with my daughter n she was there for 6 months! of course my hub and my friend yo had helped bring some of our stuff home but still, i think we are exceptionally light travellers:DD

Eliza said...

Hi, could you tell when you visited Italy, as in which month? I'm planning a trip for me and my parents for next year. I heard that summer in Italy can be scorchingly hot! I really want my parents to enjoy a relaxing trip, having good food, enjoy good weather and taking in the scenery. Not a whirlwind tour which might be too stressful for them. Would you recommend visiting Florence, Venice and Rome all in a week? Or should I just focus on 1-2 cities? I trust that you will give good advice. Your blog is a fantastic read with lovely pictures and detail description of the eateries there. =)

terri@adailyobsession said...

eliza: i am excited for you n your parents! italy is just amazing!

i'd say rome is a must. bc you only have 1 week, do two cities. since rome is where you see all those churches n museums, the other city shd be different, so venice would be a better choice. however, if you have 2 weeks, do all three!

i was in italy twice, end of may abd in july. it was HOT, esp july, i think the best times for places with 4 seasons are always may and oct, spring/early summer and fall. the weather's milder and in the fall, the fruits, the mushrooms, the seafood etc are all at their most and best. it's the big harvest before the harsh winter comes in.

if i go to italy again, i'd rent a small house in a smaller city or town n stay for at least a week, cooking, dining out and just chilling. tt would be a dream come true:)

hv fun!!! eat, drink and be merry!

su sian said...

Hi there. I stumbled on your blog and wanted to leave a message to say how much I enjoyed your pictures and comments ! I just got home to KL after 2 weeks in Rome and like you, brought home a 10-kilo box of vacuum-packed goodies from Volpetti. I wouldn't worry too much about missing the market at Campo de Fiori, which has fewer local stalls than the Testaccio one - instead it has Bangladeshi-run stalls selling "genuine Italian spices" to tourists. Also don't worry too much about over-paying for the good stuff. 3 year old parmigiano at 22 euros a kilo is a different product than grana at 9 euros, and both have their place at an Italian table.

Hope you have a chance to go to Rome in the winter season. It's cold but sunny, great weather for sight-seeing and all the special Lazio region veggies - puntarelle, local artichokes, broccolo romano - are indeed plentiful and delicious.

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