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Fellini: sixty year of dolce vita

A film, an icon, the profile of an Italy exploding between cultural rigidity and frantic change. Sixty years ago, La dolce vita by Federico Fellini appeared in cinemas, and in popular culture. Just on the night between 2 and 3 February 1960 at the “Cinema Fiamma di Roma”, today closed, there was the premiere.

 

The Film

We are in the glamorous Rome of the ’60s, where Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni), a scandal journalist, spends his life through a purely Hegelian drama, that is: between having to be a scandal journalist and wanting to be a novelist.

Through the character of Marcello, Fellini unveils to us lights and shadows of the Capitoline society of the time, such as: the arrival of a Statue of Christ headed to the Vatican aboard a helicopter; Marcello’s continuous betrayals that lead his girlfriend Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) to the attempted suicide and the will of a man who, after the escaped tragedy, decides to throw himself headlong into his job accepting to follow the famous Hollywood star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg). Through her, Fellini takes the protagonist and the spectator into the complex meanders of a society that changes, rebeling quietly and finding itself devoted to beauty as if it were sunken, festive and luxuriant in the Trevi Fountain. And, in an instant, it is as if that “Marcello come here” was an invitation addressed to all that ” dolce” Italy.

 

“A Small World” in Via Veneto

Like a current that crosses a river from Porta Pinciana to Piazza Barberini, Via Veneto is the place where Italy changes, Neorealism flakes and is tinged with a golden filigree, a new light.

Located in the beating heart of Rome, a stone’s throw from Via Veneto, the visceral soul of the freshness of the style known as “dolce vita”, the Il Piccolo Mondo restaurant is a witness to an inexorable change of the guard, becoming a cradle of change and home to the likes of Federico Fellini.

 

Federico Fellini and the evenings in via Veneto

Federico Fellini walked along Via Veneto like an ante litteram flux of Roman sociology. Born in Rimini and moved to Rome to study, he made the city his second home, so much so as to make it the inspiring muse of his greatest films from Roma to La dolce vita. The capital took on new facets for Fellini: a protagonist with a thousand faces, told in a prosaic way as one does of a woman one admires and loves so much.

In an interview Fellini said: “In the evening we went to Via Veneto”. And it was precisely this little glimpse of Rome that became a corner of home for the director, a place to live, made up of nineteenth-century facades, crowded hotels and beauties immortalized by a flash. Here, the “painter” Fellini admires his masterpiece that moves and turns from “dolce vita” into “daily life”. Via Veneto could not, therefore, fail to thank that great master. Crossing the Aurelian arches we arrive in largo Federico Fellini, dedicated to the man who made Via Veneto “the theatre of the Dolce Vita”.

 

Federico Fellini and food

A table laid and a family reunited. Speaking of Fellini, one cannot help but think of one of Amarcord’s scenes, but it is also the scene that comes closest to his life experience in terms of food. Son of a parmesan representative, he tells of how he grew up “with that smell under his nose”, as he said as an adult. However, his favourite dish remained, without a shadow of a doubt, the English soup prepared by his grandmother and enriched with a very special meringue. At the time, in fact, since there were no piping bags, his grandmother used to put the mixture of egg white and sugar inside a cone made of newspaper. And it was precisely this detail that made that meringue so special, which took on an aftertaste of newsprint impossible to reproduce, because the newspaper in question was now out of print. He loved first courses, as not to mention one of his famous phrases: “life is a combination of pasta and magic”. In an interview he revealed that he loved to eat alone during filming. Voracious but too anxious to sit still, he said that having lunch with the film crew would distract him.

We, however, like to imagine him like this: sitting at one of the tables of the restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo, in front of a steaming pasta dish, watching life flowing outside and a new idea running through him.

 

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Cacio e pepe: the four most common errors

Cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper) embodies the true essence of Roman cuisine. In the capital, pasta is a religion: Roman cuisine is based on poor first courses, those made with few ingredients, but good and nutritious. Let’s talk about Carbonara, Amatriciana, of its tomato-less variant, the Gricia, and of the Cacio e Pepe. And it is precisely about the latter that we will talk about, giving you suggestions that will help you to prepare it as well as possible.

 

 How and when does Cacio e Pepe come into being?

This dish with ancient origins was born in the pastures during the period of the transhumance, i.e. the seasonal migration of flocks from pastures in the countryside Roman to the mountains. During these long journeys the shepherds brought with them caloric and long-life foods, including: dried spaghetti, pecorino cheese and black pepper grains. And it is precisely from the union of these three simple ingredients that Cacio e Pepe is born.

The choice of these foods was not random, but dictated by precise needs. Let’s see together such as:
– the pasta was used for its caloric and carbohydrate intake;
black pepper was used to counteract the cold, because it stimulates the heat receptors;
– the pecorino guaranteed the protein intake and having a long shelf life, it was not was never missing from supplies.
This traditional dish has continued to fascinate the Romans and over the years has also won over tourists visiting the Eternal City. Its fame over time became international.

Four mistakes to avoid

Although it is an institution in Roman cuisine and seems to be easy to prepare for its few ingredients, the Cacio e Pepe is not without risks at all: the mistake is always around the corner…

Here are collected the four most common errors which you can make during his preparation:

1) Using any type of pasta: the tradition dictates the use of the long pasta, spaghetti, or better yet, tonnarelli. Over the years other types of pasta have been used, such as rigatoni, tagliolini, etc. Let’s give space to alternatives, not forgetting, however, that you should not choose a type of pasta excessively porous, because it risks absorbing too much of the seasoning, which instead must maintain the creaminess that distinguishes it.

2) Cooking the pasta wrong: the pasta for the Cacio e Pepe must be drained very much al dente. The cooking must be completed over a low heat in a frying pan along with the previously roasted pepper. Once the cooking is complete, add the
creamy cheesy sauce, prepared separately in a bowl with pecorino cheese and pasta cooking water. Only now is the pasta ready to be put into the dishes. Draining the very al dente pasta will guarantee you doing all the steps without risking to
to overcook it.

3) Putting cream to give creaminess to the dish: the ingredients of this dish are three and that’s all! The secret to making the pasta creamy lies in preparing the creamy sauce by gradually pouring grated pecorino cheese and cooking water (rich in starch released from the pasta) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. It’s wise to use
cooking water to make the dish creamy and not by adding others ingredients such as oil, butter or cream.

4) Having the wrong kind of cheese: the cacio of “Cacio e pepe” is nothing more than Roman pecorino cheese. Although it is a generic term that indicates any sheep’s milk cheese, in the Roman cuisine and tradition for cacio they mean Roman pecorino cheese.

Put these suggestions into practice and your Cacio e Pepe will be impeccable! If the dishes of the Roman cuisine are your passion, at restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo you can enjoy them prepared according to the dictates of tradition. We are waiting for you!

For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

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Croaker: a fish with remarkable nutritional properties

The croaker or umbrine is a fish similar to sea bream and sea bass, but not eaten as much. This could be a consequence of overfishing in recent years, which has made it a rare fish. It is currently available on the market mainly for breeding.

It is a sea bony fish with an oval shape and a silvery color streaked with yellowish on the back, a characteristic from which the name originates. It can be eaten either cooked or raw, after being subjected to the process of killing to eliminate any bacteria that may nest in the meat. It is present in the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea and the Red Sea. It prefers medium depths because it feeds on invertebrates, which nest in the sandy seabed. It reproduces between May and June, and is fished mainly in winter.

 

Nutritional properties

This fish not only has the delicious meat but also has numerous nutritional properties. Let’s discover its characteristics together, so that we can appreciate it even more. The umbrine is rich in protein, contains Omega-3, vitamin D and some B vitamins. Due to its low mercury content, it can be eaten several times a week. It also has the advantage of being an easily digestible food; it is good seasoned simply with salt, oil and lemon, so it is suitable for feeding children or those with pathologies related to digestion.

So let’s give space in the kitchen to this good and healthy fish!

 

Recipes based on croaker

The croaker is not very greasy, so when cooking you must be careful not to dry it up. Although the meat is very delicate and tends to flake, it can still be pinned and filleted without any major problems. If eaten raw, it has a more delicate flavour, which becomes more intense with cooking. An excellent recipe to prepare with raw croaker is ceviche, which involves marinating raw fish in lemon juice or other citrus fruits, along with some spices (including chilli pepper, which is a must!). At Il Piccolo Mondo, which has a vast menu of seafood from the Lazio coast, you can enjoy, among other appetizers, a delicate ceviche of croaker with lime and red onions.

The croaker can be cooked in different ways: in foil, in a stew, baked, roasted, boiled, always making sure that it does not dry out too much. It has an extremely pleasant taste and can be seasoned with salt, extra virgin olive oil and vegetables. Being a fish mainly caught during the winter, it can be prepared, for example, together with seasonal vegetables such as pumpkin and artichokes. At Il Piccolo Mondo you can enjoy an inviting croaker with pumpkin cream and artichokes among the main courses, appreciating the authentic taste of seasonal vegetables with excellent fish.

If you love fish and good food, Il Piccolo Mondo is the restaurant for you. We are waiting for you!

For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

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Salmon: a good and healthy fish

Salmon is a fish that is born in fresh waters, and then migrates to the cold seas of Norway, Scotland and Canada. Thanks to its pleasant taste, it is one of the most widely reared fish in the world. In trade it is also found wild, but it is less easy to find.

The tender meats and the delicate and tasty flavour make it versatile in the kitchen and suitable for the preparation of numerous recipes. But the salmon is not only tasty, it is also good for the health! Let’s discover together the nutritional characteristics.

 

Nutritive and beneficial properties

Everyone is aware of the goodness of salmon, but not everyone knows its nutritional properties and what it does to the body.

We start from the content of Omega-3, with its countless beneficial properties, of which the salmon is rich. Recent studies state that the greatest benefits in taking these polyunsaturated fatty acids you have consuming foods like fish and vegetables that contain them, rather than supplements. Omega-3 in addition to having an antioxidant action and to combat cellular aging, reduce the amount of triglycerides in the blood while increasing that of HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good” cholesterol.

From a nutritional point of view, salmon has a very high protein content, which makes it a great source of protein. makes it a valuable substitute for both white and red meat. It is also rich in vitamin D, fundamental for fixing calcium in the bones and useful for the prevention of several diseases.

 

Salmon in the kitchen

There are many and varied ways in which you can prepare this fish with a pleasant taste and with tender, full-bodied flesh. You can eat it fresh, cooked (grilled, baked, steamed, pan fried and poached), raw, marinated or smoked. Cooking times of the salmon are short, to keep their meat soft. Recipes range from appetizers, entrees and main courses.

Taking advantage of the arrival in the autumn season of fruits rich in vitamin C such as oranges and pomegranates, at the restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo you can enjoy as an appetizer a tasty salad with marinated salmon, pomegranate and orange.

 

Our recipes

The recipes for preparing quick and easy first courses are different and among these are the following classic salmon pens with cream, but you can experience a more sought-after recipe
like salmon dumplings and double pepper. The ingredients are: potato dumplings, smoked salmon, black pepper and pink pepper in grains, butter, brandy, salt and parsley.

A secret to enhance the taste of salmon is to combine foods with flavours that fight it. An example is the grilled salmon slice with guacamole and sauteed broccoli, a main course of the menu of Il Piccolo Mondo, where the spiciness of this famous Mexican sauce enhances the flavour of the fish.

If you love salmon but not only, at Il Piccolo Mondo you will find a menu full of recipes made with care and creativity.
For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

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Pasta alla carbonara: 4 fun facts about the most loved and discussed dish.

 If you visit Rome and don’t taste the pasta alla carbonara you can say that you haven’t really been there.

This dish, together with others (like the amatriciana), expresses the Roman culture.
In fact, in Italy you can say that the cuisine represents the culture of the country and to confirm this last statement is a survey carried out by Coldiretti that places it as the top player of food and wine tourism: 23% of foreigners choose it for cooking.

In this article we talk about a dish that, all those who have been Rome, have tasted and loved from the first mouthful: pasta alla carbonara.

Even if it is the main dish of Italian cuisine, its history has been much discussed. 
It can be said that it is not a 100% Italian recipe but that the “made in Italy” emerges from the ingredients and traditions purely typical.

Deepening this topic we discover together 4 fun facts about pasta alla carbonara:

1) It has uncertain origins


It is said that the pasta alla carbonara was born in 1944 with the arrival of English and American troops on the line between Lazio, Molise and Campania. 
  Soldiers used to make pasta with the ingredients they could find more easily (the eggs and canned bacon they had brought with them).  At that time they tasted it and became fond of what can be said to be the ancestor of pasta alla carbonara: the cacio e ova abruzzese to which, for being homesick, they added the typical ingredients of their breakfast.

2) It took the name of pasta alla carbonara from the woodcutters


It is said that the famous dish took its name from the woodcutters of the Apennines who collected wood to make charcoal. 
  They cooked pasta alla carbonara using the ingredients easily available and preserved, the guanciale and eggs.  Components that were often carried with them during the periods when they supervised the charcoal pile and were far from home for long periods.

3) Guanciale or pancetta? Parmesan or pecorino? 


The official recipe provides as ingredients guanciale for the delicacy and sweetness of the flavor and pecorino because it was the ingredient they produced that was easily preserved and available. 
 Today, parmesan cheese is also used, or a mix of parmesan and pecorino cheese that makes the dish less salty.
 In any case, the original recipe provides for the use of pecorino from Abruzzo because it is less salty than the Roman one and because it derives from the typical “cacio e ova” in which pecorino was the basic ingredient.

4) Not everyone uses guanciale


Although the real recipe is to use the guanciale exclusively for its consistency, many people opt for the use of smoked pancetta. 
 This choice is induced not only by the economic factor (because pancetta costs less) but also because it is less fat as it is a different cut of meat that is also easier to find. 
  This option is not only widespread in families but also in restaurants, in fact is an example of a famous restaurant in Rome “da Danilo” that serves carbonara with smoked pancetta.

Although there are many variations of this dish, it is important to remember and pass on the authentic recipe of pasta alla carbonara because it represents the history and culinary traditions of Rome.

And how do you prepare it? Are you in favour of tradition, or do you prefer to make changes?

Take a look at our menu to try our alla carbonara and much more!