Sunday, 11 November 2012
Every year, this Flaminio area gets more lively. The Auditorium has brought it to life, as has MAXXI. Of course seeing it during the Film Festival, with festival-goers milling around and filling the bars, may give a false impression. But more and more restaurants are opening up and it has a less well-heeled-professional and a more young-people-enjoying-themselves feel.
We ate last night at an enoteca called Annibale. The food was good. The service was friendly though chaotic. We sat outside, and I was warm – though afterwards L complained that it wasn’t going to do his flu any good. Odd, because he doesn’t give any real appearance of having flu at all, so I don’t know what he was talking about. Maybe he was having a Roman-matrons-in-fur-coats reaction, ie: you just don’t sit outside for meals in November. Silly.
On Friday evening we sat outside the ReD bar at the Auditorium for a quick drink and were shocked at how few people there were. It’s difficult to say whether it was because festival things really hadn’t kicked off properly at that point. Or whether the high price of tickets this year (a misguided attempt to make the festival appear more exclusive?) had driven touchy, easily offended Romans away.
The scene in the regular bar at the Auditorium this morning was anything but empty – an unholy scrum. This could have been due in some measure to the deluge happening outside – a haven in a storm. It’s funny how that place has become the venue of choice for group homework sessions. Amid the swirling mass of critics and viewers, huddles of university and high school students occupied tables piled high with books, carrying on as if the festival wasn’t happening. Even on a Sunday morning. Very amusing.
I eat too much in Rome, and too much of things I don’t want.
Yesterday I did the very new: Eataly’s Rome outlet which everyone else has already rushed to but I have taken my time. It’s huge and airy and pleasant, though I have to say I prefer the Bologna one which is much more a bookshop with some foody bits tacked on. Here, there’s the problem – for me – of the smells: there are different eating areas all over the three floors but the stink of the frying bit fills the whole huge barn of a place. And though everythin gis in the best possible pared-back taste, after a long slow stroll around I found myself guiltily longing for something just a little out of keeping. Is that too cynical of me? Bewildered by the choice, I ended up bolting down a piadina – an Italian pitta – filled with tomato and mozzarella. Delicious. But (1) wheat and (2) cheese: the two things I vowed I wouldn’t have. No willpower.
Today, on the other hand, we did the very old: Sora Margherita in the Ghetto. Long and thin and packed (oddly, today, with French people: it must be in some very popular guide book), its menu is unchanging. We managed to engineer ourselves a meal which wasn’t, oddly, too heartily unhealthy. The carciofi alla giudea were excellent. After which we introduced L’s friend Kerry Fox – here because she’s in a film called Mental by PJ Hogan – to the full range of traditional Roman veg: broccoletti ripassati, puntarelle with anchovy dressing, grilled aubergine plus some mozzarella and some marinated anchovies. Nothing fried (except the artichokes), no pasta. So very un-Sora Margherita. Then we compensated with far too much torta di ricotta e visciole. It’s so melt-in-your-mouth that cake, the sponge and the pastry and the ricotta and the wild cherry jam all slipping down so effortlessly. By the time we’d finished, it felt like we’d pigged out on pasta and the works anyway.
Populaire (Régis Roinsard) yet more French charm. They’re good at that, the French. This one is about the world of speed typing competitions in the 1950s. Again, beautifully scripted, whimsically funny, great performances. And, by coincidence, as with Main dans la main, ending up in New York: is there some clause in French film contracts that says the dénouement has to occur in NY? Here these’s much understatement: a gentle reversal of roles and breaking of stereotypes – not laid on too thick but there if you look and elegantly making its quiet point. The production design is quite delicious: just lovely to look at.