Hey Everybody! What have you been doing for over a year? We've made some changes. There will be a new blog soon. All new adventures with Constance! It's gonna be rad.
It's been a long time since I was so far from anything that I couldn't hear the sound of cars anymore. It was in search of this, that prompted me to take a hike (literally) and see if I could just find some wilderness to peacefully enjoy. Thankfully, Rome provided exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I had to stumble through a Gypsy camp to find it. It was not like you'd imagine, instead of painted caravans and wily old storytellers there was mostly just garbage and feces. I did not take any photos of the Gypsy camp, nor did I linger, I did not feel remotely safe. Check out the beauty of nature though.
Follow the path
Cool, scrubby, triffid-looking things growing through some serious brambles
Hey look, flowers. wow.
Wild flowers are great, no pattern, just color.
Lavender, if I had to guess (which I did)
Moss, not being on the north side of a tree. The boy scouts lied to me. Actually it was more like lichen and I was never a scout.
That cluster of buildings way out there is the area where I live. It was a nice hike.
This is where it started to get a little more developed
These were the only people I saw on my hike, excluding the filthy Gypsies. (also, note St. Peter's in the background)
Pretty trees are like really slow fireworks
Bonus picture! An old pic of Constance and I
Go out, grab some nature, you'll be better for it. Until next time, Arrividerci!
Can you believe that I have been here 8 months and never seen the Colosseum? I know, crazy. With only a few days left in Rome, I decided to go do all the touristy stuff that I wanted to do, but lacked the motivation for. I saw Aventine Hill, The Bocca Della Veritas, and of course, Il Coloseo. Charity and Constance came with and we had a splendid day out. Also, as a random side note, they were shooting Zoolander 2 while we were at Aventine Hill. No, I did not see Ben Stiller. Check out the pics, guaranteed to be Stiller-free.
Hey, look! A fountain in a park! How novel!
The back of the Forum, from Circus Maximus
More of the Forum's behind
I believe this is the Boulevard of Romulus and Remus, my favorite of the Roman myths
Circo Massimo (the Circus Maximus). Sure, it's just a big dirt field, but where else you gonna race your chariot?
A bunch of words, not in English.
The Bocca Della Veritas (The Mouth of Truth). Legend has it if you stick your hand in it's mouth, and tell a lie, it will bite your hand off. "What did I say?", you ask...
"I'm Batman" I whispered softly.
I still got both my mitts, Charity is now sporting a hook.
These are the actual bones of St. Valentine. Way cooler than a heart shaped box of chocolates and some overpriced roses.
The tomb of Hercules. I though he was Greek, but that's what the sign said.
I have no idea what basilica this was, there are so many. Hadrian's crypt is here.
This is certainly a structure. It's purpose, no clue.
Yet another awesome fountain.
The "secret" path up Aventine Hill (it is not a secret).
Those are shards of glass, Roman home security is no joke.
A nice view from the hill, That's St. Peter's waaaaaay in the background there.
This is the Lapis Diaboli, Legend says that Satan threw this at St. Dominic to disrupt his prayers.
I think you know what this is.
I had to stop myself from yelling "are you not entertained" at the top of my lungs.
"It's at a funny angle"
I did not go inside for two reasons. 1. It costs money 2. Look at all those people, it was like waiting in line at Six Flags.
The Arch of Constantine. Google it, seriously, there are way too many cool facts about it to fit in a caption.
Constance actually slept for most of our outing, but she did wake up for the bus ride home.
There you go. I got a few of these left in me before I come home. Keep watching!
America has everything, Rome has Italian stuff. Sometimes you can find imported things, but it usually comes with a great deal of looking and at an increased price. Bagels are no exception. That being said, Charity was told about a bagel shop not too far from our place and we decided to check it out on a whim the other day. It wasn't like your average bagel shop, where they just offer lots of bagels with a schmear of cream cheese, they mostly dealt in sandwiches and salads, juices and cookies. All of it organic and fresh, and all of it delicious. The place is called Nanu, just east of Piazza Risorgimento, over by San Pietro (The Pope's House). Charity got a poppyseed bagel with cheddar and egg, while I enjoyed house made pastrami on a sesame seed bagel so much, I had to document the experience.
The view as soon as you walk in, the plants add a fresh clean look.
Like any other salad shop, freshly prepped ingredients, ready to rock.
Herbs and spices and nuts! (Oh my!)
The cutesy, pre-school menu board
I especially appreciate that the salmon bagel sandwich is dyed black with squid ink.
Fresh juices and craft sodas, always a weakness of mine.
A delectable crostata di mirtillio (blueberry pie)
This is the friendly and helpful gentleman who prepared our food. His english was really good too.
And they gave Constance a cookie, so you know she approves.
At 6.50 each, you can surely find a cheaper sandwich at many places in town, but the freshness and flavor definitely makes this place worth it. And if you're craving a bagel (after 8 months, I certainly was) the bagels are truly fantastic. Come check it out on a nice spring afternoon, you won't be disappointed.
Homaro Cantu was one of my culinary heroes. I remember the first time I saw him was on Iron Chef, battling against Chef Morimoto, I believe the secret ingredient was Beet. I was captivated, enthralled and inspired. The things he was doing in the kitchen were amazing. So innovative and creative. Using lasers and printing pictures on food, things I had scarcely dreamt about. It was at that moment that I thought, "man, I'd like to do that." Fast forward several years later, I decided to go to culinary school, I was an innovator in my own right, trying new things, changing old things, shifting paradigms and what have you. One day I saw a flyer that said Chef Cantu was coming to campus to do some interviews. I flipped out, I got to school extra early, made sure I dressed nicely, brought a resumé and tried to look like I was a calm and collected professional. I was instantly charmed by how relaxed and affable Chef Cantu was. I don't think he even looked at my resumé, we just talked for a few minutes and he asked if I would be willing to some down and stage at Moto, his legendary molecular gastronomy restaurant. I was overjoyed. Here he was, my culinary idol, telling me "yeah, come one down, you can work a friday/saturday shift and see how you like it". I set up the appointment for about 2 weeks from that date and eagerly awaited the experience.
I staged for one day at Moto and on the second day they asked me if I could fill in as a server at iNG, Moto's sister restaurant next door. I said "sure", I just wanted to be part of the Cantu family. The things I witnessed in those two days were spectacular, magical even. I hustled my ass off and it didn't go unnoticed. Trevor Rose-Hamblin, the general manager at iNG offered me a job. I was elated. I had never even thought that I would meet Chef Cantu, and here I was, working at one of his restaurants. I started in the front of house, as a server and was eventually taken into the kitchen to serve as an intern and line cook. I worked directly under Charlie Harrison, an amazing talent and one of Homaro's old friends. I was in heaven. The work was hard but so creative and amazingly enjoyable. There were many occasions that Homaro (Omar to his friends) would come into the kitchen and demonstrate something or he would call us up to the dining room to see something. He got so excited about everything and he had a million ideas a minute.
He had just finished shooting his Iron Chef rematch, when I arrived and he was beginning a web series called "CookiNG Under Pressure" all about what was happening at iNG. I was literally living the dream, still in culinary school doing exactly what I came there to do. Work with one of my heroes and do creative and amazing things with food every day. I was a part of something grand and it felt amazing. Eventually, the long hours and looming arrival of my daughter forced me to leave the kitchen, but not without meeting some amazing people and gathering some of the most important professional experiences of my life.
Omar Cantu passed away on Tuesday, April 14, of an apparent suicide. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news. He was a mentor to me and an inspiration to all. He was a humanitarian of the finest calibre. He worked tirelessly to feed people in need and was dedicated to bring wholesome, nutritious food to the world. Not just to the poor, or people in his community, he strove to affect global change in the was we eat and even see food. The world is a little less magical today, but the people he inspired and the people he fostered in his restaurants and in his business dealings will go forth and do great things.
I have a million stories from my time at iNG, and I met some amazing people. I'd like to thank all of them. Every day was a grand adventure, and we pushed the envelope of creativity constantly. The experience was unique and very special and it was all due to the creative force that was Chef Omar Cantu. I will miss you, Chef and thank you for everything.
JoJet Catayong, running "The Matrix" and keeping everyone on track.
Will Lambert, our bartender and social media guru, goofing around in the kitchen.
Amazing FOH staff, Judy Nguyen, Christina Goudy, Nathan Fredricksen and Scott Brucar enjoying a staff meal together
Server, Ryan Love tries an awkward first kiss with the camera.
Charlie Harrison and Hugo Guadarrama throwing down on any given night of service, probably while listening to Junior Reid's "One Blood"
Charlie Harrison, whom I have the utmost respect for, giving me the stink eye (probably because I should be working or cleaning)
On days when he would work the line, I got to work face to face with Chef Cantu, this is how I remember him best, surrounded by gadgets, talking shit and grinning impishly while doing amazing things. Thank you for everything Chef, I'll miss you terribly.
There are tons of other folks who I worked with as well, D'andre Carter (who never made anything that wasn't amazingly delicious) Vince and Anistar Griffith (a couple of the most amazing pastry chefs I have ever seen), Liam Rockford, Luis Castillo, Victor Guadarrama, Jack Flaharty, Emilie Rose Bishop... The list goes on and on, not to mention the amazing staff over at Moto, two doors down. Thanks for the memories, and thanks for Chef Cantu, the mad genius behind it all. I hope you have found peace.
This will likely be the least accurate travel blog in the history of the internet