December 01, 2012

Restaurant: La Pergola (Rome)

We were in Rome for a few days prior to going on a 14 night cruise, so I took my mom to Rome's 3-Michelin star Italian restaurant: La Pergola. It's view from the top of the Rome Cavalieri is breathtaking, and everyone was seated out on the terrace. It was slightly warm, but worth it for the view.

Amberjack tartare was a tasty, tiny starter. The peach puree was acidic enough to cut through the richness of avocado and complement the clean fish flavor.

The Italian-sushi dish was one of my favorites of the night. There was nothing Japanese about it. The nori was represented by powdered olive. A perfect slice of tuna (not sure how they grilled it that delicately) was topped with a chopped funnel 'rice' layer and red onion 'ginger' - apparently from an Italian varietal that is red all the way through. It was creative and delicious.

A broth fish soup called "The Sea" was ok but didn't taste overly special - It seemed more about the presentation than anything else. You can see the chef make it here. It was a briney fish soup.

Green tortellini wish clams and squid were delicious, as were tempura shrimp over a squid puree. Interestingly, I didn't really love a black cod dish that we had been advised to skip by someone at Chowhound but it was my mom's favorite dish of the night.

My other favorite dish of the night was the lamb shanks, which were cooked to medium rare sous vide - a preparation that allowed the shanks to cook for a long time and become tender while not cooking past medium rare. The flavors were familiar and savory while being deliciously different.

After an Italian cheese course with some interesting fruit breads, many tiny desserts were presented for our enjoyment. My favorites were a coconut sorbet quenelle in lemongrass light syrup (I could've eaten a lot more of this), some coconut hot chocolate that was not too sweet and some chocolate dipped cones of lemon sorbet. But the other desserts were all good - some surprisingly so. An anise cake was surprisingly delicate and enjoyable (I don't ordinarily like licorice flavor). The rolled gelee lollipop was the only real miss - I still haven't had the equal of a tender gelee in a Quebec restaurant.

Overall, the meal was very satisfying. The focus on seafood meant it was a bit lighter than other tasting menus and let us enjoy the varied desserts at the end of the meal. It was definitely less bombastic than the Vegas fine dining restaurants that I've dined at, but more consistent - fewer hits and only one miss.

Other than a slight snafu with the water (mom was drinking sparkling, mine was still - they got confused a couple times) service was attentive and friendly. I'm not sure if it was because of the water confusion, but they only charged us for the first bottles of water, which was appreciated. At the end of a long meal, the head chef, Heinz Beck, came around for compliments and photos.

La Pergola
Rome Cavalieri
Via Alberto Cadlolo 101,
00136 Rome, Italy

Posted by JAY at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Tiber River

I took my mom on a 14 night cruise of the Mediterranean at the end of August. We were lucky - Dom and Clara let us know of a great deal - $2500 for the two of us, and they were going too! But before we left, we spent a few days in Rome. The Tiber river was a few minutes walk from the Visconti Hotel, where we stayed.

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Posted by JAY at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain was impressive, even better than the replica in Vegas ;) Part of it was under restoration. It was really busy. We bought some gelato - they were advertising 2 euros but you had to REALLY insist to get that size - they did everything but flatly refuse to sell it.

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Posted by JAY at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Architecture

Crazy architecture everywhere in Italy. I actually thought that I had an illustration filter set on my camera for this shot.

I bought the camera specifically for this trip, for shots like this. So worth it. (Sony RX100)

The sun was blazing and it was super hot for most of the trip. We got used to it, though.

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Posted by JAY at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Night Walk

Because of the time difference, I was wide awake at 3am and roamed Rome, trying hard not to get lost (I was taking pix of street signs as breadcrumbs). I was testing out the camera's low light capabilities, which were pretty good. For the church paintings, I used HDR, which allowed me to capture detail in the shadows under the collonade that I couldn't see with my eyes.

As always, click to enlarge.

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Posted by JAY at 11:20 PM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - St Peters Square

On the second day in Rome, we walked to Vatican City, where we had a tour scheduled for the museum. But first we stopped to see St. Peter's Basilica. There was a lot of restoration work going on outside, so I didn't get a good exterior shot - Wikipedia provides (amen).

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Posted by JAY at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Vatican Altar

This altar structure would look right at home in a satanic cult, no?

The grandeur of the Basilica was amazing, but it makes me pause... How many poor people tithed or could've been fed? On the other hand, they're long dead anyway and the Basilica is still here - so maybe it was worth it?

While choosing photos, I realize that I take more closeups than scenes... The Basilica was even bigger than it looked below - each of the side naves are as big as the one directly ahead (behind the evil altar).
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December 21, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Vatican

Ornamentation everywhere...

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December 22, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Vatican Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta is also in the Basilica and it was interesting to see it in person. It was larger and somehow a bit 'lighter' feeling.

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Posted by JAY at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Vatican Panorama

Well sort of panorama. This camera has a variety of pano modes, This one is a short one with the camera held vertically (scanning down). Anyway, this shot gives an idea of scale compared to the people.

Posted by JAY at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2012

Cruise 2012 - Rome - Vatican Museum

We did a tour of the Vatican Museums, which were huge and impressive and filled with famous statues.

One example was the Laocoon, which was apparently reconstructed from various pieces and re-posed a few times.

The painted rooms in the papal apartments were similarly impressive.

The Sistine Chapel was less so - it's much smaller than expected and not very architecturally interesting. (I vaguely remember some art teachers saying the same thing.) It was also hot, dim and crowded. They asked that no photos be taken, and as they were so nice about allowing pix in the rest of the museum, I obliged.

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Posted by JAY at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)