Baccano – An Ode to simplicity

Gonna make this a quick one.  We arrived into Rome on a red eye flight from Dubai.  We love Rome, and try to make it here every year, en route to North America.  Fortunately, despite being overbooked, our hotel was able to get us into our rooms by 8 am – Amazing to be able to take a hot shower, and prepare for the day.  My son had made us promise that we wouldn’t make him take a nap, and we would get out into the city – so we did.

Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain – legend has it that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, a return trip to the Eternal City is guaranteed.  It’s worked so far, so off we went.  Mush to our dismay, the Trevi Fountain has been closed and drained, temporarily, for renovations.  There were a lot of very disappointed tourists mulling around – taking pictures of the works in progress – so, naturally, I did too.


Disappointed, and feeling just a little peckish, we thought we would grab something quick to eat, to tide us over until dinner.  We have all heard repeatedly that one should avoid any restaurants near major tourist attractions as the food is sub par and the prices are exorbitant.  We were making our way out, meandering through the lanes, working our way to the main road to find a taxi, when we cam across Baccano.  This is very close to the fountain, and there was wonderful cold A/C air wafting out, so we looked at each other, nodded Heck Yeah, and headed in.

Very bistro like set up, with a decent menu.  The staff was super friendly and accommodating – and definitely knew the menu well.  Very helpful, and understanding of our dietary requirements – Don’t Dig on Swine.  The Boy was not very hungry, The Boss just wanted something cold to drink, and me – I could always eat.

We ordered a plate of Beef Carpaccio, a plate of Burrata Cheese and a simple pasta – Cacio e Pepe.


Carpaccio – An Italian classic.  Raw, premium beef – sliced/pounded paper thin, and served with a drizzle of fresh olive oil, peppery arugula, and some cheese…and in this case, a pickled onion.  It was delicious – and so simple.



Burrata, served with an anchovy sauce (and some anchovy filets on top).  Some may hate the humble anchovy, but I love its overpowering salty and fishy flavour.  I had never had it paired with a cool, creamy burrata before, so this was a very pleasant surprise.  The cheese, itself, was very nice in texture – a very smooth, creamy inside, that had a mild, dairy sweetness to it.  The sharp flavour of the anchovies contrasted beautifully with the mildness of the burrata.  I’m going to try this at home – spread on a nice crostini, this would be delicious.


A very simple, traditional, Roman pasta dish – Cacio e Pepe.  Homemade Tonnarelli pasta, tossed with Pecorino cheese and pepper.  An Italian mac and cheese, if you will.  Couldn’t get more stripped down than this.  The pasta, itself was wonderful.  Tonnarelli is like spaghetti.  Home made, it was dense, weighty and had a slight chew to it – perfect.  Pecorino cheese is made from sheep milk, and is hard and salty. Pepper… well, its pepper.  Three ingredients – can make it at home.  Leave a tiny bit of the water that the pasty is cooked in inside the pot – add the Pecorino and some pepper.  The water helps the cheese melt and the starch in the water helps bind everything together.  Outstanding.

Great little spot, which was a welcome surprise being in such a touristy area.  Prices were average (everything looked cheap compared to Dubai).  Service was great.  Would recommend this place to all friends.

On to the next one – many more to come from our travels during Summer 2014.  Stay tuned.  Till next time.


Morton’s Steakhouse – Macau


Better late than never – I just haven’t had a spare moment since the start of the year to post some new blog entries, but here goes my first one for 2014!

I think its pretty evident from my past posts that Steak and I have a deep rooted love affair.  One of my favourite places for steak has historically been Morton’s Steakhouse.  I find them consistent to the point of being boring – exactly what i look for, once a restaurant has proven that they can cook something especially well.  Im a purist when it comes to my beef – nothing fancy – no ultra marbled, beer massaged kobe for me.  Im perfectly happy with a moderately aged New York strip steak, cooked medium rare, with a side of something leafy and green, to balance out the fat from the steak.  So, after indulging in countless sessions of roast duck during my trip to Macau, I was ecstatic to find Old Faithful (i.e. Morton’s) sitting just off the gaming floor, in the corner of the gargantuan casino in the Venetian.  I was in Macau for three nights – 2 nights were spent at Morton’s…..eating the exact same thing.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure to visit The Venetian, let me take a moment to describe it to you.  Its massive.  There is a replica of Venice’s Grand Canal running through the first floor of the hotel, which is surrounded by high end retail and a very busy food court.  The Canal offers tourists rides on an authentic Gondola, complete with a singing Gondolier.   The roof is painted to resemble a bright blue sky – all in all, tacky, but you kind of expected that.  The hotel is large – VERY LARGE – its easy to get lost on your first few days – this can be a little tricky, especially with the language barrier (assuming you don’t speak Mandarin).  There are TONS of tourists – literally swarms of them, running around everywhere.  The reason why we stayed here is that it was one of the two hotels that we were able to verify, prior to booking our trip, that offered a Craps table in the casino.  Craps happens to be my game, so the hotel I was staying in had to offer this game.  The only other table in town, I believe, is at the Wynn – I wish I would have stayed at the Wynn – much classier scene – but the hotel seems to be perpetually booked, and I was unable to get a room.  So, the Venetian it was.




The meal started, as per tradition, with the restaurant setting on our table a lovely, fresh baked bread, covered with Onion seeds.  This was served with a much too chilled pat of butter, which was difficult to spread.  The bread was warm and soft from the inside, and crusty from the outside – very nice.

Next came the steak presentation.  Scrumptious hunks of beef, served up on a silver platter, yours for the choosing.  Im a simple man – 14oz NY Strip please.  Medium Rare, if its not too much trouble – cool, red centre.  There it is, in all its glory.  Far right, second from the top.


The bread was demolished as we awaited our meals.  And, then, they arrived.  Beautiful, thick slabs of beef.  Creamy mashed potatoes.  Sautéed mushrooms with spinach.  And, of course, the obligatory, thick cut, duck fat chips, fried to a crisp, golden brown.


Need a describe every divine morsel, with pictures being worth a thousand words, and all?  The steak was perfectly done – nicely caramelised on the outside, with well defined grill marks, and a perfectly cool, red centre.  Seasoning – just salt – which ideally let the natural flavours of the beef be amplified and do all the talking.  Just what you want from any true steakhouse.  The sides were sides – good, but not overwhelming.  The tables were calling, so we polished everything off and went off to seek our fortunes (those fortunes were not found, incase you were wondering.)  So good, we went back the next night and ordered a repeat performance – except this time, we got the onion rings too!

Love Morton’s.  Wish they would come to Dubai.