It’s the fifth day of our trip and you know what that means, right? Right? …. c’mon, at least guess? Fine, be that way. It’s laundry day! Long ago we decided that we would rather do laundry occasionally rather than haul large pieces of luggage over uncertain terrain. Actually, “long ago” makes it sound vaguely in the past. There’s nothing vague about it. It was December 30th, 2008, late in the evening, in Paris, France. We came up out of the subway stop, having used the train to get in to the city from the airport. It was freezing cold, slushy if not outright snowy, and we each had a giant duffel bag – they were so big that they had wheels and a retracting handle just like a classic roller bag. Just, you know, giant duffel size. We rolled those damned things over cobblestones, through the darkness, for what felt like an hour. And then and there, we swore we would do anything we could to avoid big luggage. It’s always a work in progress, but we try. So, anyway. Laundry day!
I mean, it’s not only laundry day. It didn’t take more than an hour to drop off the laundry, round trip, and wouldn’t have taken that long if google wasn’t drunk. Have we told you that google day-drinks? Stories for another time, probably. The pace of the day (i.e. we sleep in blessedly late right now) meant that after laundry the next order of business was lunch; hubba hubba.
We had a reservation at Casa Bleve, which Lisa had found on one of the many blogs she peruses during her travel research phase. Billed as a refined restaurant, the big draw for us (other than the food) was that it was in a 16th-century palazzo. It didn’t disappoint, providing not only excellent food in gorgeous surroundings, but fantastic people-watching all throughout our meal.
Overall, Casa Bleve’s menu is Italian, but they bring an interesting flavor profile that elevates every dish. We shared the burrata starter (of course it’s on the menu, right?). Here they source it from Puglia (instead of down the coast) and serve it with a fruit compote. Rich flavors, perfectly balanced. We practically licked the plate it was so good. That said, we were drawn to (but passed on) the roasted (sweet) red peppers are rolled with a pate made of tuna, anchovies, and capers. Other options were the catch of the day fish offered both as carpaccio and tartare and sea anchovies offered with sweet butter and toasted bread.
We then shared the tonnarello pasta with artichokes, pork cheek bacon, and Pecorino cheese. This dish was exquisitely prepared and perfectly delicious, the pasta having the perfect “bite” to it with a slight earthy umami from the artichoke offsetting the intense flavor of the bacon and cheese.
Our mains were the fish of the day with yellow tomatoes for John, and braised beef cheek with mashed potatoes for me. My beef cheek was meltingly tender and rich; his fish was perfectly cooked and the tomatoes were roasted just a bit, bringing out the best of their flavor here in the off season. We had just enough room to split a dessert of Millefeuille with vanilla cream and berries. The meal (appetizer, pasta, 2 mains, dessert, several bottles of water, bread service, and a bottle of wine) came to 151eu.
After lunch, we had a vague agenda of finding the reputed leather goods district of Rome, with a plan to meander there and catch random sights. In this case, the random sight to see was the Pantheon, which is a beautiful building just on the outside – which is good, because we realized we were a little low energy so we didn’t fight the crowds to go inside. Instead we made it to the “leather goods district” which, if we’re being honest (and why wouldn’t we?) was a huge disappointment. Maybe covid smacked the place around or something, but there were maybe four shops, three of which were clearly just reselling commercial merchandise; only one of them had any pretense of crafting their goods locally. We made a desultory purchase of a coin purse – brighter and bigger than John’s last two, so here’s hoping he doesn’t lose this one(!) – and then made our way back to our hotel. (For your reference, this is the article that led to us thinking it was such a great place. It’s not.) In our opinion, Massimmo’s in Florence is a MUCH MUCH better collection of leather, produced in Italy, with fantastic prices. (Here’s a link to the day we spent there.)
With our big fancy lunch we just made do with light snackage for dinner. John scooted back to the laundromat to get our suitcase full of clean clothes, and we got ourselves packed up for our travel day tomorrow. We wanted to hit the ground running in Venice, so we got ourselves all prepped and turned in for a good night’s sleep. Venice awaits!