Ten Things To Know About Eating In France

Kir Royal at Le Lutetia, Ile Saint Louis

Kir Royal at Le Lutetia, Ile Saint Louis, Paris

People have made the “rude French waiter” into a cliché.  I don’t really understand why.  Every single person who waited on us in France was kinder and more personable than the next.  That being said, there are some things that you should know in order to, well, order.

1.  Do not call your server, “Garçon!”  That’s a derogatory title much like, “Hey, boy.”  Call him “monsieur” or if it’s a woman, “mademoiselle” or “madame” depending on her age.

2. Do not ask for extra condiments.  The chef prepared the meal for you and it’s seasoned the way it’s meant to be.  It’s like a lead balloon asking for salt.  It’s an insult.

3.  Your server will not return.  When they bring you your meal, that’s going to be it.  You know how in America you get your food and then three minutes later when you have a mouthful they’ll ask you, “How is everything tasting?”  Doesn’t.  Happen.  In.  France.  Their culture dictates that it’s rude and too intimate to speak to strangers as they eat.

4.  Don’t be in a rush.  Paris, especially, is a people watching kind of place.  The cafe chairs are set up outside in theater style.  You don’t even face your companion.  People like to sit and watch the world go by.  With the purchase of your meal (or your kir royal,) you are entitled to all the dinner theater you can imagine.  They won’t rush you and you certainly won’t get your main course while you’re still eating your salad.  You’ll have to ask them for the bill, (Le Cheque.)  They feel that angling sideways up to the table as they put the bill on it, even if they say, “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready” is the same as, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”

5.  Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Olive.  Olive who?  Olive France.  Rather, France loves olives.  Everywhere you go to eat, when they bring you your cocktails, they also bring a bowl of olives.  Both green and black, the only utensil you’ll receive is a toothpick.

6. Don’t tip.  In France, most of the servers, waiters, bartenders, etc. are grown men.  You’ll nary find a teenager with his phone in his back pocket.  It’s a life long career here, not a stepping stone for unemployed actors or college kids.  They take exceptional pride in their work.  The bill has a 20% gratuity built right in, it’s called “Le pourboire.”  It’s a respectable profession and it’s insulting to leave a tip.  That being said, if you leave just a few coins, (under a euro or so) that’s just a little “thank you.”

7.  Secondhand smoke comes free with every meal.  I’m sorry, but it’s true, especially if you eat outside.  I tell myself that smoke inhaled on holidays doesn’t count much in the same way as calories consumed on vacation.  If you make a big stink about it, you’ll be the one led to the door.  Ask to sit inside to help alleviate it.  You’ll be the only one in there.

8.  A Rosé by any other name…Especially in the summer, the French drink rosé wine.  It’s not that super sweet bubbly rosé we drink here.  Rather, it’s a bit more dry and it’s served cold.  Everyone drinks it.  If they aren’t drinking this, they’re having a Kir that consists of white wine with a splash of fruit liquor in it.  (So it’s a homemade rosé.)  You could go crazy and ask for Kir Royal so they switch out the white wine for champagne.  The point here is, folks, they drink simple wine based drinks.

9. Keep your elbows on the table.  Yes, you read that correctly.  At least, keep your forearms firmly planted on the table ledge so your hands are visible.  The French get funny if your hands are in your lap.  They want to see what you’re up to.  I’m serious.

10.  Bread goes on the table.  Well, duh.  I’m not talking about the bread basket, I mean the actual bread.  You won’t get a bread plate.  You’re expected to rip the bread with your hands and then you leave it on the tabletop.  This works closely in alignment with #9…keep your hands where I can see ’em.

 

 

Santoro Family Easter Bread

Nonna's Easter Bread Recipe
Nonna's Easter Bread Recipe

Nonna’s Easter Bread Recipe

 

As we journey further into our 40 days in the desert of Lent, Holy Week brings with it the final journey of Jesus, from his entrance into Jerusalem to the glory of Easter morning and the empty tomb.  Holidays (Holy Days) and food have always been interwoven into family traditions, and for Italians, Easter is no exception.

I love the symbolism of Easter bread, taking the dough and shrouding it in cloths and squirreling it away into a warm, safe place, much like a tomb. It takes time, but it will rise….

People used to give up eggs, milk, sugar for the entire duration of Lent, (that’s why you’ll see all those Pancake suppers and Mardi Gras parties.)  Creating an Easter bread is a celebratory food that uses all of those ingredients.

This recipe was handed down to me from my maternal grandmother, Amelia Santoro Testani.  I learned how to make it from my own mom, Norma.  I’ve taught it to my daughters, and now I’m sharing it with you.

SANTORO FAMILY EASTER BREAD RECIPE

  • 12 eggs (one for each disciple)
  • 1 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 7/8 cup of sugar
  • 2 oranges grated with the rind and juice squeezed from them
  • 2 packages of dry yeast
  • 1 bottle of anise (or 1/2 cup of Sambuca)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 Tbs. of salt
  • About 5 pounds of flour, added little by little

The Night Before:

Dissolve the yeast in one cup of warm milk, (not TOO hot.)  Combine all the ingredients except for the flour in a large mixing bowl.  (You can use a Kitchen-Aid mixer, but you’ll have to transfer it out into a LARGE bowl so it can rise.)  Blend all the ingredients and begin to add the flour little by little.  It will be like the consistency of regular bread dough.  Be sure it’s in a very large bowl as it rises a lot.  Sprinkle the top of it with a bit of flour so the cloths don’t stick to it.  Wrap it with dish towels or a tablecloth, whatever you have.  Keep it in a warm room overnight.

In the morning:

Punch down the dough and let it rise again for another three hours.  Keep it covered.  Using four pie pans or tins, grease and flour them well.  Divide the dough into fourths.  Using more flour on a smooth surface, knead each loaf for about five minutes, adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking together.  Transfer each loaf into a pan.  Cover all of them again with the cloths and let them sit for 2-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush each loaf with an egg wash mixture of egg and sugar.  Bake at 350 for ten minutes.  Lower the heat to 300 and bake another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and the knife comes clean when you test it.

Some families like to add a sweet frosting and colored sprinkles.  To make the frosting, mix a cup of confectionary sugar with a tablespoon at a time of milk.  It takes VERY LITTLE milk to create a smooth frosting so don’t start with a lot.  Drizzle the frosting over the bread after it’s cooled and sprinkle the colored sprinkles.

Buona Pasqua!  Happy Easter!

 

Sicily in Somerville, New Jersey….Really.

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After a long day of traveling, my husband knows me well enough that I need a bowl of macaroni to set me right again.  In Somerville, New Jersey, in the dead of winter, we stumbled upon Da Filippo’s Restaurant.  Located at 132 East Main Street, it’s “autentica cucina.” Right from the moment we pulled up to the cozy burgundy awning adorned with tiny white lights, it felt like coming home.  We were greeted immediately at the door by Filippo’s beautiful Swiss wife, Berti.  She shook hands and introduced herself as she took our coats, chatting amiably like an old friend.   It was early on a snowy Monday night so it was quiet, but  the fireplace was inviting.  There was a man in the back polishing each glass to match the twinkle in his eye.  He made menu suggestions and smiled broadly, like a favorite uncle.  It was only after Berti suggested something “per cominciare” that we discovered he was Filippo Russo himself.Pennette con Piselli

She suggested “La Rustichella”:  a flat bread panino with mortadella, arugula, provolone cheese, tomatoes and onions grilled to perfection.  This dish alone is worth the trip to Somerville, and we were just getting started.  I ordered the “antipasto caldo” (hot antipasto.)  Again, arugula was featured, making it one of those magical foods that can go with anything.  This Frittelle di Rughetta was arugula dipped in a batter and fried with anchovies and garlic melted into a parmigiano reggiano cream sauce.   So different.  So delicious.

There is something at once complex and simple in good Italian cooking that makes it so wonderful.  Simple ingredients and a creative mind can work wonders in the kitchen.  There really is nothing like a good dish of pasta.  I was not disappointed in the pennette with peas in a meat ragu.   It’s comfort food at its finest.

I look forward to returning to Da Filippo’s to see the Russo family once again.  They were as charming and delightful as their restaurant, from the front lobby with portraits of their four beautiful grandchildren to the photographs of Filippo’s hometown of Carini, Sicily hanging on the wall.  It’s a night well spent, trust me.  I hope to return again soon!


Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

Houfbrau House Munich, Germany
Houfbrau House in Munich Photo by Cynthia Dite Sirni

Houfbrau House in Munich
Photo by Cynthia Dite Sirni

 

Inside the Biergarten by Cynthia Dite Sirni

Inside the Biergarten
by Cynthia Dite Sirni

 

The author...

The author… in the English Gardens of Munich

 

A True Bavarian Gentleman, Munich, Germany by Cynthia Dite Sirni

A True Bavarian Gentleman, Munich, Germany
by Cynthia Dite Sirni

 

The Band!

The Band!

Do you know when Oktoberfest begins?

Trick question.  It actually starts in mid- September and continues into the first weekend in October.  Depending on what day of the week October 1st or 2nd falls on, it runs for either 17 or 18 days.  October 3rd is German Unity Day, so they have it coincide with that.  In Munich, where the biergartens as well as the beer is plenty, Oktoberfest is a special time for the people of Munich.  Since its onset in 1810, the festival is a celebration of All Things German.  In fact, only certain beers can be served during Oktoberfest.  All of them must be made in Munich.  This is the short list.

  •  Augustiner-Brau
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Brau
  • Lowenbrau
  • Paulaner-Brau
  • Spatenbrau
  • Staatliches Hofbrau-Munich

All of the aforementioned beers are served in the quintessential stein.  (Yes, the waitresses REALLY do carry them by the dozen.)  Even though the beers are HUGE, they are not always strong.  During the year, some have a high alcohol content, but others are mixed with lemonade.  During Oktoberfest, the beer must meet the 6% alcohol content, (13% according to the Bavarian Purity Law or “Reinheitsgebot.”) Food is always part of the biergarten, especially pretzels.  It helps to offset the suds.

Do you know what they call Oktoberfest in Bavaria?

Another trick question….”die Wiesn.”  This is the shortened version of the word, Theresienwiese (The Meadow of Therese.)  This is one of the fields where the festival is actually held.  Munich is peppered with “biergartens” that are very much a place for all people.  Families with children, young couples, the elderly, they all go to the biergarten.  There are some rules that are good to know….

One of the first rules is that really aren’t any rules other than you can’t bring your own beer in.   The music, the food, the tables and the people are all in perfect harmony with one another.  One concession I do know of is that in Hofbrau House in Munich, there are color coded table cloths.  Tourists are allowed to sit anywhere they would like, unless it’s deemed a table for the locals.  (The blue tablecloth is for locals, and the ones without a cloth are for tourists.  No one tells you this…)  These tables are “reserved” for the local townies.  However, you may ask the locals at the table if you may join them.  They invariably say yes, but they  do like to be asked.  (Certain times of the day, the week, or during a festival, it is very difficult to find a seat.  People are seated family style, and you literally squish in where ever you can find a spot to sit.)

Menu from Houfbrau House in Munich, Germany

Menu from Houfbrau House in Munich, Germany

Whenever anyone at the table gets a fresh beer, EVERY SINGLE TIME , everyone clicks glasses.  Everyone. It creates a feeling of connection.  Strangers become friends.  It is a convivial time to share food and drink with people.  Even the language barrier does not interfere.  A smile is universal, to quote probably one of the world’s cheesiest cliches.

It’s amazing how welcoming and….homey it is.  People from literally all over the world are seated together to break bread, or bread dumplings, or pretzels….

So this September, as Oktoberfest begins, take some time and enjoy autumn, Bavarian style.

The author and her husband in The Biergarten

The author and her husband in The Biergarten 

A Cup of Coffee

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Coffee at the campground.

Coffee at the campground.

 

ImageCoffee is a culture.  Coffee is a ritual.  It embodies much more than just some boiled beans.  Coffee can be an event.  Whether we are home or at work, coffee matters to us.  There are lots of words that people association with their coffee.

  •  Friendship.
  • Hospitality.
  •  Solitude.
  • Couple time.
  • Sunrise.
  • Relaxation.
  • Rejuvenation.

Coffee on vacation is different than the coffee we have on weekday mornings at home.  Whether you’re in a resort, a rental, an RV or a restaurant, coffee tastes better when we are on vacation.  Coffee forces us to sit and ponder and plan our days.  Or not.  We sip and savor and read our papers.  When our minds are not working is when we do our best thinking.

As your summer mornings dwindle by, take some time and taste the coffee.

 

 

Travel Journals

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One of the nicest things about going on a trip is remembering it after you have returned home.  The sensuous aspects of travel, touch, smell, taste, and sound can evaporate from our memories.  Our photographs serve to help us remember what we have seen, but a travel journal is an excellent way to flesh out the rest of the memory.

I know you’re thinking that you’ll remember, but trust me, nothing will haunt you like not being able to remember the greatest restaurant you ate at, or the best bottle of wine you had.  Keeping a journal while you travel helps create a souvenir you’ll keep forever.

Children love this idea as well.  Even small children can be given post cards and crayons to fill in a journal.  Ticket stubs, train tickets, business cards, all of these things help to make up a memory.  It will become a family treasure as you laugh again over the anecdotes included inside.

Before you leave on your trip, choose a journal.  Get a pretty one that you’ll be proud to put on your bookshelf.  It’s an autobiography of sorts, so make it something special.  Make sure you can fit it into your day bag or pockets to keep with you as you journey along.  Be sure you have a pen.

Don’t create this into a monstrous “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” burden, but rather, think of it as an observer’s notes.  Simple things will strike you as you’re waiting for the train to arrive.  You’ll want to record some memories of your people-watching.  Write about the sounds.  Fountains gurgling and music playing don’t transfer into photographs.  Tell what you’re feeling.  Did you have a blister?  Was the heat unbearable?  How was the jet lag?  Include the different scents and the fragrances, both good and distasteful, to remember.  (Some of the most picturesque cities in the world smell of pollution.)  How did the food smell?  Your hotel soaps?   You get the idea.

Journal pages....

Journal pages…

While you are on the plane, the train, the boat or the car (provided you aren’t the driver) you can jot down memories.  It doesn’t have to be flowing and flowery.  Write down the name of the restaurant you’re eating at, tell what you ordered, something funny that happened during the meal. Most restaurants have menus and business cards at the exits.  Take a picture of the restaurant and add it to your book later.  Take the label off your wine.  Save the price tag off the souvenir you bought.

Tuck these mementoes inside the journal.   These little eclectic talismans become tangible memories when you return home.  You’ll be amazed how a $2.99 cloth journal can suddenly becomes one of your most treasured possessions.

 

Breakfast in the Summer

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There’s something special about breakfast in the summer.  When one does not have to rush out of the house and be at work or school or anywhere at all, breakfast becomes an event.  Doesn’t coffee taste better when you can sip it and savor?  Of course it does.  You can pretend you are on vacation somewhere glorious, because in fact, sitting on your back deck, or in your favorite chair, or on your preferred park bench, IS glorious.

On weekdays, I usually inhale a bowl of cereal and race along on my way.  On Saturdays, I want to nibble and relax.  Try a croissant with goat cheese.  Make toast with Nutella, cream cheese and sea salt.  Have a bagel with lox and capers.  Make Something Special.

Enjoy your breakfast. Summer has arrived.

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Cafe CaNole: Restaurant Review…Get Your Coat And Get There!

Is there anything more decadent?
 Thanks Dean!!!
Is there anything more decadent?  Thanks Dean!!!

Is there anything more decadent?
Thanks Dean!!!

So.  There’s nothing like a home cooked Italian meal…(especially if you can get someone else to make it for you.)  If you are looking for authentic Italian cuisine, you have to make the trip from where ever you may find yourself on the planet to Cafe CaNole.  This small business is a jewel, located at 1 Campion Road, New Hartford  in Central New York.

Owned by the Nole brothers, Dean and Jason, they offer True.  Italian.  Cuisine.  If you’re looking for spaghetti and meatballs, you won’t find it here.  Instead they offer the dishes from your Nonna’s table.  In fact, I would venture as far as to say that if you don’t know what Rabine greens are, you haven’t eaten true Italian food.  Yet.

Traditionally, Italian food (as the Italians know it,) is different than what we’ve come to expect here in the states.

This restaurant has found the perfect balance of upscale Italian food and good old-fashioned, peasant, comfort food.  Served in an urban style of sparse class, the chalk board walls have the daily specials as well as the finest list of wines this side of Greve in Chianti.

Dean is a perfect host, both gracious and gregarious.  He flits around the restaurant’s two kitchens overseeing the creations being wrought from scratch.  Whether your preference is for savory or sweet, they have both.  The menu for both lunch and dinner is presented on plates in the European style of contorno .  This means that each part of the meal is celebrated for the work of art that it is.  (Much like a “contour” in art, it completes, gives depth, and adds color.  Here, is the added bonus of taste.)  They use tiny sauce pans to serve their risotto and truffle potatoes, which allows you to appreciate and register the tastes of each separate component of the meal.

When you are seated, the ambience is both convivial and intimate.  There is a screen showing old Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin movies and the tables are cozy, especially once the fresh baked bread arrives.  The bread plates beckon for olive oil.  Jugs of the best, buttery olive oil are the centerpiece of each table.  When you are presented with the bread and cheese, pour some olive oil onto the plate, sprinkle it with the cheese and dip your bread.  By the time your meal arrives, you will already be satiated, but keep on going…the salads are huge and fresh and beautiful.  Findings like beets, gorgonzola cheese, apples, and tomatoes are like little gems hidden among the baby lettuces.

Whatever you order, you will be thrilled and filled.  There is a relaxing atmosphere that invites you to linger over espresso and pastries.  Be sure to look in their bakery case.  Whatever you choose will be fantastic.  They have a plethora of favorites coupled with creative and delicious delights.  They also make wedding cakes, as well as everything from First Communion to birthday cakes. Theircookies are the kind that everyone’s Zia used to make, but no one ever wrote the recipe down.

Almond Paste Cookies

Almond Paste Cookies

Enjoy your meal.  I’ve said before that “Buon cibo loda Dio.” (Good food praises God.)  Here, that old Italian expression is a full on worship service.

…and when you go, tell them Cindy sent you.

“It’s All Fun and Games Until You Can’t Order A Cake.” – Mrs. Sirni

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“It’s all fun and games until you can’t order a cake.”

-Mrs. Sirni

SAGE ADVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS-

What cake?  What cake?  They always ask.  Don’t you know?

( In my other life, I teach the youth of America.  High School.  Seniors.  Yup.)

Back to the cake…I tell them this every year on the first day of school.  It’s vague and catchy all at once.  Immediately, they are intrigued.  What cake?  They want to know…

The Graduation Cake, of course.

I tell them, every year, that when the guidance counselor calls to break the unhappy news, the first words out of the mother’s  mouth is always, “But I ordered the cake!”

They laugh, of course, because that’s the normal reaction of teenagers…laugh heartily at their moms.   Yet, I repeat it through the year.  They don’t always believe it.

Until.  Their mother gets That Call.

So I am here today to remind you, one and all, don’t break your mother’s heart.  Do your work and graduate.  Your parents want you to get a good education so that you can get a good job.  You’ll have to pay for their nursing home and they’ll want a good one.

Trust me.

Italian Iced Tea

Roman Rooftops

rome rooftops 2Summer time treats are appreciated all around the world, especially when it’s hot and sticky out.  Rome in July is not just hot, it’s HOT.  The closeness of the buildings, the throngs of humanity, the lack of American air-conditioning, the traffic and the smoke are just some of the things that make it Hot in La Citta Eterna.  One way to refresh yourself is to go to any one of the little corner cafes and bars that you will see.

Italians don’t drink as much soda as Americans.  They prefer their drinks less sweet, (and with less ice cubes.)  One such drink is an Italian Iced Tea.  Not to be confused with the alcohol laden Long Island Iced Tea, this drink is an entirely different animal.

The Italian Iced Tea is made with two ingredients.  Unsweetened homemade iced tea and a scoop of lemon ice.  The lemon ice is much like what you would find at a carnival with a snow cone kind of flavor.

The drink is served in a glass.  A.  Real.  Glass.  They put a scoop of the lemon ice into the glass and then pour iced tea into the glass until it’s about 2/3 filled.  They will serve it to you on a silver tray.  (Really.  Even in simple local bars.)  Usually, it is accompanied with a slightly salty and savory snack.  (Nuts, small pieces of focaccia bread, or tiny crackers, for example.)  The drink is served with a spoon in case you want to scoop the ice out and eat it first. It won’t be as cold as you would get here in the States, but it is a refreshing drink all the same.

This is one of the best parts of being in Italy.  Ordering a drink like this gives you a chance to rest your aching feet and People Watch.  There is no where else in the world that is more exciting to sit and Watch the World Go By.  The fountains and the people and music and the booths are all there for you to enjoy.  The view is like no other you will ever see.  Breathe in the heat of Italy and carry it home with you!

Children. Breakfast. Italy.

Nonna's Easter Bread Recipe

While your children may think it’s hilarious that you are bringing them to a bar, ( in the morning no less,)  they will soon be dismayed to find that their usual breakfast of choice is unavailable.

My suggestion for parents is this; get them a hot chocolate and a cornetto.  The hot chocolate is thick and creamy and more substantial than we make here in the states.  (Be prepared for a scalding hot container arriving at the table with your squirmy little ones.)   The cornetto will work because there is nothing “weird” in it.  It is basically a horn shaped roll.  Sometimes they are served with confectionary sugar on them.  Most people put Nutella or jam on them. Whatever they choose, kids usually will eat these without a fight.  There’s nothing worse than them picking out a pastry only to discover what they thought was chocolate is in fact, figs.   The secret is you need to get them to eat some protein and fat.  Museums are opening and lunch is a long way off.  Forget all normal dietary rules, haven’t you heard that whatever you feed your kids on vacation doesn’t count?

Fill them up at breakfast as much as you can because most restaurants will not open for lunch until later in the day.  It’s unlike our American culture that you can run in and out and grab something quick to eat.  While they do have McDonald’s, it’s not the same.IMG_4084

Traveling with children can be a challenge on a good day.  Couple it with jet lag and not eating well and you are sure to have it all…Screaming.  Tantrums.  Feet stomping.  Tears.

…and I’m just talking about the parents.

Choose a bar that offers a sit down service.  While it is more expensive, it may be easier for you to manage the children, the food and the check all at once.  This is the time when pick pockets will swoop in.  There is nothing like a frustrated, distracted parent to rob.  Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.

So remember.  “Vorrei cioccolata caldo e cornetti per tutti.”

I would like hot chocolate and cornettos for everyone.

Get one for yourself too.  There really is nothing like their hot chocolate.  It’s more like drinking warm pudding with cream in it.  Delicioso!

Savor the moment.  You’re having breakfast in Italy with your children.  It’s a memory you will all carry forever.

The Bar

The author with her dear cousin

The author with her dear cousin and great uncle at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’ (photo taken by her husband)

…So in my post The Italian Breakfast, I was telling you about Il Bar.  Not an establishment of ill repute or a public house, a bar in Italy is where coffee and treats are served.  THIS is where the locals go to eat.  In fact, if you see a sign that says “American Breakfast” you can be sure no locals will be there.

“American Breakfast” as it is called on the sign is designed to lure you in with promises of what they think Americans eat each morning.  Eggs.  Bacon.  Toast.  Cafe Americano.  (Italians think this coffee is watered down and silly.  Why drink all that liquid when you can have an espresso for the same caffeine hit?)  The problem with this breakfast is that, for me at least, I don’t eat that.  Cereal and milk is difficult to find.

This is where you have to open your culinary horizons. You are better off going to one of the said “bars” and watching for a moment what the locals do.  They already know by your bone structure that you are American, so don’t get worried.  They will make you feel welcome, and they will love that you are honoring their local customs.  You can point and smile and they are so helpful!

There are lots of famous ones throughout La Citta Eterna, but there are a couple you might want to go to just to steep yourself in history, culture and coffee.  One is Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’, just off via Monetrone near the Piazza Rotondo.  The other one is the oldest caffe in Rome, Antico Caffe’ Greco on the world famous via Condotti.  The photographs alone are worth the trip.

The oldest caffe' in Rome.

The oldest caffe’ in Rome. (Photo by Michael Sirni)

You order your espresso then point to what you would like in the displays.  They put it all on a plate, much like a cafeteria with “il conto” (the bill.)  You pay and then stand and eat it at the bar like the locals.  Espresso is literally a shot.  Add sugar and gulp.  It’s over.  While Americans may nurse the same foam cup of coffee all day long, Italians finish it all in a sip.  (They do go back and have them all day, so don’t think they have taken any kind of higher ground….no coffee pun intended.)

If you sit down, there are additional charges, much like a tip.  It is called “coperto” which is an umbrella term for bread, use of forks, table services, etc. If you want to appear really in the know, watch someone order ahead of you.  Smile at the counter worker, nod your head to the said person ahead of you and say, “lo stesso.” This means, loosely translated, “I’ll have the same thing.” Just hope they didn’t order something you’re allergic to…. 🙂