Ants Nguyen | Work, Photography and random goodies

Ants Nguyen | Work, Photography and random goodies


Another adventure begins

It's an hour before my flight and it still hasn't hit me I'm going on a new adventure... Hope I packed everything I needed!

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Some other pictures

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Metamorfosi – easily my fav in Roma

Recommended by Katie Parla, and briefly meeting John - a Sous chef at Metamorfosi I figured I had to make it out there. I wanted to go the day before but my poor feet were killing me so I decided to leave it till Tuesday.

Well, turns out I chose the wrong day to attempt to go across town (I know the natives will claim it's not that far) to get to a restaurant because there was a public transit strike today. I could walk it which would take me over an hour, or cab it - I chose the latter. So 20€ later I reached my destination. I walk in behind 2 other gentlemen and admire how beautiful this place is. Its baller. It is also completely and utterly empty - which did cause some alarm (how can somewhere be good and completely DEAD at 12:30?). As they're greeted by the waiter I pull up my camera to snap some pictures of the interior.

I suddenly hear a gasp from one of the guys in front of me...

What? I was thinking to myself... get over it. Then I glance up and realize this guy has a huge ass tripod with him. The other gentleman quickly says to me, that they are from an italian newspaper (or was it magazine) and they had come to do an article on Metamorfosi.

So I stand aside and let them snap some pictures of the interior too. The waiter was concerned that I had to wait for this to happen, but I assured him I wanted to take pictures too. As soon as they were done taking interior shots I was seated. I sat for a few minutes watching them... and then a guy in a white coat appears out of nowhere... It was Chef Roy Caceres! I think Katie is good luck or something because I'm bumping elbows with the top dogs of Rome's culinary circuit.

As they set up for their photoshoot with Roy, I ask to snap a few pictures as well... I couldn't help it... Its the photographer in me... I hope it wasn't rude!

I think it was worth being rude 😉

I asked the waiter to let John know I was here. I had told him the other night at the beer tasting that I would be visiting him - and he had better for damn sure make something awesome :). To my surprise John came up (the kitchen is in the basement of the building) and greeted me which was very very nice of him. He not only came to say hello but suggested what I should get... PERFECTO!

Thanks John (left of Roy)!

Then the dishes started rolling out. What an experience in Rome! First was a taste of pork cracklins

Then a lightly battered shrimp with a passion fruit sorbet which you are to sample both. Sweet and salty... love it... Roy and John do a fantastic job of wetting ones palette. I wasn't all that hungry before we started this adventure, but after the shrimp and passion fruit... GAME ON!

Next came a fresh loaf of bread with olive oil ice cream...yes... ice cream. You know how you're lucky if you get some hot bread and butter and sometimes the butter may or may not melt depending how hard the butter is? Not the case here. The moment the ice cream touches the warm bread... it melts.

I wanted to eat more of this... I seriously had to fight hard to refrain and eat only a quarter of it 🙁

The next thing to come out was the Carbonara Egg 65°. It is Metamorfosi's rendition of carbonara. I wrote down cream of bacon with a side of deep fried rigatoni. You take your rigatoni and drop it into the cream and mix it up. The crunch of the fried rigatoni really makes this dish stand out. As does the creamy egg that is under the cream (you mix it all up).

Next came macaroni with rabbit sausage and pecorino cheese...

And then the red risotto which per the site is "emulsion of fassona, blu del Monviso and herbs" I believe this was a carpaccio on top of risotto 🙂

By this point I had reached tipping point. As great as the red risotto was, I could not finish it.

Alas, when the moment came for the waiter to ask whether I wanted dessert... the answer was obviously yes. If you have been reading my posts... cant you tell I have a second stomach for sweets?

I ordered the Torrefazione 2.0. But before that would come out, the waiter brings out a white chocolate lollipop in a red wine and plum reduction (if i recall correctly).

Torrefazione 2.0 which is a combination and "balance" of 3 roasted ingredients :

Chocolate -

Coffee -

Hazelnuts -

WHOA NELLIES I'm done! Roll me outta here... I need a stretcher because I am STUFFFFFED.

But nope... Roy and John aren't done.


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Day 3 Roma: Palazzo Valentini

Another recommendation by Jady, I decided to go ahead and check out a museum even though it wasn't on my original agenda. I'm very glad I did. This museum was unlike any museum in the traditional sense. They used projectors, lasers, and other fancy technology to point out and direct attention to features. Basically Palazzo Valentini is on top of an acheologist find from over 5 centuries ago. Apparently a very wealthy family's abode.

They go on to explain how they came to certain conclusions and even show a CGI Virtual reality tour of what they believed the house looked like. THey also explain how the house came to be destroy.

The english tour is only given 2 times a day so be sure to book in advance! The downside of this tour was that you are not permitted to take any pictures. I took some of their gallery area after the tour was over below.

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Coming soon: Night time

I'll be posting some of my night time photography in a bit.

Here's one of the Vatican from afar.

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Vatican City / St Peters

From Ostencia train station you can board a train for 1 euro to get all the way to the Vatican. At the Roma S.Pietro stop you get off and walk about 10 minutes to reach the center of the Vatican. That place is HUGE and there are so many tourists. I can't imagine it during peak touring season, because even in October it was insanity. I walked around the square the wrong direction and ended up having to go back to where I started to get in line to get into St Peters. For all those going in the future, facing St Peters the entrance is on the right side.

Overall, the line went really quickly and it took only 20-30 minutes to reach security and then you're pretty much a 100 meters from St Peters. Walking into the church it is almost surreal with its sheer size. I have to agree that it was an amazing feat and there is so much history within its walls.

I wanted to go see the sistine chapel but didn't want to go through the museum.... next time!

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Day 2 in Roma: Katie Parla! (more photos & dinner)

If you're a foodie, and you've been to - or you're thinking about visiting Rome - you've most likely come across her blog. She's the top dog, numero uno, head honcho when it comes down to where to eat in Rome. Not to mention, quite the hottie ;).

Anyways, I was fortunate enough to get an invite from her to come to a beer tasting at Open Baladin. At first I was hesitant because... cmon now I don't like alcohol. But I'm so glad I did. I got to meet so many major foodies in Rome and pick their brains on where to eat. Lets just say they've been spot on. RIDICULOUS! RIDONKULOUS... RIDONKCULOUS!

Everyone was friendly and spoke english. It was nice to converse. Thanks to Gina's BF I was able to hit on Katie as well... Thanks Francesco!

I'll be posting a lil later regarding the places they sent me... but for now, focusing on the beer tasting... It was really nice to sample beers I've never tried before.

The first beer that came out was Zest which is an unfiltered pale ale and has aromas of lemon and passion fruit. Its from the Lombardi region

Zest was paired with fried potato balls... seems like anything fried works well with Zest

The second bear I wrote down Hops... hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong but its a Belgium blonde ale

This was paired with licorice flavored potato chips. The licorice actually alters the flavor of the beer. As you can see, my beer is starting to pile up... trouble.

Katie speaking to the table about the beer she just brought out. Beside her is John who is the sous chef at Metamorforsi (post on that later).

Here is Hande (right) who is the owner and operator of Vino Roma. I need to hit this tour up next time I'm in Italy. She guides you through an appreciation trail for wines... From introductions to advance courses.

00100 Pizza

I ended the night at 00100 Pizza per recommendation by Gina. I had their broccoli supplì which was quite delicious. I had them warm it up which made it that much better. Then I had a meatball trappizzini which was fantastic. It is a triangle of pizza dough that they fill with whatever topic you want. They had 4 choices: meatball, chicken, and 2 others I forget.

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Day 2 Rome: Il Gelato Di Claudio Torce’

Italy is THE place for gelato. Claudio Torce is the guy who owns this set of gelaterias. The guy is a magician. From what I've noticed, the flavors are split up by: fruits, creams, crazies. All the standard flavors were amazing. Thus far I've tried:

  • Lemon - tart and sweet
  • Peach - great flavor, when paired with Lemon, it just isn't as sweet and overpowered by the lemon
  • Tiramisu - very creamy and flavorful
  • Some mix with pistacio - forgot its name but it was interesting
  • Paprika + Chili chocolate - this one has some kick.. initially you dont think its there because its cold. Once your tongue warms up... the heat show up
  • Bleu cheese - uh... quite interesting... its not disgusting by any means
  • Parmesan cheese - surprisingly good... its so cheese!
  • Green tea - it tastes like green tea... its alright
  • Some pure 64% cocao one - super super rich

Pretty sure I've forgotten a few flavors I've sampled. I've tried a lot of other gelato places in town but it does indeed seem like Claudio wins the most unique flavors.


Roma Day 2: Cristalli di Zucchero

Cristalli di Zucchero is a pasticceria (pastry shop) in Roma. I was lead here again by Jady and found it to be completely fantastic. I was literally a kid in a candy store. I picked 3 bite sized pastries, one dome mousse thingy, and all the flavors of macarons.

At the time when I was ordering, it was so packed that I couldn't even get to the cashier. Because of this, I didn't notice that they serve coffee and also small sandwiches.

The storefront itself is quite small, about 20 people were in the main area and I was getting claustrophobic. BACK OFF MEEEEEE MOVEEEEE AWAYYY! It didnt help matters that the rain had just started coming down and now even more people were trying to get in. The narrow store has pastries on one side, a bench on the other for customers to quickly eat and the sandwiches on the furthest side from the entrance.

After the crowd dissipated I noticed the sandwich case and just had to get a croissant Jady was mentioning. They have various meats and cheeses in each one. I ended up choosing the one with prosciutto and brie cheese. Must be really bad for you because it was really delicious.

I didnt get a chance to head there today so I'll definitely need to go before breakfast tomorrow before I leave for Florence.

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My Second Day in Rome

Technically first full day.. but whos counting? Today, has to have been the most amazing time ever.

Coldiretti at Circus Maximus
Per Jady's suggestion and also Caterina's (although I technically saw her recommendation after the fact) my first destination was Coldiretti for the farmers market.

Typically there is a farmers market in Circo Massimo but this one was special! The following translated from Il Farmer's Market della Capitale:

Campagna Amica Foundation, with the event "Best of Italy" wants to open the doors of our agriculture, therefore the real made ​​in Italy, all Italy from the City of Roma.In a unique historical context, the valley of Circus Maximus, we tell consumers the true value of agricultural production Italian, through their stages. The food, territory, know-how, local traditions, in other words, "Campagna Amica" is an answer to the food and cultural globalization imposes.

I seriously was in heaven. The farmers market was segmented off by region and each booth was putting out samples for passer bys to try.

Here we have a guy cutting chunks of parmesan raggiano:

I finally dragged myself away from the farmers market around 11am after I had been there for 2 hours straight! I aimlessly wandered west on Via dei Circo Massimo then headed north on Via dei di Marcello. I saw some random ruins here and there and thats when I was starting to feel immersed in the architecture of roman times. It really is something to see all buildings still intact. We are talking centuries and centuries here.

Once I hit Via dei Teatro di Marcello I decided that it was a good time to go ahead and visit the Capitoline Museum. European heritage days were September 29 and 30, so a lot of the museums had free visitation.

It wasnt until I came upon the steps towards the Capitoline that I realized - wow they really do it up big in Roma. Then the second thought was, "Damnit theres a #$&*$*#@ ton of tourists here". Then third thought, wait, I'm a tourist too...." UGH! My whole reason for going in Sept/Oct was to avoid the tourists... what the heck guys!

It was funny watching this bride. She kept watching me because I wanted to snap a picture and my camera was bigger than her photographer's (:) LOL).

Okay okay I admit even though I really wasnt caring to go to a museum. I am really glad I went to the Capitoline Museum. It was fun.

When I came out of the museum I found that it had rained... it became much much cooler. Although today and yesterday (day of these pictures) it has been insanely muggy. My clothes are gross.

I wandered aimlessly after the museum and stumbled across a really big building behind the Capitoline museum. Apparently it's Capitol Square. I went to the top of the building for 7 euros and shot a few panoramas. It was strange because one of their staff came up to me and said NO TRIPOD NO TRIPOD... why?

Because i love me some tripod:

After seeing the Colloseum from up at the top of Capitol Hill I had to walk over there to see how busy it was. Remember it was free to get in... I wasnt planning on waiting.

I love the way the water makes the cobble stones reflect.

As I walked away from the Colloseum, I stumble across Coldiretti again! So of course I had to stop in again! This time I tried some trufata! Yum!

Part 2 of my first full day in Roma later!

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