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May 26, 2009 06:56 AM

Seasonal Food in early June (Rome)

We will be in Rome for 6 days in early June. What kind of menu items should we be looking for that reflect what is fresh and seasonal? What should we avoid?

I'm sure a visit to the Markets would answer this question immediately...however we probably won't make it to any until the end of the week.

I was looking forward to trying puntarelle salad and stuffed zucchini flowers, will this be a possibility?

Thank you!

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  1. Mush, I think the puntarelle are a late fall item, no? Zucchini flowers should be plentiful. Strawberries. Tomatoes...Yum.

    1. No puntarelle, which are available only in the cooler months, from fall through spring. Zucchini flowers will be available, but go to one of the good restaurants featuring Jewish-style cooking (Piperno, Paris). Don't have the debased pizzeria version. These restaurants also have carciofi alla giudia all year, but it's don't-ask-don't-tell. Artichokes have pretty much the same season as puntarelle.

      Early June could mean fresh figs, which you should have on pizza bianca with prosciutto. The figs aren't ready yet, but otherwise, the markets are pretty much in summer mode: zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, fresh borlotti beans, green beans, pole beans, strawberries, cherries, melons, apricots.

      You'll have to come back in the winter for puntarelle, artichokes, and the various chicories (some will be available, however) and broccolis.

      1. Oh the cherries from the Sabine hills!!!!!

        1. Darn it...I'm bummed about the puntarelle. However, we do plan to eat at Paris and will definitely order the zucchini flowers - not a complete loss.

          The pizza bianca with fresh figs and prosciutto shot to the top of my "Must Eat" list. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they start to show up sometime during our trip.

          Thanks to everybody...I've found the Italy Board to be very knowledgable and extremely helpful.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Mushroom

            Ive only been to Rome once in early June and it was many years ago. I will never forget the wild strawberries we found in a street market. I think you will need to look around for these - but its worth it, especially if they are deep red and full ripe. the second item was tiny field greens in our green salads - at many places they were extremely varied and small and the freshness, with the simple oil, salt and vinegar dressing was electrifying. Weve not ever seen quite that great a mix in our visit at other seasons.. My feeling is that the whole "salad green" industry has become more structured and the types of greens are more limited (cultivated lettuces, chicories + the tiny arugula selvatica may be about it) but if you are ever going to get a mix of tiny fresh field greens, this season is it. Maybe Maureen can comment on this item and where really good salads can be had.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Actually the best field greens, meaning the wild spiky hairy greens gathered in the campagna romana, are available only in winter, but they are practically not available at all any more. I'd be surprised if you could find what you describe anywhere but an agriturismo far from the city. There are lots of salad greens, heads and leaves, and rughetta of various kinds is available all year. There's no such thing as arugula here. The Italian word is rucola, Roman is rughetta. It used to be the one that looks like arugula was called rughetta coltivata but now it's usually called rucola and the longer-leafed rughetta selvatica is now just called rughetta.

              1. re: mbfant

                I think the tiny spring greens I experienced probably are not available any more either unless you go out in the hills to pick them.

                IThanks for the clarification on the current italian nomenclature for the small arugula like green. I like it that this writer refers to the name "rucola selvatica" for the tiny green that by the way grows like a weed in my NYC garden as a fake scientific name.

              2. re: jen kalb

                Jen K - just back from first our time in Italy/Rome and am nodding my head in agreement with your description of greens "... with the simple oil, salt and vinegar dressing was electrifying." The rucola/arugula was so vibrant that I started scanning menus for it - "would anyone in the US believe me if I said I was looking at a menu hoping to find *letttuce* ??" Among the many other delights and surprises that was one of my favs.