So 150 frogs and 20 smurfs fought over the weekend …

It has been about 4 months that I’ve been playing ingress. At the beginning, I thought that I’d never progress to more than level 2 and so I’m kind of surprised that I managed to reach level 9 somehow.

Anyhow, last weekend, I participated in my first live combat with a huge influx of Enlightened players from all around Europe. I suppose that the event was meant to be an ambush but we got a trickling of an idea when there were an increase of attacks in our neighbourhood by unfamiliar names.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

The other hint that something was up was when the places that we usually go to, to farm for resources gets attacked one by one - a countermeasure to make it difficult for us to fight back.

With this in mind, Cart and I decided to farm as much as possible in the places that we can think of which are not yet attacked and stocked up as much as possible and waited in anticipation.

We managed to meet other resistance members. There were about 20 of us participating as there were a number on vacation. From what I heard, there were more than 150 members from the Enlightened team  all across Europe. Their mission was said to capture and create 1000 Level 8 portals.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

20 versus more than 150? Yikes.

We quickly got together and divided ourselves into groups to do a clean sweep in different areas. Saturday, we were deployed to Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Mazzini, while on Sunday we went to San Giovanni in Laterano.

It was extremely crowded and there were so many interesting things to be seen, but we had a bigger task at hand.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

How we communicated with the rest of the team was quite amusing to be honest. Cart was going around with a walkie-talkie app to coordinate with other players and every few seconds, his device would buzz loudly and it would it make it seem as if we were policemen.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

I have to say, that I’ve never seen so many L8 portals from the opposing team in one place, and it was overwhelming to see a sea of green, but good thing is, being in a team made it much more bearable and we cleared our area one at a time.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

It was a tough battle  :

  1. Physically challenging as we had to walk a lot under the hot summer day, to cover our designated area, and it was especially tough for Cart and me as we were both fasting.
  2. Mentally challenging as I kept having technical maladies such as my battery draining too fast or unstable GPS, making me not able to play effectively.

And surprisingly, I saw my resources starting to trickle. From about 600 bombs, I was left with only about 100 at the end of the day. On a normal day, I’d have to chase after people to take them so that I could have more space in my inventory.

Nevertheless, with our collective efforts, it feels like such an achievement when we managed to stop the Enlightened from reaching their one thousand goal.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

During the two day fight, I’m sad that my “portal helds” were destroyed. In Ingress, you could get medals depending on how long you keep it alive. I managed to reach 40 days for the ones in Rome and it didn’t increase after that. But the thing that made me feel better is that there are other resistance players who sacrificed their “helds” so that they could create this huge field that lasted for over an hour.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

If they willingly gave their portals up all in the name of creating this field, I shouldn’t feel too bad about mine.

Overall, I thought that it was a good game from both teams and in the end, from what I see, it was really heartening to see players coming together all in the spirit of the game –  readily helping out to improve a portal, so that we could farm, some sharing their resources such as bombs and power cubes to others, some lending out their battery packs and so on.

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

Also, it was really motivating to see cheers from all over the world from fellow members. It probably sounds cheesy, but that did give us more spirit and drive. :-)

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

All in all, I had a really good weekend. But lets not do this again too soon, I think we all need some well deserved rest for now. :-)

Sidenote : Look at how sunburnt Cart looks like after being out for two days!

rinaz.net Ingress Rome #caputmundi

Moral of the story. Wear sunscreen.

How to make Roman styled Artichokes

Artichokes are called Carciofi in Italian and in Rome, there is a special variety called Carciofi Romaneschi. It’s unique compared to regular artichokes as they are round.

rinaz.net Carciofi romaneschi

Artichoke is a seasonal food best eaten during Spring, but I clean forgot that I had these pictures in the SD card after the drama with my camera. But as a side-note, there is an annual artichoke festival that I think would be an interesting event to go to, if you have the chance to visit Italy in April.

One of the things that you could do with Carciofi Romanesco is to make Carciofi alla Romana – Roman styled Artichokes.

Ingredients :

  • Roman Artichokes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Mentuccia
  • Lemon

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

Cut a lemon into two and rub it on each exposed part of the artichoke while cleaning it to prevent oxidization.

And you clean the artichokes by peeling away the woody, outer part of the stalk and a few layer of the petals. Not forgetting to carve away any thorny bits inside.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

Next peel and slice the garlic cloves. There should be enough to go round for each artichoke to have half a clove.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

Mentuccia is a member of the mint family, but it has a stronger, more distinct scent and is used in many Italian dishes. Chop some. But if they are not readily available where you are, you could use regular mint.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

Stuff each artichoke with the chopped mentuccia, the sliced garlic clove and some salt.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

In a pot that is snug enough to allow the artichokes stand, put some extra virgin olive oil, and carefully place them facing down.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

Then leave them to fry till the colour turns more amber-ish.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

At this point, add some water, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about an hour.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

After which you’ll have a lovely rustic aroma as you lift the lid off and you’ll have a lovely dish of Carciofi alla Romana.

rinaz.net Carciofi alla Romana

You cut the artichoke into two. It is easily sliced, but still firm. The taste is distinctly rich and rustic due to the mentuccia and yet delicately creamy due to the artichoke. It’s delicious and absolutely hearty.

It’s interesting at how so few ingredients can make such a satisfying dish.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy my other how-to series like :

Fasting month is here again

It’s now almost a fortnight since Ramadan started. It has been quite challenging as it’s about 18 hours abstaining from any consumption of food and water. Coupled with the fact that it’s currently summer and the temperature is rather balmy, making me feel dehydrated and fatigued if I’m out for too much.

rinaz.net sunrise

But contrary to what I anticipated, it’s actually doable. It’s not easy forcing myself to get up at 2.30 am for sahur and then breaking the fast at around 8.50 pm, but I’m quite surprised that I could actually get through fasting all through these hours.

I don’t want to overly exert myself which was why I haven’t been exercising. Although I kind of miss going for my jogs. Which is surprising as the truth is, I hate exercising, but I do love the adrenaline rush when I am done.

rinaz.net @ CSC Run by the bay, Singapore

Prior to this, I managed to complete Jillian Michaels 30 day shred and I really like how my body looked like. I’m lighter compared to the first time I did it, so my body looked more defined. Unfortunately, these days I’m slowly becoming soft again. But I’m keen to continue doing circuit training again after this.

I should try to do more low impact workouts to retain my muscle mass like going for my daily walks like how I did last year. It’s just that without participating for a race, there isn’t that much motivation. Yeah, I’m like that. Don’t judge me.

So at the moment, I’m content to just stay at home and watch Breaking Bad. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s awesome! I got hooked from the pilot episode on the get go!

rinaz.net breaking bad

I don’t want to give any spoilers but in a nutshell, it’s about a chemistry teacher who isn’t doing well financially so he starts using his skills to make quality meth.  It’s a gripping show and I’ve just completed season 1 yesterday and I can’t wait to finish the rest of the seasons. Heh heh heh.

Banksy in Rome?

While Rome is full of unsightly graffiti, at the same time, there are a number of interesting street art to be spotted out.

Recently, I saw a post from Trastevere regarding Banksy possibly in Rome.

Banksy is an English street artist who is revered by many because of his evocative images. Mostly known for his use of stencils, I admire how he is able to combine dark humour with satire and how he could work with something completely innocuous and incorporate it into his artwork.

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

Like how he was use the morning glories as part of his art. 

There has been reports that there are a few Banksy around Rome with images such as these spotted :

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

rinaz.net Banksy in Rome

Unless if it’s signed, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether if it’s a Banksy or not as there are a number of similar looking styles to be found, especially in the bohemic Trastevere area. I don’t know the exact location for them unfortunately, and it’s been quite challenging to do a research on them online.

It may not be Caravaggio or a Botticelli, nevertheless, I think that they are unique in their own way, are fascinating and I’d love to see them in person.

Dar Filettaro – If you’re hankering for fried fish

If you are ever craving for battered fish in Rome, there is a popular Roman version of fish (without the chips) called Filetti di Baccala.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

Filetti di baccala is made of salted cod, which is rinsed and coated in batter and then deep fried. One of the oldest joint in Rome that serves it, that I know of is Dar Filettaro. It’s been around so long that whenever we are here, Cart would always talk about it fondly, recounting of his school days when he was here with his classmates.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

I’ve been here a number of times and to me is a respite after you’ve explored the area around Campo De’ Fiori. Do take note that they are only open after 5pm and closed on Sundays.

Dar Filettaro is a modest but cozy place. If you’re seated inside, you’ll see plentiful of paintings, peppered with a number of charming Roman sayings like, “A Roma se magna cosi“.  You could even be lucky enough to see the cooks hard at work, coating the fish with batter.

The atmosphere here is busy, but friendly and you should be able to get a table even without a reservation if you’re willing to wait a little.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

When I had dinner here with Juli, we managed to score a seating outside. It was a lovely experience dining al-fresco, being surrounded by the charisma of the architectures around us. It was so romantic. Coupled by the fact that it happened to be that we were serenaded by a cello player that night.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

The food here costs about 5 euro each. Depending on what you eat, normally you’d spend about 15 euro a person for a fillet, a side dish and a drink.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

It doesn’t take long for your dishes to arrive. And here were some of the items that we had :

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

Mixed cheese

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

White beans

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

Fried Zucchini

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

Mushroom in vinegar

Personally, I thought that apart from the cheese, the side dishes were a little bland and needed a touch of salt. Nevertheless, they were acceptable and I particularly liked the freshly made fried zucchini.

But in a way, I suppose that the simpleness of the side dishes pairs well with the filetti di baccala.

rinaz.net Filetti di Baccala - Dar Filettaro, Rome Italy

It’s a delight to sink the mouth in. It’s freshly fried. The delicious aroma wafts. The batter is crunchy, and the cod is slightly salty but never overwhelming. It’s chewy soft and warm and satisfying.

By the way, when in Rome, it is to be eaten as it is, be it for take away or dining in. It’s so good that you don’t even need additional condiments such as ketchup or chilli sauce ;-)

Dar Filettaro
Largo dei Librari, 88,
186 Roma

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy