Let’s eat at Ops!

Ops! is a restaurant that serves a variety of delectable vegan food. The way it functions is that you choose what you want to eat, and have it weighed and that’ll be how much you pay.

Cart and I have been here for at least 3 times already and this time round, we were here with our friends, Mdm Huang, Eu Chai, Sindy and Dario.

In this videoblog, I learnt that it’s kind of hard trying to take footage when all you you want to do is eat and chat so much with your friends.

OPS! Cucina Mediterranea Vegetariana a Roma
Via Bergamo 56, Roma 00198

Let’s eat at Ostia Che Pizza!

Ostia Che Pizza is a place I found thanks to Happy Cow. The name is quite cute, because it’s a play on words. Che Pizza could either mean, “Wow, what a pizza!” or “What a bore!”

It’s not a Vegan restaurant, but so vegan friendly that I was amazed by the amount of choices that I had. I wanted to try everything! So it’s a good excuse to go there again.

The place seemed popular and got quite crowded when we reached there at 8.30pm and here is a video of my meal there.

Ostia Che Pizza
Via Danilo Stiepovich, 254,
00121 Lido di Ostia RM

Delicious food by the beach

What I thought was to be a lazy day, Cart decided out of the blue at noon to have lunch out for Ferragosto – this is a Catholic holiday and you’ll find almost everything closed and everyone on vacation.

rinaz.net beach time

Everything apart from eating establishments. As you know, I’m on a vegan diet since January so I was at a loss of where to go – normally people in Rome would go to the beach and have seafood. Luckily I had the happy cow app on my phone  and I could quickly check out a place to eat.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

The restaurant that we went to is called Pinzimonio which is in Fiumicino. Most people would know the area as an airport, but there are plenty of good restaurants here.

We reached there at about 2 pm, which is actually starting to be late for lunch, but we managed to get a table anyway.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

The dining area looks like a typical Italian trattoria and there were a number of families already there having their lunch.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

Pinzimonio isn’t a vegan restaurant, but they are vegan friendly and there are ample food in the menu to satisfy any vegan. Being a holiday though, we were given a fixed menu.

For starters we had Polpette di Melanzane. Hummus di fagioli, caponata e filo di scarola.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

I loved everything on the plate. Even if you’re a carnivore, you’ll find them delicious too – the eggplant fritters were soft and packed a tasty punch. The caponata, a favourite southern Italian dish made of summer vegetables was delightful – sweet, sour and hearty. And the filo pastry filled with endives … While I don’t normally like bitter vegetables, it was actually lovely.

And then we had trofie with pesto di pomondorini secchi e mandorle

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

I’m not sure how the chef made this, as pesto calls for basil and pecorino and parmigiano cheese. Instead, almonds were used. This was quite good nevertheless – the saltiness of the nuts and the fresh basil made it taste close to the real thing.

Then we had pasta integrale con zucchine, peperoni, olive e noce

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

Cart doesn’t like whole wheat pasta, saying that they taste ‘too healthy’. I don’t mind them so much, especially when they are accompanied by a good sauce. Eating them together with roasted bell peppers, zucchini, olives and walnut, it actually went well together.

I was already very stuffed at this point of time, but we were given a plate of parmigiana di melanzana.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

The original version was a big favourite of mine before changing my diet – made mostly of eggplants and parmigiana and pecorino cheese, I used to get them whenever I see it in a restaurant.

This particular version tasted very close to the real one, with the meaty-ish eggplants and the sourness of the tomatoes but with the saltiness and cheesiness of the walnuts instead of cheese.

And to end our lunch, we had a bowl of sorbetto made of yellow peaches and plums.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

This was so refreshing and sweet on such a warm day. I’m looking forward to getting my own blender so I could recreate tasty treats like this one!

All in all, I enjoyed everything I ate and I had a very happy tummy.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

The restaurant happened to be really near the beach and it turned out to be a beautiful day out so we decided to go for a little walk to burn off a bit of calories.

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

It wasn’t too hot out and I was regretting a little that I didn’t bring my swimming costume along with me. There were quite a number of people at the beach already – sitting on the sand, swimming, playing games…

rinaz.net Ferragosto Fiumicino Lunch Vegan Italy Rome

While Cart and I walked next to them and played … you guessed it, Pokemon Go and Ingress 😀

Ristorante Pinzimonio
Via Formoso, 95

How I spent my birthday

As you know, I levelled up to a new level last Monday! Initially, I wanted to invite some friends over to my place but being August, the weather was already much too hot and I’m much too lazy to clean and cook and receiving guests.

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Nevertheless, I was already in the mood for buying a gift for myself and have decided on getting a new wallet. While I still like my old one because it was a present, it was getting a little bit worn …

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I refuse to spend a lot of money so I went to Ex Novo, my favourite “pre-loved” shop which I discovered some years ago during an event. They usually sell second hand items, but every now and then they’d have never been used stocks. Maybe I’ll blog about this place in the future.

Anyway, there was a wallet that caught my eye. It’s so gorgeous and colourful and a little bit eccentric like me. It’s a brand called Braccialini which is a brand you’d probably see if you’re in central Rome – the cute bags in the shapes of cars and houses.

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It’s a steal at 30 euro, don’t you think?

I just hope that I can keep it in good shape for several years at least. You know that I’m not a dainty girl. But what I find interesting is when I went to pay, the clerk put in a couple of coins inside. I knew of the superstition that when giving a wallet as  gift for Italians but I see it done for friends, so having a shop do that for me was unexpected.

Ex Novo also happened to have a lot of new stock on branded clothes that day and I tried one for the fun of it. Lavand is a brand that I’ve never heard before, but the fabric felt light and soft  and it fitted me so well when I tried it on. It’ll be a shame not to get it. It’s a timeless dress that I’d wear again and again. Besides, it was 20 euro something.

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(Do you like the rosebud I made for the bag? It’s easy to do!)

Anyway it was a lazy day, I didn’t have to work that day. Cart asked if there was any place in particular where we could have dinner at. I was happy to just eat veggie burgers but Cart was adamant for going to a nice place.  In the end, we went to Prati for dinner at a Vegan Restaurant called “Ma Va” which sounds quite tongue in cheek to me, almost vulgar like.

I’m familiar with this area as I passed by here often to go to my former job.  It’s not too far away from the stadium. Riding your scooter here during Spring is something quite romantic, but that could just be me.

The restaurant is interesting as it cooks traditional Roman dishes but vegan. I’ve never had the chance of eating a number of traditional Roman food so, it was an interesting experience.

The place looks cosy and definitely looks like any other Roman Trattoria. It was almost empty when we arrived at 8.30 but slowly filled up as the evening progressed.

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The hosts were extremely polite and a few minutes after we’ve seated, gave us some gazpacho con anguria as a starter. It was refreshing. light and not overly sweet with the watermelon.

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It was really good.

As an antipasto, I chose the tempura di verdure miste con composta di cipolle e maionese di zafferano.

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I thought it was a little bit on the salty side, but besides that, it was cooked well. The vegetables were crunchy and delicious especially when paired with the sweetness of the onion sauce which I’m a huge fan of.

Cart had the antipasto mediterraneo.

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There is caponata, hummus and tabouleh which I liked the best among the three.

We both skipped the mains – neither Cart and I felt like eating pasta so we went on to the secondo. I liked the idea of something cooked in coconut milk, so I had the spezzatino di soia al latte di cocco.

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Oh, this was good and mildly reminded me of rendang which I used to eat back in Singapore.

Cart had the seitan alla vaccinara.

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In the original dish, ox tail would have been used but it’s replaced with seitan here – it’s very soft, I suppose to emulate the hours of the ox tail stewing in tomato sauce. I really like the sourish, sweetish sauce by the way, which was delightful.

I enjoyed everything we ate that evening and to end the meal on a sweet note, I had the Torta cioccolata e pera while Cart had strudel con albicoca e crema di vaniglia as dessert.

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I would have preferred something softer like a sponge cake, but they were both quite decadent. Plus, a birthday with no cake doesn’t seem very birthday-ly.

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I had a lovely evening, with really good food, with the company of a sweet man. I feel attractive and I feel very blessed for the good things that has happened to me this year and I hope for many more to come.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes and thank you so much for supporting and accompanying me all these years in this humble little blog. Have a lovely day ahead! 😀

Ma Va’? Ristorante Vegano
Via Euclide Turba, 6/8

Vegan Strawberry Cake

Stawberries are my favourite spring fruits. I could eat them by the bowls if I had my way. Have you ever had some with some lemon juice and sugar? Sounds so simple, but it’s so delicious.

Recently, I saw an event for a strawberry faire in Carchitti, which about 40 minutes drive from Rome. I was so looking forward to it. I planned to buy several punnets and make a cake from the recipe I read from my booklet. rinaz.net I even charged my batteries, my camera and formatted the SD card in case I wanted to do a video-log on a whim. Unfortunately, the weather was really bad and when we reached there it was raining and the worst part was, there were no more strawberries left to be sold! Imagine my disappointment. But I still wanted to make my cake, and in the end, when the weekly market was going on, I went to buy a punnet. And gave the recipe a try. The cake turned out to be quite acceptable – it didn’t last for more than 12 hours.

Vegan Strawberry cake (Recipe edited to my taste)

Ingredients :

  • 500 g cut strawberries
  • 300 g flour
  • 150 g cane sugar
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 200 g vegetable milk
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 4 tbs corn oil

Put 1/2 of the strawberries into a processor till you get a purée .

Grate a teaspoon worth of lemon zest and squeeze to get 3 teaspoon worth of lemon juice. Combine these to the strawberry purée and mix together with the powdered sugar. Leave it in the fridge to rest.

In a mixing bowl, mix the baking powder, the flour, the sugar, the vegetable milk, the rest of the strawberries and the corn oil.

Transfer the mix in an oiled cake pan and cook in the oven for 180 degree celcious for 40 minutes.

Serve with the strawberry sauce.

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Eating vegan for two months

It has been slightly over two month now that I’ve been on the plant based diet, consciously avoiding meat, dairy and eggs.

rinaz.net Two month vegan

I dare not label myself as a vegan though, as I still own clothes with wool or duck feathers or leather in them but I’m going to continue using them till they last as throwing them away immediately will be such a waste. Nevertheless I’ll try to be more conscious of the new things that I’ll plan to get.

But so far so good – I’ve lost about 4 kg now. I probably could lose even more, but I like to eat junk food sometimes … Potato chips are vegan and living in Italy, it’s so easy for me to just grab a piece of pizza rossa or marinara 😛

rinaz.net Two month vegan

Apart from my weight, there are also other effects :

  • I seem to need less sleep now.

When I used to need about 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to feel refreshed, nowadays I could go to bed at 11pm and wake up at around 4 to 5 am. Is that normal? I don’t get it.

  • Going to the toilet is really easy now

But that’s just TMI

  • Uh. Wind.

It takes time for the digestive system to get used to the high amount of fibre and produces gas as it breaks it down. While first couple of weeks was quite lively, it has gone down now, although I don’t believe that it’ll be gassy free – as long as we eat food like legumes and cruciferous vegetables.

  • I dream of eating meat

Literally. Sometimes when I sleep, there will be dreams when I’m with friends and we’re enjoying a plate of plate of fried chicken or ice cream. At first I’d be confused, like something isn’t right but at the back of my mind, I knew that this wasn’t real so I’d just enjoy it anyway.

  • The past two months hasn’t been that difficult

I’m not sure for the whole of Italy but fresh produce is easily accessible here. There are temporary markets in my neighbourhood at least 3 times a week and no matter where you live here, there will always be a vegetable seller within walking distance. So we are pretty much settled at having fresh vegetables at hand.

rinaz.net Fresh produce at Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

Even in regular supermarkets, there is an increasing amount of vegan or vegetarian options. Heck, there is a special section in Ipercoop and Panorama and as much as possible, I try to get more vegan items from supermarkets as they tend to be cheaper compared to specialist shops.

rinaz.net Two month vegan

  • Eating out has been ok.

There are lots of vegan restaurants compared to a few years ago and even in regular places, I’ve noticed that there are some which labels their dishes which are good for vegans or you could simply ask for dairy or eggs to be omitted for the dishes and 90% of the time, they’ll comply.

rinaz.net Two month vegan

Understandably when going over to other people’s houses, sometimes they’d be confused at what to serve, but one nice thing to do is to bring a nice vegan dish for all of us to try and enjoy. Like roasted veggie pasta or vegetable paella. Yummy!

  • I find myself cooking more

Cart claims that he doesn’t know how to cook vegan dishes, so I find myself having to cook for the both of us. Sometimes I do have lazy days, but I don’t mind that much, as there are loads of ideas on the internet and I’ve found quite a bit of recipes that I really enjoyed. One would be this bean wrap that I had for dinner last night. It was seriously so good. I’d be more than happy to make it again.

rinaz.net Two month vegan

Anyway, there have been some who have been asking me why I’ve started on my plant based diet and I find it a little complex on how to explain it. True, weight loss is one of them but at the same time I don’t think that it’s right to dedicate all the limited resources that we have when it can be used and redirected to other more needy channels.

rinaz.net Two month vegan

And this in tune with my philosophy of minimalism and living simply.
I’m just one person – I probably can’t solve world hunger by myself. Nevertheless I will never impose anyone to think the way I do. Cart still consumes cheese and milk. Even I still think that it’ll be better for him not to, for health reasons. (He did tell me that he lost weight while in Singapore because he didn’t eat any cheese)

Lets see how this path brings me. I just wonder how it’ll be when I go back to Singapore. You know, with my family and all. Uhmm…

The most stylish urn

When guests come over to Rome, one of the things that I’d recommend that they get as a souvenir is a moka pot. It’s something that I think that is symbolic of Italy – since coffee is such a way of life here. And using a moka pot lets you enjoy espresso quality coffee at home.

Bialetti Moka Pot

Here’s a video I did about 6 years ago on how to use a moka pot. My command of Italian is rather awkward in this video, and I can spot out a lot of mistakes now but oh well 😛

Probably the most famous brand here is Bialetti. You can easily recognize it by the cute logo that it has in front.

Bialetti Moka Pot

The caricature of the man is actually Renato Bialetti. While he didn’t invent it, this was the man who made Moka pots famous around the world.

We have 5 moka pots ourselves in our household – 3 of them Bialetti. And when we travel, Cart would make sure that we at least have good coffee packed in the luggage.

Which was why, at first glance at this picture, I thought that it was kind of cool to see this priest with a big coffee maker in front of him. I was imagining that he’d be sharing some coffee after his sermon, maybe.

Bialetti Moka Pot

It was only later when I found out that it was actually an URN! Containing the ashes of Renato Bialetti who died about a week ago.

As dark as it is, I think that it’s a stylish way to go.

 

Eating vegan for a week now!

I’ve been eating a vegan based diet for about a week now. Surprised? Don’t worry, it’s nothing too radical. I’m not going to start being all self righteous and preach about environmentalism and animal cruelty.

rinaz.net Vegan Cheese

I’ve been interested in eating vegan for its health benefits and now that I’ve eaten (almost) everything that I’ve been craving for in Singapore, it’s now a good time to start. So far it hasn’t been that hard as Cart is vegetarian so I’m quite versed in vegetarian cooking and food places.  Only this time round, I had to cut out a bit more – like eggs, milk and honey.

The first couple of days was a bit awkward, especially during breakfast – Even though I did do a meal plan for the week, I like the taste of butter on my toast and honey with my morning tea. Lunch used to be easier as I’d naturally make pasta al pomodoro with parmigiano, or cream pasta with mushrooms and peas.

rinaz.net Fresh produce at Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

But after the second day of having pasta al arrabbiata in a row, I thought, enough is enough and Cart and I headed to a vegan store in Nuovo Mercato Testaccio where I discovered a lot of cool things there quite by accident, among which, Rainbow Chard and Purple Cauliflower.

This is Vegan Cheese :

rinaz.net Vegan Cheese

If you were curious, these cheese are made up of plant fat such as coconut oil and starches. To compare this to real Parmigiano and Cheddar is like comparing skim milk to full fat milk. It doesn’t taste the same, but I’ve never expected it to. Nevertheless, it has been a decent enough substitute. 

(But at 7 euro for a block… I wouldn’t want to get them too often)

I made Sheperd’s Pie with the cheese and soymilk, and I’m pleasantly surprised that it still tastes yummy.

This is soy strips :

rinaz.net Soy Strips

At 4.50 euro, I thought that it was kind of expensive for such a small bag, but I found out later that a handful is more than enough for two as it expands when you soak it. So this bag should last a while and so far, I made spezzatino con patate with it. I liked it so much that I couldn’t help but to take seconds and thirds. I’m thinking up of other ideas on what to cook with this 😀

This is Agave Syrup :

rinaz.net Agave Syrup

I’m on the fence about this. It’s not that I hate it, but it tastes much more delicate compared to regular honey and it makes just the tiniest bit sweeter in my English breakfast tea.

Eating out hasn’t been too much of a hassle – an easy choice would be an ortolana pizza with no mozzarella or pizza ai funghi. Tonight we’re going to an Asian Restaurant, so I guess I’ll get myself some fried veggie noodles with no egg inside. I’m not such a fussy eater.

rinaz.net Pizza Ortolana

On the other hand,  I’d like to share a story of what happened to me a couple of days ago. I was craving for some chocolate croissant, and there was a vegan cafe which was less than a kilometre from where we live. We had a good dinner there and the owners gave us some croissants to go when we left – it was the yummiest, dairy free croissant that I’ve ever had. I was looking forward to having them, so imagine my surprise when we found that the place was closed! The place was still pretty new, as far I knew. I was sad to see it go.

So Cart and I headed to another bar nearby and I was momentarily dumbfounded when I had to choose something for breakfast – they didn’t have soy milk, and I’m not fond of coffee so in the end, I simply had tea.

So … has there been any changes during this week? Did I get vegan powers?

Not really. I still feel like myself, meaning, I don’t feel like I’ve transcended.  But I do I feel hungrier. And every two hours or so, I feel the need to munch on something which I guess kind of defeats the purpose as I don’t see any weight loss so far.  Nevertheless I’m easing myself to exercise regularly – circuit training, aqua-gym and maybe jogging a couple a times a week.

(As a side-note, I’m quite indignant that Singapore City Race cancelled their event without even an update on their facebook page as I’ve trained for it. On the other hand, there was a heatwave when we were in Singapore and I didn’t feel in good form, so I guess it’s a sort of blessing?)

On the other hand, my tummy seems to be less bloated compared to before, which is something that I’m liking and my skin seems to be slightly clearer now that haven’t been consuming any dairy in my diet.

rinaz.net Marina makes a vegan lunch

Now that I’ve been eating vegan drama free for a week, I think I’d like to try to continue for at least another week and see how it goes.

As a side-note, something that just occurred to me. There has been a number of people who’ve asked me, mainly about Cart’s eating habits. What’s wrong with eating meat? It’s permitted by God. I don’t really know how to answer it in a diplomatic manner, so I’ll normally answer, he doesn’t like the taste of it. You know, like durians, I like the taste of it, but he doesn’t but I wouldn’t want to force him to eat it.

What I find shocking is how there are people who try to feed Cart food with meat items on purpose, saying that it’s safe for him to eat. I know they mean well, but I don’t think that’s nice…

DIY Ice Cream Parlour at Fresco Gelateria

While I was on my way back home, I stumbled upon a gelateria.

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

Curious, I went in and it’s not like anything that I’ve seen so far. At first glance, it looks  it looks quite minimalistic with it’s white and silver apparatus. It reminds me a bit of a science lab.

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

I soon found out that it was a DIY type of ice cream parlour, which is something new which I haven’t come across before in Rome.

If you chose a cone, you could put anything your heart desires in your ice cream for a fixed price. And if you chose to have a cup, it’ll be charged accordingly by weight.

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

It’s such a cool idea. You could only imagine how excited I was being in there.

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

First I chose a cone and lined it white chocolate, and then stuffed it with hazelnut and vanilla ice cream and when I was done, topped it with caramel syrup.

There wasn’t that many varieties of gelato flavours, but the ones that I tasted, was flavourful.

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

I could of course cover it with chocolate syrup which would make a nice shell and then sprinkle it with even more toppings but I should be good – my teeth wouldn’t be too happy!

rinaz.net Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

Fresco – Gelateria Artigenale Fai Da Te
Via Oderisi da Gubbio 250, Roma

La Romana Gelateria in Porto Fluviale

While not exactly a touristy place, Porto Fluviale is an interesting place to see, and take pictures at – with the numerous colourful murals decorating the area.

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Once youre done, you could stop to take an ice cream break here at Gelateria La Romana.

It appears to be a very popular place. Even though I’ve been living in Rome for a while, I’ve never thought to stop by because there is always a long queue whenever I pass by. But when my friend Alessandro recommended it, I finally gave it a try.

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Luckily it didn’t take too long for us to wait, as I admired the interior. It’s a charming place. I like the vintage and yet clean look, with it’s white wooden furnishings.

You queue up, make your choice between a cone or a cup and its size and then pay at the counter.

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

While normally I prefer cups, I found out quite incidentally that if you choose a cone, you could have the choice of lining it with white or milk chocolate from the fountain. Just the smell of liquid chocolate flowing down was so deliciously tempting.

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Once you’re done, you can choose from a lot of interesting flavours like :

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

And once you’re done, you could have it’s topped up with a choice of 3 types of whipped cream – classic, eggnog and cocoa. The entire combination made me so childishly happy when I finally got my gelato.

rinaz.net La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Considering that I have sensitive teeth, the combination was probably a bit too sweet for me. Nevertheless, it was really nice being in there. I wouldn’t mind going queuing up again if I’m in the area 🙂

Gelateria La Romana
Via Ostiense, 48, Roma