Pasta making for everyone!

I’ll come straight out with it – I hate to cook.  I do it when I have to, but I do it begrudgingly.  In Italy, where it is very easy to head to the local fresh pasta shop, learning how to make my own pasta has never seemed essential.   I’ve also been spoiled by great food made by my husband, Steve, who is an excellent cook. However, in one of those “you can give a man a fish or you can teach a man to fish” moments – I thought it would be a fun evening spent with friends learning how to make this classic Italian food staple.

We often get guests at The Beehive wanting to take a cooking course, but nothing too rigorous.  Walks of Italy’s pasta making course is a great option for someone wanting a short, easygoing class while still learning a delicious and handy skill.

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The course is located on the beautiful rooftop terrace apartment of Chef David Sgueglia della Marra and his wife Barbara. Chef David welcomed everyone warmly and despite his leg being in a brace from a recent surgical procedure,  he still had loads of energy and enthusiasm.  Pre-pasta making started with prosecco and delicious appetizers.  My kind of cooking class!

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Donning our aprons, our stations were already set up – ingredients were laid out and pre-measured.  He told us the portions so we would know for the future and showed us how to mix the two main ingredients.  While there is pasta made with egg, we made the lightest and easiest kind which consists of only two ingredients.  It all starts with a little bit of flour and a little bit of water.

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After we mixed and lightly kneaded our dough – it was wrapped in plastic and set aside for about 15 minutes which allowed us to have a second round of prosecco.

When the dough was ready, Chef David showed us how to use the wooden rolling pin to initially roll out the pasta and then using a hand cranked pasta machine – we rolled the pasta out another 3-4 times until it was quite long and thin.

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With a knife we cut off pieces and rolled between our hands.  Here’s the result – our handmade pici pasta – Marchigiano style.

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The sauce he chose was deceptively simple – olive oil, garlic, zucchini flowers, sausage and saffron which the pici pasta was then mixed into.  In a smaller pan, Chef David’s wife Barbara made a vegetarian version for me without sausage.  It was absolutely delicious!

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Afterward, we ate our pasta which was incredibly light and flavorful and enjoyed some glasses of wine and camaraderie with our fellow students.  The weather was a bit cold to sit out on the terrace, but I can imagine in the spring and summer what a lovely evening it would be to enjoy the fruits of our labor al fresco.

For more information on this pasta making course with Chef David, contact Walks of Italy.

23 March 2015

Yoga near The Beehive

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By Steve Brenner

Visiting the major sights of Rome doesn’t leave loads of spare time – there’s certainly plenty to see to keep your days full, so perhaps taking some time out for a yoga class won’t seem like time particularly well spent.  However, Rome is also very hectic and can be stressful, and if you’re traveling around with a big heavy backpack, or just spent 10+ hours on a long flight, a great way to shed all that is with a good yoga session.

I’m not a yoga fanatic at all – sometimes I consider my “practice” to be rolling out my mat, sitting down on it, petting my dog a bit and then rolling it back up.  But I do appreciate a good class, and they can be hard to find.  That said, I once flew into Paris and took a taxi straight to a yoga class and felt it was an excellent way to start my trip.

So, unless you’re a hardcore yogi and travel with a mat and want to do your asanas in our garden, here’s my recommendation of where to go near The Beehive.

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RYoga is 10 minutes away by foot from The Beehive.  They have a calendar of classes that run regularly.  You can just drop in without any fuss (just make sure you’re not late – in decidedly un-Roman fashion, they are sticklers about that).  At the time of writing this, drop in rate for a 1 1/2 hour class is €20.

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They have a nice changing room with lockers, mats and all the gear you’ll need.  The class I do, a Vinyasa Flow, is conducted downstairs in a small, cozy room.  The quality of the instruction is good, and although I haven’t tested whether the teachers speak English, I’ve heard them ask other students if they speak Italian.  Since classes are small, I assume it would be easy even with a language barrier for a teacher to give more personal instruction.

RYoga
Via Servio Tullio, 22, 00187 Roma, Italy

9 December 2014

My favorite sandwich shop near The Beehive

By Steve Brenner
For your typical Italian, a sandwich looks something like this:  a dry roll (called a rosetta) with one thing in it – like mortadella.
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For variety, it might be prosciutto or salami instead of mortadella.  Maybe it could have a second filler – like a piece of cheese.  Or it might be in a focaccia or ciabatta instead of the rosetta.  But the defining characteristic about sandwiches here is that they are so simple that it can be hard to consider it a sandwich as I know them.  There’s no choice of mustard or mayo (which for the record, I am anti-mayo so this is not a hardship for me), and you won’t find cucumber or sprouts or hummus or any other delicious spreads either.  To sum up, sandwiches can be a big disappointment if you’re not Italian.
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However, near The Beehive, about a 5 minute walk away, there’s a large, daily outdoor market and on the corner before the market is an old-school alimentari (deli) called Fratelli Ghezzi.  Around lunchtime, they get packed with suited Italians from nearby offices who are in the know about this place.  Because here at Fratelli Ghezzi, they have a variety of bread (rolls with green olives, or sesame seeds, or dark crusty slices), and they will make your sandwich to order.  They have rucola, fresh mozzarella from the Campania region, sun dried tomatoes, a great selection of cheeses and I’ve seen Italians here go “totally crazy” and put as many as 3 ingredients in their sandwich – like salmon, rucola and pecorino, or mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and prosciutto crude.
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Every ingredient you get is weighed out and added to the cost, so there’s no way to know what your sandwich will cost, but mine are usually around €3.50, maybe even €4.  Not bad for a sandwich freshly made and with top notch ingredients.  The staff is friendly, the service is quick and they will even suggest different combinations for you.
Fratelli Ghezzi 
Via Goito 32 (on the corner of Via Montebello

7 November 2014

Availability calendars and why we don’t have one

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If you tried to look up availability on our website and couldn’t find the calendar – it’s not hidden away somewhere – we just don’t have one.  I know, I know – that makes us seem like a dinosaur in this age of real time reservations.  The only outside “real time” booking source we work with is Hostelworld and we only provide availability to them for last minute space.

Not having an availability calendar allows us to have a more personal rapport with our guests which is what we have always had and wish to continue.  Without an availability calendar, we can make suggestions of other room types, other dates, mix and match.  Recently we thought we needed to switch to a real time system to keep up with the big guys, but after extensive research realized that we would have to give up too much of that personal contact and flexibility in order to do it.  Worried about not receiving a quick response?  Well, submit a request or an email anytime between 7am and 11pm Rome time and I’ll guarantee you will get a reply if not minutes than definitely not more than hour or two after you’ve sent off that inquiry or request.  For good or bad, we are practically glued to our laptops!

So no availability calendar.  You can either take the chance and submit the reservation request from our website and if we have the space you will be confirmed straight away.  Or you can write us an email asking about availability.  If you write us an email, please consider the following suggestions to make the process as seamless as possible and avoid any unnecessary delays or back and forth.  And of course, you can always call us at +39 0644704553 between 7am and 11pm Rome time to ask about availability if you don’t want to send an email.

1.  Be specific.  Don’t give us a range of dates, for example, 9-15 August.  Are you leaving on the 15th or are your dates including the 15th?  That means we now have to write you an email asking for clarification and it’s quite possible that in the meantime the availability will change.

2. Be clear and concise.  Don’t be ambiguous.  Don’t say “we” are coming to Rome on such a such date and need “a room”.  How many people are in this “we” that you mention?  “We” can be 2 people or 5 people.  And what kind of room?  Our communal dorm room?  A private room?  A private room with private bath, shared bath or either?  Provide as many details as you can as to what exactly you want.

3.  At The Beehive, we require payment in advance which is non-refundable and non-changeable for stays of 5 or more nights, reserving 2 or more rooms or reserving more than 6 months from the date of arrival.  Those conditions may seem harsh to some, but we have a small and finite number of rooms which when booked are then taken out of availability.  When someone books 10 nights several months before arrival and then at check-in changes their dates to only 2 nights – we rarely are able to fill that space up again at the last minute.  That’s certainly not fair to us nor to the other guests we turned away.

We look forward to hearing from you and keeping our fingers crossed we have space for you!  But not to worry – if we don’t have space, our sister business, Cross-Pollinate, can recommend many other properties in a range of budgets, amenities and in various parts of the city.

 

 

29 September 2014

To dorm or not to dorm – some Beehive tips

Back in 1999 when we started The Beehive, we were strictly a hostel with dormitory rooms and bunk beds.  Soon after, because of demand and our own desire to expand, we added private rooms.  In 2002 when we moved to our permanent location, we kept one room as a dorm in homage to our beginnings.

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Dorm rooms are not just for the university, 20 something crowd.  They are a great option for travelers looking to save money or who want to meet up with other travelers, but do note that not all dorm rooms are created equally and different facilities offer different services.  The Beehive’s dorm or “The Hive” as it’s called – is open to all ages except for very young children and is for both men and women.  We’ve had all kinds of people stay in our dorm – from older kids traveling with their parents, to university students, to solo travelers, to our oldest dorm guest who was 80 years old and traveling Europe alone as he did back in his youth.

We’ve created a dorm room to appeal to people who wouldn’t normally consider staying in a shared room.  Most hostels cater to the young, party-seeker while we offer a dorm room that is a clean and calm respite for those not wanting to spend a lot of money on accommodation, but who also don’t want to be isolated and alone in their room.IMG_3942

While sleeping in a roomful of strangers of different ages and from different cultural backgrounds means practicing tolerance and also having to put up with the occasional snorer, early risers or night owls, here’s what we consider a good code of conduct for staying in The Beehive’s dorm which can probably be applied to other dorm stays on your travels:

1.  If you need a towel, let us know.  We don’t put them out for all guests since many dorm guests carry their own.  But if you need one, we’re happy to provide one.  We do require €1 for a towel rental if you want to shower after you’ve already checked out.

2.  Many hostels require that you bring your own sheets, or that you strip your own beds. At The Beehive we make up your beds for you and don’t expect you to strip the bed when you leave.  However, DO stay in the bed you were assigned.  Don’t switch beds and if you want to change beds with someone who is leaving – ask at reception first.

3.  Many hostels do offer kitchens, but we don’t.  Our cafe, by law, is not available for guests’ use.  If you are wanting to cook your own food or store perishable food items, we have private rooms offsite – Acacia and Clover – that offer self-catering kitchens.

4.  Bring an eye mask and ear plugs.  This will help you sleep better so that you aren’t disturbed by the person arriving to the room late at night or leaving early in the morning, by someone’s snoring or from whatever other noises you might hear especially if you are a light sleeper.

5.  Consider bringing a small satchel with lavender in it.  It’s nice to keep in your bag to make your clothes smell fresh, but also nice to have near your head when sleeping at night – not only does it help you relax, but in the summer months when dorm room smells are subject to the hygiene of your fellow travelers – you’ll be happy to have something pleasant to smell.

6.  If you have to check-out early, pack your bag the night before and be quiet and mindful of the people who are trying to sleep.

7.  If you come back late, again – quiet is key.  Is it really necessary to shower and blow dry your hair at 1am?  If it is, than please use the bathroom downstairs near the lounge where no one can hear you.

8.  Let reception know immediately if there is anyone in the room who is  problematic in any way, exhibiting inappropriate behavior or who is making you uncomfortable. Our priority is to people who want to sleep and rest, so if someone is being disruptive, we’ll intervene – just let us know.

9.  Be social.  It doesn’t mean you have to be the life of the party, but say hello.  Introduce yourselves to others in the room. One of the great benefits of staying in the dorm is meeting others and sharing information and travel experiences, and if you’re fortunate, making new friends.

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Photo credit: Rosemary Dukelow photo of the Krause family.

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