The Beehive’s Clumsy Cook makes soup

lentilsoup

Winter is officially here.  Temperatures in Rome are now in the single digits in Celsius – that’s in the 40’s for those of you in Farenheit land.  I’m sure I’m not alone in craving warm comforting food when the temperatures drop – much to the chagrin of my waistline.

Even the Clumsy Cook has a simple solution for dinner on these cold winter nights.  This lentil soup is easy and requires no slaving over the stove.

Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 cups of small brown lentils

1 onion

1 celery stalk

1 carrot

1 clove of garlic

1 long sprig of rosemary

1/4 cup of olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of vegetable broth

sea salt to taste

thyme to taste

tomato sauce to taste

Chop up onion, carrot, celery and garlic into small pieces and sauté in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot.

After veggies are soft, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups lentils and sauté together for a few seconds.

Add about 2-3 liters of water depending on how many lentils you used.

Add some pinches of sea salt, a pinch of dried thyme, the long sprig of rosemary, a couple of splashes of tomato sauce and about a tablespoon of vegetable broth.

Mix and leave at high heat for a little while until boiling and then lower to medium heat.

In total – you want to leave the soup simmering on the stove for about 1-2 hours.  Keep checking from time to time to make sure all the water hasn’t evaporated.

When you see that the soup is thickening – take an immersion blender and blend the lentils until you have a creamy, but chunky texture.

Turn off heat and allow to come down a bit in temperature – warm, but not scalding.

Dish out into bowls, add a drizzle of olive oil and if you are partial to cheese, you can add some grated parmigiano on top.

Serve up with some crusty bread – a simple bruschetta with garlic and olive oil is a good match.

Pour yourself a glass of nice red wine to go with it and enjoy!

 

 

 

28 November 2013

Our Chef’s Cooperative Profiles: Paola Haas

The most recent chef to join our cooperative is Paola Haas – originally from Mexico and Rome resident for many years.  She serves up traditional and authentic vegetarian Latin American food on Sundays from 7-9:30pm.  She also has vegan and gluten-free versions of her dishes available upon request as well.  This interview with Paola is the first installment as I profile all of our chefs in upcoming posts.

Paola dining

1.  Where are you from?  What brought you to Rome?

I come from Mexico City, and moved to Italy to study art and design more than two decades ago.

2.  How did you hear about The Beehive and what made you decide to become a part of the chef’s cooperative?

I found out about The Beehive from my friend Paolo Casassa, who runs Clover and Acacia guestrooms.  When the idea of a Mexican or Latin-American evening came out, I jumped in immediately, as there are very few places in Rome where you can get this kind of cuisine– and The Beehive, with its international, innovative spirit is the perfect place to offer it.

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3.  Can you describe the kinds of food you prepare on your evenings at The Beehive?

I strive to prepare only authentic food, the kind you would have at a real Latin-American home, the kind your Mamá or your Abuela would cook… in a vegetarian version. Only ingredients that are true to the recipes are used, which can be difficult as we are across the ocean!  I also try to keep a balance between elaborate and simple.

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4.  How did you learn to make this food?  What is your food background?

I have been cooking at home since I was fourteen, as my mother did not cook regularly.  On the other hand, I was constantly surrounded by grandmothers and aunts who cooked divinely and passionately, and encouraged me to learn their recipes and secrets.  Furthermore, in my family, the appreciation of good cuisine has been a trademark ever since I can remember.  I consider myself a self-taught cook although I have taken non-professional courses in Mexico, Italy and France.

Arroz con leche

5.  Are you vegetarian or vegan?  If you are, what were your motivations to become vegetarian or vegan?  If not, do you find it challenging to create a vegetarian or vegan menu?

Personally, I am neither vegetarian nor vegan.  However, my cooking philosophy is definitely vegetable-centered so I am used to adapting dishes to a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as other diets like wheat-free or gluten-free.

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6.  Where are your favorite places to eat in Rome?  

You mean besides The Beehive?  For traditional Roman food, Da Marcello in San Lorenzo; fun, popular osterie in the Garbatella district like Grottino der Traslocatore, Er Moschino or Tanto pe’ Mangià.  In the Testaccio district always reliable and a bit more trendy: Da Fedele or Osteria degli Amici, or Da Domenico in San Giovanni; at a higher budget and with a creative twist, Primo al Pigneto, or Rivadestra in Trastevere; pizza: anywhere but Dar Poeta.  Also, 99% of the places selling pizza al taglio, supplì and arancini are delicious!

You will find Paola and her delicious, homemade and authentic Latin American food every Sunday evening in our cafe.

Dinner is served from 7:00-9:30pm and the cost is €8 for a mixed plate and  €10 with dessert.  Wine & beer are sold at €2/glass.  Menus are posted on the same day on our Facebook page as well as any notifications if there is a cancellation of dinner that evening as has sometimes happened because of illness or time away so it’s always a good idea to check there before heading over.  Reservations aren’t necessary, but do note that only a finite amount of food is prepared so it’s best to come earlier than later – we also have to be strict about wrapping things up early in order not to be disruptive to our room guests.

The Beehive Cafe – a Chef’s Cooperative


Our cafe at The Beehive has evolved a lot over the years – first from a simple breakfast room and then into a guerrilla style vegetarian restaurant serving lunch and dinner without set prices.  We called it the “Cucina Karmica” and while we had price suggestions, people could pay what they thought the meal was worth.

Cafe Karmica

Despite naysayers who thought it was a crazy idea, it actually worked quite well and we were often packed with nearby office workers during the day and guests and residents at night.

Laura cooking

In 2009, we got a shock from the city of Rome who forced us to stop serving lunch and dinner, without much explanation, but that didn’t deter us from wanting to continue to bring healthy, delicious, vegetarian and vegan food to our guests and Rome residents.

Fast forward to May 2012 when Aimee Jackson Accolla became the first participant in our chef’s cooperative, cooking and serving up delicious vegan meals 3 times a week in our cafe.  Aimee and her family recently moved to Scotland, but we have found several other remarkable people to take her place. We do serve a daily breakfast from 7:30-10:30am, but now 4 evenings a week (and hopefully we can get all 7 evenings filled up), we have outside chefs come in who are participating in our chef’s cooperative.

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As a cooperative, chefs buy and prepare all the food themselves either offsite or in the cafe, and host their themed dinners.  All proceeds go directly to the chef, which is a great way for us to open our space to people with passion, motivation, enthusiasm, and a love of food.  Our cooperative supports fellow entrepreneurs and also provides homey, lovingly made food to our guests and the Rome community at large.

Sarah-and-Nancy

Our kitchen is by no means a professional kitchen!  The beauty though is that we believe great food can be made by anyone in any kind of environment, no matter how small and simple, and our cafe has proven that.

at-the-table

Our guest chef evenings are currently as follows:

Wednesday – Vegan Asian fusion with Katrina Tan Conte (NB: Kat is from the Philippines and will heading there for the months of December, January and February.  Her last evening at the cafe will be 11 December 2013, but she’ll be back in our cafe on 5 March 2014.)

Friday – Creative Vegan and Raw with Hayley North

Saturday  – Vegetarian/Vegan Ceylan cooking (Sri Lankan) with Shabeena and Rozana

Sunday  – Vegetarian/Vegan Latin American with Paola Haas

Dinner is served from 7:00-9:30pm and the cost is €8 for a mixed plate and  €10 with dessert.  Wine & beer are sold at €2/glass.  Menus are posted on the same day on our Facebook page as well as any notifications if there is a cancellation of dinner that evening as has sometimes happened because of illness or time away so it’s always a good idea to check there before heading over.  Reservations aren’t necessary, but do note that only a finite amount of food is prepared so it’s best to come earlier than later – we also have to be strict about wrapping things up early in order not to be disruptive to our room guests.

Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring each of our chefs on this blog – stay tuned!

 

21 November 2013

Win a 5 night stay and food tour for 2!

ladolcebeehive-web

WHAT YOU GET

• 5 nights accommodation for 2 in Rome at The Beehive Hotel during our low season (read here why that’s a great time to come).

• 2 spaces on the Taste of Testaccio Food Tour by Eating Italy Food Tours

• €100 gift certificate to Volpetti, a mouth-watering specialty food shop in the Testaccio neighborhood of Rome, so you can bring home a taste of La Dolce Vita!

HOW TO ENTER

Send your most creative photo that expresses why you should be living La Dolce Vita in winter time by:

HOW TO WIN

We will choose our favorite entries, post them on Facebook and invite you, your friends, and our fans to like their favorites.  Whoever gets the most likes, wins!

CONTEST DEADLINE

1 December 2013

TERMS & CONDITIONS

• Valid for redemption for travel during the months of November, December, January and February starting 1 December 2013 to 1 March 2015.  The dates of 24 December through 1 January are excluded.

• Redeeming the prize will of course be subject to availability and we will offer you what is available in various room types for your dates of travel.

• Must be redeemed by 1 March 2015.

• Multiple entries allowed.

 

29 October 2013

5 Great Reasons to Visit Rome in the Winter

Rome often brings to mind snapshop images from a warmer time of year when the city is bathed in that sunny and delicious glow.  While the months of March through November are indeed a beautiful time of year to be in Rome, there’s definitely a higher price tag to go with it and in more ways than just financial.  Here are some very compelling reasons to consider coming to Rome in the winter months:

1.  No crowds
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Via Borgognona near Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps), Rome in high season.
Photo by: Per Palmkvist Knudsen

 

High season in Rome runs at least 8 months – from March through October and is slowly starting to extend into a 9th month with November.  It starts off slow, but then Rome gradually starts bursting at the seams and the popular spots in particular can be suffocating.  Yet come the winter months, and in particular January and February, and you expect to see tumbleweeds blowing down the street.  Not that Rome is ever a ghost town, but there’s just more breathing room in the winter.

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Winter in Venice without the crowds.

 

The Big 3 – Rome, Florence and Venice – become different cities especially in January and February.  In a way you can even say that they seem to be returned to their residents when the insanely large crowds have all but disappeared.  One of the main reasons is because of the weather.  Most people equate blue skies and dazzling sunshine with Italy and they would be correct.  However, while colder temperatures, rain and grey clouds don’t coincide with many people’s preconceived ideas of Italy – it also makes for an experience that is unique and yet just as wonderful if not more so.  You can still find clear blue skies and sunny days in winter, but walking in Rome’s center on a crispy cold night with the golden glow of its street lights and the city wrapped in fog, mist or rain will also make some great memories and moody photographs.  With the lack of crowds, the sights, the smells are much easier to appreciate and that’s when you can truly experience the magic here.

Many people think that March and April being the start of high season, will be a good combo of nicer weather and less people, but keep in mind that these months are also the time of year European schools have their yearly trips and so many large and small towns around Italy are taken over by school groups.

2.  Lower airfares and accommodation prices

It’s difficult anymore to predict airline fares, but rates in January and February are on average several hundred US dollars less during these months than at other times of the year and even lower if you are internet savvy or have a great travel agent.  Within Europe, low cost airlines such as RyanAir, EasyJet, AirOne, Transavia to name a few are always a bargain, but even more so during low season.  Many accommodations (including yours truly) have lower prices during this time of year and during particularly slow periods additional discounts are sometimes available.  In the summer it can be hard to even find a place, and if you’re traveling around without firm plans, hoping to book as you go, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to find something decent at the last minute.  In the winter, places like our Beehive which are difficult to find a spot in high season – often have space available in low season.

3.  Sightseeing – as in actually being able to see the sights

View from the Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia in February.

 

Rome can be sensory overload – traffic, people, and so much to see. Going to the Vatican Museums when you’re already fatigued is a recipe for disaster, but fatigued you will feel after waiting in a queue in the heat of summer for over an hour.  Want to visit the Borghese gallery in the summer and didn’t reserve weeks in advance?  It’s not likely you’ll get a reservation at the last minute.  An experience I had in Florence a couple of years ago is indicative of what it’s like in the bigger cities in winter.  I was able to walk right into the Accademia without a ticket, no queue to buy my ticket and had a completely unobstructed view of Michelangelo’s David.  The same was true for the hike up to the cupola of the Duomo – no queues at all.  All the places you want to see – well, many other people want to see also and in peak season you’ll be competing for space with a much larger pool of people.  Visiting when it’s less busy, you’ll not only cruise right into many of these places, often without reservations, but you’ll also have more breathing room to actually enjoy what you’re looking at.

4.  Food (aka you can’t get artichokes in the summer!)
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Italian hot chocolate is thick and to be savored with a spoon – make sure to ask for the whipped cream (panna).

 

Our favorite time of year for food here is the winter. Artichokes, greens galore, chestnuts, cavolo nero (kale, used for ribollita soup), and don’t even get me started on the citrus – clementines, mandarins and Sicilian blood oranges called tarocchi.  There’s nothing like a glass of red wine and a hearty Tuscan soup on a cold, dreary day or a cup of thick hot chocolate with panna (whipped cream) to warm you up or a cozy cocktail near the Colosseum when the rain is coming down.  And gelato knows no season!

5.  Slowing down – a true holiday experience

When you take all of the above together – it causes you to slow down.  Your energy isn’t sapped by the heat or the crowds, some rain may make it so that you find yourself with a good book in a cozy cafe or with your partner or friend sharing a drink and good conversation instead of non-stop sightseeing.  The shorter daylight hours urge you to get up earlier to take advantage of the daylight and to get a bit more sleep at night.  While it’s great to see everything – you have to reconcile with the fact that you really won’t see and do everything – so take this time during Rome’s winter season to enjoy the city in a different and special way.

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