Richard and I thought that today's diary entry should be a combined effort since it's inevitable our entries would be similar for our day off in Rome.
SPECIAL EDITION, Return to Lagana
by Richard Bennett and Guy Fletcher
A day off in Rome. I was awake at the unholy hour of 7:30 unable to get back to sleep, a half hour later a full pot of espresso ensured I wouldn't. Down to the gym for the usual 90 minutes of agony. Back to the room for a bit of guitar practising then tumbled out in the street. In this wonderful city full of attractions, I had none in mind and simply put one foot in front of the other. Just outside our hotel, the filming of a new Tom Hanks movie had streets blocked and motorists fuming. I walked for a couple miles past the Spanish steps through a crush of humanity and an endless string of designer clothes, handbags and sunglasses shoppes...all seriously over priced. Turned down a side street and stopped at a cafe with tables and umbrellas on the curb for a pizza and ice cold Italian beer.
Every tour has it's memories, an event or place that is recalled often and talked about with reverence and great affection. Tonight, after three years, we returned to Lagana for a dinner that will only further its legendary status with us. Our host Mimmo made certain we wanted for nothing. Platters of the most brilliant food arrived, one after the other, for a couple of hours along with many bottles of soft, red chianti. Focaccia bread, prosciutto, cantaloupe, white bean salad, fried octopus, balls of buffalo mozzerella , tomatoes with string beans, marinated endive, a stunning potato pancake the size of a large pizza, strips of seared steak, heavenly fish, veal meat balls in gravy and more. Fresh, tiny, wild strawberries with ice creme and a sublime Italian cake followed. Every dish was a miracle of freshness, preparation and taste. The atmosphere, food and company could not have been better. Ristorante Lagana, Via del' Orso, 44 is not to be missed.
A day off in Rome. I crawled out of bed at the ungodly hour of midday and realized immediately that I'd missed breakfast, so on went the kettle as usual and tea was soon reviving me in the way only 'builders' tea can. The lateness of my waking caused by the fact that we rarely go to bed before 4 am these days because of late shows and travel etc. Unlike Richard, I chose to stay in the hotel as my room has a delightful balcony and the sun was threatening to come out! After an hour or so attending the website duties, I called DC and asked if he fancied a room service lunch. We ordered Caprese and Nicoise salads and loads of coffee and San Pellegrino. We listened to the three Sergio Mendes album that I have in the collection, with volume. Brasiliero, Timeless and Best of Sergio Mendes and Brasil '65. Before we knew it it was nearing the time that we'd arranged to depart the hotel for our return to what has become our favourite restaurant. Lagana.
There was quite an entourage as we left the hotel in our fleet of cars as no-one wanted to miss out. This outing is 3 years in waiting since even though Richard has been back, my one and only visit was on the 2005 tour, and that was on a show day so we didn't have wine or a main course.. it still left quite an impression. As Richard mentions, Lagana is owned by Mimmo who was extremely accommodating and managed to seat us all in what is a very busy family restaurant. Without a menu in sight the food came, and came and kept coming. My particlar favourite was the very simple rocket and pomadoro salad with seared steak, balsamic and parmagiano since I've been serving that up at home for years. As the evening wore on, I noticed that even though I seemed to have eaten more food than on the rest of the tour combined, I felt in no way full! The wine was a delicious chianti classico, once again, simple and perfect. Still to come were fresh wild strawberries with ice cream, limoncello and perfect coffee.