Holy pizza, Batman, I’m in Rome!!! You guys! I’m so excited. I barely have words for the melange of anticipation and thrill and fear and wonder and gratitude I’ve been feeling for the past week. I haven’t been to Europe for eleven years, and now, in the sweetest stroke of mileage plus points and belated birthday gifts to myself, here I am. Rome for three nights. Positano for four nights. Vacation email responder officially on. Pre-vacation gauntlet of errands and work and general chaos narrowly maneuvered. I am so, so ready.
In the spirit of keeping myself as awake and sensorially absorbent, a few promises: I promise to take one million pictures and show you only the very best ones. I promise to eat as much pizza and pasta as humanly possible. I promise to slow way, way down and breathe in the scent of the streets and the ruins and the art and the people. I promise to let Italy change me. I promise just to be.
And, for the sake of practicality, I thought I’d detail a few of the things on my international travel packing list, in the case that you might also be heading on a trip sometime soon.
– This sweet suede tote bag I found at Le Target on the cheap last week.
– My trusty InCase camera backpack that has one million secret compartments and completely changed my life when I got it this April.
– No Jet Lag homeopathic remedy: Because I’m gonna need all the help I can get for that 9 hour time difference.
– Essential oils: Peppermint, rose, and lavender. Peppermint for nausea. Rose for anxiety and general malaise or homesickness. Lavender for sleep and relaxation. Huge allies to carry no matter where you are.
– Jurlique rose or citrus hand cream. Yes, for your hands, but also to put in your nostrils because dang that plane air is dehydrating. This is a huge problem solver for me.
– Airplane socks. Your favorite, coziest ones.
– Earplugs and eye masks. The world is loud and intense. Carry portable refuge.
– Small notebook and pen to jot down snippets of overheard conversations, recommendations, names of handsome strangers.
– MiFi portable wireless hotspot: Fingers crossed this will be a major win for data coverage no matter where I am, given that I have a locked iPhone (so can’t switch out my SIM card). Will report back!
– Chargers of all kinds, plus appropriate outlet converters/adaptors.
– Deep Sleep herbal blend, in case I have trouble sleeping with the time change.
– A good book. I picked up Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins for a meta reading-about-Italy-while-in-Italy immersion.
– A bar of super dark chocolate. Necessary.
More from my adventures next week, I promise that, too. I’ll be visiting the Villa Borghese, the Forum and the Coliseum, and the Sistine Chapel. I’ll be walking through Piazza Novena and along the Tiber River. I’ll be eating at Roscioli and Pizzeria Emma and Cesare al Casaletto. I’ll be downing gelato from Fatamorgana. And then I’ll be jetting down the coast to the Tyrrhenian Sea to visit Amalfi.
For now, this delicious riff on Katie Parla and Kristina Gill’s pizza capricciosa from their book Tasting Rome. The original calls for prosciutto, which you’re welcome to add if you choose. I decided to do a second helping of olives and artichokes in its place. And you just can’t beat that runny yolk.
Parla and Gill have their own sexy method for Roman pizza dough, which I sadly didn’t have time to follow given my packing mayhem—you’ll just have to get the book to do it yourself. Instead, my go-to quick pizza dough recipe is below. Of course, you’re also welcome to use any store-bought pizza dough you like.
adapted from Tasting Rome by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill
- Pizza dough (or 8 store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature)
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the bowl
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt plus extra for sprinkling
- cornmeal for the baking sheet
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 2 ½ ounces mozzarella torn or cut into ½-inch pieces
- 6 olives
- 8 marinated artichoke heart quarters
- 1 cup small oyster mushrooms cleaned and separated
- 1 large egg
- red pepper flakes to taste
At least 3 hours ahead, start the pizza dough. In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, and olive oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and knead the dough until the mixture comes together into a ball, a bit tacky to the touch. Add more water as needed, or more flour if it’s too wet. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead to create a smooth ball of dough.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn dough once to coat in oil, and cover bowl with a clean, damp dish towel. Place in a warm location, or, if your kitchen is cold, inside your oven. Let rest until it doubles in size, about 2 hours. Once the dough is doubled in size, roll it into a ball. (Cut the dough in half and form into 2 balls if making 2 pizzas.) Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
Preheat oven to 525º Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Spoon the tomato sauce over the pizza dough, leaving a ½-inch border, then distribute the mozzarella evenly. In quadrants, distribute 3 olives and 4 artichoke hearts in quadrant 1, the mushrooms in quadrant 2, and another 3 olives and 4 artichoke hearts in quadrant Leave quadrant 4 empty.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until crust is beginning to brown. Remove from oven and crack egg in the fourth quadrant (angle egg towards center of pizza so it doesn’t run off, and be careful not to tilt your baking sheet in transfer). Return to oven and bake another 1-2 minutes, until whites are cooked but yolk is still runny. Remove from the oven when the edges are golden brown and crisp to your liking. Transfer to a wooden cutting board, sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired, and eat immediately.