Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So Where is the Good Cake?

Apparently there are 14,ooo lawyers currently practicing in Rome.  That’s 14,000 more than Starbucks cafes in the Eternal city and 13,998 more than public toilets available to tourists in the city centre.  Nothing untoward so far for a new Roman whose transformation is on schedule, in fact, alarm bells shouldn’t start ringing until you hear that not so long ago, I moved into an apartment near Italy’s Palace of Justice, only to discover there are 14,000 more lawyers than Roman artisan cake shops in my neighbourhood.  Talk about giant cake hole in the market!  The logical progression of events in Rome is generally harder to grasp than an inch of free handrail on a bus bombing around the Colosseum so I’ve long since stopped asking; "Why?"  Maybe it all stems from a possible truncation of Marie Antoinette’s message  ““Let them eat cake... but don't let their insatiable lawyers have any.”

Secretly, I’d  never given up hope that one marvelous pasticcere, genius cakemaker,  might be hiding somewhere, sculpting millefoglie and mimosa throughout the night.  Once I quizzed the greedy-deli where I buy my 100g of Caciotta, Crema di Siena, cost equivalent of 100g of Palio winning horse: no leads.  I even asked my espionage-fixated landlady who promptly suspected entrapment and feigned an unconvincing disinterest in chocolate profiterole. Then finally one day a breakthough;  an unexpected tip-off from the crazy pants by the Tiber who periodically lobs multipacks of tissues into my bike basket when I ‘m clearly not going to make the lights and then requests payment.  I generally haven’t responded to his chit-chat  since the time he invited me to “mettere le corna”, make "The Sign of the Horns" with him because Donatella my neighbour does, so by all accounts I might want to too. The horns in question would subsequently grow from my partner’s head after the proposed betrayal with said crazy pants.  So offer ruefully declined,  one rush hour, trapped at the lights by even more spectacular gridlocking than usual, crazy pants gave me a name and I insisted he raised his tissue prices. Before long I was following a trail of flour and almonds to the secret artisan cake maker of my dreams. 

Concealed behind stained glass, inside the courtyard of a residential building advertised as a hotel from the outside, I found "Palmieri", a hive of activity creating exquisite cakes and savoury pastries to order. Ordering in person has extra added benefits; if they have made too many mini pizzas you can buy them hot out of the oven and cycle home with them melting in your mouth.  The winning concept of Palmieri-to-order and of Romans in general is that nobody expects you to justify the enjoyment of pleasure with a special occasion. You may well have finished decorating your spare room, turned 95 or finished the Times crossword but as far as this city is concerned you are alive; Order a cake!  but just don’t tell your lawyer otherwise it might cost you! 

Pasticceria recommendations:
Palmieri Pasticceria:  Cakes and savouries  to order ensures maximum freshness and great value. Metro: Linea A Le Panto or Ottaviano
Giovanni Aldo Pasticceria.  What this man can’t do with sponge and raspberries isn’t worth knowing about. Metro: Linea A Furio Camillo or  Colli Albani 


  1. Why do you do this to meeeeeeeeeeeeee? I won't be able to sleep now, thinking of cake! (Very glad you found your pasticceria, though. Life is worth nothing sans cake).

  2. I know. I went out a bought a Sacher Torte straight after writing this... and now I've written this comment I'm going to have to go in the fridge and cut a slice for breakfast.

  3. Glad you found good cake!

    Thanks for stopping by A Normal Life... and commenting too.

    Hoping to visit Roma again and then I shall endeavor to find Palmieri for myself. My husband loves pastries and yet somehow he remains thin. Life is not fair!

  4. Hi there.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Enjoying reading your posts here. They are both amusing and informative.

    All the best to you.


  5. AmyEmilia. Yesterday I ordered a Mimosa in the morning and collected it in the evening. Heaven! I agree Life isn't fair but cake helps!

    Tamakikar. Glad you enjoyed the writing. Roman life is amusing but it's nice to help visitors havea good time not fall prey to tourist traps.

  6. Ciao SuperAli!
    I absolutely love love love your blog! The witty tone matches the incredible amount of informative tools. Brava!
    Now, as far as cake... I have 2 more places I need you to go check out:
    1) Pasticceria Cinque Lune for the best artisan cakes, pastries, chocolate, ancient Roman specialties, etc.
    2) Pasticceria La Dolce Roma in the Jewish quarter for Dobostorte, Sacher and other Vienna foodgasms...

    I'll be looking out for your new reviews, in the meantime... let's go fo PERITIVO soon!


  7. Thanks SuperEle. I love writing when I have the time. and thanks for the recommendations, Cinque Luna is near my house so I'll check it out this weekend. Your photos are fantastic. Aperitivo definitely! xx