Friends, Romans...

FOOD ...lend me your boiled tongue and brisket; No salad, no sauce, no gravy, no hedge of rocket or parsley field. Just the meat. Fabulous.

My initial view of Rome was from the back of a single-seater Vespa. I have always been nervous of motorised two-wheelers, ever since my Welsh friend, Richard Morris, whizzed me around the lanes of South Glamorgans, at terrifying speed, some 20 years ago. I have not been on one since. That is, until last month in Rome, where I was introduced to another Richard (Riccardo, actually) When he first suggested this mode of transport, I twitched slightly and mumbled something about how charming the Roman taxi drivers were... "We cud get a taxi... but, zee Vesparr... eet ees so mash fun and sur quick - and we will see so much murr of Roma!" Riccardo doesn't speak like that at all really; in fact, his English is exceptionally fine, whereas my Italian is shameful.

The Vespa journey turned out to be brilliant, making short work of the evening traffic. We whizzed around the Coliseum, shook our fists at the monstrous Vottoriale, and marvelled at the Trevi fountain - even with the tourists, including me, it was magical. Three coins were duly tossed over the shoulder and I wished for a good dinner.

The restaurant Checchino dal 1887 (0039 6 574 3816) is in Via Monte Testaccio, by the Tiber. It sits opposite the gates to the old (disused) city abattoir and is a most civilised place. Run by the Mariani family, it has been in the same ownership since... well, 1887. Checchino specialises in the tradition of offal - and by that I don't mean just liver, kidneys and a lick of tongue. Here, the "fifth part" also includes testicles, brains, feet, tripe, intestines, sweetbreads and other internals and extremities.

This is probably the nearest thing to a Roman feast, in a city that does not own a regional cuisine - but then not many cities really do. However, Checchino has a similar feel to that of Boeuf Couronne in Avenue Jean- Jaures in Paris (also next to the old abattoir, la Villette, in the 19th) and, in a revivalist style, the restaurant St John, in St John Street, by the working Smithfield market, in London.

"When in Rome...," I said to myself (or any other foreign city, come to that), "stick to the same place once more if it pleases the first time." So I ate at Checchino three times in four days, just to make sure: twice with friends and once on my own. As with similar occasions, I seem to eat best in solitary circumstances, and end up finding out more about a place. Purely, I suppose, because there is the time to ponder and look about, natter with the owners and ask for suggestions. And indulge without guilt.

The suggestion of some slices of freshly cooked porchetta (sucking pig) might not be everyone's idea of a first course, but here it seemed a perfectly natural way to start lunch. Three thin slivers (wide, but thin) arrived, just warm, and dressed with exceptionally fine olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. No salad, no sauce, no gravy, no hedge of rocket or parsley field. Just the meat. It was fabulous. Well, perhaps one might suggest something a little lighter to follow that? A piece of steamed fish? A little frittata (omelette)? Even a small plate of spaghetti alla carbonara (a dish which, incidentally, does seem to have an affinity with Rome)? No, silly. It was time for bollito misto.

Bollito is a pot of mixed boiled meats, of which a typical collection might be tongue, chicken (or boiling fowl), ham, rolled and boned calf's head, cottechino or zampone sausage (a rich mix of pork, pork skin and red wine), and beef brisket.

Traditionally from northern Italy, particularly Piedmont, a bollito offered in a restaurant there will be served from a special compartmentalised boiling trolley, with each section containing the different meats kept hot and moist in barely simmering stock.

This was certainly the case at Dal Bolognese (0039 6 361 1426), an old, established Roman restaurant in the Piazza del Popolo. Here the bollito trolley takes pride of place in the centre of the restaurant, where wisps of steam leak out from time to time.

Once an order is placed, and the lid lifted, clouds of meaty vapour escape into the room. Everyone watches as morsels are lifted out with a two-pronged fork, placed on a central carving board and deftly sliced onto a waiting hot platter.

Salsa verde is the definitive accompaniment here, and no self-respecting bollito is complete without this green lotion. A big dash of mostarda di Cremona was also on hand. These preserved fruits in a heavy, mustard flavoured syrup have a controversial appearance in Rome, because purists would say that this tradition should only be offered in the north. Well I enjoyed it here, so tant pis, as they say over the border.

Sadly, however, the salsa verde at Dal Bolognese had a raw chutney feel, rather than the green oily ointment I am sure is more the thing. The deeply verdant oily bowlful back at Checchino was more like it, though here the boiled meats came direct from the kitchen, ready carved onto the plate - and no mostarda. There were four slices of ox tongue (unsalted), half a boned calf's foot and three slices of beef brisket. More olive oil and lemon was suggested - as with the porchetta - and a few perfunctory (though not unpleasant) boiled potatoes attended this excellent carnage. A good lunch, very good, I murmured, as I drained the '78 Tignanello.

Bollito Misto, serves 10 - it is not really worth doing for less

The meat ingredients may vary as to your locality. However, a simple trio of meats, as served at Checchino (but perhaps without the calf's foot), could include salted ox tongue, chicken and belly pork or ham, for example. The addition of a boiling sausage such as cottechino (available in good delicatessens) will really complete the dish. Here is my version, anyway.

1 small, salted ox tongue, brought to the boil in unsalted water and drained

1.4k/3lb beef brisket (unsalted), preferably on the bone

2 litres/314 pints light chicken stock, enriched with a split pig's trotter if possible

11.8k/4lb free-range chicken

1 pre-cooked cottechino or zampone sausage

3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthways

3 large onions, peeled and stuck with 4 cloves

3 bay leaves

7 beautiful sticks celery, peeled

for the salsa verde

1 bunch flat-leafed parsley, leaves only

10 large basil leaves

15 mint leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

6 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 tbsp capers, drained and squeezed

150ml/14 pint extra virgin olive oil

little salt and much pepper

1 jar of mostarda di Cremona

Begin by poaching and simmering (not boiling as the name suggests) the beef and tongue in water, in 2 separate pans, for about 2 hours. Just cover the meats with water and, as they come up to a simmer, skim off any froth that forms along the way. Test for tenderness by inserting a skewer through the meats: there should not be any resistance. Lift the tongue out of its cooking broth and bury it in the other pan, alongside the beef. Cover them, and keep warm.

Add the chicken stock to the tongue water and put in the chicken, carrots and onion. Bring to a simmer once more (skimming, etc, once again) and poach for 50 minutes. Add the sausage (removed from its foil pouch) and celery stalks, and continue simmering, very gently, for a further 30 minutes.

At some time during these processes, make the salsa verde. Put the herbs, garlic, mustard, anchovies, and capers into a food processor with a few tablespoons of the oil. Process for a few minutes, and with the machine running, add the rest of the oil in a thin steam until thick-ish and very green. Season with any necessary salt and pepper.

To serve the bollito, slice the meats and sausage and carve the chicken into manageable pieces. Arrange on a large heated platter with the celery stalks (discard the other vegetables) and spoon over some of the broth. It is also nice to splash the pieces of meat with some extra olive oil. Serve the salsa verde and mostarda in separate bowls, alongside

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

    BC2

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice