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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Arts and Entertainment
Ella Henderson's first studio album has gone straight to the top of the charts
music
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

Life and Style
fashion
News
Paul Nuttall, left, is seen as one of Ukip's key weapons in selling the party to the North of England
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
Arts and Entertainment
artKaren Wright tours the fair and wishes she had £11m to spare
News
i100
Life and Style
Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh been invited to take part in Women Fashion Power, a new exhibition that celebrates the way women's fashion has changed in relation to their growing power and equality over the past 150 years
fashionKirsty and Camila swap secrets about how to dress for success
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Latest stories from i100
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

    Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

    £60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Permanent Year 6 TeacherThe job:This...

    KS1 & KS2 Teachers

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: KS1+KS2 Teachers required ASAP for l...

    Year 2 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 2 Teacher The position is to wo...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past