Sunday, October 11

Guess who's coming to dinner? Dining, Rome-Style with BonAppetour

When I stop and think about many times have I or pretty much everyone I iknow enjoyed truly memorable meals in Italy? Or wherever I've traveled? Sometimes, a restaurant 'experience' is so terrific, we go back a second night. Once I ordered the eggplant parmesan for the first and second course. And then there was that to-die for menu degustazione at that over-the-top-place in Florence...but as good as it was, I recall needing a defibrillator only after I saw the bill (mercifully, I wasn't paying). 
But let's face it: The best meals - ever - have been the ones where, out of the blue, you were invited into someone's home and fed - to the gills - upon every local flavor there was fit to feast. In Morocco, a super nice guy who worked at the hotel where I was staying invited me to his family's home where his mother proceeded to make a cous-cous the old-fashioned way...hours later she served us a spectacular dish, just like in that movie, Cous-Cous. The next eve, again, his Uncle served tagine that I still can taste every morsel, ten years on. Needless to say, we are all still good friends.
So, leave it to a few foodie engineers (from Singapore!) and the internet no less, to bring the in-home / out-of-town experience to all and sundry and BonAppetour was born.
Al fresco dining on a stunning Roman terrace
Our terrific hosts, Stefano & Federica 

Stefano's outrageous peach & pear dessert with amaretti cookies

We were treated to an aperitivo upon arrival, and served up a luscious drink made with elderflower and prosecco. You can pick a menu, pick your party, and, whether you're a local or not, you can ply your hosts with all kinds of questions about their lives, their lifestyles and whatever (they spoke English). Our group put our dynamic duo hosts in a bit of a pickle, between gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and other requests...but Stefano the chef proved that he could still get the dishes right, that would appeal to all of us.
I think this is a terrific concept, like other 'Sharing Economy' initiatives, especially Air B&B. I mean, really, people have been sharing meals for millenia...and the idea that this is something "new" kind of tickles me pink. I'm still on the fence in terms of the reasons we had taxi medallions and so on (for the uber-crowd), and restaurant health inspections to sort of lean on...But then, we realized...that they weren't really inspecting and taxis are hit or miss like anywhere...So, actually, being able to rate your hosts, takes the concept of tipping one step further, really. You're most likely guaranteed to receive terrific personal service. And BonAppetour actually tests the servers, so to speak, before including them as hosts on their server. 
Dinner was served in courses, with plenty of time to linger between them. All in all, the next time someone asks me for reservations...I may suggest they try dining in a beautiful Roman home instead. Now, if we can just find the right app to remove food allergies...