Rome: Fried treats for Carnival

By Katie Parla
October 3, 2012
Katie Parla

There are two main ways to tell it's Carnival season in Rome: children dress up in costumes, tossing colorful paper confetti in the streets; and everyone, regardless of age, indulges in frappe and castagnole, deep fried sweets.

Rectangular strips of dough, frappe get deep fried until golden brown and then dusted with confectioner's sugar. These days, you can also find the lighter frappe al forno (baked not fried) as a concession to the diet conscious.

Castagnole are chestnut-sized balls of dough—similar to donut holes—that are deep fried and rolled in sugar. Some are soaked in liquor or filled with cream or ricotta cheese, making this dense dessert even richer.

Bakeries, delis, and markets throughout Rome will be selling the baked and fried versions of frappe and castagnole until mid- to late-February. You can't really go wrong, but these shops are among the best: Roscioli (via dei Chiavari 34), Forno Campo de' Fiori (Piazza Campo de' Fiori 22), and Biscottificio Innocenti (via delle Luce 21). Go all out and request "un etto," or 100 grams.


Carnival festivities and other great February values in Rome.

Roman snacks for any craving

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading

London: A sequel to Phantom of the Opera

Lloyd Webber's new musical—Phantom of the Opera II: Love Never Dies—has its opening night in the second week of March. Last week, Andrew Lloyd Webber previewed the title song to his long anticipated sequel to a star-studded private audience at the South Bank Show awards. Theaterland here in London has been buzzing ever since. The show itself has its world premier at the Adelphi in the West End on Tuesday March 9. Tickets can now be reserved. While they officially go on sale February 26, tickets can be reserved in advance through the show's official website, from $40. The show is set a decade after the mysterious disappearance of the Phantom from Paris. He has moved from his lair in the Paris Opera House to haunt the fairgrounds of Coney Island. According to Lloyd Webber, "this show is a rollercoaster ride of obsession and intrigue…in which music and memory can play cruel tricks…and it sets out to prove that, indeed, love never dies. "The Phantom of the Opera" itself (which was based on Gaston Leroux's French novel) has been seen by over 100 million people worldwide, making it the most successful stage show in history. MORE More Budget Travel tips on visiting London


Follow-up: New York City's The Jane hotel

We've written before about The Jane, a New York City hotel offering ship-cabin-style rooms for solo travelers, starting at $99 a night. There are also 30 double rooms, called the Captain's Cabins, available at the hotel. At 250 square feet, the Captain's Cabins are suited for double occupancy and offer private bathrooms (the 50-square-foot regular rooms share a communal bathroom down the hall on each floor). The Captain's Cabins came online for booking about a month ago. The Jane is located in the far West Village—also known as the Meatpacking District, characterized by its hopping clubs and nightlife. Currently, there's a special offer going on through the end of February: Regular cabins start at $79, and the Captain's Cabins start at $209 a night. Usually, the Captain's Cabins start at $250 a night and go up to $300. So you can save more than 15 percent for bookings in February. Of course, it's snowing like mad here (and getting dark at 3:30 p.m.), so you can see why rates are reduced. But New York City in the snow has its own romantic charm. See our full review of The Jane here. For more on New York City, check out our city page, and leave your comments, questions, and suggestions.


New York City: The view from our office windows

The blizzard is underway, but the downtown fashion district (home of Budget Travel World Headquarters) is relatively unscathed so far. For flight updates nationwide, visit Many rental car lots nationwide are short of cars due to dislocations caused by the weather. Allow for extra time and have a back-up plan. MORE Trips Gone Bad


San Francisco: Decoding shabu shabu

We regularly respond to comments and questions posted on our city pages. Reader sarahm asked about shabu shabu, so we looked into it. Shabu shabu restaurants have been popping up in San Francisco. Shabu shabu is the Japanese version of Chinese hot pot, where diners cook thin slices of raw meat and vegetables in a communal pot of boiling water at the table. Think of it as fondue but without the oil. The most traditional version of shabu shabu just uses beef, but restaurants in the area have started to include other meats like chicken, pork, and fish, and substituting boiling water with flavored broth like miso or ginger chicken. The rare, razor thin beef is a carnivore's dream, and the interactive tableside cooking makes it a hit for big groups and families. Especially on a cold foggy day, shabu shabu can hit the spot. We did some research, and online reviewers' favorite San Francisco shabu shabu places include the Shabu House (5158 Geary Blvd, 415/ 933-8600), Mums Home of Shabu Shabu, (inside Hotel Tomo, 1800 Sutter St, 415/ 931-6986), and Shabusen Restaurant (1726 Buchanan St, 415/ 440-0466). Many shabu shabu restaurants offer all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink specials (Shabu House is one; $33.95 per person between 5 and 6 p.m.) Fair warning: Some Chinese restaurants advertising shabu shabu are actually making traditional Chinese hot pot, which is served with soy and hoisin sauce and dumplings, and tends to be spicier than Japanese shabu shabu. It's delicious in it's own way, but if you're looking for authentic shabu shabu, stick to the places above. For the uninitiated, the shabu shabu process can be a little intimidating. Here's a how-to guide to eating it: The meat and vegetables are served on a large platter—you'll see thinly sliced meat, vegetables like mushrooms and napa cabbage, individual bowls of white rice, and of course, the boiling pot (usually water, but sometimes something else). 1. Using your chopsticks, swish the slice of meat or piece of vegetable back and forth in the boiling soup several times. (The dish gets it name from the swishing sound: Shabu shabu translates into "swish, swish.") A few seconds is enough. Be careful not to overcook the meat. 2. Dip the meat or veg in one of the sauces, usually a ponzu sauce or a goma sesame seed sauce, and eat! 3. When foam appears in the water, skim it off with a spoon. 4. Once all the meat and vegetables have been eaten, pour the leftover broth on the remaining rice, and eat it last.