Bad art/Mezé Bistrot

The other night I caught a couple of art openings (full disclosure: that’s twice as many as I’ve caught in the past three years). The first featured a series of tiny drawings so precise they could have been photographs. The drawings were based on movie stills from the Great Gatsby (Leo not Robert), Anna Karenina (Keira not Garbo), Factory Girl (could have from the original with Edie Sedgewick or else the terrible biopic with Sienna Miller, I could’t tell) and some other film we couldn’t identify.  We had a chat with the artist — a very nice young Englishwoman who uses magnifying glasses and drinks tea while she draws, of course. I was a bit annoyed by her assertion that she never sees the movies she draws from because she wants to furnish her own plots. That seems a bit disrespectful to the writers and screenwriters. If you want to come up with your own plot, why not come up with an original idea for your drawing rather than using someone else’s? Grrr. Anyway, the drawings were lovely. Here’s the advert. That’s Edie Sedgewick (or maybe Sienna Miller) below. The exhibit runs until the end of May. Invito Harnett cartNext we went to a garage (billed as ‘one of the most suggestive spaces in all of Trastevere’) where works by a whole load of well-known contemporary artists is being auctioned off to raise money for drug and alcohol addiction programs. I very much approve of of the sentiment. The art? Ugly and pretentious.  One could be cynical and conclude (as we did) that since the artists were asked to donate their creations, they just picked their worst pieces or the ones they would miss the least. The people watching was, however, great fun. The place was packed with young, hip and artsy types sporting stilettos (the women), long hair (women and men) and flowy outfits (ditto). My guess is that a good many plastic surgeons were able to buy their country houses thanks to the faces in that room. The exhibit runs until 8 May so if you want to see a bunch of bad art in a suggestive garage for a good cause, check it out here.

And then came the payoff: Mezé Bistrot! I wrote about this place a few years ago when it had just opened. I’ve been back  a number of times because the food is great and it is the requisite no more than 10 minute walk from my house. I’ve been  nervous because it’s usually pretty empty and I do not want to lose access to my mezé pusher (less than 10 minutes from my house). Fortunately the restaurant was jam-packed the other night so word seems to have gotten around.

For the uninitiated, mezé are small dishes that are served at the beginning of meals throughout the Middle East and the Balkans. Mezé Bistrot is owned by a Libyan and the cooks are Turkish so the food is absolutely authentic. Here’s the rundown of what we ate.

Tzatziki - a dip made with yoghurt, diced cucumber and plenty of garlic and mint.

Tzatziki – a dip made with yoghurt, diced cucumber and plenty of garlic and mint

A dip with eggplant and curry -- that one might not be too Ottoman Empire-inspired but it was delicious.

A dip with eggplant and curry — this one might not be too Ottoman Empire-inspired but it was delicious.

Labneh: a tart yoghurt cheese. This one was sprinkled with za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture usually involving -- among other things -- sumac and sesame seeds.

Labneh: a tart yoghurt cheese. It was sprinkled with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture usually involving — among other things — sumac and sesame seeds.

A stunning dish of fried eggplant with pomegranate molasses, honey and pomegranate seeds.

A stunning dish of fried eggplant with pomegranate molasses, honey and pomegranate seeds.

Falafel (fried chickpea bals) on a bed of hummus (a dip made from mashed chickpeas)

Falafel (fried chickpea balls) on a bed of hummus (a dip made from mashed chickpeas)

Half-eaten fattoush: a many veggie salad with fried pita bread and more za'attar.

Half-eaten fattoush: a many veggie salad with fried pita bread and more za’atar.

The Pollo di Gerusalemme: incredibly succulent with hints of cinnamon and paprika. This is one of my favorite dishes. Luckily, hanging out with a couple of vegetarians meant I didn't have to share.

The Pollo di Gerusalemme is incredibly succulent with hints of cinnamon and paprika. It is one of my favorite dishes – anywhere. Luckily, hanging out with a couple of vegetarians meant I didn’t have to share.

I love this place and if you are looking for something a little bit different, I’ll bet you will too. It’s very reasonably priced. Mezé Bistrot is open for dinner every night and at lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday. Best of all, they do take out and, for orders over 20 Euros, they’ll deliver. Ooh, I just looked at their website and they’ve started offering cooking classes too!

Mezé Bistrot, Via di Monteverde 9B, Rome. Tel: 0658204749

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