As I was walking off the copious amounts of food from Bolognese cuisine, I did plenty of people watching. The city seems to be made of brick. There are covered promenades, some with frescoes. Cheeses and cured meats are offered in tiny storefronts. It was the home of Europe’s first university in the 11th century, with alumni like Dante Alighieri and Copernicus. Continue reading “A Weekend in Bologna ~ Faces in Phones, Jesus and Leaning Towers”
Bologna, known as “La Grassa” or “The Fat One”, is arguably the most delicious city in Italy, which is saying a lot. Parma ham, Parmigiano cheese, Balsamic vinegar, tortellini, lasagna, mortadella and home made pasta all call this region home. Continue reading “EATing in Bologna ~ It’s Famous for a Reason”
It’s no surprise that Bologna cooks it up big. CIBO (Also: Culinary Institute of Bologna) is Italian for food, and this is the best eating city in Italy. I found a little place off the main street called Trattoria Del Rosso (Via Augusto Righi 30). I was learning that to make it from noon to the eight or nine o’clock dinner time for Italians, I’d need to order a primo and secondo piatto. First up: Tagliatelle con ragu.
Perfect homemade sauce, fresh Parmigiano, bread to clean up the meat, and a deep red wine to match. Next was the biggest surprise of the trip for me. I asked for a meat recommendation, and he told me the unappetizing sounding “stinco.” It means shin. I said, “Si, grazie.” About 40 minutes later, this comes out…
The two men next to me shared a plate of this, and they seemed very full afterwards. It was a delicious struggle to finish. The meat was outstanding; rosemary potatoes; lovely afternoon meal. I was loaded with food and made my way to Ravenna before darting off to San Marino for sunset.
Finally arriving in Rimini after dark, I asked the young lady at my cute hotel Hotel Fra i Pini for a place to eat. She told me to go to the Old American Bar (Viale Giuseppe Mazzini 25). I was surprised to find basically the most layered and delicately flavored pizza I’ve had yet. It was called barsciola? and had sausage, onion, truffle oil, rucola, garlic and mozzarella. I finally met a pizza I couldn’t finish.
I stayed the night in the outskirts of Verona. One night at a random hotel in the city was 150 euro, so I drove past hookers standing on the roadside and made it to my little place, Hotel Gelmini. They had excellent wifi and served a real nice breakfast in the morning. Heading south now, I was surprised by the impressive entrance to Mantova.
It was a nice causeway toward an ancient city where Romeo held out and mostly cried during his banishment from nearby Verona. Parma was my next stop and I was getting hungry. Traditionally, the Emilia-Romagna region holds the secrets of Italy’s best food. Lasagna, Bolognese sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, tortellini and prosciutto among others’ have their roots here. I used Google again, and it led me to Trattoria del Tribunale (Vicolo Politi 5). It was just off the main square. I ordered a plate of parmigiano, and anyone who has seen the famous Sunny “philanthropist” episode where Charlie eats cheese before meeting a woman, and Dennis replies that “Any amount of cheese before a date is too much cheese, Charlie!” Well, I ordered too much cheese.
It was delicious and had a little crunch as you chewed. A few drops of balsamico only added to the flavor. I ate half and saved the rest for my pasta.
It was Tagliolini with Culotello. Honestly, the noodles tasted like the best kind of Ramen. After a big lunch, I walked the streets and found many of these little stores, specializing in the quality food of the region. People ordering had the look of students computing calculus in their heads. Each choice of ham or cheese was a delicate decision that required much consideration.
Back in the car and headed to the balsamic vinegar capital, Modena. I felt heavy with formaggi, and needed something light. I got real lucky finding this gem of a gelato place. One young guy, Gianluca, owns and operates it and told me he spends 14 hours a day there. His recipes are perfectly balanced and low in added sugar. The cones he shapes to look like a flower (ergo the name, BLOOM). This place set the new bar for gelato. It was among the best I’ve had, “the best Jerry.” I ordered a mango and blueberry. Then, it was so good, I got a raspberry and chocolate.
(Somehow, I lost all the photos of Modena and Bologna, so it’s just imagination from here.)
Now headed to Bologna for the night where I got a cheap price in a 4 star hotel. I still needed something light to eradicate my cheese-laden gullet, and found a nice local place, Fraiese (Via Emilia Ponente 22). The waiter with no neck recommended the branzino, which was excellent in Croatia, so let’s try it again. It was a nice salty fish with tender white flesh.
It came with the vegetables I picked from the buffet area. It’s so nice to pick apart a fish and be left with the bony body like a hungry cartoon cat.