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Emilia Romagna: Food lover's paradise

Emilia Romagna: Food lover's paradise
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  • Emilia Romagna: Food lover's paradise

    Post #1 - May 13th, 2024, 7:14 am
    Post #1 - May 13th, 2024, 7:14 am Post #1 - May 13th, 2024, 7:14 am
    We were in Emilia Romagna last month. We went there with high expectations (Bologna is known as 'la grassa' due to its rich food). The region, and the food and wine specifically, smashed those expectations. It was one of the best food trips we've ever taken. I'm not planning to post the details of every meal but I thought I'd write up a few highlights.
    We made Bologna our home base with day trips to Ravenna, Firenze, Modena by train, and a private food tour around Modena that included a visit to a dairy where they make Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and an acetaia that produces DOP certified traditional balsamic vinegar.

    Markets/food stalls:
    We didn’t really do any cooking but it was fun to browse.
    My favorite was probably the central market in Modena
    This mushroom stand made me want to weep, especially the morels!

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    Mercato delle erbe in Bologna was also great

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    Also, I could totally live in a city that has wine vending machines:

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    Restaurant highlights:
    We ate so well there it’s hard to select the top meals but I would rank our top three as: Ahimè and Trattoria da me in Bologna, and Ristretto in Modena. Honorable mention to Buca di San Francesco, where we ate twice after picking it at random our first night in Bologna. We did not have a single bad meal on this trip. I did not get one bit sick of famous Bolognese dishes like tortellini in brodo, lasagna Bolognese, friggione (a new to me braise of onions and tomatoes), piadine, crescentine (fried gnocchi), tigelle, prosciutto di Parma…


    Ahimè
    https://www.ahime.it/
    Via S. Gervasio, 6e, Bologna

    Ahimè is known for its creative take on regional food. They have their own farms outside of Bologna where they grow vegetables and raise livestock for meat served at the restaurant. I made the mistake of looking at Trip Advisor (which has some abysmal reviews of Ahimè) and I’m so glad I ignored the reviews and booked a reservation. The food here was just incredible. Unfortunately, I did not take good notes and the menu constantly changes. Highlights (as I remember them) were the miso braised onions, a broccoli sprout salad, eliche pasta with leeks, and the beef cheek steak with parsnips and chimichurri.

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    Trattoria da Me
    trattoriadame.it
    Via S. Felice, 50a, Bologna

    Trattoria da Me is an interesting blend of innovative and traditional with some molecular gastronomy element in the mix. Everything we had was delicious. While we enjoyed the inventive dishes very much, I have to highlight their lasagna (available only on Sunday) as one of the best things I ate on the trip.

    Lasagna
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    Ravioli with parmesan liquid and prosciutto
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    Tortellini in brodo
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    Veal cheek braised in Sangiovese
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    Pork ribs
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    We did not make it to Massimo Bassura’s Francescana but we loved our meal at Ristretto in Modena, which is apparently where the chefs from Francescana like to have lunch

    Ristretto
    Vicolo Camillo Coccapani, 5, 41121 Modena
    https://www.ristrettovicolococcapani.com

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    Gnocchi fritti, peppers, prosciutto
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    Tortellini in parmesan cream sauce
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    Spaghetti alla chittara with shrimp and asparagus
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    Penne carbona (the one dish we did not love here)
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    Trattoria Buca di San Francesco
    Piazza Malpighi, 14, Bologna

    We found this place looking for a place to have dinner in ‘our neighborhood’ shortly after arriving in Bologna and it was so good, we went back on last night. The people there are lovely and the food was excellent. On both nights, they got our orders wrong but we happily accepted what came to the table. I didn’t take many pictures there but the lasagna, gramigne, tagliolini with friggione, tortellini in brodo were all excellent.

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    Here's a picture of when they mistakenly brought us two charcuterie plates—one with prosciutto and burrata, the other with mixed charcuterie (including my favorite, culatello, and of course some mortadella) and squacquerone (delicious soft, tangy cow’s milk cheese).

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    I’ll post a little more later about other random food experiences.
  • Post #2 - May 13th, 2024, 3:23 pm
    Post #2 - May 13th, 2024, 3:23 pm Post #2 - May 13th, 2024, 3:23 pm
    40 Euros/Kg is currently about $19.50/lb. A little steep but the sheer quantity there is staggering!
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - May 14th, 2024, 10:40 am
    Post #3 - May 14th, 2024, 10:40 am Post #3 - May 14th, 2024, 10:40 am
    $19.50/lb for morels? I would consider that a deal.
  • Post #4 - May 14th, 2024, 10:49 am
    Post #4 - May 14th, 2024, 10:49 am Post #4 - May 14th, 2024, 10:49 am
    Becca,

    Thanks for sharing this epic trip. I know it's not fashionable to mention him these days but Mario Batali used to sing the praises of the region quite frequently. Seeing it through your eyes and lens is just awesome.

    Puckjam wrote:$19.50/lb for morels? I would consider that a deal.

    Indeed. Even purchased in bulk from a high-end restaurant supplier, I recently paid about 25% more.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #5 - May 18th, 2024, 8:05 am
    Post #5 - May 18th, 2024, 8:05 am Post #5 - May 18th, 2024, 8:05 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Becca,

    Thanks for sharing this epic trip. I know it's not fashionable to mention him these days but Mario Batali used to sing the praises of the region quite frequently. Seeing it through your eyes and lens is just awesome.


    =R=


    Thanks Ronnie! We really loved the region (and not just for the food). I highly recommend it for a less touristy Italy experience!


    Just wanted to post on a few other food specialties from the area (many were new to me)

    Tigelle (seen in basket in background): flatbreads similar to English muffins. The terminology was a little confusing. They’re called crescentine in Modena and tigelle in Bologna. In Bologna, crescentine are fried puffy squares of enriched dough which are called gnocchi fritti in Modena.

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    Crescentine/Gnocchi Fritti

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    The crescentine were my favorite because, well, fried dough. But the tigelle are the breads I plan to try at home—I loved having these warm with a big pile of prosciutto, mortadella, and culatello.

    Mortadella (seen here on pizza with pistachio pesto). I have to say that mortadella has not historically been my favorite type of cured meat but I did develop more of an appreciation for it on this trip. I didn’t get a good pic of my favorite, culatello. The prosciutto (di Parma) was also consistently incredible (Parma is less than an hour from Bologna by train).

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    Piadine: these flatbreads are ubiquitous in cafes and sandwich shops. The best one I had was in Ravenna with sausage and friggione. Friggione is a condiment made from slow cooking onions and adding some passata. Through some type of braising alchemy, the simple ingredients turn into a magical dish. I’ve already tried making it once, with some success and this is definitely a dish I’ll be adding to repertoire.

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    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    We did a private food tour with Taste Bologna https://www.tastebologna.net/ and had a great experience. Here are a few pictures from a dairy outside Modena where they make parmigaino-reggiano. We got to try cheese aged for different amounts of time. I actually like the 24 month the best. With longer aging, the cheese gets sharper but also drier and more crumbly.

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    They also make handmade pasta at the dairy—the filled pastas in the region were unbelievable!

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    We took a class with Carmelita at Cook Italy https://www.cookitaly.com/about/ and made garganelli and ricotta filled tortelli and learned some great tips (we were told the tortellini were a little too advanced for us but maybe after some more practice, I’ll try them here).


    We also visited Acetaia Meloria 1903 where they make DOP balsamic vineagar https://www.acetaiameloria1903.it/

    I loved seeing this—I think as someone who appreciates tradition and food and its history, it really struck a chord with me. The acetaia is behind an old villa—the woman who gave us the tour is the great-granddaughter of the founder. She trained as a lawyer but changed career paths to keep the family business going because of the importance of family and history. We brought back some of the vinegar—it’s incredible and I’m planning to mail order some more later this year for holiday gifts.

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    Thanks to my daughter, we tried a LOT of gelato. Oggi Gelato was definitely our favorite.
    The pistachio is the best I ever had. They also had excellent shortbread served with dipping chocolate hazelnut sauce.

    https://oggigelato.it/

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    We never got to try Agretti, a seasonal vegetable/green that everyone seemed excited about (apparently it has a short season and is hard to come by), but I was curious about it. Has anyone seen this here?

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