Saturday, October 25, 2008

Full of Bologna and Beyond!

Hello Foodies,

When you visit Bologna, be prepared to eat - mortadella, tortellini, lasagna, ragu, culatello, and that's just the beginning! There is no such thing as a small portion either and you'll be glad. Soon enough you will realize that everyone makes their own Ragu, all family recipes, and each chef thinks they make the best. Mangia and decide.

Tour de Forks culinary adventurers began eating at Trattoria Annamaria, a trattoria serving the typical food of the region. We devoured a tasting menu of tortelini en brodo (a rich, flavorful broth that warms you from the tip of your toes on up), tortelloni burro e salvia (in butter and sage) that was to die for, and a taglietelle al Ragu. All the pasta is homemade and delicate, and you can taste what each is stuffed with. Anna Maria came out and yelled at our group because we were not eating enough. It's a great stop on your visit to Bologna - and the address is Via Belle Arti, 17/18, Telephone is 39-(051) 26-6894.

We had an espresso tasting at Caffe Terzi where we sampled 5 espressos from all over the world. They roast their own coffee. An elegant place to stop for a coffee anytime of day and also have a pastry as well. The address is Via Oberdan, 10, Telephone is 39-7918931.

Then we lunched at A.F. Tamburini Antica Salsamenteria Bolognese at Via Caprarie, 1, Telephone 39-051234726. This is the best place to have your first plate of salami misto - a plate of the most amazing cured meats you'll ever eat.

The restaurant that Tour de Forks fell in love with is Trattoria Amerigo dal 1934 on Via Marconi 14-16, Savigno - this is on the outskirts of Bologna and not easy to get to but worth the trip. Our group thought this was one of the best meals they've ever eaten. The outstanding appetizer - Tigelle flatbread with parmigiano gelato and traditional balsamic vinegar. We tried to get the recipe but they would not divulge it. It's a small scoop of parmigiano, cream and a secret ingredient that is made in an ice cream maker. It's thick, rich, and creamy and melts in your mouth. The homemade pasta brings the classics of this region to a new level. Super light and delicate. We ate everything - two types of pasta - taglietelle with bolognese sauce and parmigiano tortelli with ham, shallot and balsamic. The latter was similar to a tiny soup dumpling - a creamy onion soup exploded in your mouth. For main course, we loved the Barbera braised veal cheek wiht potato puree and crispy bolognese onion and the other choice was Bolognese stockfish prepared according to three different methods: artusi, local traditional, and whipped. Unfortunately, no one chose the rabbit. For the dolci, gelato with traditional balsamic vinegar, and simply stated, there is no bad choice at this restaurant for any part of the meal.

From Bologna, we ventured on to Parma where we went to a rare performance of Verdi's opera "Joan of Arc" part of the Verdi Opera festival. We also viewed a special Correggio exhibition. On our trips we also feed our hunger for the arts.

Once sated, we left for our next part of the adventure - a visit to a 300 year old renovated castle called Corte Pallavicina located on the banks of the Po River. This is the home of Massimo Spigaroli. Massimo's family has been making culatello (the ferrari of prosicutto) for years. His great grandfather made it for Verdi. We learned all about the sacred process of making this amazing cured ham. We even meet the special black pigs it's made from. Massimo has been advising Prince Charles about his pigs. Royal pigs were due to visit his farm several days after our visit. Massimo is determined to have the Prince producing culatello as well. We'll see. Massimo has a huge heart and love for what he does. He also shares his passion with everyone he meets and it's contagious. Massimo, also a chef, gave our group a five hour cooking class that involved the eating of our efforts. We made regional pasta and risotto specialties. When we were done, Massimo presented each of us with a diploma. Not only did we pass the course but Massimo will be in our hearts (and stomachs) forever.

Mangia bene,


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tour de Forks in Emilia Romagna!

Hello Foodies!

Tour de Forks is about to start its first tour to Emilia Romagna so there will be lots to report. Consider us your official source for Bologna! I arrived around lunchtime and tonight is the night before our tour's official beginning. I found a fabulous place for apperitivi. A wonderful custom where you order a drink and the bar serves wonderful food. It's similar to a happy hour in the U.S. but a thousand times better.

We are staying at the Hotel Corona d'Oro and as I wandered to find a place to get a bite to eat, I saw a fabulous bar just around the corner called Bar Bistro Cocoa on 14-A Via Altabila. I ordered a vino bianco from Sicily which was perfect. They served a yummy shaved fennel salad (divine), a baby arugula salad with large white beans, then all types of bread from piadina to toast covered with fennel, bean dips, and cheese & cured meat toppings. This place had a lot of style and the staff were welcoming and fun. If you're ever in Bologna, stop and have a glass of wine and a nibble, it's just what you do there!


the Forks