What a great town Bologna turned out to be. It is known as one of the foodie hotspots in Italy – mortadella, balsamic vinegar and of course the real bolognese sauce come from there.
Bologna is traditionally described as fat, red and wise referring to its food, rooftops (and politics!) and the fact it has the oldest university in Europe.
For those of you in Europe this is a perfect weekend destination especially as the three main streets are pedestrianised on weekends and it is the kind of place to wander around and browse. Open air food markets on Saturday and retro market on Sunday were great.
Our excellent foodie tour was with CiaoItalia and we had a good meal at Il Tinello – relaxed and friendly environment.
And the whole weekend was made extra special as my friends Sylvie and Andrew came out from London for the weekend. I’ve known Sylvie since I was about 4 and as teens she was obsessed with Marc Bolan and for me it was David Cassidy! We used to shop together then and it seems like nothing much has changed.
Ice cream flavours in Bologna – raspberry and red wine (!), cheesecake and wild berries and marscapone.
Next stop – week in Venice for the Biennale and some sightseeing too.
Two days of what feels like non stop eating as participated in back to back foodie walks and tastings in Florence and then in Bologna (more of which in next post).
The quality of fresh produce is spectacular and can you believe the size of those scallions/shallots/spring onions in top left below?
Savoury tastings included a flat pastry made from chick peas – something the Italians invented when ordinary flour was in short supply. Of course it wouldn’t be an Italian meal without some salami and other cured meats and cheese plus some pasta washed down with good local wine. The map at the bottom right is a great way of seeing which part of this region is famous for what food. Balsamic vinegar made in Modena which is close to Bologna is fantastic – the longer it ages the thicker it gets. Some 25 year aged balsamic go for over 100 Euros and because the aging also sweetens and strengthens the taste a few drops are often served on top of ice cream.
By the way, on the topic of gelati – I haven’t given up eating it but forgot to add new flavours – so, dark chocolate, stacciatella, crema inglese, salted caramel. Tricks for spotting good gelati are: it should be in metal containers away from the light. If you see mounds or worse “heaped” mounds on display it is probably not fresh (it should be made in small batches every day). Also check the colour of pistachio – if it is bright green it is full of food colouring. It should be a greyish/browny colour (not necessarily as pretty) but way tastier. Cone or cup? That’s personal choice. Here is the lady who prepared my two scoops who clearly enjoys her job. But then, who wouldn’t?
And let us not forget cakes and chocolates – often sold in shops that are specialist and long standing. Suffice to say they are very good with a penchant towards smooth praline fillings – completely irresistible.