The cuisine of Emilia Romagna

A short guide to the food of Bologna, Modena and Parma

by Gabriele Monti  November 8th, 2012

Tortellini alla Panna

Lovers of Italian food have labelled the Regione Emilia-Romagna as “the bread-basket of Italy.” It’s easy to see why. The historic cities of Parma, Modena and Bologna are famed  for their food, from the air cured and delicate prosciutto (Parma ham), parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese) and traditional aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar) – some of the quintessential ingredients  of Italian cooking. The verdant Po Valley has given rise to agricultural practices that produce some of the most flavoursome and robust ingredients in the country.

Starters.

When visiting Parma, Modena and Bologna, the starters are most likely to be slices of Parma ham, culatello, Salame di Felino, and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Parma ham has a delicate sweet savouriness that it is unique to this air cured ham. Culatello has also a unique and distinctive savouriness and every bite keeps giving our flavour, with hints of aromas like black pepper. Parmesan cheese is the quintessential savoury flavour, unique and inimitable, due to the long fermenting ageing.

 

First courses: Pasta Dishes

Fresh egg  pasta in Emilia-Romagna is an artistic affair. Indeed, the cooks of this region are believed to be the masters of fresh pasta, producing distinct varieties of stuffed tortellini, and Tortelloni. Such pastas are recognised by their intricate and delicate shapes, as well as their rich fillings, which usually include pork or soft ricotta cheese.

Tortellini or Cappelletti

These attractive little pasta dumplings are filled with the best meats of the region – prosciutto, mortadella (a local variety of sausage) and ground pork. There are many old legends as to how tortellini originally came about. The most popular tale comes from Modena, near the Castelfranco Emilia. Lucrezia Borgia checked into an inn there, and the host was so captivated by her beauty that he spied on her through the keyhole of her private room. He only got a glimpse of her navel, but was so thrilled by this sight that he immediately went to the kitchen and attempted to recreate it in the form of pasta. And thus tortellini  were born. For the real connoisseur they are only  served in the famous Emilian capon broth, but a cream version is also available in most restaurants.

Tortelloni

This is a larger version of tortellini, squares of egg pasta (in Emilia Romagna is commonly called sfoglia) are folded into triangle and folded one more time into a hat shape. They are commonly filled with spinach, ricotta cheese and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  They are  served with a sauce – butter and sage being a local favourite, but also with a nice tomato sauce with a leaf of basil.

Passatelli

To your surprise this time it is not going to be a pasta dish. Passatelli is the poor man meal made into an elegant and refined dish, and if you visit Bologna in the winter months, it would be a sin not to have passatelli. This dish consist of dumpling made of bread crumbs, egg,  and parmesan cheese. This is worked and turned into a dough and pressed through a die to obtain the classic shape. The dumplings are then served in a rich capon broth.

Zuppa reale

Along Passatelli, Zuppa reale is one of the less known dishes of the Emilian cuisine but well worth the hunt. Zuppa reale is a sort of spongy omelette like cake which is cut into cubes and served in the capon broth. The ingredients are flour, eggs, a lot of parmesan cheese, butter. The dough is cooked in the oven until golden crispy and spongy inside, then left to cool a little and cut into bite size dumpling.

Meat Dishes

Emilia-Romagna has a thousand-year history of raising swine – making it one of the most distinguished Italian regions for pork. Local pork dishes are layered in flavour, rich and hearty, and are perfect for chilly winter evenings. Veal is also a popular meaty option.

Zampone from Modena

Emilia-Romagna is famous for its decadent range of preserved meats and salamis. Zampone of Modena  is a unique local treat that is often eaten at Christmas time. This winter sausage was born in 1510. Modena was under siege at the time, and food had to be preserved. As a result, ground pork, rind and other cuts were salted and stuffed into a de-boned pig’s trotter. These days, zampone is served with lentils and washed down with Lambrusco DOC.

Cotolette alle Bolognese

Tagliatelle alla  Bolognese (it’s actually called tagliatelle al ragu in Italy) is not the only famous dish to emerge from Emilia-Romagna’s historical capital, Bologna. This original veal parmigiana consists of breaded veal topped with shavings of parmesan cheese. It can be  also layered with prosciutto, but for an authentic and complex speciality white truffles are added as a final touch.

Bollito Misto

As the tortellini go with the broth, the meat is normally eaten as a second course. When visiting Bologna you should ask for the Carrello dei Bolliti, literally the boiled meat trolley. The waiter will oblige and push to your table a serving trolley full of succulent boiled meats. Here you will find capon, boiler chicken, beef briskets, as well as beef tongue for the  more daring. The meats sliced thinly and served with salsa verde or mostarde. Salve verde is a condiment made with a base of parley and cooked carrots, boiled eggs, olive oil, vinegar, the recipes varies from location to location. Mostarda is more typical in the northern areas of Emilia Romagna and consist of fruits cooked in a light mustard sugary syrup.

 

Desserts

Many sweet dishes of Emilia-Romagna originated from traditional festivals highlighting the weeks before Easter. People would often indulge in sugary treats on Shrove Tuesday before the period of abstinence marked by Lent.

Tagliatelle Dolci

This sweet resemble to original pasta dish is one such Shrove Tuesday invention. Strands of tagliatelle are deep-fried, and then coated in honey. This is a popular dessert throughout Bologna. It can also be topped with sugar, cinnamon or lemon zest.

Zuppa Inglese

This directly translates to “English Soup,” but it actually refers to the Italian version of English trifle. During the 16th century, the rulers of Ferarra met with Elizabethan statesmen from England, and this contact introduced them to the delicious custardy dessert. The Italian diplomats fell in love with it, and attempted to make it using local ingredients. The Emilian version consists of pan di spagna (sponge cake), or savoiardi (finger biscuits), thick custard and Alchermes, an aromatic herb liqueur.

These are just a few of the dishes you will discover on a gastronomic journey of Emilia-Romagna. Its culinary legacy is sometimes rustic, but also elegant and refined – and is considered one of the best in all of Italy.

Digestive liquors

A meal in Italy is not finished without a shot of your favourite digestive. In Modena we have the dark and aromatic Nocino made from unripe walnuts which are steeped into pure alcohol, and sugar. The liquid is aged into oak or hash barrels for a minimum of 6 years. In Parma you will be likely to be served Barniolino. This liqueur is made from the berry of the wild growing hawthorn berries steeped into alcohol and sugar. The liquid has hints of strawberry  and cherries  with a pleasant bitterness.

Wines of Emilia Romagna.

Wines in the region and often sparkling red, this is unique characteristic of our products. In fact Lambrusco (Modena) and Gutturnio (Piacenza) are wines that in the tradition where double fermented in their bottles. This would give rise to a first alcoholic fermentation and then a second one which gives the bubbles to the wine. Lambrusco is a wine that is enjoyed young, often the year after the harvest, and it certainly lends itself to accompany the rich local cuisine. Remember that the perfect lambrusco is a dry wine, with an evanescent froth, purple in colour (Grasparossa variety) with hints of violet flowers.

 

 

Planning a vacation in Emilia Romagna, Italy?

by Marcelo Pinto November 3rd 2012

A region such as Emilia Romagna can offer the discerning and demanding traveller a perfect vacation, not just something, but everything: art, culture, nature, history, leisure, wellness, relaxation, sea, mountains and good food.

Only a few other regions in Europe can boast all of this this: from the splendid city of art, dotted with monuments that trace back to ancient origins, small medieval villages clinging to the hills, The churches in the middle of green scenery, the myriad of castles imposing sumptuous amongst the green countryside.

It is not just for those seeking relaxation and tranquillity, there are dozens of places that offer health, beauty and activities. The Adriatic sea, equipped with beach resorts for the summer tourism catering for young people who are attracted to the vibrant night-life of the beach. The coast also has other jewels to offer, just think of the Regional Park of the Po’ Delta, one of the most important wetlands in Italy with unique flora and fauna and amazing scenery.

The hinterland and the Apennines, with miles of trails ideal for hiking or excursions into the woods, lakes and waterfalls, some are protected areas where nature is still intact. If that was not enough, the region boasts the best eno-gastronomic scenario, in fact one of the most sumptuous in the world: Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di Modena, Culatello, Felino salami, Cotechino di Modena, all awarded the PDO and PGI. They are also accompanied by robust and sincere wines such as Lambrusco, Albana, Sangiovese. These are just some of the delicacies that made the Emilia Romagna the kingdom of taste and good food.

Last but not least, we are in the land of motor sports, home to the factories of famous brands that have made the history like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati. It is also where where major events are hosted at the Imola circuit in Misano Adriatico. Is this enough for a vacation?

 

Venice Food Crawl – The Culture of Cicchetti

A Cicchetti Tour of Venice

Cicchetti al bottegon

Emilia Delizia Venice food tour. Our company would be delighted to organise a Venice food tour for your group, family, friends or company incentive travel. Our culinary activities are great for those wanting to explore the best Italian food traditions.

Venice food tour highlights.

Imagine that you are exploring the sights of Venice, that magical place that has welcomed travellers and explorers since the Middle Ages. In this city without cars, you can walk for hours, enjoying both the well-known sights such as St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and  the Piazza San Marco. Naturally, this is bound to leave you hungry and thirsty. What better way to combine exploration with refreshment than participating in the tradition known as the cicchetti crawl? Cicchetti are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. You can easily sample a world of traditional, delicious Venetian cuisine and atmospheric tavernas, for a modest expenditure, over the course of an afternoon or evening.

The delicious food of Venice.

Since Venice is a city dominated by the sea it is no surprise that its food culture is dominated by the sea also: by deliciously fresh and abundant seafood, including cuttlefish, octopus, cod, sardines and shrimp. Meats, both fresh and cured, are also widely used in Venetian dishes, as is pasta and risotto rice. Fresh local vegetables such as artichokes from Sant-Erasmo and, in the spring, white asparagus, when fried or grilled, also become delicious cicchetti.

A culinary tour of Venice’s cicchetti bars will reward you with a world of tastes. To begin your cicchetti adventure, look for places called bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve these traditional snack foods. Traditional cicchetti are simple: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. Modern cicchetti include these dishes, but they also can be much more elaborate – dinners in miniature.

Cicchetti are accompanied by small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot) known as ombra, or shade. These mini glasses of wine were long ago nicknamed ombra, after the wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. Or perhaps you would like to drink an aperitivo – a pre-dinner drink designed to whet your appetite. In Venice, the traditional Spritz is often based on sparkling wine such as Prosecco (a dry white sparkling wine), mixed with sparkling water and flavored with bitters.These amari (bitters) include the ruby red bitters Campari or Select (made of herbs and fruits), bright orange Aperol (with bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona), and Cynar (containing artichokes and several herbs). These aperitivo are fairly low in alcohol content, so are the perfect drink to choose while roaming between bacari.

Bacari and osterias in Venice.

Some of the best seafood-based cicchetti can be found in San Polo. Many osteria are near the Rialto Fish Market. At Cantina Mori (San Polo 429), which has been in business since the 15th century, you can try octopus and baccala’ (salt cod). Sarde in saor, or sardines fried in olive oil with onions, pine nuts and raisins, is found there also. Baccala’ is one of the most popular cicchetti; a creamy salt cod, it is served either on its own or on toast. At Pronto Pesce (319 San Polo), also near the Rialto Fish Market, you can savour swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style. If you prefer meat, try a hearty plate of polpette (meatballs), often served with an aioli sauce. Polpette, as well as prosciutto, pate and bread rounds topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms await you at All’Arco (San Polo 436), near the Rialto Bridge.

Tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta are also popular cicchetti. Try squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp at Osteria Bancogiro (Campo San Giacometto, San Polo). Risotto and pasta dishes are also delicious  – try the risotto Parmigiana or the ravioli at Osteria Vivaldi (calle della Maddonetta, San Polo). Tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) may also accompany drinks in traditional bacari. Made from special, soft white bread, they are stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna.

Refreshed by cicchetti and an aperitivo or an ombra, you may now continue your explorations. This food tour is a delicious way to relax, recharge, and sample the best of Venice’s cuisine – and in doing so, getting to know Venice and her people, too. We offer cooking classes in Venice and check here for some ideas about eating like a local in Venice.

Where to Eat Cicchetti in Venice, our Bacari Food Tour.

You are likely to be that enthusiastic traveler, who has learned all about cicchetti. These are very nice snacks that you can eat as you sip your glass of wine. Sometimes it is great when you get a guide; who will take you to all the cool cicchetti joints. The case is different if you are the adventurous type. You simply like walking around, and finding out places on your own. With a simple glance at the main page of this site, you will notice that once you book a tour, a guide is assigned to you. You should not get hard on yourself. The Emilia Delizia Venezia Tood Tour cares about your well being, and is ready to show you the best places where you can quickly hop into and get your snack. As they say Venezia is the city without cars, you should be at least ready to know a place or two.

 

Cantina Do Spade Chicchetti Tour.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Mozzarella in Carrozza

You should remember by now that the only place where you can eat your cicchetti in Venezia or Italy, is in a bacari and an osteria. Cantina do Spade is one of the oldest Venetial osterie’s. It is located several steps from Rialto. Once you have had your pleasant walking experience in Venezia. You should set the mood of your day to delightful. This place boasts to have served people for 568 years. Your mood will be set once you have sampled the wine tastings offered here. The next step is to try at least two cicchetti dishes. These are:

First is the Bussolai—they are round pieces from heaven.

Next is the mussel soup. If you have never seen it, a simple look at it would make your mouth water.

Tiramisú looks like a glorious cake with chocolate sprinkled on top of it. If you have ever taken the Spanish tapas, you’ll really wish you had discovered Tiramisú earlier.

The Mozzarella in carozza are another special piece. They come with this appealing golden color. They are really something to taste.

If you are a lover of seafood then you are in luck. They have squids in black with polenta; small octopuses; bigoli in salsa; and finally squid ink bigoli.

You should try to reserve a table at this place. If you don’t you will be missing out on excellent cicchetti, and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

 

Un Mondo Di Vino Bacari Tour in Venice.

At the height of your tour; you should also consider visiting the Un Mondo Di Vino wine bar. It is located in Salizada San Canzian 5984/a, 5984 Venezia, Italy. One of the reasons you should be here; even aside from the food offered is because; this wine bar has been rated as 184th restaurant in Venezia. A certificate of excellence is proof of it. If you are that person who moves across places looking for traditional cicchetti at bacaris; this is the right place. You will have saved your self hours of search. Most customers have claimed that you can only find the best Venetian cicchetti here. Once you are here; some of the things that you will experience are:

A wide range of seafood you can select from.

A satisfying environment—the breeze will hold you in comfort.

Also, there are great varieties of wine you can pick from, talk of wonderful wine tastings.

There is one experience here that you will never find anywhere else. The restaurant allows you to either sit or stand while standing, it is pretty much like a tradition. You are also expected to serve yourself.

 

Osteria Ai Storti Venice.

Osteria Ai Storti Venice
Osteria Ai Storti Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similar to Catina do Spade; Osteria ai Storti is close to Rialto. After you have had your walking experience—which is always peasant at times, sometimes it is good to hop into a wine bar; where you get the best wine, and wonderful cicchetti. This restaurant creates a native feel; the staff are warm and welcoming. This is the best place for those who are interested in sampling the Italian culinary culture. If you are really into having the main course meal of cicchetti then your needs will be well catered for here. Fish is served in both the main and second courses. All the food comes with a fresh touch from the Mediterranean. There is a host here who is present to guide you in wine tasting. There is plenty of wine—red and white. You should remember that cicchetti goes well with a sip of wine. Don’t shy away from this wonderful experience. We are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but for this Venezian beauty, we make an exception. It is located in frequent tourist visited area. It is worth checking it out.

Most visitors have commented positively on the cicchetti served here. As one claims, “It was unusual seafood, those Venetian tapas were excellent.” As you can see, you will get the best tapas here; you will also get to dine with the locals, who you’ll get to love. Aside from even having a good culinary experience, being here will allow you to develop your social skills, and also help you appreciate the diversity in this place—Venezia is flooded with tourists. Lastly, the price of the food is pocket friendly. If you are a group then you are in luck. Also, the small size of this place is ideal for customized cicchetti meals. If you are a foreigner, don’t be afraid, someone will understand you.

Antico Dolo

Antico Dolo is located just around Ruga Rialto; this place is ideal for you during your tour. This place is located in the vicinity of fruit, vegetable, and fish markets. Everything is guaranteed to be fresh. All the meals have desserts (many varieties) that make sure you end your dinner in style. The cicchetti here is made with fresh products, there is no need for freezing. If you are always shying away from places that serve frozen food; then you should consider coming here. Lastly, there is a huge selection of both foreign and Italian wine.

Osteria Assassini

osteria assassini
osteria assassini

Osteria Assassini  is no ordinary bacaro it has a fair mix of both the traditional and the modern feel. At lunch time you have an opportunity to get served cicchetti by a host of professionals—who are good at making sure you get the best treatment. A good thing about this place is that the dish menus are changed on a daily basis. This allows you as the visitor to sample the best wines and dishes that go with them. It is open everyday except for Sunday; if you happen to be on tour on this day, then you are out of luck.

 

 

Venice
Venice – image source

Abruzzo Food Tours

Abruzzo food  and wine tours – Italy’s Secret Cornucopia

fish dining experience in abruzzo

Stretching from the steep, snow-capped peaks of the Appennines to the sandy Adriatic coast, Regione Abruzzo is one of Italy best-kept secrets. Indeed, until now, Abruzzo hardly featured on anyone’s Italian tourist agenda. But now, it’s become a hot-spot for travellers looking to go back in time and experience authentic, rural, medieval Italy, untouched by the excesses of modern development and tourism.

Abruzzo is an essential destination for lovers of food and wine. In fact, many renowned Italian chefs came to famous Abruzzese town of Villa Santa Maria to perfect their culinary crafts. Local food has harnessed the best of what the landscape has to offer, and it ranges from earthy, rustic mountain dishes to unique, fresh seafood cuisines.

But, undoubtedly the belle of the ball in Abruzzo is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. It has achieved worldwide renown for being flavoursome, versatile and very affordable. It is one of the most ubiquitous wines of the region, and is grown in all four provinces of l’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara and Chieti. It stands as a testament to the innovations that are happening in regional viticulture, which constantly yield fresh and interesting results.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is easy-to-drink, and can be enjoyed at a young age. It is smooth, low in acidity, and displays a luxurious ruby-to-purple colouring. It has soft and slightly syrupy tannins, which contribute to an all-round flavour of biting cherry underscored by earthy dryness. It can be served with all kinds of tomato-based dishes, such as the notable Abruzzese pasta speciality, maccheroni alla chitarra with spicy tomato sauce.

Fontefico Vasto wine tours in Abruzzo

Abruzzo has held on to agricultural practices that originated in the Middle Ages. The rich, green pastures of the central highlands, in particular, have supported shepherding for centuries. This, in turn, has given rise to a culinary tradition rich in mutton and lamb dishes, the most famous of which is arrosticini.

Arrosticini are long skewers of rich mutton and exemplify the typically rustic country food of the mountainside. The meat, traditionally derived from castrated male sheep, is cut into small cubes and then pierced with a 25-30 cm long spit. Skewers are usually marinated in extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary, and then grilled until cooked.

The time-honoured method of grilling is conducted on an open- style barbecue, locally known as a rustillire or furnacella. The furnacella is designed to support rows upon rows of arrosticini, which can then be easily turned and grilled without falling into the fire. Locals use fattier mutton cuts, ensuring the meat stays juicy and full of flavour after cooking. These skewers are most delicious when eaten with the hands.

Things couldn’t be more different on the coast, where fishing dominates and is the livelihood of many local people. The coastlines of Chieti and Teramo, for instance, still practice some of the oldest fishing methods in the world. The trabocco is a significant example of this heritage.

A trabocco is an ancient Italian fishing apparatus that closely resembles a rickety pier and wooden shack. However, a closer inspection reveals an elaborate agglomeration of pulleys and levers that work together to capture large quantities of fish and shellfish. Long logs of weather-resistant Aleppo pine jut out of the shack at the end of the pier. These logs support large mesh nets that are lowered into the water to catch fish brought in by advantageous currents. Historians believe that this fishing system was first implemented by the Phoenicians.

Most trabocchi are often “pop up restaurants” that serve fresh catches of fish on a daily basis. The visitor can be sure of tasting only the best fish and calamari prepared in typical Abruzzo style. A typical dish is a brodetto, a delicious variation of French bouillabaisse. It is made of a rich rosa tomato broth, stewed with a variety of Adriatic seafoods, such as prawns, monkfish, rockfish and scallops.

Abruzzo is considered one of the wildest regions in Italy, with its vast natural spaces and expansive seascapes. This unique terrain has resulted in a distinctive food heritage that is steeped in centuries of tradition. Abruzzo provides visitors with the rare chance to experience a different side of Italy, and a way of life that has largely been forgotten.

 

Bologna rolling hills, hiking trails, gourmet food and sparkling wines

Emilia Delizia goes to discover the wine and food hidden on the spectacular rolling hills just 30 minutes south of Bologna.

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A visit to the local castle between Bologna and Modena

Pignoletto the king of Bologna wines, with Lambrusco to follow.

When you say wine in Bologna you mean Pignoletto DOC. This wine is of course sparkling in following the best of the Emilia Romagna tradition that command for frothy wines. Opposed to Lambrusco Pignoletto is a whine wine, it is light, refreshing with a pleasant bitterness that it is a characteristic of the clays soils around Bologna. Pignoletto is to marry local dishes, tagliatelle, lasagne, tortellini and of courses it is the best aperitif together with Parmesan cheese that it is produced on these hills between Modena and Bologna. Emila Delizia visited wine producers in Castello di Serravalle a lovely hill top castle where both Lambrusco and Pignoletto are made according to the sparkling tradition of this area.

Vini dei Colli Bolognesi route – Wines and castles of the Bologna hills between the Reno Savena, Samoggia rivers.

This is a very interesting wine route in Italy for those staying in Bologna, you will have the opportunity to explore many castles, churches, hamlets on top of the hills overlooking the vineyards, so no need to travel to Tuscany to have this sort of idyllic Italian country side. The Castello di Serravalle is typical example of well preserved medieval castle between vineyard fields where the foodie and wine connoisseur can sip wine on a tour.

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a view of our beautiful rolling hills

Savigno truffles, porcini, and old fashion osterias.

If you are adventurous and want to explore the Bologna hills between here and Tuscany an afternoon spend in Savigno it is a good bet. the town is lovely and it is one of the most famous truffles towns in Italy, hosting a truffle festivals once a year in October and November. A hidden gem is definitely the Da Amerigo restaurant. The clientèle is mostly Italian and all give excellent reviews about the food here which is made using only excellent ingredients and generous shavings of truffles.

Spilamberto the balsamic vinegar museum and the best ice-creams in the whole world.

Spilamberto or also known in the middle ages as Spina Lamberto, seems to to have given birth to the balsamic vinegar of Modena, it is an age old tradition that has started here from aged and cooked grape juice. In Spilamberto you will find the Traditional balsamic vinegar museum, that it is open to anyone but the guided tours must be booked in advance.

In the corner of the main square just 2 minutes from the Rangoni Castle, you will find an icecream shop called Gelato. The ice creams here are simply sublimes and we have not been able to find a match. The use only organic eggs, sugar, milk and only the best seasonal fruits. The results cannot be described with words you must try it yourself.

hunting down the best ice creams in Italy – Bologna

 

How Parma ham is made

by Marcelo Pinto  July 8th 2012

Italy’s cozy town of Parma has been known for Prosciutto di Parma for over 2,000 years. The secret recipes of these air-dried hams have changed hands throughout history within families. It is a product of man’s passion and skill, combined with nature. The Parma ham has put Italy on the global gastronomic map due to its uniqueness.

The micro-climate of Parma is very conducive to the ham production, with its dry and airy summers and cold winters. Humidity levels are moderate, while the air carries the smell of the sea and chestnut trees. To maintain the high quality of Parma ham, it must be kept away from variations in climate. The production area is restricted to a height less than 900 meters above sea level on the Parma hills, since regions lying above this height face a very cold and long winter. The production area must also be 5 kilometers away from the humid and foggy Via Emilia along the Po River. The limits are the Enza River on the east and the Stirone River on the west, which bring in fragrant sea breezes that roll down into Parma valley.

The curing of the ham is crucial to its quality. It is carried out by natural methods, even though they take as long as 12 months and require immense care, patience and skill. Traditions have evolved over time, with more refined breeding and farming procedures. This has made the pork sweeter and more tender.

Knowing the process of curing the meat is not enough. The ‘master salters’ from Parma have learned from their ancestors how to identify good pork legs, trim the hams by hand and apply salt properly to ensure outstanding quality. The latter is a deciding factor for determining the quality of the curing process and retaining the sweetness of the ham.

The Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham Consortium was established in 1963. It started with 23 members and has now 180 members. Their mission is to maintain the quality and tradition of Parma ham by sticking to natural methods; salt and air are the only additives. With records kept regarding the origin, birth date and breeding method for each pig, all production stages are closely monitored by the Istituto Parma Qualita, an independent certifying body, in keeping with the rules of the Consortium. A special law was even laid down by the Italian government. The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been recently awarded to Parma air-dried ham, giving it copyright over the name.

The pigs from which Parma ham is made have to be heavy and their meat must be soft, yet firm. They have to be born and raised only on an authorized breeding farm in one of the 11 designated Northern and Central regions of Italy. Traditionally they are fed whey, a by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This imparts a unique flavor to their meat.

The hams are exposed to constant cold and humid conditions for 100 days, after which they are kept in large maturing rooms for 3 months. This way they are protected from the sun. The windows are constantly opened and closed for circulation of the countryside air. In the seventh month, a mixture of pork fat and pepper called sugnatura is hand-applied onto the open surface of the meat. This is meant to protect and soften it. The hams are then put in cantina or cellars for at least 5 months, so that they can slowly dry under close supervision. The producers are trained and experienced in detecting any quality defects by the sense of smell. The spillatura is a horse bone needle which is used to check the curing outcome, before assigning the precious label of ‘Parma Ham’.

The ham gets several imprints in the various stages of production. The breeder makes a permanent tattoo onto the hind legs of the piglets, consisting of the month of its birth and the identification code of the farm. At the slaughterhouse, the initials PP (for Prosciutto di Parma) are fire-branded onto the pork legs if they are worthy enough to be sent to the production line as Parma Ham. At the entry to the curing house, the legs are stamped with a metal seal having the Consortium code and the month and year when curing started. After passing all verification and regulatory tests, the legs are finally fire-branded with the 5-pointed Ducal Crown of the Consortium, along with the name, ‘Parma’. The producer’s code is added under the crown. This is the guarantee of a 100% natural and light Parma ham that is a product of age-old traditions.

A slice of Parma ham has a delicious country aroma; it is succulent and thin, with a distinctive salty-sweet taste. It is best enjoyed stand-alone and no other air-dried ham comes close to Parma Ham in bringing you this divine gastronomic experience.

The Wonderful Flavors and Tastes of Modena: A List of Top Restaurants

Ghirlandina
The Ghirlandina tower of Modena

Modena is a dream destination for the food connoisseurs. World famous chef Massimo Bottura practices his culinary art here. Besides his famous restaurant Osteria Francescana, there are other places  around Modena to have an unforgettable dinner or lunch, and each one has their own signature cuisine with special flavors. Massimo Bottura has opened a boutique bistro “La Franceschetta” where you can taste pan-Italian dishes for a very reasonable price. For lunch, Caffe Concerto can be a great choice since they offer buffet for 15 euros only. Among other signature restaurants of Modena, Hosteria Giusti and Aldina are noteworthy. Hosteria Giusti: A Culinary Classic Hosteria Giusti is pure delight for your senses with the antique furniture, the aroma of freshly cooked dishes and rich colors of food. Hosteria Giusti is considered as the oldest deli of the world as it was established in 1605 to serve instantly made black cherry jam. The restaurant is quite small with only four tables inside. During the summertime, four more tables are placed outside. The specialties of Hosteria Giusti include Pappardelle with duck, Capon broth tortellini, Pigeon with balsamic vinegar flavor and Tagliatelle with bacon.  Besides these cuisines, Hosteria Giusti offers two incredibly delicious dishes. First one is stuffed pigs’ trotters with lentils and the other one is Cotechino Fritto Con Zabaione (creamy pork sausage), a traditional recipe from the 17th century.

Osteria Francescana: Where Poetry is Served on Plates Considering the taste of the foods and culinary creativity, Osteria Francescana is definitely a champion! Having the legendary cook Massimo Bottura behind the foods served, their dishes are incomparable with any other restaurant. This restaurant produces everything in-house, even the olive oil. Massimo Bottura has an amazing ability to maintain the fine line between tradition and taste. The environment of the restaurant is quite informal and friendly. However, the price might seem a little bit expensive, but the foods served here make justice to the price. Osteria Francescana is now ranks among top 10 on the list of world’s 50 best restaurants. In his own words, Bottura described his food as ‘a reinvention of the flavors of my youth interpreted through the avant-garde’. Of course, then he spend an amazing youth to be be interpreted through flavors. Taste his celebrated cuisines such as iced puddle of oyster juice, marinated Po River eel and Mollito Misto; you have to agree that he is a poet for foods.

La Franceschetta: Expression of Italy Besides Osteria Francescana, the premium food emporium, Mossimo Bottura has another venture – La Franceschetta. The restaurant shares the same playfulness and passion of Osteria Francescana. Located away from the city center, the restaurant offers a more intimate environment for the food lovers. Marta Pulini, an award winning chef and a master of Italian cuisine, pours art into food in this restaurant. Bottura has a vision to establish Francescheta as a restaurant which will represent the Italian culinary as a whole. Pulini, an expert on pan-Italian foods, is an ideal choice to realize that vision and she has already proved herself. This is an exclusive restaurant in Modena that goes beyond the regional dishes in the pursuit to treat the customers with any dish representing Italy.

Osteria da Ermes: Intimate Taste of the Original Osteria da Ermes is another fine restaurant where you are likely to have the best dining experience during your tour in Italy. Ermes, the owner and chef, is passionate about his foods and his greatest pleasure comes from the satisfaction of the customers. Each dish here is prepared with love and careful attention to the details. Ermes and his wife both are exceptionally friendly and known for their caring and loving attitude towards the visitors. This osteria has no fridge in the kitchen as all the items are brought fresh from the market everyday. The place has no fixed menu either, so every new day comes with a surprise for the food lovers. There’s always a long queue in front of this small, cozy restaurant. So, it is better to get there as early as possible to make sure that you are not missing out this amazing restaurant and all the exotic dishes.

Trattoria Aldina: A Hidden Gem of Modena If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive yet high quality lunch in Modena, Trattoria Aldina is the best place to hit. And go there a bit early, otherwise you might not find a seat in this local gem. A tourist rightly commented that if you eat at Trattoria Aldina, your life will be ‘more complete’. Located across the wonderful market near Duomo, Trattoria Aldina only serves lunch. It is famous for the home made pasta varieties that beat the taste of true Modena traditions. You can expect very fast service and immaculate blend of different flavors and tastes.

Caffe Concerto Modena: Delight at the Heart of Modena Caffe Concerto is located at the center of Modena. Being very convenient to access, this place is a regular destination for the tourists. Wonderfully delicious aperitif and fine wines are the signature mark of Caffe Concerto. It’s a great place to unwind and watch the people all around sitting outside. The restaurant offers reasonably priced buffet lunch and dinner, but you can also just stop by for a cup of cappuccino. Your trip to Modena will remain incomplete unless you visit the great dining places and taste all the incredible dishes prepared by the chefs who took culinary to a different level. Besides the restaurants listed here, there are lot other restaurants all over the town of Modena. Try to explore as many as you can during your stay in Modena.    

Best eateries in Bologna that will not break the bank

If you are after a gourmet weekend in Bologna you should definitely try one of those

by Marcelo Pinto  July 8th 2012

So you’re thinking about visiting Bologna for the very first time and ready to check out famous landmarks like the Pizza Maggiore, Torre degli Asinelli, and Palazzo Comunale.

However, before you jump on a plane and get ready to fly, it’s important to know where you’re going to eat!

In this article you will learn all you need to know about the 5 best Eateries in Bologna. This article will make sure that you won’t go hungry wether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.

 1. La Baita Del Formaggio

La baita del Formaggio is located behind the famous landmark Pizza Maggiore and is a place you must visit if you’re interested in food.

La Baita is known as the most delicious cheese shop in the area. Hungry travelers can take a break and enjoy a tasty lunch of affettati also known as cold cuts.

You can also try yummy cheeses  such as their Parmigiano , delicious fresh ricotta, cheese and ham platters, You can also try various meats and cheeses from around Italy.

The platters are very good value you can have lunch with 10 euros.

 

Trattoria Anna Maria

Trattoria Anna Maria is known for serving excellent tortellini in broth for the last 26 years. Dishes are fairyl priced and  they are definitely worth it. You can expect to spend around €25– €30 for full coursed meal – and , by doing so you are guaranteed to be completely satisfied. Portions are plenty, enough to satisfy any appetite. Here you will find all the excellent pasta dished that made Bologna famous for the food.

The Trattoria Anna Maria is also known for its beautiful kitsch interiors, photo decorated walls of famous diners, and outstanding waiters dressed in red waistcoats while balancing plates piled high with delicious orders.

Taverna dei Lords

Taverna Dei Lords of Lords offers an outstanding cuisine from  traditional Bologna’s repertory at small prices. They have many signature dishes, while also serving  all of the standard traditional meals. Taverna dei Lords offers 3 set menus for lunch that are affordable and tasty. Here you will get an idea about how to eat like a Bolognese here without breaking the bank. The Restaurant also has a very rustic Bologna interior and the friendly waiters will not fail you .

Sobetteria Castiglione icecreams

The Sobetteria Castiglione is located between the gorgeous arch spanning from 1000 and the town entrance of Porta Castiglione.

Sobetteria Castiglione is a well known ice cream shop that uses fresh ingredients and makes desserts to die for. Sobetteria Castiglione prides itself in making each creation just as tasty as the last.

If you’re searching for a place to get dessert after dining at the places listed above Sobetteria Castiglione is the place to go. Bologna is known as the food capital for a reason.

 

 Al Sangiovese

Al Sangiovese is a small romantic restaurant located in Borgo D’Azeglio and very near the gorgeous landmark Piazza Maggiore.

Al Sangiovese is a very traditional eatery with a deep love for the dishes they create. Their welcoming hearts and delicious food is enough to warrant any traveller to dine there.

Good selection of local (and not so local) wines hence the name.

 Bologna for the food traveller

Visiting Bologna for the very first time will be a thrilling adventure that you will never forget. From the famous Landmarks, to the wonderful people, and delicious Eateries …Bologna offers it all.

Convince your friends or significant other and make sure to visit Bologna, Italy once in your lifetime, Within Europe you can fly to Bologna for a weekend and fares tends to be reasonable as well as the hotels. From Bologna also you can explore other foods such as Parmesan, Balsamic vinegar, Parma ham and wines.

Modena Italy Ultimate travel Destination

Duomo di Modena

by Marcelo Pinto  June 18th 2012
Modena Italy is known all over the world, for its fine wine, excellent dining, and being one of the wealthiest and progressive advanced cities in Italy. There are over forty-eight miles of bicycling roads, sixteen movie theaters and twenty-five vast libraries that have survived the online revolution which are just a few of the points that make Modena Italy a travelers hotspot.
In this article you will learn what makes Modena Italy so enticing— in easy to read digestible chucks. And learn why it is truly the Ultimate Leisure Travel Destination.

Top 5 places to see in Modena

1. Modena Cathedral
The Modena Cathedral is one of the main attractions of Modena Italy. The Modena Cathedral is one of the few remaining Romanesque church in Europe. It was created in year 1184 and is consecrated in one of the most recognized Romanesque creations in the world. Modena Cathedral’s patron saint Geminianus’s remains can be found in the cathedral’s crypt.

2. Ghirlandina Tower

The Ghirlandina Tower also referred to as the Torre Della Ghirlandina is the famous bell tower of the Cathedral of Modena. The Ghirlandina Tower stands at an impressive 86/12 meters tall and is the long standing symbol of Modena. The Ghirlandina tower is able to be seen from every direction from the city.
The tower was created in 1179, and is decorated with two ghirlande railings (marble), which is where it obtained its famous name.

3. Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace in Modena is a Baroque style palace in Italy that is definitely worth seeing for its impressive size alone. It was the residence of the “Este Dukes” of Modena Italy from 1452 all the way to 1859. Its current use is housing a large portion of the current Italian Military Academy. Ducal Palace also contains the official Military Museum, a historic Library and various military ceremonies in its ‘Honor Court’.

4. Military Academy

The Military Academy also called the Accademia Militare is a military university in Modena. It is located in northern Italy in the Palazzo Ducale. The Military Academy is one of the most impressive and historic centers of the city. The Accademia Militare of Modena was the first military institution in the world even before the U.S. Military academy’s creation.
The Accademia Militare allows both sexes to enroll each year. The Accademia Militare focuses mostly on training and selecting future military officers in the Italian Army. The Accademia Militare takes at least two years to complete.

5. The Land of Engines.

Modena Italy is also known as the land of engines. Many of the most famous luxury car manufacturers in the world such as Ferrari, Masertati, Lamborghni and even Pagani call Modena Italy their home.

Top 3 foods you must try in Modena Italy:

1. Tortellini

Tortellini are circle-shaped pasta creations that taste delicious when cooked properly. They are usually filled with a mix of meat prosciutto and cheese. Tortellini is originally from Modena Italy and is served in tasty broth of either beef or chicken. While due to popularity tortellini can now be found all over the world many locals will tell you that the best Tortellini can only be found in its birth place of Modena Italy.

2. Traditional balsamic vinegar

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is a special type of vinegar produced only in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is created from cooked grape must. However, what makes it so impressive is that it is always aged at least 12 years. This special vinegar is added to a multitude of Italian dishes and has a taste like no other.

3. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is the name of a few special kinds of Italian hard cheese and usually goes with various types of pastas. While many cheeses claim to be Parmesan cheese only one “brand” of parmesan cheese is considered official and regulated as a protected class. Only Parmigianino Reggiano is protected and it is  especially delicious.
Modena Italy is a wonderful place and hopefully this article has uncovered at least a 10th of the amazing experiences that Modena Italy has to offer.

baroque style italy - Modena detail of ducal palace

 

 

Best Hotels in Bologna, Italy

Best Romantic Hotels in Bologna

Written by Marcelo Pinto  June 10th 2012

Aemilia Hotel

Aemlia is a hotel which is based only two minutes away from the city edge and it only takes ten minutes to walk to the main square. It offers free WiFi, a buffet selection for breakfast and a lovely roof top deck so you can enjoy the views across the city. The staff are friendly and hope to see you soon.

Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna

The Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna is located outside of the city but it is still convenient to the town centre. It is easy to find and the parking there is also convenient. The rooms are comfortable and include coffee and tea making facilities. The owners welcome feedback and always look to improve their services and facilities.

Sav Hotel

The Sav Hotel is located in a really convenient location, ten minutes from both the airport city centre. The staff are really friendly and helpful and the atmosphere and décor are lovely. The owner boasts the fact that the Sav Hotel is only 2 kilometers from the main street of Bologna.

Grand Hotel Majestic

The Grand Hotel Majestic is a stylish hotel that boasts large, well decorated rooms. It is said to be a luxury in the heart of Bologna. Because of its location many guests prefer this hotel over others as it is right in the city centre. The staff are lovely and the food is good.

Savoia Hotel Regency

This hotel is said to be wonderful with friendly staff who go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and to offer you services to make you stay stress free. It is not a very expensive hotel but it is a very good hotel and has a wonderful restaurant.

Palazzo Loup

The Palazzo Loup is a great hotel in a beautiful location. It is located on top of a hill right outside of town and boasts amazing views. It also offers great Italian cuisine at the restaurant. This hotel is said to be amazing with fantastic staff.

Art Corona d’Oro

This hotel is located in the city centre and is very close to the main attractions. The staff are friendly and helpful and the suites are beautiful. It is a very modern and up to date hotel and there is even breakfast included in your stay.

AC Hotel Bologna by Marriott

This hotel has rooms that are very modern in dark colours and it offers free parking out the front of the hotel. They also offer a nice selection of foods for breakfast and wireless internet. It is a well priced hotel.

Al Cappello Rosso

The Al Cappello Rosso hotel is located in a nice quiet street near the middle of the town. It is not very modern but it is clean and comfortable with more of a boutique style. They offer breakfast and the staff are friendly and willing to help you.

Art Hotel Commercianti

The Art Hotel Commercianti is a pleasant hotel right in the heart of the city. The building is ancient looking and the rooms that it offers are large and comfortable. The staff are accommodating and the food is flavoursome.