What I’ve enjoyed most, though, is meeting people who have a real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!
… that being said i am blessed to have a close circle of friends who share my ideas and believes on good food and the interest in exploring the vast world of inspirational and explorative chefs.
Every spring, when the list of the worlds 50 best restaurants is released, anticipation rises for who will be the number one for the next twelve months. and then you also know that you will never be able to get a table at the number one, so our strategy is, go for the best number two there is :-).
after many emails, phone calls and reservation deadlines which needed to be beaten, we finally were able to secure a table for our scheduled dates. the seed of happiness was planted and the light of a culinary expedition rose on the horizon.
what i love most about these trips, besides visiting these tastemakers castles, is the journey before and after, that one most anticipated dinner.
before osteria francescana conquered the italian territory of micheline star restaurants i never thought of traveling to modena, parma, bologna or any other city in the region of emiglia romana. of course we know that all great italian export products find their roots in this area, such as the tasty parma ham, the infamous parmigiano reggiano, the pinkest italian delight called mortadella and for all those car lovers out there the fastest car in red, the ferrari. and as of lately mr. bottura has definitely made it on the “best of emiglia romana” list …
for me, a vacation starts with the planning process. that is when the wanderlust in me gets triggered. and from that moment on the prospect of a journey to a completely new place keeps me going through my busy daily life. the timeline of this trip was easily established. we decided to fly into bologna, the closest airport to modena and after quite a search for a nice, small and individual accommodation we booked a lovely country style bed and breakfast on the outskirts of parma, called Villino Di Porporano. this lovely home away from home has a french country house chic and is filled with lovely finds from flea markets and antique shops.
finally came the day that we boarded the plain to bologna. ahead of us lay a long weekend filled with nothing else but eating, drinking, feasting and indulging in the laid back italian lifestyle. the italian dolce vita was going to be ours!
the good thing about the less touristic areas of italy is that low quality, tourist trap restaurants are rare. ask the locals, follow their lead and you will be on continuous satisfied mode when it comes to eating and drinking.
while in italy you are best advised in doing it as the italians do … do not thrive on heavy brunch like breakfasts with loads of eggs and what not but keep your breakfast short and simple. a coffee and a brioche are all it takes to keep italians going until lunch time, which is normally between 12 noon and 03:00pm. most restaurants close after 3 and wont open until dinner timer, so if you miss out on that time slot you will most likely miss out on a delicious lunch opportunity, and that would definitely be a disastrous loss.
our first lunch, was like a scene out of a 50ies italian movie. ristorante mora, located a 5 minute walk away from our hotel, in the middle of nowhere. the restaurant was empty, only two tables were occupied, other than that the place was empty. in any other case we would have walked away, empty restaurants are never a good sign, but not so in rural italy. we were told to order mora’s extraordinary torta fritta (fried bread made out of pasta dough) a typical, regional starter served with parma ham and various other cold cuts … and what a delicious start into a weekend full of culinary delights it was.
The italian way of living had begun .. “Dolce far niente” the sweet idleness … eating, sleeping, drinking wine and enjoying the beautiful sites of italian cities. what else would one want from a wanderlust weekend?
Lovely ellena, who was our host at the villino di porporano, made sure to give us the best advice on were to eat throughout our stay.
our first night we spent at a classical italian ristorante in parma, ristorante cocchi, a family run business that serves only local and traditional food.
the pasta porcini was mouthwatering to a point of no return, the bistecca so soft and delicious, the wine and service outstanding .. we did not want to leave …
Day two started on a lazy, lets sleep in note, but one doesnt want to miss out on all the beauty out there.
modena was the place to go and while on route we chose to take a pit stop at the famous museo ferarri maranello.
walking through old town modena was like walking on a movie set. beautiful churches, mediaeval buildings, cobble stone streets, chic boutiques and the cheerful italian mentality were like a boost of happiness, another step into the magic of the dolce vita ….
the long anticipated and awaited visit to osteria francescana was literally around the corner … i will write about that experience in my next post and shall continue with my travel diary of the emilia romagna ..
we saved the capitol of this region for the last day, bologna, the city of universities, arts and culture was our wanderlust territory for the day.
bologna, the city of heavenly eateries, the capitol that joins all the culinary highlights of this region. what a pleasure it was to stroll through the streets of old town, especially “via pescherie vecchie” and pass all these produce stands, bakeries, butchers, cheese stores, wine bars and mortadella stands. my mind was blown and oh so intoxicated by the view of freshness and quality. speechless and in true respect i remain for the food culture of bella italia.
when in bologna you must stop at osteria del sole, in the “vicolo ranocchi”. here you just bring along your own aperitivo (cold cuts, bread, cheese, home cooked plates etc.) order beer, wine or prosecco and engage in loud and joyful conversations with the people next to you.
then take a walk through old town, pass the old university and enjoy dinner at one of the most unique places bologna has to offer, the drogheria della rosa, a former drogheria turned into a ristorante and run by a man that could be the main protagonist of the godfather movie.
there is no need to say that local, organic and seasonal is the main attribute to all these restaurants we visited. italians would never think of not cooking seasonal, because their markets only supply seasonal high quality produce. each season has its own gems and this is how italians eat their way through the culinary highlights each season has to offer.
asking a bologna local on how to end a perfect night, he would probably send you to one of the many ice cream parlors in town. my favorite is the cremeria santo stefano. try the chocolate ice cream … a treat made in heaven!!
on a closing note of this journey of feasting, one should mention at least one other aspect to this delightful northern italian region. the train station of reggio emilia is probably the most stunning highlight of modern architecture that i have seen in a long time. for me it somewhat resembles the sidney opera house, hence the arcades and smooth waves the structure sets against the backdrop of sky and nature …
so stay put and i will be back soon with more on osteria franceschana and the reason why one should never trust a skinny italian chef ..