Posts Tagged With: Bologna

Lazy Post – Random Bologna

Italy 2014 1344I haven’t posted a lazy post in a while in case you didnt notice.  Reason for this particular one is threefold.

1)  Hockey addiction is back in full force

2)  Busy at work after my dependable intern decided to suddenly quit

3)  Lazy

Here are more from our recent visit to Bologna

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Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Trattoria di Via Serra {Bologna}

Via Serra TortelloniIt pains me to post only 5 pictures in this one.  In a span of 10 days we had about 10 exceptional meals, including 5 meals that I can only describe as epic.  Each epic meal was like a story.  A story filled with interesting characters, intrigue, wine, passion, surprises, wrong turns, betrayal, tears, tears of joy and a lot of time.  An epic meal requires extra time, preferably on a Sunday, and preferably as far from the center as possible.  Bologna, arguably the greatest food city in Italy produced one of those on a little street behind the train station called Via Serra.

For the family sitting next to us, it was just another regular Sunday afternoon meal at one of their favorite neighborhood spots.  For us however, the only tourists in the house, it was anything but.  “Only tourists” unless you count our new friends from Turin who we stumbled upon again after meeting them the night before at All’Osteria Bottega, another Bologna gem.  As far as I’m concerned, friendships start when someone offers me food.  And as I reached for a scoop of the neighbors homemade Gnocchi with pumpkin cream sauce, much to the horror of the other family, I thought to myself, that could have been dish #6.  I had room, damn it. Trattoria di Via Serra Pate

Via Serra is as “Slow Food” as it gets.  The duo of Flavio and Tommaso have sort of a history together that reached peak levels with a successful spot down in the mountains, Osteria del Sole in Zocca.  Tommaso, like so many other Slow Food cooks (they don’t like to be called chefs I learned over the years), has no formal culinary training.  He was working in a dairy equipment manufacturer before he decided to change careers and showcase what he learned from dad.  In fact right after our lunch they closed for a week to visit their families and the various producers in their respected areas.  “Continued Education” as we call it in the states.  Tommy traveled to Campobasso to scout butchers for a traditional Sunday Molise ragu (liver sausage, cotechino, sausage, ribs and minced shoulder in a tomatoes sauce). We came on the wrong Sunday it seems, but very far from a bad one

During this trip we drank all sorts of great wine, some more memorable than others.  But none had the same affect as the house red here. Perhaps the best house red we ever had.  On the board it just says “Rosso Bologna”, a 60% Barbera, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  Flavio explained that its a local producer, completely organic called Maria Bortolotti.  The aromas that came out of this one are those that you smell when you go to sleep the same night.  Or is it just me and I should probably talk to a food/wine psychiatrist about that.  Robustness in a very good way (unlike the Barbaresco at the Commune in Neive).  Quite full bodied, nicely balanced with big tannins for a house wine.Trattoria di Via Serra Piada

Here you need to pay attention to the daily specials.  We started with a fantastic Pate di Fegatini.  Sweet, creamy, buttery goodness.  Pate freak Mrs Ziggy was in liver heaven.  Piada was a lot of fun.  Not quite as thin as a traditional Piadina and without much of the lard but quite delicious.  Its served with prosciutto and fresh soft Squacquerone cheese from the nearby Castel San Pietro.  A fun traditional snack normally associated with the Romagna towns to the east.

The Primis we picked from the regular menu.  Traditional Tagliatelle with ragu – it never ceases to amaze me how much flavor they exude from so little meat.  Six fat Tortelloni with butter and sage, of the explosive, sinfully good kind.  Outstanding Faraona arrosto, filled with stuffing made of bread, egg, cheese, and more Faraona.  Best Faraona (guinea fowl) of the trip, but also quite different.  Mrs Z is a little more fond of the Faraona overall, but I’m game! (Get it? I’m game!).  Coffee gelato and homemade Nocioni was the perfect finish to one of those meals.

Via Serra is on Via Serra, 5-10 minutes past the train station.  From the outside it looks like one of those hip London spots, because it was sort of was.  It used to belong to the hotel next door that opened a posh spot that didn’t quite fit the neighborhood very well.  Inside however, Via Serra couldn’t be more different than the previous tenant, starting with the philosophy.  Those guys pay zero attention to how your plate looks and around 100% to the ingredients that goes on it.  And Flavio in true Slow Food style will talk about those ingredients like new parents talk about their babies.  Except in this case you pay attention, and enjoy.

Trattoria di Via Serra Tagliatelle Trattoria di Via Serra Faraona

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Bologna’s Porticos, Knobs and Porticos

Italy 2014 1510This one goes out to all those readers with those special needs, sufferers of Porticos and/or Door Knob fetishes.  You know who you are and you should also know that you are not alone.  Tens thousands of people with such infliction flock the porticos of Bologna annually.  They tell their friends and neighbors that they go to the food capital of the world, the place that invented the Bologna Sandwich (neglecting to explain the intricacies of the Mortadella and its bastardized American version to the clueless neighbor.  Smart move savvy traveler, smart move).  But what they dont tell their friends, because they cant comprehend, is all about the joy of running around through Bologna’s 40 Kilometers of Porticos, with minimal clothing sometimes.  But who am I to judge.

Those same Porticos have been around for hundreds of years (some since the 12th century), and while other Italian cities outlawed them at some point, Bologna continued to Portico itself to become the Portico capital of the world.  That includes of course the longest Portico in the world, 3,796 meters running from the city walls up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.  Not quite the climb for us (hey, I’m on vacation, not competing for the biggest loser)

And as to the door knobs all over the historic center, well, they are just pretty door knobs.

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Sale Grosso – Is This Bologna’s Top Seafood Option?

Sale Grosso SpaghettiReports of the seafood demise in Bologna may have been Sale Grossly exaggerated.  You like it?  I thought of that line while shaving this morning, which is were I do most of my deep thinking.  Whenever I say that for some reason the usual reply is “You should think about growing a beard”.  With a beard not only I would not be mistaken for Russell Crow anymore, but I would also be single and unemployed.  My full time job involves solving software related issues and very often the solutions come to me when I shave.  It also helps me with the various daily First World Problems like figuring out where I left my iPhone, what to have for lunch, who really shot Jr, and why are my shoes wet.  Turns out the shoes were wet due to exhilarated excitement of some nieces and nephews playing hide and seek in the closet the night before.  Yes, they get excited and they pee in your shoes.

Also during shaving I normally devise the all important action plan of where we’ll be eating seafood on our next trip.  We normally find ourselves craving seafood at some point of any trip, especially in Italy, regardless of our proximity to the sea.  La Tellina in Sienna was a nice find last year, while Le Mani in Pasta in Rome was less successful but hit some marks.  In this case, I figured after a week of heaviness in Piedmont and ER, Bologna would be the place for seafood, and all signs pointed to Sale Grosso.  Hidden in some alley in the university area, and with some locals never even heard of it, the “hidden gem” cliche comes to mind.  In fact some locals even turned up their noses at the idea of eating seafood in Bologna

Sale Grosso Octopus

I don’t mean to set you up for another feast as it actually turned out to be a rather light lunch, at least for our vacation standards.  Burratina (Burrata) with Bottarga (salted dried tuna roe “sticks”), shockingly good, and grows on you as you are nibbling on it.  Bottarga is not something you normally see on NY menus.  The Burrata was oozing with richness and went very well with the salty dried tuna, and the olive oil used was especially noteworthy.  Octopus, simply grilled, tender and absolutely delicious, arrived with some of the best tasting grilled veggies we had on this trip.

Rolled breaded fish stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and other unidentified objects came with expertly cooked Broccoli Rabe and creamy tomato water. Perhaps the dish of the day, which included a very nice dinner later on.  Spaghetti with Seafood was perfectly al dented with generous amount of fresh shellfish and fish. This is what every basic Spaghetti with Seafood should taste like.

Sale Grosso Fish

Smiling, friendly owner, slightly overdressed for the occasion, unless we all were underdressed.  Wife who wasnt there is the brainchild of the Mediterranean inspired menu.  She’s from Bologna but with southern roots.  And the cook during lunch was from Puglia where some of the lunch dishes get their inspiration from.  Nice and comfortable room, popular with locals and nearby university students and staff.  Looked like we were the only tourists there.  While the lunch menu showed plenty of market freshness and creativity, during dinner things pick up a notch.  Check out Sale Grosso guys

Now if you excuse me I need to go shave in order to figure out what to wear tomorrow.  Ciao!

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Emilia Romagna – The Final Leg

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Moving on to the final leg.  Without kids, 10 days is just about all we can stretch it these days.  First leg is here, next here.  This one features mostly Bologna where we settled down for 3 nights

Day 8 – Traffic, Vignola, Balsamic, Modena, Traffic

Left our B&B in Parma and started the day with a bang, as in a crash on the highway resulting in a standstill for close to an hour.  We were lucky enough then to meet with our new friend from Vignola who showed us his hometown including the striking castle of Vignola which we had for ourselves pretty much.

Villa San Donnino, a balsamic vinegar producer was the next stop and this was a real eye opener.  Essentially we quickly realized that we knew nothing about Balsamic Vinegar, and the tedious process of making  “Traditional” vinegar.  The icing on the cake was sampling traditional balsamic with ice cream.

Modena, another beautiful walkable city was the next stop.  The famous Modena Duomo was everything we imagined and more thanks to the guidance of our friend.  But not quite as emotional as the church we went to next, the entrance to Osteria Francescana, considered top 5 in the world.  But the highlight for us this day was lunch at Hosteria Giusti, one of the toughest tables in Italy.  Drove to out last B&B in Bologna in more heavy traffic and all sorts of Hertz drop-off adventures.  An ok dinner at Osteria La Traviata

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Day 9 – Bologna

We fell for Bologna fairly quickly.  The porticos, the door knobs, the people, the PORTICOS!   Everywhere you turn, porticos, porticos and more porticos all completely different.  We pretty much walked all over the historic center checking out the sites

Lunch was a good one at Sale Grosso, a newish popular seafood joint.  We try to make it to at least one seafood meal on every trip to Italy even in cities not particularly known for seafood.  Dinner was even better at Slow Food pick Osteria Bottega where we finally got  solid tasting of the local cuisine.

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Day 10 – Bologna

Started the day with a church and a special prayer for no earthquakes for the next 2 hours.  I dont ask for much.  We then climbed the the tower, Bologna’s symbol for magnificent views of the city.  Explored a bit more and settled for another long lunch at Via Serra outside of the center.  Our best meal in Bologna.  After that we just walked around, did some last minute food shopping in the area where Eataly is located and said goodbye.  Zero complaints about our B&B Antica Residenza d’Azeglio

Day 11 –  Fly home

Day 12 – Denial and Isolation

Day 13-15 – Depression

Day 16 – Calling in sick, feeding pigeons in the park

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