Posts Tagged With: Locanda Mariella

Top 10 Things We Ate in Emilia Romagna

Italy 2014 1668Culatello at Antica Corte Pallavicina – When life gives you a pig, you make Culatello.  Prosciutto so prized it has a different name.  And the best Culatello in the world can be found in this old castle perfectly situated by the foggy Po.  After you visit their legendary cellar, ride their bikes, and play hide and seek with their black pigs, you are ready for this “Podium”.  Three Culatello aged 18, 27, and a black pig beauty aged 37 months sitting on top like miss universe.Italy 2014 781

Eggs with Black Truffles at Locanda Mariella – An hour south of Parma in the hamlet of Calestano in the mountains, there’s this foodie paradise.  Mariella is at the helm, and will take care of you like no other woman.  She knows her wine, and she knows how to make eggs, among many other things.  Richness and creaminess levels I have yet to discover out of eggs.  And Black Truffles, mightier than some whites we’ve had days before, were the icing on the pan.  Quite possibly the best egg dish I ever had.Locanda Mariella eggs

Tagliata Fassone at Cocchi in Parma.  The star of a fine meal at this Parma legend was not surprisingly the all too dependent Fassone.  This Piedmontese cattle continues to surprise me with its lean, but sharp flavors.  Add some artichokes, aged balsamic vinegar, olive oil and of course Parma cheese and you got yourself a major crowd pleaser.  Cocchi, albeit a bit touristy, felt like one of those local institutions one needs to experience, with its ancient menu, and old timers that even speak English.  Try the terrific Sformatino as well.Italy 2014 1077

Minestrone Fritters at Hosteria Giusti in Modena– Perhaps the biggest taste/look ratio of the trip as those fritters didn’t look very hot, but after tasting them they looked rather perfect.  They add to Minestrone soup that is thickened overnight, Parma cheese, flour, egg, and deep fry a spoonful at a time.  Sprinkle some of their own ultra aged “Traditional” balsamic vinegar and the result is outstanding.  Mario Batali’s favorite restaurant in Italy delivered quite a few punches that afternoon.Hosteria Giusti Minestrone Fritters

Salumi at Salumeria Garibaldi in Parma – At this busy Salumeria in Parma, grab one of the two little tables on the right, and watch the locals do their thing.  Try the prosciutto of course, the wonderful Felino dubbed “King of Salami”, and the Strolghino, a fresh thin Salami made out of the lean leg of the pig and the “prosciutto” of Culatello, among other leftovers.  They dont throw out anything in ItalyItaly 2014 1028

Burrata with Bottarga at Sale Grosso in Bologna – Yes, there’s also great seafood in Italy’s food capital.  Hidden in a quiet alley near the university, this newish joint dishes out quality Puglia inspired Seafood day after day.  And some dishes fairly unique, like this Bottarga, sticks of salted dried tuna roe, coupled with creamy Burrata that was oozing with deliciousness. Sale Grosso Buratta

Tortellini in Brodo at All’Osteria Bottega in Bologna.  “I live here all my life, and this is best in Bologna” our trusted waitress warned us.  Who are we to argue.  After sampling Tortellini in Brodo on a daily basis in the region, we saved the best for last turned out.  Done the traditional way, but with an added oomph, or “Love” according to the happy owner.  While I haven’t written a post about All’Osteria Bottega, I highly recommend spending an evening there.

Picture taken elsewhere, but they all look about the same

Picture taken elsewhere, but they all look about the same

Pork Ribs at Vicolo Colombina in Bologna – Another no brainer here.  Ribs are slow cooked for 40 hours Sous Vide style (I used my regular “I cant wait that long, we have a flight tomorrow” joke.  Didn’t work too well here).  Great texture, not too fatty, crispy where needed but mostly tender, wonderfully juicy, flavorful meat.  Here in NYC we pay a lot more for similar and less successful dishes than the 15 euros we shelled out for this.  This particular dish was a recommendation by Carmelita Caruana who runs a popular local cooking school http://www.cookitaly.com/Italy 2014 1725

Piada at Trattoria Via Serra in Bologna – There were quite a few memorable items from this Slow Food gem, including the outstanding organic house red.  But this dish stood out for several reasons.  Piada or Piadina is a flatbread typically made with lard, a delicious traditional snack normally associated with the coastal Romagna towns.  Here it was a Sunday special served with fresh eye popping Squacquerone cheese from the nearby Castel San Pietro, and prosciutto.  There was something about enjoying this fun snack on a lazy Sunday afternoon with local families at that moment that its hard to put into words.Trattoria di Via Serra Piada

Parmigiano Reggiano at CiaoLatte in Noceto – Best 10 euros I spent in the region was at this dairy producer near Parma.  You get a tour with Serena who speaks English, almost unheard of in the Parma dairy producer universe.  She will guide you through the entire process if you show up early enough, and let you spend some quality time your camera in the ageing room.  And the tasting of the various aged Parmigiano Reggiano will make you go straight to Eataly when you get home.Italy 2014 808

Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Locanda Mariella {Calestano} – The Perfect Meal

Locanda Mariella eggsWhy are we here?  How did we get here?  What exactly made Kim Kardashian famous?  When is an egg no longer an egg?  I feel like starting this one like Anthony Bourdain starts some of his shows, with deep, philosophical nonsensicalness that grabs your attention and never lets go… until commercials.  Its the perfect prelude to what’s to come, whether its “The best soup in the world” (Vietnam – last episode), “Best Duck Feet I ever had” (Beijing), or “Best Meal I ever had” (French Laundry).  Because somehow “The Perfect Meal” or “Best Egg Dish I ever had” would simply get lost in the shuffle of this blog if I dont start with a deep Kim Kardashian question.  Makes sense?  I thought so

Locanda Mariella OutsideWhat makes a perfect meal?  When you are hard-pressed to find any little detail that worked against your enjoyment of the meal.  From the food, the host, the wine, the room, the environment, there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about Locanda Mariella.  And while I usually ignore any imperfections in meals I greatly enjoy, its hard not to notice when everything goes right.  Sure someone may be bothered by its location, 1 hour south of Parma, in the North Apennine Mountains.  But to us the location just added to the fun and intrigue.  Especially considering it allowed us to visit the town of Felino, the home of “King of Salami” where the Italian version of Rick Steves tried to sell his entire Salumeria to us.  And on the way back, it was the magnificent Torrechiara castle which deserves its own post.Locanda Mariella - Strolghino and Cheese

Mariella is Slow Food at its finest.  In a way it reminded me of the one man show of Roberto in the village of Montisi, while the two got almost nothing in common except for their true Slow Foodness and that passion to deliver to you the finest ingredients available to them.  It almost felt like you are visiting a three Michelin star chef who retired in the mountains in the middle of nowhere and cooks to those brave and willing souls simple mountain food

Alloooora! At Mariella all this melodramatic stuff came from sampling just 5 dishes, with wine pairing and dessert, with each dish making me shake my head with hand gestures Andrew Zimmern style.  Mariella had a white truffle menu, black truffle menu, and a regular menu that included black truffle filled classics which we mostly took advantage of.  Did I use “Allora” there correctly?  Two hours into the meal I still did not have the heart to tell Mariella that we don’t speak Italian.  She explained every single detail of the meal in Italian. My entire Italian is solely based on menu Italian, so when I wanted to ask if the egg was baked at some point, I said “Umm.. Uovo..Al Forno?” Mrs Ziggy had a “Fish Called Wanda” moment, and now I occasionally have to speak Italian to herLocanda Mariella - Sformatino

Started with a very nice Strolghino salami with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.  And continued with some of the staples on the menu, potato Sformatino with pumpkin cream, and polenta with cheese fondue and black truffles.  Both outstanding!  A great start aided by a fine Sauvignon Blanc/Gewürztraminer blend from Le Fate Furbe (Tuscany).  Mariella, I find out later from my host in Parma what I suspected all along, is a great sommelier

Two sunny side up eggs with black truffles would have been the best egg dish I ever ate even without the truffles.  It hits you like a smack in the face as soon as you taste the whites.  So rich, so creamy, so good I didn’t want to share.  I believe with my menu Italian understanding that she blends cheese instead of butter with the eggs.  A truly remarkable dish in every way, aided by black truffles which had more flavor than some whites we had on this trip. Gnochetti with light cream and black truffles, by far best Gnocchi of a few gnocchi dished we enjoyed on this trip.  Mariella matched a beautiful Nebbiolo with this course

Italy 2014 858

For the third course we shared another outstanding veal cheek with mashed potatoes (since we had polenta in the first course, she suggested mashed instead), along with a Voerzio Barolo 08.  I say “another cheek” as this was about the 4th of the trip.  Another thing we couldnt get enough of on this trip was Cachi (Perssimon).  We like eating it and we liked saying it.  Here it was a splendid chestnut mousse with a cachi purée, along with an excellent preserved sour cherries with ice cream

Simply Perfect!

Locanda Mariella - Polenta Locanda Mariella Beef cheeks Locanda Mariella Hezelnut cake Locanda Mariella Ice Cream Locanda Mariella road Locanda Mariella

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

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