Eataly, our saviour

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Our last day in Italy wasn’t fun at all food wise. It started fine with a nice breakfast at the hotel in Ravenna and we had a good drive back to Bologna as well, but then it went downhill from there. Sob.

We really wanted to have lunch at Casa Minghetti (the cute bar and restaurant where we had a pre-dinner drink on the Saturday), but they were closed. So we then walked to a restaurant Caroline got recommended by a friend, that according to Google was open, only to find another closed door. Most places were open the other holiday days, but for some reason everything was closed on Easter Monday.

So we walked back to the centre of town to find only a handful of restaurants open for business, serving the same amount of people as the other days when everything was open which of course resulted in full restaurants and massive queues. By this point we were both hangry and about to cry. So we had to decide between a shorter queue for a lighter meal (it seemes less popular) or longer queue for proper cooked food. In desperation we chose the former and went to Eataly (they have a restaurant in New York too, that you may have heard of) as they had lots of tables and a fairly short queue. We weren’t really in the mood for cheese and charkuterie, but as we sat down with it in front of us it was heaven. The mortadella was actually the best one I had during the whole trip!

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The charkuteries from left to right (top pic): mortadella, serrano, pancetta and salami and the cheese from left to right (above pic) were: a nice hard cheese I don’t know the name of, mozzarella, parmesan and dolcelatte.

After lunch our plan was to buy food we wanted to take home with us. We had eyed up courgette flowers at every greengrocer since our first day here but as they wilt quickly we wanted to buy them fresh on our last day. That back-fired as most the food shops were closed as well. What was going on?! In the end I managed to find parmesan, ricotta, salsiccia, erborinato cheese and asparagus to take home, but it was a real mission. Still quite happy with our efforts we drove to the airport only to find out that our flight was two hours delayed. No probs, we read magazines and enjoyed a glass of wine in the lounge. But there was no food, so after consulting an online map of the airport we thought we’d have dinner at one of the two restaurants after security.

Again, things back-fired. There was only one restaurant and one cafeteria after security but the restaurant was closed and the café didn’t really sell anything edible apart from two scary looking sandwiches, ice cream and snacks so we had another glass of wine and some parmesan snacks for dinner. Now, it’s almost funny how we could have such a bad food day in Italy of all places. But in the moment it wasn’t funny at all. I’ve never been so happy to come back to Heathrow and see an open M&S late at night!

The rest of our trip was absolutely fab, and luckily both Caroline and I react the same way to not getting fed, so at least we were in it together.

Eataly, Via Degli Orefici 19, 40126 Bologna, Italy

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Pasta Bolognese in Bologna!

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After our pre-dinner snacks on the Saturday evening we had dinner at Drogheria della Rosa, a very old school restaurant in Bologna. When we arrived, we were shown to our table and after ordering water and wine a starter arrived. We hadn’t seen a menu or ordered anything, and we soon realised they gave everyone the same antipasti, we just didn’t expect it. But the tender guinea fowl vegetables and delicious buffalo mozzarella was lovely. I would never have thought to try this combination myself, but it really worked; I guess you can have mozzarella with everything.

After finishing the starter the waitress came and told us about the menu that day. As I said, old school.

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One of my food goals for this trip  was of course to have a proper pasta Bolognese when I was visiting the very city it’s from, and this place seemed to be a good bet to have just that. And it was. The lovely tagliatelle was coated sparingly with sauce but the flavours were amazing. It was just right and I’m so glad I had it here. Caroline, who doesn’t even like Bolognese, enjoyed it too and that’s probably the best praise you can get!

Her pasta with artichokes was delicious too! Plenty of flavours, quite salty and just yummy. I definitely recommend a visit here when you’re in Bologna.

As expected we were more than full after all the food this evening, so we declined pudding and walked to a bar by the main square and enjoyed a glass of wine outside under the heaters.

Drogheria della Rosa, via Cartoleria 10, 40124 Bologna, Italy

Pre-dinner nibbles in Bologna

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On the Saturday in Bologna we went all out before dinner and had pre-dinner drinks and nibbles at three different places. There were so many things we wanted to eat and places to try and not enough time, so this was a good solution.

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We started with this little (yes, it was intended for one person but we shared it) charkuterie and cheese platter at Zerocinquantino Vino e Panino, and a glass of wine each. I love the fact that when you order ‘a glass of white wine’, the waiters ask if you want still or sparkling, as if it were water. I do like my sparkling wines though, and later this same evening Caroline introduced me to another Italian sparkling wine, besides prosecco;  franciacorta, with smaller bubbles. So nice!

On the platter we had mortadella, salami, serrano, a type of fresh cheese which I later identified as dolcelatte in a deli shop, a nice hard cheese and an amazing blue cheese called erborinato. Remember to try it when you’re in Italy! We also got to try the local tigelli bread which was nice but extremely filling.

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Next we stopped at a fishmongers on the same street, which sold fish and seafood ready to eat, like tartars, oysters, red prawns etc. And wine. But we just had some seafood. We both love the raw red prawns so had a plate of those each. They’re so sweet and juicy and absolutely delicious raw!

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We also tried a oyster each, I can’t remember what type or where it was from but it was really nice. The fresh shellfish was a great palate cleanser before our actual dinner though; we actually felt less full after the prawns than when we came into the shop.

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We had time for another quick stop before dinner so when we walked past  Casa Minghetti with it’s popular outside seating we decided to go inside for a glass of wine. Even though the restaurant (inside and outside) was full to the brim with people the staff welcomed us in and gave us some space at the bar counter. The atmosphere here was great – really friendly with a mixture of different types of people, good music and friendly staff.

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The wine was nice, and the cocktails they made looked great too. We also got three different types of snacks with our drink. It’s another thing I like about Italy, you always get snacks with your drink.

Zerocinquantino Vino e Panino, Via Pescherie vecchie 3/e, Bologna

Fiskaffären kan jag tyvärr inte hitta namnet på, men den ligger på Via Pescherie Vechie, snett tvärsöver gatan från Zerocinquantino, mot Via Drapperie till. 

Casa Minghetti, Piazza Minghetti, 1A, 40124 Bologna, Italy

Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro, Bologna

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Our first day in Bologna (Good Friday) we walked all over town to explore, but despite the many restaurants here we really struggled to find a nice place for lunch in the area where we were. After a while we settled for Pizzeria Trattoria O Sole Mio, where we had an OK lunch. I had a pizza with plump porcini mushroomsch and Caroline had gramignone pasta with salsiccia and copious amount of cream. Nothing to write home about but just what we needed.

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Our dinner that day was a little more exciting, as we had booked a table at Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro. The menu looked really good so we decided to share two starters to get to taste as much as possible. But first we had the amuse bouche above; a fish mousse with fennel I believe.

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One of the starters was this potato filled ravioli with pecorino and black truffle. It was absolutely delicious and just the type of Italian food I had been dreaming about before our trip.

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The second starter was the daily smoked fish: seabass, with finely chopped vegetables, orange peel, rosemary and thyme. Absolutely delicious! I must remember to pair orange with fish, it works so very well!

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I never tire of truffle so I chose the poached egg with parmesan, white truffle, purple potato purée, croutons and a whole artichoke for my mains. Everything was delicious but it was a dish that you ate in sections because of the artichoke, but still lovely.

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Caroline tried the ‘traditional boiled meats’, which was similar to a pot au feu, tender meats in a deliciously flavoured broth. Very filling though as some of the meat was sausages.

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It came with two sharp sauces, to cut through the richness of the meat; one with herbs and one with chilli, both really nice.

We really enjoyed the food, but the service could have been better. The sommelier was not helpful at all, and actually quite rude. The saving grace was the restaurant manager/owner who really did a great job, but he should hire better staff!

Worth a visit.

Caminetto d’Oro, Via de’ Falegnami 4, Bologna, Italy 

Italy in spring

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For Easter my friend Caroline and I went to Italy, to enjoy glorious spring weather and eat copious amounts of pasta. That’s our type of holiday.

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We spent most of the time in Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region, but we also drove to Modena, Cierva and Ravenna. Driving in Italy was an, ehum, experience but we got into it after a while.

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It was lovely to see all the fresh produce at the greengrocers. Bright red tomatoes, asparagus and courgette flowers made the mouth water, and strawberries were in season too!

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We of course enjoyed pasta, cheese and charkuteries as well. And fish and seafood.

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Just a change of scenery and pace was lovely, but also to enjoy some sunshine and be able to sit outside was amazing. I’m such a spring and summertime person I feel I came alive again!

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I have plenty to tell you about the restaurants we went too, so hope you’re up for a few posts on Italy!

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