Franceschetta 58, Modena

IMG_7673.JPG

We rented a car on our second day in Bologna and I got a crash course in how the Italians drive, i.e. a bit crazy, but it was fun too.

The car took us to Modena, the city most famous for balsamic vinegar and the second best restaurant in the world right now; Osteria Francescana.

IMG_2552.JPG

We were sadly not lucky enough to nab one of the twelve tables there, despite being waitlisted for every meal, so I guess we’ll just have to come back. I would sooo like to try Massimo Bottura’s iconic cooking.

IMG_2553.JPG

But when I researched restaurants in Modena I discovered that chef Bottura has another restaurant in town; the much more low key Franceschetta 58, so that’s where we had lunch. They only serve a buffet for lunch, but it was very very good. I would have liked to try the a’la carte as well though, so I need to come back here one evening.

Fra.jpg

The buffet had both a cold and a warm section. The cold section (above) contained charcuterie, parmesan, bread, salads and cakes for pudding.

IMG_2538.JPG

I tried most things from the cold buffet and everything was excellent. The charcuterie was very nice, just like the aged Parmesan. I also got to try proper ricotta (light years away from what we can buy in a packet at Waitrose), and it was mild but salty and very fluffy in texture. The salads were also very good and I especially enjoyed the one with bitter leaves, pears and crutons but also liked the one with farro, feta and courgette.

Fra2.jpg

The hot dishes the staff plated for us. We had the pasta as primi and then came back for the main courses.

IMG_2546

Both pasta dishes were amazing! The spaghetti hoops to the left (does anyone know the proper name for this pasta shape?) with speck, walnuts and endive was very earthy in flavour and very nice. But the orecchiette with salsiccia and tomato sauce was out of this world. I still dream about it; it was that good.

IMG_2549.JPG

The main courses were great too. I absolutely loved the beef stew with cream and mustard (top right) and the sweet roasted vegetables. The potato purée was heavenly creamy and the pork stew with an undefined bitter vegetable was nice too.

IMG_2554.JPG

There were two types of cake for pudding, one with chocolate and nuts that was rather dry in texture and not really my thing, but Caroline liked it. I preferred the other one with apple and pears.

If you find yourself in Modena I urge you to go here. It’s one of the best buffets I’ve ever had. And although it’s simple cooking and not extravagant in any way it’s done very very well. It’s also very good value for money; all of this gorgeous food only cost €17!

Franceschetta 58, Via Vignolese, 58, 41124 Modena, Italy

Advertisements

Bolognese sauce with red wine and bone marrow

IMG_9749

It is not as often as I would like, that I have time to stand by the stove and look after a casserole (thank god for the oven and slow-cookers), but one Sunday I found the time and enjoyed a few hours in the kitchen. Although made with mince this bolognese was done properly; starting with a soffritto, adding the best tinned tomatoes and tomato purée and eventually red wine and cooking slowly on low heat. In the meantime I prepared some tagliatelle and baked marrow bones to add bone marrow to the casserole towards the end.

The idea to have bone marrow in a bolognese sauce is entirely Massimo Bottura’s and I’ve been thinking about trying it since I heard him speak at Taste of London in June.

I loved the addition of bone marrow but I love it in all types of dishes. This is still a subtle way of serving it, almost sneaking it in, but the depth and umami it adds make wonders for the stew. But, if you don’t like the sound of bone marrow just omit it, the bolognese sauce is still delicious!

IMG_9754

Bolognese sauce with red wine and bone marrow, serves 3-4

500 g pork mince 

ca 3 tbsp sofritto on equal parts onion, carrot and celery 

400 g Cirio chopped tomatoes

200 ml water

1 tbsp Cirio tomato purée

1/2 garlic clove, presser

200-300 ml red wine

salt, black pepper

optional: rosemary and thyme 

1 marrow bone

Mix equal parts onions, celery and carrot in a food processor. Use 3 tbsp about it and freeze (or keep in the fridge for other stews) the rest.

Fry the mince in a knob of butter in a frying pan. Add a knob of butter to a casserole dish and fry the soffritto on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and water, tomato purée and garlic. Leave to reduce a little. Add the fried mince and red wine and leave to simmer for about 1 hour. Season to taste and add the herbs if needed. Preheat the oven to 200C and place the marrow bone on a baking tray and roast in the office until cooked through (i.e. not red/pink in the middle but see-through and a little brown at the edges). Scoop out the marrow and add to the casserole. Season to taste one last time then serve (with tagliatelle and plenty of grated parmesan). 

Taste of London 2014

IMG_7346

Last night was the preview of my favourite festival (on until Sunday); Taste of London in Regents Park. The sun was shining, the barbecue smoke was thick and there were plenty of great food to sample.

I’m not sure how I managed to eat as much as I did, but I thoroughly enjoyed most of it so it was completely worth it.

IMG_7341

I started with Roka’s dumplings with black cod, crab and crayfish in a chilli dressing and they were great. The filling could have done with more seasoning because the dressing took over but it was still delicious.

IMG_7344

At Club Gascon I had the truffled crackling duck egg which was absolutely amazing! One of my favourite dishes of the evening. The egg was nice and creamy, the truffle cream underneath absolutely delicious and the crackling gave a good crunch.

IMG_7347

The clam chowder from Avenue was probably the poorest dish I tried. I liked the way it was served in a sourdough roll but it was completely under seasoned…

IMG_7354

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction served different tapas and were really good at inviting people to their stall. I had the most amazing Jamon Iberico – best I’ve ever tasted – with fluffly bread cushions and tomato oil. Simple but excellent produce!

IMG_7355

I had a Po Boy at Bar Boulud; a soft shell crab burger with Harissa mayo and cucumber and mint salad. It looked so nice random people stopped me and asked what it was and where it was from. Great flavours!

IMG_7361

Before it was time for Massimo Bottura to go on stage in the Taste Theatre I caught the last minutes of the chefs at Honey & Co cooking a three course meal. It looked fantastic so I’m dying to try the restaurant and have a look in their cookbook which is being released today.

IMG_7368

I also had a summer truffle risotto from Tartufo which was wonderfully creamy and tasted properly of truffle. I adore truffle and can’t wait to try this restaurant with plenty of truffle dishes on the menu. The tortellini was also very popular!

IMG_7374

I also love burrata and pappa al pomodoro and L’Anima’s version with anchovies was great. Maybe not as amazing as Zucca’s but very close.

IMG_7377

Then it was time for Massimo Bottura (three Michelin star chef and owner of Osteria Francescana) to take the stage. He explained how he came up with the two dishes he was cooking. That he likes to look in the past to create dishes for the future but that he doesn’t look at his grandmother’s cooking with nostalgia because then he would never change anything. Instead he takes the best from the past and creates it into something even better for the future. Massimo was absolutely charming and very passionate about his work – a joy to listen to!

IMG_7387

Him and his sous chef cooked two dishes. One with a sous vide Italian sausage with a biscuit and a zabaione with Lambrusco and a deconstructed lasagne with a ragu with bone marrow but no tomato, thin dried and burnt pasta and a bechamel foam. Four happy people got to sample each dish but sadly I wasn’t one of them.

IMG_7395

Monica Galetti was in the audience and got invited up to stage for some group pictures. Also Nuno Mendes was in the audience and he was one of the lucky ones who got to try the zabaione.

IMG_7399

Before the next thing on my list I had a green tea sundae from Bone Daddies/Flesh & Buns. It was quite good and served with berries, honeycomb and marshmallows. I really like that it wasn’t too sweet.

IMG_7402

I also tried sushi from Sake No Hana which I’ve been wanting to try and their spicy tuna roll was really nice and had a proper kick to it.

IMG_7407Then it was time to listen to Rene Redzepi from the world’s best restaurant at the moment; Noma in Copenhagen. He was also very passionate when he talked about fermentation for half an hour and was surprised time was up when he had finished. 
IMG_7414

The presenter at this Chef Skills Theatre was chef Valentine Warner but it was Rene who did most of the talking.

IMG_7412

We also got to try a real umami bomb that Rene had brought with him, then he showed a video of Lars making the liquid. It was blended grasshoppers that had been fermented for six months. And it was really delicious! Tasted like a very strong soy sauce with a real deep flavour.

IMG_7416

Rene also showed us mouldy rye bread, but with a good white mould. As we were all geeks in the audience he sent it around so we could smell and touch it.

What a great evening!