Modena

The thing about Modena (you’re pronouncing it wrong, regardless of how you say it someone will correct you while you are there) is it is exactly what a fairytale village looks like.

Brightly Colored Buildings

The narrow streets are lined with brightly colored buildings and it is impeccably clean. The sidewalks are so small people amble down the center of the streets moving over slightly to let the few cars pass.

Modena is ranked as one of the best cities for quality of life in Italy. Its known as the center for big industry, since it is the home of Ferrari and Maserati, and of course Vinegar. Balsamic Vinegar is known as the black gold of this town.

As we walked down the streets there were so many cute little cafes and shops. Everything pristine, and well kept.

 

In the center of Modena is the Piazza Mazzini and the Palazzo Comunale. The Duomo located there is a 1000 years ago.

Palazzo Comunale

This is the Duomo with the famed tower Ghilandia

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Cathedral Entrance

This is a side entrance that I wandered over to

I liked these gargoyles better.

So other than exploring the Fairy Tale-esque building, the main reason you visit Modena is to go the Museo Del Balsamico Tradizionale or one of the many Consorterias.

Im very excited to learn more about and taste Balsalmicos, but Im mostly excited to stand somewhere warm for a while

There will be one whole post dedicated to the visit to the Consorteria and all the incrdible balsalmicos I tasted.

So what else, other than Balsalmic, Fast Cars, Great Architecture, Amazing Restaurants would you want to see while in Modena.  Well theres the Albinelli Covered Market. This is the bustling hunb of this town.Its where most people gets their produce, fresh pasta, wine, salumi, cheese and more than likely gossip.

The market has all the little known specailties of Modena like Nocino, which is a locally made walnut liquor, Sassolino another local liquor used for trifles, ready made Trifles and Amaretti cookies which are two desserts that are quintessentially Modenese according to the locals.

 

 

The outside of the market is pretty unassuming

No big deal just some stunning artwork in the middle of the market

Produce stalls in the market

 

Fish Market in the Market

Some of these pictures I snagged off the internet, waiting for the market to open after lunch and an attempt to keep warm compelled us to get a little (more than necessary) Grappa and therefor the quality as well as quantity of pictures lessened.

 

The Grappas!

One afternoon is Dozza Part 1

I first heard about Dozza in the book “I Broghi Piu Belli D’Italia” (The beautiful small towns of Italy). The medieval town is only about 30 minutes by car away from Bologna.

One of the Pathways to Rocca Sforzesca

I was interested in going to Dozza for two reasons: the town is covered in Murals and is pften refered to an open-air museum and the Enoteca Regionale dell’ Emilia Romagna, which is a combination wine muesuem, shop and bar.

The town has “Festival of Painted Walls” every two years where are artist descend on the city and put up new art work so the town is constantly changing.

These pictures don’t do this mural justice. The colors are so vibrant in real life

Had to take some selfies infront of the beautiful artwork and show off my awesome ear muffs

So many different styles in this tiny borghi

Dozza is definitely worth a day trip to wander around the tiny town and see the huge amount incredible art covering most the walls and archways

Restaurant Golem

Restaurant Golem is on the Piazza San Martino named after, surprise, San Martino Cathedral which was built in 1217. Its a short walk away from the Finistrella di Via Pella (The Secret Window) and also near the Jewish Ghetto district in Bologna.

The menu was varied with both traditional offerings from the Emilia Rogmagna region and some asian inspired dishes. The atmosphere was very cool. It was one of the few places that actually

had a bar with chairs at it. And there were paintings and sculptures by local artists decorating the restaurant. Apparently they do art shows and events on occasion.

 

 

 

 

Beef Carpaccio

So the food. I started out with beef  carpaccio topped with lots of caramelized onions and big slivers of parmigiano reggiano, seasoned with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

 

 

 

Tortellini En Brodo

I also ordered tortellini en brodo. I had been ordering this at almost every place that I went where it was available. This was my second favorite bowl of soup. The broth was thick and peppery. The filling seemed to have more nutmeg than most and was really warming and filling. Keep in mind it was also in the 30s outside so this soup was just what I needed to mentally and phsycially prepare myself to continue exploring the city.

 

 

 

Gramigna with Sausage

And so because while in Emilia Rogmana one pasta course per meal is not quite enough I also order the Gramigna with sausage and cream sauce. I wasnt familiar with gramigna (which is a local pasta) and tried researching a little history about it but alas the internets failed me and I only know that is “most often paired with light sauces”.

 

 

 

 

If I went back to this place I would definitely try some of the asian inspired dishes, not that the regional food wasn’t great but I think Id like the Bolognese twist on asian flavors.

By the time I was done the place started filling up with what appeared to be University students and hip italians. The restaurant apparently has a good nightlife scene since it is close to some dance clubs. Disclosure: I do not know where they are but the service staff informed me that it was a spot people gathered before going out. The place stays open until 1am.

 

 

La Biata Salumeria

La Biata Vecchia Malga  was recommended to me by a local girl who worked in a luggage shop. I took the reccomendation with a grain of salt (I had been asking the best place to get a tasting of Culatello and Proscuittos.) since after her suggestion she promptly informed me she does not eat cured meats but her friends seem to like the place.

Either way, it was close and I decided to check it out.  The space is small but two stories. The bottom floor has outdoor seating (all year round, the tables were full in January) and there is a second floor/loft set up that looks down on the retail portion of the space.

View from Second Story

The store is actually one of many in Italy. The company was founded in 1969 by Rino Chiari, which directly “imported” products, especially fresh, from the typical areas of production and that “handing out” then to retail stores in Bologna, then the market has also expanded in Modena , and finally to almost all Italy. Even though they have an import business and now 4 stores and a full fledged restaurant it is still family owned and operated.

Various gourmet items for sale

The quality of the ingredients and offerings were spectacular. The menu is huge, but its basically a lot of the same ingredients in different arrangements. The salumi platters are broken up by meat/cheese and region. I ordered the Emilia Rogmagna with local meat and cheeses and the Parma which had mostly proscuittos and culatellos.

For some reason all the employees behind the salumi counter wear these snazzy hats. I never found out why…

Salumi Platter with Mortadella, Proscuitto and Salami Fellino

Proscuitto, Culatello and Mozzarella

 

There are also pasta dishes and salads on the menu. While I was in bologna I tried both offerings of tortellini. They have a typical tortellini bolognese, with a chunky meat sauce(not to be confused with the italian american version which is much more saucy  and tomato-y). And the tortellini in cream sauce. The really interesting part of the preparation is that they cook the tortellini in broth (as you would tortellini en brodo) and then toss with the various sauce, which really add another layer of flavor. Although according the residents I spoke to you never cook your tortellini in water lest you want it to lose all its flavor.

 

Tortellini in dream, I mean cream sauce

Tortellini Bolognese

The food was great, the selection of gourmet food items was spectacular. I wanted to bring home all the jams, truffle goods, and salumi I could afford but Dutch Airlines and United States customs would have put a kink in my plans.

Anyway, if you are in Bologna this place is gem and not at all expensive. The wine list is reasonable and has a great selection of local Lambrusco which is the perfect pairing for the cured meats and cheese.

Lambrusco!

 

La Biata Vecchia Malga,Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3/A, 40124 Bologna, Italy

 

 

The Official Bolognese Tortellini Recipe

This is the official recipe, registered with the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna, disputed hometown of tortellini, by the Italian Culinary Academy and the Dotta Confraternita del Tortellino (Learned Brotherhood of the Tortellino), to ensure the quality of a dish that has become a source of pride of Bologna.

On Christmas Day, every Bolognese family eats tortellini in brodo as the first course of the Christmas meal. It is also a very popular winter dish, especially for Sunday lunch.

The finished product was worth two days of work

For the filling:

100 gr pork loin

100 gr prosciutto crudo

100 gr Mortadella from Bologna

150 gr Parmigiano Reggiano aged three years

1 Eggs

pinch nutmeg

The pork loin should be left to rest for two days over a mixture of salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic, then slowly cooked with a bit of butter and then removed from the pan and cleaned up of the mixture. Mince very finely the loin, ham and mortadella and knead with the Parmesan cheese and the eggs, adding a bit of nutmeg. This mixture must be well blended and left to rest at least 24 hours before filling the tortellini.

For the pasta:

3 eggs

300 gr flour

Notice no oil or water. Put the flour on a wooden board and make a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the middle. Mix together with bare hands until the pasta is smooth to the touch. Roll up in a towel for about 20 minutes so it can get slightly dry, then put the dough back on the board and roll it out. Cut into 3 x 3 cm squares. Place a small amount of filling in the middle of each square. Fold the pasta over the filling to make a triangle. Then is the hardest part: wrap the triangle around your index finger and squeeze very tightly to close it and hope.

I Found The Love Of My Life…

I have never fallen for a person the way I have for a place. Human relationships are so…political. You forever seek the perfect balance between caring enough to be there and being the person that cares too much, upsetting the delicate balance that’s holding it all together. If and when the see-saw once again slams to the pavement with a skull rattling crash, you get to start all over again, and frankly It’s exhausting.

Sometimes I have no choice but to seek the solace of a hammock beneath a pear tree in Amalfi with a watermelon gin and tonic. Because life is hard!

Sometimes I have no choice but to seek the solace of a hammock beneath a pear tree in Amalfi with a watermelon gin and tonic. Does this count as “outdoorsy?”

A new city let’s you hear it’s heart beat almost instantly. It welcomes you with a wink and a smile like an irresistibly charming stranger and the more time you spend the deeper you fall in love with its possibilities and imperfections. The good will always outweigh the bad if you’re looking for it. For every alley that smells like piss and BO there’s a bakery with the smell of hot French bread baking or a Belgian waffle press with Nutella warming, waiting to be poured over vanilla waffles just around the corner. There are always, always more amazing things to discover. You can search your whole life and never find them all.

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That’s the thing with discovering a new destination. No matter how infatuated you may become and no matter how completely you surrender all you have to give, it will meet you there and surpass even your wildest expectations. And when the next adventure calls, it will implore you to follow without jealousy; forever knowing the place in your heart in which it resides is both everlasting, and yours alone.