Wednesday

My favorite places to eat in Emilia Romagna part 1

First, flying to Bologna is a breeze, and there is a great bus that goes right to the city center.

The really good gnocco fritto can be found all over Emilia Romagna, sometimes it's called torta fritta (as in Parma), or a heavier version called crescentine in and around Bologna. 

My favorite place for gnocco fritto or torta fritta is Trattoria Corrieri in Parma, incidentally my favorite restaurant in all of Italy. It's what Zuni is to San Francisco. Other places in Parma that I like: Gallo d'Oro, Tabarro, Frank Focaccia, Antica Cereria.


A must visit is Antica Corte Pallavicina to see culatello production from the master Massimo Spigaroli. Massimo catered events for me and colleagues at my grad school in Parma, plus we visited him as a group a few times. There is also a restaurant on site called Al Cavallino Bianco (I think it's 1 Michelin star). ACP is in Polesine Parmense outside of Parma and really only accessible by car.


In Bologna...I'll say this...the best places are small and hard to get a reservation (always recommended). Counter intuitively speaking, it's not a great restaurant town like Modena or Parma. My favorite place is Osteria Bottega (a short walk outside of the city center) for great casual trattoria food w/pristinely sourced ingredients. Other favorites are Trattoria Giampi e Ciccio and Serghei, both in the city center. Great for a drink and a snack is Enoteca Tamburini and Enoteca Italia.


If you have a rental car, I highly recommend a visit to Savigno, a mountain village. I stayed there for 3 days and it was so relaxing and beautiful. Da Amerigo is the place to eat..it's 1 Michelin star plus has a small inn if you want to stay overnight (where I lodged). Also on the main drag is a bar (can't remember the name) with a great little trattoria in back (I can find out the name...the tortellacci al tartufo nero in the link below is from this place). Savigno is really off the beaten path but so worth it...can't wait to return. Btw Savigno is the place for white truffles during truffle season, I just missed it by a week!


In Modena...book Osteria Francescana now...it's been written up a zillion times and Massimo Bottura is all over media these days. Funny enough I used to live a few minutes away from OF but never ate there until a year and a half ago. Memorable. 

Because OF gets a ton of hype, other Modena spots get wrongly overlooked. Hit up Hostaria Giusti, a salumeria with 4 tables in the back, in existence since 1600. Great gnocco fritto, salumi and culatello/prosciutto, Lambrusco, pasta, etc. Reserve now if possible. Other must visit is Trattoria Aldina, upstairs across the street from Mercato Albinelli, a landmark covered market that is the best market imo in all of Italy. Inside at a corner of the market is Bar Schiavoni, my favorite place for a great panino in all of Italy. Loll about in Piazza Grande after (my favorite piazza in all of Italy). Lunch only spot worth a visit is Trattoria Ermes...the owner is a real character and it's wildly popular.




Outside of Modena, in Castelvetro, is the heart of Lambrusco country and one of my favorite producers, Opera 02. I'm pals with the guys who run it, Mattia Montanari and Roberto Ballestrazzi. They've got a gorgeous facility...Lambrusco and aceto balsamico production and a small 8 room inn.


Thursday

Si mangia bene a Bologna

Yesterday I submitted photos of Bologna to the editors at Saveur...they wanted something atmospheric that said 'Bologna'. Bei ricordi, indeed...







Chefs at work

From a Kitchensurfing shoot in August...Kitchensurfing is a great startup that links up and coming chefs to provide restaurant style meals at your home. Bring the restaurant to you.









Saturday

Culatello di San Francisco

                       Photo courtesy of Marcia Gagliardi, aka "Tablehopper"
                       www.tablehopper.com


Apparently Kuleto's, that venerable Union Square ristorante (with the killer lamb sausage, chard and ricotta penne) gives a salumi/prosciutti mini course. It is now assumed that most good quality Italian restaurants in the Bay Area butcher an entire hog and make some sort of cured meat in house. It certainly looks beautiful, almost like a bluefin tuna from the Tsukiji or whatever that pesce market in Tokio is called. Nice photo.

Thursday

Photos for sale

Achtung! Photos on the right margin, with one exception, are for sale. Sizes are 5x7 ($40), 8x10 ($50), and 11x14 ($60), + shipping. Only the photo itself is shipped, it is up to you to mat and frame. My recommendation is a plain white mat and a minimalist black frame. Keep it simple.

Thank you!


Saturday

Porchetta truck in Culver City


$6, a bit ethereal and not quite the porky fatty wallop I was expecting. But very good and I will return. The Bucato truck is happening while chef Evan Funke is in preparing to open Bucato in the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City. According to Evan, the e.t.a. is 8 weeks. N'bocca al lupo, or in this case, al maiale!

Tuesday

Montalcino

Pretty much blown away by the 4 days I spent in Montalcino as a guest of the Consorzio di Brunello di Montalcino.

I've tasted Brunello before, I've been to Montalcino before. But what struck me was how the Consortium and the individual producers showed a very sophisticated and insightful brand of hospitality. Some examples:

*I walked into the front yard of Cupano and the proprietess Ornella Tondini knew my Twitter handle (@gnoccofritto) and the title of this blog, as soon as I introduced myself.

*The warmth, passion and emotion at Tenuta Croce di Mezzo. Not to mention the wines were brilliant.

*Our guide/driver Alessandro, who owns a wine shop in the center of Montalcino. Great guy, endlessly informative, funny. And he shipped me 11 bottles of wine (gifts from producers we visited) for 150 euro. Not bad at all.

*Special mention to Giulia Vitturi. She was presenting the wines of Il Ventolaio and had such a winning persistence and curiosity about our palates. A trained Sommelier, great skills, and very beautiful it should be mentioned too. Yes I am single and hopefully Giulia is reading this.

*The dining table scene at Ventolaio...mothers brothers cousins cooks colleagues pasta vino howling wind outside.

*All the wines were great...specifically the Brunello and the Rosso di Montalcino. I was not interested and nor did I like most of the "Super Tuscan"/IGT efforts. I don't come to Montalcino for Cabernet, or Merlot. I come for Sangiovese at its best expression.

*Castello di Romitorio...unbelievable wines and a quirky sense of humor.

*Bernardino at Argiano and the Argiano wines. I did not bring up their role in Brunellopoli (wouldn't have been polite) but I was impressed when Bernardino mentioned the phasing out of barriques. Excellent wines.

*Speaking of barriques...I hate them...I don't like what they do to wine. Some of the Brunello we tasted had a noticeable barrique influence. Some of the Brunello we tasted strove too hard for the international market, for the palate of the Hong Kong venture capitalist perhaps. Not for me at all, but thank you for allowing me and my colleagues to taste.

*One producer really struck out with me...robotic presentation...and inappropriately small tasting glasses, Sherry size, for the Rosso di Montalcino. If you care so little about putting your best wine foot forward, don't pour it in the first place. It's a shame because it's such a historic winery and an amazing cellar.

*Charlie Arturaola...is a force of nature and a great dude...even though I caught his flu. I look forward to the next time we can share some good vino.

*The lunch at Loacker Corte Pavone and the room itself...just wow...

*Favorites? I was impressed with Armilla, their small size and the quality of their wines. Especially the Rosso di Montalcino 2007. Tenuta Croce di Mezzo, Vitanza, Cupano, il Ventolaio, Altesino all rank highly with me.

*Lastly I want to thank the Consorzio for their planning and hospitality and IEEM + the one the only Mariana Nedic :-).

Enjoy the photos and as always, buona bevuta!


                                                                   Armilla


                                                                Cupano lunch prep


                                               Yes, parsley chopped with scissors...Cupano

            Why wasn't this served at the Cupano lunch?

                                              Simple pleasures at Cupano

                                                    It is what you think it is

                                              Cicale...like langoustines...Cupano

                                             Doesn't get much better than this...Cupano

                                                       Pinci al cinghiale...Ventolaio

                                                       Che abbondanza...Altesino

                                                    Old wine...Fattoria dei Barbi

                                                Former billiards table...Fattoria dei Barbi

                                                   Cantina at Castello Romitorio

                                                Cinta Senese...Loacker Corte Pavone

                                                 My terrace...don't be jealous...don't H8

                                           It rained a little in Montalcino that week