I thought I’d start off my posts from Italy with a brief over view of my trip and a big ole’ bunch of photos, because, hello, photos of Italy are awesome. I am a little disappointed, because my photos didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Unfortunately, I decided to test a new, very portable, point and shoot camera, on my trip. It didn’t take terrible photos, but they were nowhere near as good as what I get out of my normal camera. Plus they got blurry way too easily. Note to self: always bring your best camera on trips to Italy no matter how heavy it is. Sigh. Oh well. I still do have plenty to show you, so onward!
FYI, I actually took this trip for The Daily Meal, who I write for semi-regularly (I’ll be posting links here to all the fab and informative articles I write for them too!). The Emilia-Romagna tourism board payed for my trip (Thank you guys!). I was gone on the trip for five days; with one day (well part day, part night) of travel on either end. I managed to visit 5 cities, in the 5 days I was there: Bologna, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, and Millan. Nuts right?
I landed in Bologna late on a Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, I did sleep on the plane because I went right from the airport to a cooking demonstration! Admittedly I would have preferred a shower. But, I really did want to learn how to make traditional Bolognese style tortellini, so it was worth the lack of shower. I will of course be sharing this recipe with you guys, probably next week. From the cooking demonstration I went to my hotel. My shower was rather tiny. Many things like showers in Europe appear to be. But I didn’t care. I was clean. I think I slept about 4 hours that night, but they serve espresso with pretty much every meal in Italy. And almost every hotel we stayed at made a mean cappuccinos. But apparently you can only drink cappuccinos before 11!? Sadness. So I loaded up at breakfast. And moved on to espresso by lunch…
The next morning after a very short walking tour in Bologna, we headed out towards Modena, stopping at Hombre Farms, a producer of Parmigiano-Reggiano (yes I totally brought home multiple pounds of cheese!) and Acetaia di Giorgio a producer of real Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (yep got some of that too) on the way. We also stopped into the Ferrari museum (husband very jealous), and had an amazing lunch at the museums restaurant (I feel like this does not happen in America). We then got to sneak in a quick walking tour of Modena before heading to Piacenza for our overnight stay. That evening just outside of Piacenza (Well I think we were just outside of Piacenza. They drove me around in the dark, and I don’t have the best sense of direction at the best of times.. In fact, forgive me if I get anything out of order here, or give you a not quite precise location. I was running primarily on espresso and not so much sleep the entire trip. And again the bas sense of direction thing.) we had an elegant but out of this world multi course dinner at Casino Scottina that lasted for several hours. At said dinner I had the best, yes, literally the best pancetta I have ever eaten in my life. Of course made on site at the restaurant. Do you think they would ship it to me in the states?
The next day we headed from Piacenza towards Parma, stopping at Antica Corte Pallavicina for lunch, which is home to a Michelin starred restaurant, farm, and vineyard. The restaurant grows all their own food, produces DPO Culatello (I learned more about DPO meats than you can even imagine. More on this later), wine, and more. Let me tell you, we had an amazing lunch. Plus, the location is absolutely beautiful. Though the pigs smell like, well pigs. But they are far aways from your table so, it’s cool.
From there we went into Parma. We checked into our lovely hotel, and explored the city for a few hours on our own. Parma is a really nice city and I really enjoyed walking around with another lovely journalist. I got a little bit of shopping done. Hurrah cute Italian handbags! We met up with the rest of our group for an Aperitif (that’s Italian for pre-dinner cocktail or glass of wine and a small snack) at Teatro Regio (the local opera house), and had dinner that night at Trattoria del Ducatio, a traditional family owned restaurant. The spinach and ricotta stuffed ravioli in brown butter and sage? Out of this world. The recipe must be replicated here at home…
On Sunday we had a very tasty brunch at the T Cafe just off of the Palazzo della Rosa Prati. I actually got to try a real Crostata. Previous to this I had always understood it to be similar to the French Galette. Now I have to retract all my prior statements and say they might be food cousins or something, but they are quite different. The crust is more shortbread like? I’ll get more into that in a different post, because this is also definitely a dish worthy of sharing a recipe for!
After a leasurely brunch (and lots of cappuccino) we headed for wine country. All I can say: gorgeous! This is movie worthy landscape material folks. We visited Luzzano Castle and winery. One thing I noticed is that a lot of places in Italy are called “castles” but they aren’t what we Americans would think of when we hear the word. Though these locations did function as castles back in the day, if I were describing them I’d call them manor houses. But castle or not, the winery was amazing, and the owner is one heck of a lady! Again, I’ll tell you much more about it in a later post. We got to check out the wine making process, sample some of the wines, were served an amazing meal at the winery’s little restaurant (more recipes!), and stayed overnight.
The next day we went from Luzzano Castle to Millan and The World Food Expo 2015. The Expo was gigantic. There was way too much to see, eat, and do, and I have lots of thoughts to share with you (later) about the whole experience. We got to spend about 5 hours at the Expo, not nearly enough time to see everything, but it was great to be able to at least check out this once in a life time event. After the Expo we attended a Gala hosted by Chef To Chef, who put together a major project for the Expo (which is a big part of what I was in Italy to see) and a lot of the vendors of the previous stops I already mentioned are members of Chef To Chef. After the Gala we went back to our hotel to bed and got up for an early flight in the morning.
After a rather long (actually kind of torturous) flight, I was home… and that’s the general gist of the trip. Lots of eating. Lots of cool things to see. Not nearly enough time. Though I must admit I was so happy to get home to my boys! Of course, I have a zillion more little details to share with you about the trip, the food, the places we visited. (And of course I’ve got recipes, some that I picked up in Italy, many my own recreations here at home of things I ate there.) But, as I mentioned in the beginning I feel like there is so much to talk about that it would be much better if I broke things down into a number of smaller posts. I’ll probably be talking about Italy for quite a while to get through everything. But meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this photo sneak peak! More to come Tuesday.
Note: This trip was fully paid for by Emilia Romagna Region Tourist Board. However, any opinions expressed here are my own.