Earlier this summer, Luxeat took a small group of food lovers on a three-day culinary escapade of Italy’s gastronomic region, Emilia Romagna, following a trail of the most important trattorias around Bologna.
Known as La Grassa – The Fat One – Bologna is the culinary capital of Italy and home to many of its most famous dishes, produce and vintage wines. With more DOP and IGP denominations than any other, the region is blessed with some of the best producers and artisans that Italy has to offer. Over the course of a few days, we journeyed from authentic to Michelin-starred trattorias, taking part in a private tortellini workshop with ‘pasta grannies’ and indulging in some extensive wine tasting, whilst also visiting a Parmigiano Reggiano factory and a local salumeria.
Our trip began with excitement and anticipation as we hosted a welcome dinner at a traditional and much loved osteria in Bologna. This was complemented by Medici Ermete wine tasting which was illustriously presented by Mr. Alessandro Medici, the fifth generation of the infamous Medici family. Medici Ermete is a family-run, organic winery that has run for over 130 year, and is known for Lambrusco wine, one of the first Italian wines to be exported internationally.
We began our first full day with a visit to a small artisanal cheese maker in the province of Modena, known for producing Parmigiano Reggiano. This local factory was founded in 1966 by a group of farmers residing in the village and is still a very small operation, with just eight members. We tasted different aged parmesans and observed the time, patience and devotion that goes into the lengthy process of making this incredibly special cheese. Our appetites now whetted, we travelled to a Salumeria, a workshop which cures and sells Prosciutto di Modena D.O.P.
Lunch was held at a deeply traditional trattoria in the hilltop village of Monteveglio, not far from Bologna. We sampled the region’s specialities: antipasti of cured hams, sausages and Bolognese cheeses, followed by various tagliatelle al ragu and tortellini pasta varieties and local desserts. The afternoon was filled with a pasta-making masterclass where we were taught the secrets to making tagliatelle, and set about working and rolling the dough. The methods of making the pasta have been passed down by “nonne” through the years, with each generation following the same process.
In the evening, we dined at Amerigo 1934, a one Michelin-starred restaurant in the town of Savigno. The menu here focuses on regional ingredients, and whilst many dishes have been pilfered from grandmothers’ recipe books, they have also been reinvented with creativity and contemporary flavours. We were treated to an exclusive tasting menu, consisting of tagliatelle al ragù (traditionally served with red onion on the side), an extraordinary 73-month aged prosciutto from the black Mora pigs, minestrone made with Valsamoggia vegetables, crunchy Bolognese zucchini and the flower filled with meat and tomato, tortellini in brodo and lasagne with the last of Valsamoggia’s green asparagus. Finally, dolce followed in the form of panna cotta and affogato. All our food was paired with the finest selection of vintage Emidio Pepe wines and we had the great privilege of having Chiara de Lulis Pepe to guide us through the wines as we drank them, a third generation wine grower at the family-run producer.
On Saturday morning we headed to the Pagani factory, the manufacturer of the renowned Pagani supercar based in Modena and enjoyed lunch at another iconic trattoria. The afternoon saw our group heading to Novellara in the middle of Emilia Romagna, where we observed the process of making balsamic vinegar and tasted different aged Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale at one of the most sought after makers in the region.
On our last evening, we ate at a well known Emilia Romagna spot: Osteria Mirasole. Widely regarded as one of the greatest unsung heroes of central Italy, chef and owner Franco Cimini cooked us meat over a charcoal grill, served exceptional local produce bathed in rich memories of the past.
The next and final morning, we hosted a cultural tour around the sights of Bologna before stirring from our Italian dream and returning home.