This week my first wine column after the summer break for Umeå Tidning was released. This month I am writing about good Pinot Noir from New Zealand and their interesting climate. It is in Swedish, you can find it here.
A few days ago I was in Copenhagen to attend the Nordic Ruinart Challenge 2018. It was an exiting blind tasting of four wines from Champagne (two of them were not sparkling!). At the end of the day I learnt that I came in second which I am really proud of. Last year I also came in second in the same competition. If you want to read more (in Swedish) there is an article about it found here.
The city of Bologna in Italys Emilia-Romagna region is called “La Grassa”, meaning the fat one. That refers to all the good food there is to try here. Many say that Bologna is Italys food capital and indeed they do have a nice amount of good foods to try while here! See my top 10 foods not to miss when in Bologna below. If you want to find the best spots for eating in the city you can read my old post about restaurants/bars in Bologna.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese
You are very unlikely to find Spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna or its neighboring towns, simply because it is not called Spaghetti Bolognese here. Instead it is called Tagliatelle al ragù and it is quite different from the one you might have tried before… First of all tagliatelle is another type of pasta, flat compared to spaghetti, and secondly the ragù-sauce is often not a sauce at all but a very thick ragu made from meat and root vegetables, usually with no or little tomato sauce. None the less, it is very good and very classic for the region.
Bologna is said to be the home town of lasagna (even though many other places have tried to claim that they are in fact the real home of the famous dish). If you have not tried lasagna before it is made from flat pasta plates, a meat ragu and a cheese sauce called béchamel. In Bologna it is common to have green pasta plates and to call the lasagna “Lasagne Verde”, meaning green lasagna. The green color comes from spinach.
Tortellini in brodo
Tortellini is very common here, in many different forms. My favorite one (and a very classic dish) is Tortellini in brodo, which is tortellini in broth. Tortellini are small meat-filled pastas and they are served in a savory broth that you can top with the local cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano for extra flavor.
Mortadella is one of the most famous foods of Emilia-Romagna and it is a charcuterie, a very big cooked pork sausage served in thin slices. It is often flavored with various spices, like black pepper, olives and pistachios. It is a very creamy type of sausage/salami with a mild flavor.
Prosciutto di Parma
This meat is also known as ”parma ham” and comes from the hind leg of a pig. Unlike Mortadella it is not cooked but what you call “crudo”, meaning it has been salted and dry aged. Prosciutto is made in many regions of Italy but the parma ham is the one most well known and it’s a must try when in Bologna.
Who hasn’t heard of this cheese? Made from cow milk and aged for a minimum of 12 months it is hard, salty and very flavorful. By now it is protected as a DOP (a food from a protected area), so made by specific rules in a specific region to protect this unique cheese. It is made around the Parma and Reggio villages of Emilia-Romagna, hence the name.
Balsamic vinegar of high quality is made mainly around the village of Modena in Emilia-Romagna and it is a special product. Made from grape must that is cooked over a few days to become concentrated, sticky and brown and then aged in oak barrels. The famous DOP-vinegar has to be aged in barrels for at least 12 years before it is sold. By then it will be very flavorful and also very sweet with a good acidity. It pairs well with salads of course but in my opinion better with fresh fruit like strawberries or peaches, or why not an aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano?
Tigelle is a type of bread, also from Modena, which is quite small and often filled with a lot of different fillings like meat, cheese and vegetables. If not filled it is a great bread to eat with your antipasto platter. Not as well known as most foods from the region, but definitely worth trying!
Okay so most Italian regions make amazing gelato but that is not a reason not to try it in Bologna, especially not after having a lot of salty and savory food all day long…
Emilia-Romagna has a lot of good wines too, not only food. Lambrusco is one of the local wines, a red sparkling wine. Usually it is sweet and heavy, but skip those and go straight for the ones with a rosé color and without sugar. They can be very good, especially with the local cold cuts.
If you are still looking for more local food to try, take a look at this map with all DOP- and IGP-regions for food in Emilia-Romagna. DOP and IGP mean that the food product is protected and made in a certain way from a specific region and often that special food has a long history in the region. Worth looking for!
Bologna is known as the ”foodie city” of Italy, probably mainly because of the food from the region Emilia-Romagna where Bologna is based. This is the home of Mortadella, Parmigiano and balsamic vinegar among other delicacies. The city is even known as ”La grassa”, meaning the fat one.
When going here in June I was exited after hearing so much good things about the city. I have to say though; the hype is probably a bit too big. Even though all the classical food products and dishes were very good indeed, finding good restaurants is quite hard. For a city known for its food I find it strange to see that they only have one restaurant (called I Portici) with a Michelin-star, however in my opinion the food here is more comfort food than fine dining in general which is uplifting. See below for my top recommendations on where to eat and drink in Bologna to experience the best the city has to give!
I spent two days in the city to be able to try all the food I had heard so much about, and two days was maybe more than enough. Of course you have to try as many of the typical food products as possible while here, so as far as meat and cheese go I would recommend Tamburini (Via Caprarie 1). Classical antipasti platters with everything from Mortadella and Prosciutto di Parma to Parmigiano and local bread (and wine of course!). For a low-key place to eat that holds the traditional foods of Emilia-Romagna, try Broccaindosso (Via Broccaindosso 7). It is situated a bit off and doesn’t look like much but their classical food is great! I had the Tortellini in brodo and it was superb.
No trip is complete without a taste (or two) of the local wine. Funny enough the region is very well known for its food, but the wine of Emilia-Romagna is generally not considered among the best of Italy. However, no visit to Bologna should pass without a glass of Lambrusco, the red sparkling wine. Try one that is dry, not sweet; those can be really good and pair well with the local cold cuts. Another wine you may want to try is Pignoletto, a white (still or sparkling) wine made from the grape Grechetto. You could also go for a glass of Romagna Albana made from the white grape Albana, generally very light and fresh.
My top recommendation for a quiet place to take a glass of wine would be Vineria Favalli (Via Santo Stefano 5A), they have a lot of local wine sold by the glass and are very quality driven. Many of the wines come from smaller producers and are made in a natural style. The wine bar also sells wine to take home with local producers like Noelia Ricci (Sangiovese from Emilia-Romagna) and Paltrinieri (Lambrusco).
Another wine bar that is very much into natural- and biodynamical wine is Medulla Vini (Via Guglielmo Oberdan 18). Quite small but cozy and with good recommendations on which wines to try.
If you are looking for something small and quick to eat I really like Tigelleria Tigellino (Via Calzolerie 1), they make Tigelle (a bread local to Modena close to Bologna) with different fillings. Being a bread lover this was one of my top spots to be honest.
But what list would be complete without gelato? The best gelato I tried in Bologna was definitely from Cremeria Santo Stefano (Via Santo Stefano 70). My favorite flavor was their salted pistachio – one of the best flavors of gelato I have ever tried. Extraordinary and creamy gelato with both classical flavors and a few interesting ones.
Just one last thing – if you are looking for a place to buy great Italian wine, stop by Enoteca Il Caffe Bazar (Via Guerrazzi 8). They have wine from pretty much all Italian wine regions, and of course very good ones from Emilia-Romagna. Best thing is that the wines are very reasonably priced! You could even find a few great bottles from all around France (not too common here in Italy!).
Enjoy your foodie-stay in Bologna!
Travelling in Italy is amazing, no matter where you go there is always a new wine style, a new classic food, a new city or something equally exiting to discover. When going to Venice a couple of weeks ago I was eager to see what the city had to offer after hearing so much about it. Like everybody says, it is a magic city, one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen. Other than that, I was not a fan. Like all my travelling this trip was about discovering new wine and food an in a touristic city like Venice it is hard to find something genuine. Walking into the city (sorry to have to tell you this) felt a bit like walking into an amusement park, everything is made for the tourists. Nevertheless I managed to find a few good places to get good wine and food when you are ready to take your eyes of all the canals.
First thing you need to know, the aperitivo is big here in Venice. Wherever you go, there is always a glass of wine and a small snack waiting for you. Here they have Cicchetti, a small piece of bread with almost whatever topping you could imagine. Having Cicchetti is possible all around town, I tried the classical place Cantine del Vino già Schiavi among others.
One of my favorite places was Vino Vero (Fondamenta Misericordia 2497), a small wine bar with maybe four seats inside but with some tables out by the canal as well. Here they will serve you the best local wines like Valpolicella but from small brands, international grapes grown in Veneto like Cabernet Sauvignon and of course the local sparkling wine Prosecco. Look for the Prosecco called Col Fondo, it is the style of Prosecco fermented in the bottle and not in a big tank like most of them are. Usually not as easy to find in other places! In general there will be small producers with mainly natural wine, vino vero actually means “real wine” so only very artisanal producers.
For eating my top recommendation would be Estro (Dorsoduro 3778), a mix between a wine bar and a restaurant. The wine list is long with a few good wines from the region (of course) but also stretching to France, Austria and Slovenia to mention a few – something for everyone that is. I tried a local Cabernet Sauvignon, quite light and fresh, not too heavy which was nice after a long day walking in the sun.
I would like to go back and discover more hidden food- and wine gems in Venice, but then again there are many other places in Italy to see next.
My name is Tina Johansson DipWSET. I am a Certified Sommelier from Sweden living in Stockholm. I work as a head sommelier at the one Michelin Star Restaurant Ekstedt and am a WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines Alumni. I have also competed in Sommellerie and I was Swedens Best Female Sommelier in 2017. Follow my travels through food and wine here!