Eats in Italy, Part 1

by brittany on May 9, 2012

I managed to plan every single flight, bus ride, and train trip on our vacation in just such a way that we’d have to wake up at 3 in the morning.  Maybe I didn’t want to waste one moment of waking hours on travel, but I didn’t factor in the exhausted, falling-into-bed naps we’d require after these moves.  After our taxi to shuttle to airport flight from Paris to Bergamo to shuttle to train to Parma to long walk to B & B, we did indeed nap.  When we woke, Michael and I wandered around town and found ourselves a little sweet shop and cafe where we could stop for an aperitivo.

I love that.  I could do that every day.  Coffee shops in the morning I could take or leave, but a cafe with reasonably priced aperitifs and free munchy snacks in the evening would be irresistible.  This time, I drank a Prosecco while Michael ordered that bright red Campari concoction.

The host at our Parma B & B*, Enza, recommended Gallo d’Oro for dinner.  When the hostess led us to our table, we passed three fancy meat slicers.  I think that’s a good sign.  We ordered a plate of prosciutto di Parma (well, come on, that’s the whole reason we visited the town), and it was breathtakingly good.  It is so luscious–moist, tender, flavorful–compared to the second-rate stuff I settle for at home.

This was my salad of greens, fennel, walnuts, and fresh sheep cheese.  It’ll probably make an appearance on our table this year.

Michael ordered this ham-filled ravioli.  We were both really pleased with our selections.

Enza also suggested we visit Grom for our gelato that evening.  Michael’s coconut and my pink grapefruit actually worked well together.

After our time in Parma (another post on that later), we hightailed it to Bologna to visit our relatives.  Lella and Piero hosted us, and our first lunch (prepared by Lella) there was off-the-charts good.  I’m not sure how I didn’t photograph the whole thing, but I blame it on the cold I was battling.  We started with the pasta and ragù sauce above.  After that, Lella served a platter of bresaola, Parmigiano Reggiano, and arugula as well as a baked endive dish (which I must try to make at home).

For lunch dessert, we scooped up spoonfuls of a lightly sweetened fruit salad (they call it Macedonia salad–am I the only one who has never heard fruit salad go by that name?) with slices of this cake.

When we visited my grandmother’s cousin, Felicina, she served us some Easter cake.  Its texture was similar to panettone and it seemed orange-scented.  This cake would make excellent french toast.

Piero fixed dinner that night.  My family knows I’m in love with vegetables, so he prepared this fresh vegetable soup with Grana Padano.  Each bowl contained one large chunk of the cheese that we could gnaw on a bit.


We ate the lightest, most tender white fish accompanied by oven-roasted potatoes and fresh arugula.

*If you’re headed to Parma, I highly recommend the place we stayed:  B & B il Borgo.  For a very reasonable price, we had an entire little apartment to ourselves.  The ground floor contained our charming kitchen (with wooden ceiling beams), fully stocked with breakfast food, snacks, coffees, and teas.  Up the spiral staircase, our bedroom was well-appointed and comfortable, with a clean and bright bathroom.  The hosts (who don’t live on-site) don’t speak English, but google translate was helpful.  Enza was so kind and drove us around to our destinations both mornings, saving us cab fare.  Oh, and the place is located within walking distance to anything you might want to see in the old town.

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