Edible map – Italy

ITALY

(Bologna, Milan, Rome, Verona)

The influence of Italian food and wine has spread almost to all parts of the globe.  I love their approach of cooking — using a few but high quality ingredients then not doing too much to them.

The country is packed with regional specialities and even the same dish can vary from village to village, each boasting they make the best.  When visiting any place in Italy find out where the locals eat and shop, then follow them.  When cooking make use of the interesting choices of even simple things like salad leaves ( look out for raddichio, dandelion leaves, trevise, puntarelle and different rockets) as well as local olive oils, cheeses and cured meats.

Coffee is a huge part of the culture all over Italy, particularly in the mornings.  Even the dingiest looking of bars will probably serve an amazing espresso — although there are many charming places too.  Go up to the bar and order a “un cafe” , drink it there standing up ( its cheaper than if you sit down) then you should be ready for your day. Macchiatos are also popular in the morning ( espresso with a dash of milk foam) particularly if you want to chat for a bit without your coffee getting cold.  Cappuccinos are drunk generally only before 11 am , don’t even think about ordering one after dinner.

When eating out remember the meal can consist of various courses;

Antipasti  — small plates of cured meats/mixed vegetables or mozzarella/burrata

Primi  — usually a soup, risstto or pasta, ,

Secondi — meat or fish,

Contorni – a side dish

Dolci – desert .

You don’t have to feel pressured into having every course although I usually end up  sharing one of each course between two and maybe having my own primi or secondi.

Don’t try and order any hot drink other than an espresso after your meal or you will be met with a very funny look.

BOLOGNA

Without doubt the highlight of the visit to this region was the food tour to a Parmesan, Parma ham and balsamic producer then a full on lunch at a trattoria run by http://www.italiandays.it.  I am not ashamed to say tears of joy came to my eyes as I watched a wheel of parmesan being born.

Restaurants

Tamburini

Sit outside on the barrels and enjoy the bustle and grime of Bologna. Order a glass or two of wine and tuck into plates of cured meats and cheeses,

Suitable for mid-afternoon pick me up

Drink Italian wine

Effect on wallet minor

 

Banco del Vino

Great for a glass or two of wine from there tempting list and a plate of salami.

 

Ice Cream

Soleluna

Tasty goats milk ice cream in the middle of no-where.

 

ugo gelateria

Via San Felice, 24 40122 Bologna

seriously good ice cream served in edgy shop. I fall for the pistachio every time.

no information at present

Food from Bologna and the surrounding area

Ameretti  – almond flovoured crunchy biscuits.

Balsamic vinegar  – taste the real stuff and your in for a life long love affair with this complex sweet and sour nectar.

Mortadella – delicious cold pork sausage studded with pistachios.

Parmesan cheese – who could live with out this salty intoxicating cheese?

Piselli alla pancetta  – a marriage of peas and pancetta

Prosciutto – cured pigs leg served thinly sliced.

Ragu  -what we call  bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle pasta

Tortellini – small parcels of pasta filled with meat or cheese served in broth ( said to be shaped on the navel of Lucrezia Bogia).

 

Wine from the surrounding area

Lambrusco – a sparkling red wine that has been labeled with a bad reputation though in some examples unnecessarily.

Wine  – look out for grape varieties including Sangiovesse, Bonarda, Trebbiano, Albana and Babera.

MILAN

La cantina del 15  –

corso castelvecchio 15, verono italy. +39 0458004160

What this small Italian restaurant lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with its tasty cooking.

Suitable for a sedate meal

Drink from the interesting wine list

Effect on Wallet bearable

 

casa del vino

Indulge in every course for a very enjoyable meal sitting outside in this traditional Italian restaurant.

Suitable for a charming evening

Drink wine

Effect on wallet bearable

 

no information at present

 Food

Cotoletta alla milanese – grilled or pan fried veal chop

Ossobuco  – slow cooked veal shanks served on the bone cooked with white wine and often served with saffron rissotto

Panettone  , that rich Christmas bread studded with raisins and candied fruit was born here for the nobility, thankfully now available to us all.

Polenta, is found in many places around the Lombardy region delicious when slathered in cheeses and butter.

Risotto alla Milanese  – saffron rich risotto

 

Wine

With tough competition from nearby Tuscany and Piedmont the wine production and reputation of Lombardy is somewhat overshadowed, if you want to drink local look out for;

Sparkling wine 

Franciacorta/Oltrpo Pavese

Red 

Valtellina has the best reputation for wine in that region also enjoy wines that include the Nebbiolo grape ( called chiavennasca locally).

ROME

Rome, the eternal city, has some great restaurants but as with most tourist places generally stay clear of anywhere too central or with pushy waiters trying to persuade you to come in for their below average tourist menus.Instead look for  venues with Italian customers that have smaller choice menus and don’t be afraid to inspect inside before you choose to sit down.

Ristorante Piperno

This is a classy old school Italian where furs and small dogs sit comfortably alongside the oil paintings and wood panelled dining room.

Suitable for dressing up and eating, a lot.

Drink go for everything, aperitif, wine, dessert wine, digestif..

Effect on wallet damaging

 

 

Trattoria pantheon 

Despite what I always say about avoiding restaurants in central tourist areas this is an exception.  Traditional Italian homely food served within view of one of the cities fine attractions ( the clues in the name).

Suitable for an atmospheric dinner.

Drink Italian wine

Effect on wallet bearable

 

 

AL forno della soffitta  –

Casual neighbourhood restaurant serving excellent pizza.

Suitable for taking the kids

Drink beer or cheap wine

Effect on wallet minor/bearable

 

Trattoria da Lucia

Situated in the Trastevere area of the city (very pleasant for a stroll). this small restaurant offers a great opportunity to sample Roman cuisine.  Good to get a table outside when the weather allows.

Suitable for a true taste of Rome

Drink wine

Effect on wallet bearable

 

Ice cream

Gelateria del Teatro

Via di San Simone, 70, 

I tried an almond, ricotta and honey one, it was sensational. It is worth sampling a few before you commit to buying as they have some unusual flavours.

 

San Crispino

Via della Panetteria, 42

I threw a coin into the nearby Trevi fountain and wished for delicious ice-cream then found this place, I am now less superstitious.  Join the queue to get your creamy chilled treat from one of the many chilled looking silver buckets.

no information at present

Local Delicacies/ Dishes

 Carciofi alla Guidea (Artichokes Jewish-style) – tender artichokes

Fritto di Fiori di Zucca (Fried Squash Blossoms), deep fried courgette flowers that can be stuffed with anchovy/ricotta/ honey/ pine nuts.

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana —  lard, bacon, onions, tomatoes, wine and Pecorino cheese sauce  often served  with bucatini pasta – a thick strand like spaghetti with a hole in the middle.

Cacio e Pepe, Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper simple yet so good.

Carbonara , bacon, cream eggs, cheese – it would be hard not to love it. ( Rome is not definitely the home of Cabonara as the Neapolitans also lay claim to it )

Veal Saltimbocca , veal with cured ham,  sage and butter  – so good with rosmeary and garlic roast potatoes.

Coda alla Vaccinara, a rich Oxtail Stew

Trippa alla Romana, slow cooked and served with tomato sauce, cheese and mint worth a try.

Gnocchi al Romana  – A baked semolina that makes a delightful primo course.

Piazza Bianca — a focaccia style bread that is found in most bakeries

 

 

 

VERONA

La cantina del 15  –

corso castelvecchio 15, verono italy. +39 0458004160

What this small Italian restaurant lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with its tasty cooking.

Suitable for a sedate meal

Drink from the interesting wine list

Effect on Wallet bearable

 

casa del vino

Indulge in every course for a very enjoyable meal sitting outside in this traditional Italian restaurant.

Suitable for a charming evening

Drink wine

Effect on wallet bearable

 

no information at present

 Food

Horse, donkey and rabbit have been staples of Verona for years.

Bigoli – a thick spaghetti that takes a hefty sauce rather well

Monte veronese, a sweet milky semi hard cheese

Polenta, slow cooked ground cornmeal often served smothered in cheese and or butter

Vialone nano vero  – a top quality rice variety used for risotto.

Pandoro- golden coloured sweet bread often baked around christmas

 

Wine

Amarone – a top red wine that is lush and complex

Soave, white wine thats clean crisp fresh and dry

Rispasso Valpolicella- grape juice that is mixed with left over skins and seeds and allowed to macerate creating a full bodied high alcohol content wine.

Valpolicella  , easy drinking red wine

 

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