The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

It’s finally here! After hinting for the last several months, and after a full year of hard work, my first culinary travel guide is here! Introducing The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy! It’s no secret that Eric and I love Italy, and about three years ago, we discovered Emilia Romagna. Since that time, we have made five visits to the region, that encompasses Bologna, Modena, Parma, and more. Why do we love this region so much? Emilia Romagna is home to some of the best food, and food products, in the world. It is home to Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, traditional balsamic vinegar, and more. It is the home to Slow Food and Fast Cars. It is home to amazing wines, including world famous Lambrusco, and some Italy’s secret wines, including Negretto and Albana. It almost kills me when people tell me they are traveling to Italy and limiting their trip to Rome or Venice. There is so much more to see of the country than the primary tourist spots. I do understand the draw to those cities. I understand wanting to see the Coliseum, or the Bridge of Signs. But, after Rome and Venice, where should you travel to in order to experience the REAL Italy? Where should you travel to in order to eat the best food in Italy? The obvious answer is: Emilia Romagna! And, my new The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna can help you plan the perfect trip through the breadbasket of Italy. In a full 250 pages of culinary guide book...
Mortadella – Seeing How the Sausage is Made

Mortadella – Seeing How the Sausage is Made

There is a saying that goes, “No one wants to see how the sausage is made”. When it comes to mortadella, though, I’ve been desperate to find out how it is made, and the story behind it. Mortadella – That’s Baloney Like many kids who grew up in the States, I grew up on bologna sandwiches. I could spot that round plastic container, with the yellow backing, from a mile away. I still remember the sound it made, when that plastic backing was ripped off. The smell of the bologna when it sizzled in a frying pan is another thing I remember. Yes, my grandmother often made me fried bologna sandwiches, served on white Wonder Bread, with ketchup of course. An all American bologna lunch was served. As I got older I started to despise bologna, and most of the other lunch meats my mother served me. Liverwurst. Olive loaf. That fake turkey meat. Processed ham. It got to the point where I despised it all. I grew into an adult with a little bit of processed meat PTSD from my overly bologna saturated childhood. As I started to eat Italian cured meats, it took me some time to develop a taste. To me, prosciutto was raw, pancetta fatty, and mortadella, was, well, baloney. It was round and pink, and to me “processed.” But, oh was I mistaken. History of Mortadella in America I am not sure how the mortadella that was eaten by Italian American immigrants turned into American bologna. Obviously there is the connection that mortadella was from Bologna, so I understand the name. But, I cannot understand...
Aperol Spritz – The Italian Aperitivo

Aperol Spritz – The Italian Aperitivo

There are two things I love about traveling Italy: the Aperol Spritz and aperitivo. It All Started With Campari I started drinking Aperol before I knew what Aperol was. The path to Aperol started with it’s grandfather, Campari. During one of our early trips to Rome, we thought we would try a Campari cocktail. I had no idea what was in a Campari Cocktail, but as we sat at a cafe on the edge of the Campo di Fiori in Rome, I thought it seemed appropriate. I felt like Audrey Hepburn with my bright red Italian cocktail. I didn’t like it one bit. Despite it’s deceptively bright red color, it is hardly sweet. It packs a bitter punch, even when matched with mixers. I think the version we ordered in Rome was merely Campari and soda water, maybe with a little Prosecco. But, there was not enough sweetness to offset the bitterness. It made us stay away from Campari, and anything in that family, for a really long time. What is Aperol? Aperol bears some similarities to it’s partner in crime Campari. The biggest difference is the color. It’s bright orange, and brilliant looking. Our friend in Slovenia introduced us to Aperol, and Aperol Spritz, during a day trip to Piran, Slovenia a few years ago. It was a warm fall day on the Adriatic coast. Irena ordered an Aperol Spritz and when it arrived, I just found it gorgeous. Aperol is an Italian aperitif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona among other ingredients. No, I did not know all of these ingredients when I typed them....
A Food Travel Blogger – The Occupational Hazards

A Food Travel Blogger – The Occupational Hazards

Just two years ago, I was introduced to the concept of a food travel blogger. Before that, I just thought I could be a travel blogger, and that would be enough. Supposedly, to stand out from the crowd we needed to pick a niche. We like traveling for food. We’ve always said we travel on our stomachs. Next thing you know, I’ve become a food travel blogger. What is a Food Travel Blogger A food travel blogger, or a culinary travel blogger, is way different from a food blogger. This is a distinction I think needs to be addressed. Food bloggers focus, for the most part, on recipes. Food bloggers on Instagram have entirely different photos than a food travel blogger on Instagram. A food blogger uses props, staging, lighting, and sometimes even glycerin, to make their food look amazing. There are food stylists. Professionals who work with brands, hotels, and restaurants to photograph their food in the best light possible. Because, the goal of a food blogger is to photograph the food. We actually eat the food we photograph. Because a food travel blogger focuses on how to travel  for food. How to learn about local ingredients, how they are produced, and how they are prepared. And, most important, food travel bloggers eat. The Concept of Abbiocco During our first trip to Emilia Romagna, I came across an article about different words in various languages that are simply untranslatable. It’s the first, and really only time, that I’ve heard the word abbiocco. It’s the Italian word that essentially translates to drowsiness from eating a big meal. After four...
Unique Foods – What We’ve Eaten in 2016

Unique Foods – What We’ve Eaten in 2016

There are loads of blog posts out there talking about unique food challenges. In fact, I wrote one before we left the US almost 4 years ago. I should mention, we’ve eaten virtually none of those unique foods. Where once we wanted to seek out these dishes, now, we are more interested in continuing to eat the foods that we love around the world. Many people limit the foods they eat because they are picky and don’t like a lot of foods. For us, that’s not the case. We like loads of different foods, so we have a lot of variety to choose from. The thing is, when we are in Hong Kong for 4 nights, I want BBQ pork and wanton mee. When I’m in Hanoi for 3 nights, I want pho bo and bun cha. I want the dishes that I’ve come to consider as comfort foods in those countries. What Are These Unique Foods? That said, in the last few months, we’ve eaten some unique foods, even without seeking them out ourselves. Now, this isn’t scorpion on a stick unique food. Instead, they are just foods that are a little strange, and ones we would not order ourselves. So, how did we end up eating these unique foods? Many times when we travel, we are at the mercy of tasting menus or chefs who put all sorts of foods in front of us. We oblige. Most we end up loving. Some, we end up tolerating. Some, we eat to be polite. What are some of the unique foods we’ve eaten so far this year? Liver in...
Negretto – Italy’s Secret Wines

Negretto – Italy’s Secret Wines

The first person to walk in the door was Giorgio, a late forties Italian winemaker with wild grey hair and a big smile. He walked right over to us, greeted us with “Buongiorno!” and a kiss on each cheek. We were like old friends, despite the fact that we’ve only met each other once before, and we don’t share the same language. The only thing we share is our love of wine. And on this day, we were there for Negretto. We had arrived at Agriturismo Gradizzolo before anyone else from our lunch party. Gradizzolo is set at the edge of a national park, which also seems to double as the small region where the Pignoletto grape is grown. Quite nearby is Corte d’Aibo, one of the first of the Bologna Hills wineries we visited. Also nearby, is our friend Alessandro’s winery, where we drank Pignoletto sparkling wine the year before. We wound along the edges of the national park, where Google Maps inferred we were about ready to fall off the face of the earth. And, there was Agriturismo Gradizzolo. We sat in the dining room waiting for Giorgio, and the rest of our party, to start our Negretto wine tasting. Find what other travelers have to say about Agriturismo Gradizzolo at TripAdvisor What is Negretto? Negretto is an ancient grape, from the Roman times. The word Negretto translates to something like dark, or black. The grape itself and the wine it produces, are so dark it’s almost black. In earlier times, the grape was so hard to grow that the wine in its natural state was nearly undrinkable. As a...
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