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...
Touring an Italian Meat Cellar

Touring an Italian Meat Cellar

When the owner of an Italian country resort asks if you want to tour their private meat cellar, what are you expected to say? What do you think Eric said? A silly rhetorical question of course. Corte San Ruffillo in Emilia Romagna is similar to an agriturismo. Sara and Luca run a farm and winery, as well as a contemporary Romagna restaurant, and a lovely hotel. We knew all of this before we arrived, considering it was our second visit to the property. What we didn’t know about, though, was the meat cellar. One morning at breakfast, we were chatting with Sara. She suggested that Luca would be stopping by to give us a tour of their meat cellar, if we were interested. Oh, we were interested. The meat cellar is underneath the main part of the resort, an old stone manor house from the 14th century, which has been restored lovingly. Sara and Luca live in an apartment on the first floor, with their family. The meat cellar is just underneath. It’s a small stone room, with arched ceilings. It’s nothing like the prosciutto factories we’ve visited in the past, which have thousands of legs of ham. Instead, Luca’s meat production is artisanal. It’s experimental. The main purpose of the production is to provide fabulous meats to the restaurant at Corte San Ruffillo. But, he has goals. Luca would love to export his meats to the US, or elsewhere in Europe. Art in a Meat Cellar In the mean time, he ’s perfecting his recipes and his techniques. Curing meat is an ancient process across Europe. It started...
What is Lambrusco – Italy’s Secret Wines

What is Lambrusco – Italy’s Secret Wines

When you think of Italian wines, what do you think of? Do you ever think about Lambrusco? More often it is the Tuscan wines, like Sangiovese, Chianti (which is made from Sangiovese), Barolo and Montepulciano. Maybe you think of Prosecco, or God forbid Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. It’s no secret that I have, perhaps, an unhealthy fascination with sparkling wines. My motto for years has been that Champagne and sparkling wine should not be reserved merely for special occasions. When living in Chicago, with quite the collection of wine in our “cellar”, we would often drink bubbles merely because it was a Tuesday night. I think everyone should do the same.  What is Sparkling Wine? Champagne is a term reserved for sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. End stop. If someone is making sparkling wine in Italy, Spain, Portugal or the US, it legally cannot be called Champagne. It must be called sparkling wine. This is something I learned very early on in my sparkling wine drinking days. During our early trips to Italy, I loved drinking Prosecco, a type of Italian sparkling wine. I love drinking Cava, a type of Spanish sparkling wine. And now I love drinking Lambrusco, a wine made from an ancient grape that is seeing a Renaissance of sorts. Just don’t call it Champagne. Why Lambrusco? Lambrusco is a wine that I was wholly unfamiliar with, despite my years of learning about wine. It was entirely possible that it may have been served to me in the US, but it was not one I knew of before our first trip...
Gelato University – Learning How to Make Gelato

Gelato University – Learning How to Make Gelato

I love ice cream. I love ice cream cones. I love the balance between the coolness of the ice cream and the crunchiness of the cone. When traveling in Italy, I love gelato even more. There’s something about grabbing a schmear of gelato and walking gingerly on a passeggiata around an Italian town. So, imagine how excited I was to learn that I could attend Gelato University! Now, a full course at Gelato University, run by Carpigiani in Emilia Romagna, is a pretty intense affair. It can run up to four weeks and cost thousands of dollars. It is the type of program perfect for someone who is looking to open their own gelato shop somewhere in the world. Our version of Gelato University took about an hour. That’s okay – it fit better into my schedule. Visiting Carpigiani and Gelato University Carpigiani is one of the main manufacturers of ice cream machines. It’s also one of the oldest. Their headquarters is located on Via Emilia, the food and wine route running through Emilia Romagna. I was excited just walking in. They had ice cream cone art all over the walls, and even on the doors to the bathrooms. Carpigiani also operates a gelato museum in this building. The museum includes information on the history of ice cream and shows off some historic gelato related memorabilia. I am not a big fan of museums, but tend to make an exception when they are food or wine themed museums. I also make exceptions for museums where there is a tasting at the end, like the Salumi Museum we visited on our Discover Ferrari tour....
Italian Culinary Tourism Along the Via Emilia

Italian Culinary Tourism Along the Via Emilia

It’s no secret that we love touring the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. We visited the region three times in less than twelve months. This post is the 25th blog post we’ve written about Emilia Romagna! We talk about culinary tourism in Emilia Romagna to every person we meet who is planning a trip to Italy. In our humble opinion, Italian culinary tourism begins and ends with Emilia Romagna. Here’s why. What is the Via Emilia? During our last trip to Emilia Romagna, we toured along the Via Emilia, a food and wine route that runs from the Adriatic Coast, to Piacenza, stretching almost to Milan. Along this route are some of the best known foodie areas of Italy, including Bologna, Modena, and Parma. The Via Emilia and the surrounding areas are home to some of the most amazing DOP and IGP products and specialty ingredients Italy has to offer. The best part is that all of the towns along the trail are less than 20 kilometers away from each other. That means it is easy to do a full foodie road trip in a short amount of time. It was a fun filled, jam packed four day trip to take in as much Italian culinary tourism as we could in a short amount of time. We left full and happy, and itching to return.  Italian Culinary Tourism – The Wine One of our first stops on the Via Emilia was at the Enoteca Regionale, a wine shop and education center in Dozza. The goal was to receive an introduction to the wines of Emilia Romagna, by tasting some of...
Discover Ferrari – Exploring and Tasting Modena

Discover Ferrari – Exploring and Tasting Modena

When we stayed in Modena last year, we instantly fell in love, both with the city and the surrounding areas. We rented a car for that trip and were able to explore all of the famous Modena food products, by stopping at wineries and cheese makers along the way. During this trip to Modena, I didn’t want to rent a car. We were staying in an apartment in a restricted part of town, where we couldn’t park. And frankly, I didn’t want the hassle of a rental car. But, my good friend from the US, Mollis, was visiting us. I wanted Mollis to taste all of the famous Modena foods, and have a similar experience to what we had when we visited in 2014. I figured, if nothing else, we could rent a car for a day and go exploring because that is the one thing about Modena: everything great is outside of the town. Of course there is an amazing Modena food market, and tons of great restaurants in town. We ate very, very well in Modena. There are also some shops where you can taste traditional balsamic vinegar, and even Parmigiano Reggiano. But, it is more difficult to learn the details of how these foods are produced if you are limited to exploring the region solely from inside Modena. As part of the 2015 EXPO in Milan, the Modena tourism board realized this was a problem and decided to try out something new. They offered something akin to a hop-on, hop-off bus to explore the land of fast cars and slow food. Because that’s what Modena is...
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