I’m back, and I come bearing chocolate

Hi guys, I’m back. Sorry I’ve been gone so long, would it help if I said I’ve been reaaalllyyy busy having the time of my life? Well, if not, it’s OK because I come bearing chocolate consolation.  

 It’s really been a crazy few months, which I’d like to capture for you in a neatly organized bulleted list (the account manager in me will always love a well-constructed bulleted list, they’re just so easy to digest!).

Top six things that happened since I last blogged:

  • Rachel visited: one of the best ten day periods of my life. We whirl winded our way through Sardinia, the Cinque Terre, Bologna, Modena and Milan. Rachel’s favorite was the Cinque Terre, mine was showing off a country I love to a friend I love more.
  • I stopped by Florence to visit my old journalism professor at Miami, Annie Laurie Blair who was teaching journalism in Italy for the summer. Between figuring out my life with Annie, exploring the south side of the city and meeting some really cool Miami undergrads, I was one happy camper.
  •  BETSY GOT MARRIED and I WENT HOME. Well, not in that order, but definitely read into the capitalization: it was a HUGE deal, people. Words can’t describe being reunited with your best friends, best (BEST!) family and then watching two of those best friends get married. Bobby and Johnny came up to Michigan (the wedding was in Bay View) with me a few days early to hang out and relax. Even though I traveled thousands of miles to be there, my brothers were definitely the favorites as a result of their charm, good looks and ability to construct tents and chairs in the rain.

We clean up nice.


  • I returned to Colorno, reunited with my friends and started classes again. Northern Italy in the fall is about as beautiful as you’d think it might be. While the leaves have turned gold, the air has turned cool, which is such a relief after the blistering summer. Fog is also a big part of the climate here, and is the secret ingredient to aging perfect Prosciutto and culatello!

Taken on my usually running route through the Italian countryside.

  • Bobby will be here for Thanksgiving. Again, one of those things that I can’t really describe in words, but since this is a blog I’ll try: I’m so excited that when I think about it before going to sleep, well, I don’t…sleep. I tell my friends he’s way cooler than I am so they better still like me after he leaves. He’s also in charge of bringing cranberry sauce (the most important part of Thanksgiving as far as I’m concerned), so there’s that added excitement/pressure too. Bobby’s also started making really really incredible movies, the latest of which you can watch here.
  • I made really yummy Double Banana and Nutella Mini Panini. While this bullet point may seem out of place among the above epic-ness, it’s not. These panini, in my humble opinion, are just that good. I made them for my friend Caro’s birthday brunch, and even my most gastronomically discerning friends were smitten.

 So, here’s the chocolate I promised:

Double Banana and Nutella Mini Panini

Makes about 15 mini panini

For the mini banana baguettes:

 1/2 cup lukewarm water

4 tablespoons honey

1 package yeast

3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2)

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

4-5 cups whole wheat flour

Add the lukewarm water to a small bowl and stir in the honey. Now, sprinkle the yeast, stir to blend and set aside for 8 minutes.

In a large bowl add the banana, oil, salt and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Stir in the yeast and honey mixture until combined. Gradually add the remaining flour and knead in the bowl for 15 minutes. The dough should be elastic and not sticky. To test the dough, stick your thumb into the ball for five seconds. If it comes out clean, the dough is ready. If not,  add additional flour ¼ cup at a time.

Oil your bowl with remaining tablespoon of oil and return dough to the bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap and set in warm place for 1 to 5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Punch down the dough and form into three five inch mini-baguettes about 2 inches in diameter. Flour a cookie sheet or pizza stone and set the baguettes at least 3 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread sounds hallow if tapped on the bottom.

For the panini:

2 mini banana baguettes

5 tablespoons Nutella

2 bananas sliced thinly

2 tablespoons butter

 Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat.

Cut the baguette in ¼ inch slices. On half of the pieces spread a thin layer of Nutella. On the other half, place two pieces of banana. Make sandwiches by combining one Nutella piece with one banana piece.

Butter both sides of the sandwich and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.




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4th of July, Italian style and big news!

Fourth of July could have really sucked this year.* It could have sucked to be thousands of miles away from America and it could have felt lonely. It could have felt isolating and it could have been uncomfortable celebrating my patriotism. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. This year’s Fourth not only didn’t suck, but it might have been the best dang Italian Fourth of July Barbecue Bonanza my side of Colorno has ever seen.

The day didn’t start out so bright and shiny though. It all began with our shade-less-ness, in that we have absolutely none, nor any relief from the 95-degree Colorno sun. Naturally Diana and I decided it would be totally feasible to tie a tarp from the trees in our “yard” to the side of our house. But, while we were busy wasting time and rope our next-door neighbor erected a gazebo, dug an umbrella into the dessert that is our garden and set up a picnic table.

Next was the issue of the barbecue’s inherent grill-less-ness. Mauro, the owner of the local pub entered the scene next to save the day. In one instant our party went from grill-lacking to completely and utterly grill full. I knew the second I saw the ginormous truck Mauro suavely maneuvered down our street that inside was a grill ready to take on the seventeenish types of pork served at the Bonanza. I breathed a sweaty, grateful sigh of relief.

With everything set just in time to simultaneously shade and heat guests and food respectively, classmates began arriving. My friends, representing seventeen different countries all gathered to help celebrate mine. They brought foods from their cultures or they brought tastes of what they thought would bring us Americans some comfort.

Sweaty but fun, but not funny how much we sweat

Where we lacked fireworks we had Canada cake decorated with sparklers. Where we missed a proper Fourth of July parade we made up for with a serious flip cup tourney. We ate sushi, vodka soaked watermelon and Asian barbecue, all of which are hereby pronounced Fourth of July necessities.

Three things: 1) Catherine's parents brought the Fluff from America so we could have s'mores 2) The Canada cake looked even more gorgeous before melting in .5 seconds 3) Carrie made cake balls--cake and frosting rolled into a ball and covered with ganache to create a diabetic comma of yumminess

If you can't tell by the intensity of his gaze, David (front left) brought home the gold for his team, aptly named "Team David"

How cute are we, period

Not to brag or anything but objectively speaking it was a really great party, which is such a convenient and perfect segue to my other big news: the Party Girls are back in town! No your eyes aren’t deceiving you, and it’s not too good to be true. For a limited time only Natalie and I will be available to do our Party Girl thing at your next party if it falls between August 14 and September 3, 2010.

“What the heck is Party Girls, Lauren?” you might be thinking. For those of you who haven’t yet met me as one of the Party Girls, let me introduce us: my longtime bosom buddy Natalie Goldstein and I started Party Girls in 2003 as a party servicing company. We set up, prepare, serve and clean up. We bartend, grill and schmooze. We’re a two-girl show and we’ve really got this party thing down to a science. So if you’d like to feel more a little more like a guest at your own party, please email me today!

God Bless America and happy partying!

Party Girls

*Sorry for the language, mom and dad


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Gnocchi + goulash + fried fish = white bean dip with spinach pesto

Last week was a gnocchi with goulash kind of week. It was also the week that I graduated from illy Café University so let’s just go ahead and say, it was a pretty big week. The gnocchi and the degree are part of study trip number three, a week in the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region of Italy.

As one of the five autonomous regions in Italy, Friuli-Venezia Guilia is under administrative autonomy according to the Italian Constitution (Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Aosta Valley are the other four). As a result of their constitutional distinction, these regions are governed by their own economies. In fact, Friuli-Venezia Guilia has one of the strongest in Italy, based primarily on specialized farming and exports like Prosciutto di San Daniele–basically Proscuitto di Parma cured in Northern Italy. Friulian is the primarily language of the area although it has slowly been phased out and replaced with Italian.

The region is also famous for its coffee, which means if you’re a student at UNISG, you spend the day at the illy headquarters earning your coffee degree. While it may sound like caffeine-laced fun and games, it was an action packed day. By the end my friends and I were in desperate need of a beer and sustenance to help settle the six-ten espressos we’d consumed throughout our day of coffee school (we had to, it was like homework).

At coffee school, each student naturally has their own illy computer and microphone.*

What we found for dinner was nothing less than an Italian/German/Austrian extravaganza of a meal. Looking back, I’m not totally sure how I’ve survived this far without a hefty helping of goulash with my gnocchi. The sausages, sauerkraut and mustard also tasted like long lost friends I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed. It was one of those meals where you’re unsure where you are (I’m eating spicy mustard and goulash two hours from Parma?), but frankly you just don’t really care.

Throughout the rest of the week we hit a bunch of regional hot spots including a Prosciutto di San Daniele producer, an alpine cheese maker a two hours hike up into the Alps and a 100-year-old flour mill. But the real show stopper was the morning we spent harvesting mussels from a farm off the coast of Trieste.

Our host, an ex-lawyer turned alpine cow farmer/cheese maker, makes ricotta by heating and straining the curds produced from his last batch of cheese.

Simultaneously delicious, disgusting to look at and also one of the most sustainable forms of seafood farming, there is a lot to say about mussels. That morning we watched as the mussel farmers harvested suspended ropes that the mussels attach to through sticky semen secretions. They grow, suspended on the ropes attached to opposite ends of buoys for about one year. Then the fishermen hoist up the ropes, pull off the mussels and pack them into tubes  of plastic netting ready to be sold to local restaurants or markets. For lunch we were treated to mussels, fried, calamari, shrimp, and whole sardines. Holy seafood.

The bones of the sardines were so soft that we ate the entire fish--bones, head and tail.

By the end of the week I really felt like a giant gnocchi battered and fried. Since arriving home I’ve craved nothing more than raw vegetables, fruit and riding Pickles (my bike). I had a bunch of spinach on hand so I came up with this spiffy number, which I hope you enjoy.

White  Bean dip with Spinach Pesto

Serves three

For the pesto:

3 cups fresh spinach

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Finely mince the spinach, garlic and almonds. Scrape into a small bowl and stir in the cheese. Slowly drizzle in the oil while stirring and test for salt and pepper.

For the dip:

1 28 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained

¼ cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Dump the beans into a small bowl and mash against the sides of the bowl until smooth. Pour in the lemon juice, stir and test for salt and pepper.

Drizzle the pesto over the dip and serve with seasonal vegetables.

If you haven't already noticed, I really like dips.

*All of the photos from the trip are courtesy of Lindsay Anderson http://linds-eats.blogspot.com/


Filed under Recipes, Stage Travel

Father’s Day soup

People who know me know I really love my dad, I mean really love him. Some might even say I take it a little too far when I say I picture myself marrying the 30-year-old, hairy (read: not bald) version of my dad. I just say I’m lucky because I think he likes me too.

There have been many times in my life that stick out as times when I knew my dad was a keeper/future husband material. One of those times  was junior year of high school. I mean all of junior year–the year when my attitude was as ugly as my acne. Looking back, I thank my dad often for not locking me in a cage mostly because I think my mom was more open to the idea since it was mostly her fault that the world was so unfair.

Another time was junior year of college when my right lung spontaneously collapsed. I was in so much pain that all I could muster was a voicemail to my parents explaining I was having an emergency. I use the terms “voicemail” and “explaining” very loosely as the message mostly involved me shrieking into the phone about how neither parent was available in my time of need.

Dad drove six hours to Oxford with only a briefcase to his name so that he would be there when I woke up after surgery. He stayed with me in McCullough Hyde/Mc-kill-em-and-hide-em Hospital for four days sleeping in a chair, navigating the wilds of a small town hospital and most difficult of all: reminding me that everything is going to be OK.

The most recent time is another instance when my dad had to remind me that everything would be all right. Moving to Italy for a one year masters program isn’t for the faint of heart. There were a million times I wanted to and  did throw my hands in the air and give up. My mom and dad were the only ones able to control these outbursts and get me back on track, reminding me that rescanning/rewriting/redoing x, y, or z form, letter or application would be worth it in the end. Thank God I had the sense to listen because they were so right.

What he can do: cycle from Vail to Aspen for fun, cycle to and from work (22 miles each way) every day, cycle 50 miles on Sunday mornings with his biker gang. What he can't do: smile on command.

On that note, I offer you the latest installment of “Best I Ever,” which is a true culinary collaboration. Dad sent me this email yesterday: “Recipe Idea- Soup: borlotti bean*, faro, rosemary, pancetta and p-r cheese.” Can you see why I love this man? What a great combo. I’ve tweaked it a bit (sans cured meat so Catherine could enjoy)**, but I think/hope it still captures his culinary vision.

Father’s Day Bean Soup

Serves 5

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 yellow onions, diced

2 leeks, sliced thin

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup faro

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 sprig fresh rosemary

3 cups haricoverts, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 can each borlotti and white beans, rinsed (substitute pinto for borlotti if necessary)

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley Pistou Topping

1 cup fresh parsley, minced

½ cup Parmesan cheese, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add the olive oil to a large stockpot over low heat. While the pot gets hot, dump the leeks into a strainer and rinse under cold water to remove any sand or grit. Dry the leeks and add them to the pot along with the onions. Cook the onions and leeks for about five minutes just to soften.

Next, add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a summer. Stir in the faro, tomatoes and whole rosemary spring and cover for about ten minutes. Skim off any foam from the surface and mix in the haricoverts. Taste for salt and pepper and simmer for another five minutes. Add all but ¼ cup of the beans. To thicken the soup, mash the remaining beans with one tablespoon of broth and stir into the soup. Simmer for another ten minutes, removing the rosemary sprig just before serving.

For the pistou, in a small bowl mix together all three ingredients. Serve the soup topped with two or three tablespoons of the pistou and crusty bread.

If soup says, "I love you!" then Father's Day soup says, "I really love you and happy Father's Day, Papa Bear!"

*This time of year borlotti beans are everywhere in Italy and boy are they pretty: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2002/1516886065_5a4f65571b_o.jpg. They have a starchy texture and nutty flavor and cook up to a light brown. Unfortunately they may be tricky to find in the U.S., so substitute pintos if you can’t find any.

**For those who love cured pork as much as Papa Sudekum, this is how I would incorporate some pork love:  brown about 1/2 cup  diced  pancetta in the pot until it lightly browns, about eight minutes. Hold on the olive oil since the pork will render enough fat. Add in the  onions and leeks to soften in the drippings.


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Asparagus and cherry tomatoes with minty peas

It’s been an amazing to watch the impact of the changing seasons on the land around here. A month ago my home was surrounded by acres of non-descript nothingness. Now, when I look out my window I see fresh hay bales, what look to be baby corn stalks, wheat and tomatoes.

A church I pass on my usual jogging loop, with corn growing in its parking lot.

The produce in the market is changing too. This past week saw the addition of fresh peas and boy oh boy was I excited. Turns out not only do I love peas, but I really love shelling. I love the idea of peas so fresh they haven’t even been exposed to outside air yet, sticky with natural sugar.

Good: shelling peas. Not good: my notes on/understanding of terroir.

This recipe really is a celebration of early summer. Here in my corner of the world you can’t go too far without finding shockingly pretty produce, especially when it comes to asparagus and tomatoes. Topped off with a minty pea sauce this recipe is screaming for a cool glass of pinot and a balmy summer evening.

Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes with Minty Peas

Serves 4 as side dish

1 lb. asparagus

10 cherry tomatoes sliced in half

½ lb. fresh peas, shelled

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tbsp. Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. salt

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot fitted with a strainer, bring about two cups of water to a simmer.

Trim the asparagus by snapping the end off each stalk. Add to the strainer, covering the pot with a lid. Steam the asparagus for about five minutes or until it is bright green and still has a bite. Rinse under cool water and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

For the pea sauce, fill the pot with about two cups of fresh water and the 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a simmer. Add the shelled peas and blanch for about five minutes. Try mashing some of the peas with a fork to test for softness. They should mash easily. Strain the peas and rinse under cold water. Add to a medium sized bowl and mash against the sides of the bowl with a fork until slightly chunky. Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, zest and mint. Taste for salt and pepper.

Top the asparagus with pea sauce and sliced tomatoes.

I ended up bringing this dish over to my classmate David's apartment to eat alongside his homemade traditional Taiwanese street food dinner. You know what? Summery asparagus and peas isn't half bad with Taiwanese beef and rice.


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Cartwheels on Crete

I shouldn’t be writing this. I shouldn’t be thinking about the billion blues that make up the water along the Cretian shoreline or the jagged landscape glowing, piercing through a hot pink sunset. I shouldn’t be day dreaming about the mountains and the valleys, seemingly undisturbed by human hands. I should be working on a paper about the terroir of Prosciutto di Parma, but–I’m not. Crete’s blues and hot pinks, greens and grays are enough to make a girl’s head spin. Instead of writing about prosciutto, I choose to daydream about the colors I encountered this past week, a rainbow of a week  spent on Crete.

Can you see the sheep off in the distance?

Crete isn’t just a pretty face though, quickly confirmed on our first outing when we met an over the top charming 70ish bed and breakfast owner we’ll call Nikos. Nikos owns an equally charming bed and breakfast nestled in the countryside. After playing the lira for us and teaching us to make traditional bread, Nikos treated us to a nature walk that on the scale of “one to best nature walk ever,” was off the charts. Walking through Crete is like walking through a jungle salad. We saw walnut trees, wild asparagus, artichoke bushes, mint, sage oregano, date trees. The variety and availability of such incredible plants made me think about 1) how little I know about what I eat and how it grows and 2) how important it is to know more about what I eat and how it grows. It was one of those moments where you think, “Wow, nature is really awesome.”

That feeling of awe was only reinforced the day we visited a sheep herder. He’s a one-man sheep herder show, who also lives in the countryside, but about at the top of a mountain about 1500 meters above sea level. As the proud owner of 250 sheep, he milks each one twice a day, every day. This man didn’t speak one word of English, but his messages to us were read loud and clear: don’t mess with nature and she won’t mess with you. We gathered in a 200-year-old stone hut, made of only stone. No mortar, no mud, no industrial strength stone glue, it stands on ingenuity alone. Inside, our shepherd guide explained how he heats sheep milk to 48 degrees Celsius for hard cheese and 92 degrees Celsius for the soft cheese he makes daily. To discern the exact temperature of the curds and whey he dips his hand into the curds, knowing just by touch when the cheese is up to temp. The simplicity of his method was jarring. As a recovering iPhone, user/abuser, the lack of reliance on anything with a battery felt so primal, but also so right.

The wooden tool is made from a young olive branch that they twist into a wisk-like ball at the bottom while the wood is still malleable.

After our cheese tutorial we dined on a “traditional Cretian shepherd’s lunch”…and we started with pasta. Spaghetti to be specific, and what a stir this pasta caused! The dish was simple—extremely soft spaghetti noodles (some might say overcooked) boiled in broth and topped with hard feta-like grated cheese. While I for one have a special place in my heart reserved for overdone pasta, many in my group (namely Italians) were outraged: “This is what we eat in the hospital!” They felt the noodles were not only overcooked, but they should NEVER be cooked in broth (only small cut noodles are cooked in broth) and where was the sauce? An outrage.

No al dente pasta here.

We discussed/talked loudly and passionately about how the shepherd’s preparation wasn’t wrong because even though he was using an Italian product, he’d transformed it into a dish all his own. Calling the noodles overcooked is an insertion of our outside values and tastes. We have to assume that they were cooked just the way our shepherd friend prefers them, maybe as a counterbalance to the harder and saltier cheese. Either way, it felt pretty cool chowing on a traditional Italian product, transformed into a staple of the traditional Mediterranean diet, as an American, on Crete. While fervent debate ensued throughout our time with the shepherd, know we’re all still friends, overcooked pasta or not.

On the subject of friends, I have some pretty cool ones over here. And while I knew they were cool before, a magical day spent in Plakias with a bunch of them only made me more positive. After the nature walk, cheese making and a bunch of other field trips we had a free day to plan our own adventures on Saturday. One of my coolest friends is a one Lindsay Anderson who suggested we visit a small village called Plakias as she had spent a few days there with her brother five years prior. Plakias is directly south of Rethymnon, our home base for the week.  Only 45 minutes takes you from one side of Crete to the other, and oh man, would you believe me if I said the grass (or in this case the water) is greener/bluer on the other side? The Southern coast felt like a long forgotten private paradise.

We packed a smorgasbord picnic and set out on a hike, wearing nothing but bathing suits, yoga pants, water shoes, and backpacks. I also carried a watermelon in a grocery bag up the Cretian mountainside, just for good measure. Along the way we found a small white washed church carved into the mountainside that literally took my breath away. Also breath-taking were our outfits.

Practicing our Japanese photo poses, as one does outside an ancient church nestled into the Cretian mountainside.

The second half of the hike we climbed through a river until we hit a natural pool where we settled in for a quick picnic lunch. We chomped down on whole cucumber, fruit, dried figs and dried rusks, and it really was a “best I ever” moment. The cucumber was the crispiest I’ve ever had, the figs the sweetest, the fruit the freshest. It could have been the aerobic activity, the invigorating water or my foodie friends relishing all the tastes as much as I was.

To sum, I offer you this picture, which I think might describe best how I feel about Crete. I’m the one in front with the awkwardly contorted body stance and complete lack of grace. Don’t I look at peace with nature? It must have been the beauty of the sunset again distracting me from the task at hand.

Lindsay and I expressing ourselves via cartwheels.

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Stolen heart, bloated belly: adventur-eating through Bologna

Once upon a rainy Wednesday four UNISG students set out on the 9:44 train headed for Bologna with a taste for adventure and the world’s best ragu. Armed with only their wits, an umbrella and a few hastily written restaurant recos, the foursome arrived at Bologna Centrale ready for whatever the Gods of Ragu threw their way.

They splashed and slipped their way onto the shadowy, but dry covered sidewalks busy visualizing blue skies and sun. “It’s not Bologna’s fault it’s dreary and rainy out! Pretend it’s sunny to be fair,” they implored each other.

It quickly became clear though that no such tricks of the mind were necessary. Bologna’s secrets and charm can’t be so easily undone by cloudy skies and a few raindrops.

While porticoes were originally common in many European cities,  most were either torn down or destroyed over time. Bologna’s have stood the test of time mostly due to their utility during the 1200s when thousands of students congregated in Bologna. The second floor of the adjacent structures were used for student housing, the bottom floor used for shops. Porticoes increased the stability and durability of the building and provided shelter from the elements at the same time.

The group’s first stop were the city’s renowned produce and meat markets. Feeling like uncharted territory exuding unfamiliar smells the stalls were a visual tangle of vibrant never-before-seen textures, shapes and hues. As they meandered through the narrow walkways the girls were stunned and invigorated by their discoveries, but also a little uneasy. Bologna’s markets held more unfamiliar fruit and veg than ones they could name. Making research notes for later and with heads held high, they pushed forward.

The  fearless foursome were stumped. How many can YOU name?

The scent of fresh fish lured them toward their next stop. Down narrow cobblestone alleyways they went, careful not to make any false moves. Squids and sepia, covered in a fresh coat of ink looked braced, ready for battle against unassuming tourists.

Babe the Pig and the rest of his barnyard friends also looked farm fresh, however unready for combat they might also appear.

As a final test of their culinary endurance they embarked toward Via Cartoleria, 10, home of the ragu promised to change their lives, or so fellow students and The New York Times food section told them.

Drogheria Della Rosa was so much more than really (really) good ragu thanks to owner/live entertainer Emanuele Addone. There was drama, (NEVER refuse a cured meat starter when in Emilia-Romagna), lots of hugging/extended head locks (see photographic evidence), lessons on good parenting (let your children follow their dreams) and, oh right, a guided tour through Bologna’s culinary traditions.

Emanuele, expressing his love for his “little Shauna” about an hour/three glass of prosecco in. In more serious moments he told us about his daughter, whom he’s trying to inspire to find her passion. “She can sweep the streets, as long as it makes her happy.”

In between scoldings for refusing the prosciutto and culatello and discussing our astrological signs, Emanuele got down to the serious business at hand. Five types of pasta were shared among the four, including tortelli stuffed with zucchini blossoms, stracchino and squaquerone cheeses, tagliatelle with mushroom ragu, eggplant ravioli with fresh tomato sauce and last,  lasagna, and tagliatelle classiche al ragu.

See how little tomato there is? Traditional ragu is meat, with a hint of tomato. Also, the pasta noodles are so yellow because in the North of Italy they use egg yolk in their dough.

According to Emanuele, ragu was historically made with milk and without tomatoes, which were only added when the Spanish brought them over in the 15th century. Today a small amount of tomatoes are used, but absolutely no cream or milk. Simple intense flavors, in a harmonious balance of texture is the best way to describe the dish. With the addition of the yolks, the noodles were elastic yet toothsome, the perfect conveyor for the hearty sauce. The ragu leverages the minimal amount of tomato only to showcase the slow cooked sweetness of the beef and saltiness of the pork.

Throughout the three and a half hour lunch a number of offenses were attempted in operation “Ingredient List.”Unfortunately for the world the girls were on the losing side of that battle. But, while one battle may have been lost, the four agreed that  the war had been won. Bologna had successfully stolen their hearts.

Drogheria Della Rossa

Via Cartoleria, 10, Bologna, 40127


The New York Times review: http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/italy/bologna/64515/drogheria-della-rosa/restaurant-detail.html

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