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100 year old Balsamic - worth it?

Who guarantees it is 100 years old? Neither of the two official consortiums for Balsamico Tradizionale does so. Nor do these two official consortiums allow the printing of numbers indicating age on the products they approve.

To me the number 100 is the producer's claim, a claim a producer can make without breaking any law, a marketing ploy that obviously works for them.

At present in Bologna where I live, there are dufferent self-styled "100 year old" balsamics on sale for Euro 225, Euro 540, and Euro 990, yes that's right, Euro 990.

Would I buy any one of them? Not in a million years.

Jul 19, 2013
carmelita in Home Cooking

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

My passion is for traditional home food in this country.

I agree, regional Italian cuisine is all about using what is or isn't available locally and the genius of home cooks is how over the years they created such tasty dishes from at times a very limited produce range. Yes, there are some great regional dishes celebrating garlic, where garlic is the undisputed star of the dish. And it is also very true that different regions quite naturally especially value their own local specialities that they grew up with and know intimately and love. And they may well have a less reverential approach to the specialities of regions other than their own..

As others have emphasised, one of the great things about eating in italy is the enormous variety and range spanned by its regional cuisines, and all the variety and range *within* the cuisine of each region. Yet there are a few shared fundamentals that underlie and unite them regardless of local variations of territory, climate and history. Eating what grows locally and in season is one such priniciple; enhancing the flavour of the main ingredient rather than masking it is another. I venture to say, and readers of this thread will have seen two authoratative posters strongly disagree wih me, that handling garlic with care and using it only where appropriate is yet another.

For all that it is a simplification and a generalisation to speak of "Italian" cuisines, I think it is true that in general "Italian home food" could not be broadly summed up as "garlicky".

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

Just my experiences barberinibee. I work with visitors to Italy and socialise with locals, eating in and out with this last group mainly I find it curiously fascinating that there is a clear difference between what locals and non locals prefer restaurant wise. .

Thanks for the info on Liguria's long interaction with garlicky Spain. I had always thought it must be due to its proximity to garlicky France. I like your basil pesto as it was meant to be, btw, and think Liguria has a wonderful cuisine.

You already told me how much you dislike Trattoria Tony : )

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

I see erica, I had an image of dehydrated garlic like dried Porcini or something.

I love green garlic, before it has formed into the usual papery skinned garlic bulb we know, it has its own quite different aroma. It is not common here in Italy, I pounce on it whenever I see it in the spring time, some years yes, some years no.

The separate clove garlic you describe is the "regular" garlic to me and it is what I use most of the time. Like all good Italian cooks, I am careful to remove the difficult to digest shoot as the garlic gets older. Right now the garlic I get in Bologna market is still fresh enough that the shoot has not yet formed.

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

You are in Bologna during mushroom and truffle time, weather permitting and staying right in the centre, fantastic!!

My non Italian friends all love and adore La Traviata in via Urbana, it does many excellent pastas though the range of secondi is limited. Trattoria Leonida in vicoloa Alemana is also well liked, lots of choices on the menu and very Bolognese food. Also Da Gianni in via Clavature where it is difficult to go wrong. And for a special meal - mainly for the ambience and the charm of the host Emanuele - La Drogheria della Rosa in via Cartoleria. Which I enjoy too though I find the pasta dishes and rich sauces there heavy, so i usually order fish to stay light.

My Italian friends on the other hand would head for Da Nello in via Montegrappa that time of year for sure, to feast on battered fried artichokes for starters, and then for mushroom and truffle dishes. They might even have Pappardelle with game on the menu if you are here later in the month. Relatively new but a big hit with all the food critics, chefs, gourmets and wine lovers is Osteria Bottega in via Santa Caterina, fantastic for the Prosciutti, salamis etc, and for the wine list and they serve excellent if slightly "revisted" pastas and main courses. The Osteria Santa Caterina in the same quiet street has a pretty back courtyard, and also does excellent salumi and pastas, good main courses and home style desserts. Some of my friends find it more charmng, more reasonably priced and less "ambitious" than its neighbour and much prefer it of the two - you could try both and see which you prefer! For homey traditional food some local friends also like the simple Meloncello in via Saragozza or Trattoria Tony in via Augusto Righi.

I would eat happily at all of these myself, but there are many others - you may want to get some more opinions!

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

Chicken first, garlic second : ))

Personally I love a good roast chicken and will sometimes buy a nice big heavy free range bird - 2 1/2 to 3 kilos. I do everything I can to make the breast tasty and tender. My Italian friends will eat the wings, thighs, drumsticks and even nibble at the back bone leaving the breast till the very last, untouched. Then someone usually picks at a piece and is pleasantly surprised to find it is not dry and stringy as they'd imagined. And it gets eaten.

Restaurants that serve chicken are using the cheapest meat around, and yes it is becoming more common as "la crisi" hits, just as the ragù Bolognese in town is getting redder as restaurants bulk out what is essentially a meat sauce with ever more tomato. Butchers here sell chicken and people eat chicken breast though mainly it is children having breaded chicken cotoletta or people controlling their diet for a variety of reasons. Incidentally today's "light pigs" means loin of pork now has fewer calories that chicken meat especially when the chicken skin is not removed.

I certainly believe that some restaurants serve chicken but none of the restaurants that I frequent in the city or in the countryside with Bolognese and Romagnolo friends. Btw my friends here are locals not ex pats and the only time I eat out with non Italians is when I have foreign friends over for a visit. What I notice is that the restaurants that my non Italian friends like most are not the same as the ones my local friends like.

Garlic

When new here and cooking with Italian friend I'd ask "How much garlic?" They'd look at me as if I were mad and answer "one clove of course, or we might as well just eat garlic!" That's not a question I ask any longer. Neither do I any longer say, as I sniff the air appreciatevly, "Smells good in here, lovely smell of garlic" . Because panic ensues with the cook asking me if they should start the dish over, worrying they've overdone the garlic, or assuring me it was just one clove which they have already taken out. before it coloured and got too strong tasting.

Procsiutto, cream and garlic sounds like an ill-judged attempt to make a simple dish "restauramt worthy". To me it is off puttng, as is the thought of introudicng garlic in the classic Bologna / Emilia-Romagna pasta "condimento", prosciutto and peas. You say outside of Emilia-Romagna barberinibee , so I guess they know no better : )

But have you noticed the new trend of no garlic in basil pesto? I've heard / read Italian food critics saying now we have good refrigeration and food conservation we no longer need to add garlic to our food for its disinfectant and antibiotic properties, as in the past. Just as we no longer need to add lots of fat to our food given our heated houses and our very sedentary life style.

Yes the times are really changing, in all kinds of ways.

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

I live in Bologna. It would never occur to me cook with anything other than fresh garlic.

Jul 26, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

Yes I was talking about Italy only, thank you ttoommyy, I appreciate your calming of the waters move!.

There are always exceptions, but there are some basics too. As many people posting on this board are aware, despite general outside Italy perceptions, Italy's is not a garlicky cuisine; because Italians value flavour, and garlic can so easily take over.

Prosciutto is an ancient and much prized artisan product. When using it for cooking, you don't choose the best prosciutto - that you save to savour uncooked. Even so, out of respect for prosciutto crudo, one would not pit it against it the strong and potentially overpowering flavour of garlic. As a general rule...

OK so I'm retracting just a little bit on on the "never" but would stand by my view that it is not common practice here in Italy, it is not typically Italian and most Italian "foodies", for want of a better word, would recoil at the thought - onion with prosciutto yes, garlic no.

Jul 25, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

To be precise. never in italy. If you have found 1700 restaurants in Italy serving prosicutto with garlic in Italy it is my turn to be amazed.

Jul 25, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

I couldn't agree more with your sound advice ttoommyy ! Especially as, reading the description of the Colorado dish, it sound so UN Italian: way too may ingeredients, too many things in there.

Here we might combine chicken, prosicutto and mozzarella but that's about it. Garlic with prosciutto? Never! Garlic twice as it's also in the potatoes? It's going to take over and kill the other flavours. And then a wine sauce on top? Italy doesn't exactly go in for sauces beyond the pan juices from the cooking. I have a feeling the the poor old chicken, not to mention the prosciutto, would be overwhelmed by the rest.

In Italy a chicken dish is about the chicken. It is not considered a successful dish because you add a long list of other ingredients to it. It is considered a succesful dish if the main ingredent - chicken - tastes like the very best chicken that could ever be, with the other ingredients subordinate, there only to enhance the taste of the chicken and not co compete with it or take over.

So yes, I agree with ttoommyy, do not go hunting in Italy for a dish you had in the US but enjoy the great variety of delicious food Italy offers. Exciting new taste adventures lie ahead!!

Jul 25, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

Chicken rarely makes the menu in Bologna or most of Emilia-Romagna - it is not a highly rated meat. Guinea hen and rabbit are considered much finer. I have yet to see a chicken "panino" nor do I know of any traditional pasta dressings that use chicken meat as the main component - a chicken liver or two added to a beef ragù maybe, but not a chicken only ragù. And only people on a diet - and children - value chicken or turkey breast. For most people breast meat is just dry and stringy and nowhere near as juicy or tasty as meat near the bone - the wings, backbone and thighs are what most locals traditionally prefer.

Regarding involtini, veal is most often used - it is tender and not having a strong flavour of its own it is considered OK to add flavours through the filling ingredients. Even so, I have seen pork and beef involtini on menus too. Involtini is the word used here for what more southern Italian regions call "bragiole" or "braciole". Whereas in the north "braciole" are chops, as in veal or pork chops. Confusing!

Jul 21, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Eataly Rome, revisited

I live in Bologna. I have been just once to the very first Eataly in Torino. I was unimpressed.

I love Eataly in Bologna. *Not* for buying food there but for two things: it's exciting interior decor, and the fact that it is 85% book store making it a great place to arrange to meet friends. You browse and shop for books (and why not also cast an eye on the food for sale - there are a very few items I do get occasionally there. I just don't buy any of the over priced imported or Italian foods in award winning packaging design, nor any of the cured salumi or cheeses) and then when your friend/s show up, you all go and have a coffee or a light meal / drink at one of the three eateries, one on each floor. Perfect!

Jul 21, 2012
carmelita in Italy

Is Marcella Hazan's green lasagne bolognese worth it?

Just want to say there are many Lasagne / Lasgana dishes in Italy of which - perhaps - the top two are Bologna's LasagneE Verdi and the Naples LasagnA or in its full title, la Gran Lasagna di Carnevale.

Bologna's is made with very few ingredients: green spinach - once was nettles - soft flour (not durum wheat) and egg pasta - here nearly always made from scratch, Bolognese ragù, a little bechamel as too much makes it gloopy and heavy, plenty of grated Reggiano. It is rich yet light enough to eat as the first course in a multi course meal.

The Naples Gran Lasagna is a feasting dish, a celebration dish originally meant to be eaten once a year on Mardi Gras, just before the meatless fasting days of Lent start . Uusally you eat ONLY this dish, which is a meal and a half all by itself.

It is made using Naples ragù - lots of meat cooked in loads and loads of tomatoes, but the meat is then removed from the sauce to serve separately later - and it has many fillings: tiny meatballs, pork skin roll ups, fresh sausage, salami, mozzarella, ricotta, hard boiled eggs...and it is nearly always made with store bought durum wheat pasta.

Another wonderful layered pasta dish of this type is the Vincisgrassi from the Marche region - has anyone ever made this? I've yet to try.

Jan 12, 2012
carmelita in Home Cooking

Is Marcella Hazan's green lasagne bolognese worth it?

How very well put, Jen Kalb!

Delicately richly meaty (not shouting out loud, never full of tomato ) is how I want my ragù and the function of the milk is precisley to make the flavours in ragù more delicate.

Gossamer thin (therefore barely cooked or they get soggy) fresh egg pasta sheets, very small amounts of nutmeg scented bechamel, well judged and not over done grated best Parmigiano, not too much tasty ragù.

Making Lasagne Verdi is time consuming but once in a while well worh it for those light well-separated layers. When you use top ingredients and exercise restraint with the cheese and bechamel, it is a wonderful dish - satisfyingly rich but neither stodgy nor heavy.

Apr 26, 2011
carmelita in Home Cooking

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

Thanks, done!

Apr 26, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

Thank you so much all fine except the link for Biagi all Grada - the restaurant I mean is in Via della Grada, 6, 40122 Bologna. Sorry I don't know how to add Links!

Apr 26, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

You can get a good look inside Serghei from the side street where Mariposa is. And my place for Gramigna alla Salsiccia has always been Da Nello.

The night I got the red wine stains they were rushing diners rudely - very un-Bolognese behaviour - as there was a huge trade show on (which means tens of thousands of extra mouths to feed for restauarants) and they were intent on getting a second sitting in that nght. So much so that after we'd been rushed through antipasto and primo, plates whisked away before you'd put your fork down, when the waiter asked us what we wanted next (it is perfectly okay to order just one dish at a time here) one of my guests said .. " A pause!! Or has this become a fast food restauarant?"

So that is the reason none of us there that night eat there any longer, not the quality of the food which was always good, just the behaviour on that occasion.. After all there are so many other options...

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Serghei
Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Apr 26, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

It's a good list though I am not wild about Da Cesari where I have not eaten in many years. I used to think of it as OK but not remarkable.

I like Da Nello, via Montegrappa a lot, as do my Italian friends from outside Bologna. Pastas are excllent except for the Toretellini in Brodo, which have too much Parmigiano-Reggiano in the filling for my liking.

I used to like Sergehi until one evening when, in an unseemly and irritiating rush to get two seatings in during a big trade show, the waiter spilt red wine all over my pale cream linen jacket.

But round the corner from Sergehei I like the little, simple and unpretentious Mariposa in via Bertierea and very close by in via Piella there is Dal Biassanot : you could wak between the three (barely a minute apart) and go with your instinct in making your choice!

Apr 25, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

Well we agree on many things, good, but let's just agree to disagree regarding Trattoria Tony - where my several meals over the years have always been spot on for classic home-style Bolognese dishes, and leaving price matters out of the picture.

Trattoria del Rosso on the other hand uses inferior products and that is somewhere I ate once and once only; there, to me, it is definitely the low price that is the attraction. I'd rather have Teresina's one course lunch and a glass of wine for the same price than the 3 courses at Trattoria del Rosso personally.

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Teresina
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Apr 25, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

If you visit Bologna again, let me know, we'll go eat together! : ))

Apr 24, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

Too bad, it's a much loved favourite with Bolognese, for the traditional pastas like Tagliatelle and Tortellini in Brodo, the roast meats, and great salumi.

Apr 24, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Best tagliatelle al ragú in Bologna

My fave Tagliatelle al Ragù places not mentioned so far:

Trattoria Tony, via Augusto Righi

Da Nello, via Montegrappa

Trattoria Meloncello, via Saragozza

Teresina, via Oberdan

Biagi all Grada, via della Grada

I do not rate AnnaMaria and Trattoria del Rosso and I also avoid Diana and Tamburini, both now a pale shadow of what they once were.

For the record I have lived in Bologna since 1996 and run cooking classes here.

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Meloncello
Via Saragozza, 240, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

Trattoria del Rosso
Via Righi 30, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Teresina
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Apr 24, 2011
carmelita in Italy

Is Marcella Hazan's green lasagne bolognese worth it?

The way Italian sauces become so good is by letting reduce on very low heat ( your "dry out") and then topping up with a little water at a time. Drowning them in liquid is not the way to go. Bolognese is thick with meat, not runny at all. The long slow cooking does need lots of patience!

Apr 19, 2010
carmelita in Home Cooking

Is Marcella Hazan's green lasagne bolognese worth it?

Checked out Anna Nanni, seems fine overall but for me - living in Bologna and teaching/eating Bolognese Ragù with great frequency - I miss the milk and feel it has way much fat (olive oil and butter amounts) and way too much tomato. Just the tomato paste would do, though I use passata.

Apr 19, 2010
carmelita in Home Cooking

100 year old Balsamic - worth it?

You must be referring to a Reggio Emilia Balsamico Tradizionale since Reggio classifies the condiment into three not two levels as in modena. Red ( Aragosta or Lobster in Italian) , Silver and Gold labels.

Reggio Emilia has never attached a number of years to its Tradizionale, and merely states that the colours correspond to good quality, superior quality and exceptional quality, respectively.

Apr 19, 2010
carmelita in Home Cooking

100 year old Balsamic - worth it?

I live in Bologna and run cooking classes here. I regularly take guests to visit Traditional Balsamic Estates. The balsmicao tradizionale barrels are kept under the eaves for maximum cold in winter and maximum heat in summer. In the hot months a small lid in the top of the barrel is opened to allow evaporation, and when it gets cold it is re-sealed.

The Consortium definition of a Balsamico Tradizionale as being aged a minimum of 12 years means that for 12 years the condiment was left untouched in the barrels and none drained off until the 12th year. A 25 year old has been left untouched, none drawn off, for 25 years. If no Balsamic was drawn off for 100 years but the barrel was opened up as usual through the hot months for evaporation chances are it would have turned to a slick of sticky stuff at the bottom of the barrel.

There is no Consortium recognised 100 year old, no Consortium definition, no Consortium guarantee of the quality or of the traditional artisan process. So "100 year old" could mean anything, it coudl merely mean the barrel set used is 100 years old or who knows what else.

I use 25 year old Modena Balsamico Tradizionale regularly, and that is worth every penny, as are the Silver and Gold label Balsamico Tradizionale of Reggio Emilia.

ButI wouldn't ever buy a so-called 100 year old Balsamic. It is not traditional and I simply can't believe it really has spent a century in the barrels before any of it was drawn off.

Apr 19, 2010
carmelita in Home Cooking

Is there any real reason to eat squid or octopus?

While European-origin food cultures prioritise flavour, many Oriental cusines, as far as I understand not being an expert, prize texture for its own sake.

Feb 12, 2010
carmelita in General Topics

Foodie stops in Bologna

Avoid Tamburini, or just take pictures there. Simoni nearby is far better and better still is La Salumeria Franco e Bruno in Via Oberdan.

Jun 18, 2008
carmelita in Italy

Are my favorite Bologna gelaterie still open?

Yes and you can also have superb ice cream at Gelatauro in Via San Vitale ( chocolate with orange, fig and almond, superb pistachio) and at Grom in Via D'Azeglio ( nothing synthetic, no emulsifiers, no thickeners, lecithins etc) - recommend their almond granita.

Jun 18, 2008
carmelita in Italy

Bologna: One lunch and dinner

Meloncello, yes, good choice but not so very central.

I think Gigina is also not exactly central.

You can get the home style down to earth Bolognese cooking at Trattoria Tony in Via Augusto Righi, nw only opene in the evenings. The little Mariposa trattoris in Via Bertiera is even more simpler, prices to match and does the same home style real Bolognese food.

Jun 06, 2008
carmelita in Italy