Golden Day 113: Bologna with Carmelita Caruana of Cook Italy
My dear friend, the wonderful writer Ellen Sandler, raved to me about her time in Bologna. She and her daughter Molly signed up for Carmelita Caruana’s Cook Italy class, and had in Ellen’s words, “The most AMAZING EXPERIENCE!” Ellen joins lots of fans on Trip Advisor who have loved taking Carmelita’s classes.
Carmelita is originally from Malta, and has been passionate about cooking since an early age. She fell in love with the beautiful city of Bologna, acknowledged food capital of Italy, aka La Grassa=the Fat, which is shorthand for the abundance, fertility, and generosity that characterizes Bologna. In 1999, she set up her cooking school here, Cook Italy, offering fun hands-on classes for very small groups or individuals. She is also a food writer, has taught internationally, and collaborated on fund raising events with British and US chefs.
I love the motto on her blog: “Nothing I like more than feeding people, except perhaps teaching people to cook great Italian food!”
I am so grateful Carmelita has joined in to give her expert advice for A Golden Day in Bologna…with a culinary focus, of course!
The day begins with caffe. There are many good places, but the absolute tops is Caffè Terzi (Via Oberdan,0510344819). I highly recommend their Caffè Pistachio, a beautiful little treat,everyone snaps a photo of it before drinking it.
Photo Credit: Zacqary Adam Xeper
Nearby, the gastronomic temple to marvel and worship at is La Salumeria (Via Oberdan, 051 233692). All Bologna’s culinary pride and joy is here: the very best cured pork products, the very best hand rolled egg pastas, a range of excellent cheeses including an award winning 30 month old Parmigiano-Reggiano, the best Mortadella di Bologna I.G.P. and Mortadella’s older brother, Salame Rosa. Like Mortadella, Salame Rosa is a highly prized cooked pork product, made in Bologna since at least the middle ages, which is unfortunately at risk of dying out, as it is so little known outside the city limits. At La Salumeria you get wonderfully courteous smiling service to all customers, old and new, by a staff of 6 led by the friendly expert owner Franco Macchiavelli who willingly hands out tasting samples.
Related to this, is the plaque near the corner between Via delle Pescherie and Vicolo Ranocchi, in the area of Bologna’s oldest food market, dating back at least 1,000( yes one thousand!) years known as il Mercato di Mezzo. The plaque, placed on an impressively large Gothic building, states that the Guild of the Salt Curers occupied the building from 1242 to 1798. So Bologna did not become a Foodie Capital yesterday!
My Cook Italy Market-to-Table Classbegins at 8:45 with a market tour, where we shop for the best ingredients of the season and have tastings of Bologna’s special products.
Then back in the kitchen of my apartment, we have a hands-on class, with me demonstrating techniques when necessary.
Guests can choose what they would like to make and eat—so perhaps we’ll make egg pasta from scratch or a contemporary style Italian lunch, or a specialty from another region of Italy.
Of course, it ends with a great meal, and a very good bottle of wine, selected by a sommelier to match what we make.
You are unlikely to want to eat dinner on the evening of the cooking class! But here are some suggestions if you stay on…
My favorite Gelateria is Cremeria Funivia (Piazza Cavour, 1/d, Closed Monday,0516569365), but I am also very partial to the salted pistachio sold at Cremeria Santo Stefano (Via Santo Stefano 70/C, 051 227045) too.
For Aperitivo, my favorite is Gamberini (Via Ugo Bassi, 051 2960467). They serve gorgeous little canapès, freshly prepared for the antipasto buffet. There are two outside seating areas but I prefer to stay inside, to see what fresh little snacks are coming out of the kitchen. Everything here is delicious! The breakfast croissants, the little cakes for mid-afternoon, the lunches and of course the aperitivo drinks and buffet.
There are so many restaurants to choose from! Here are two of my favorites…
Trattoria di Via Serra (Via Luigi Serra, 9/B,0516312330 Open 12-2 p.m. and 8-10 p.m.) is a short walk beyond the train station. It’s a very charming little trattoria, with simple rooms where you get a warm welcome and attentive service. The menu is short and focuses on quality ingredients, with the name of the breed and the farmer listed in the menu description. While everything is good, perhaps the pasta and meat dishes are best. Vegetarians can eat here, but the choice is limited..
Photo Credit: A Pranzo con Bea
Teresina(Via Oberdan Gugliemo 4, 051228985)remains a favorite of mine nearly twenty years on, I love its pretty courtyard, too. I usually go for the fish side of the menu, though the beef Tagliata is exquisite. For dessert, I recommend sharing one of their super cannoli – just a simple, very light well whipped ricotta cream filling without any candied fruit or chocolate – with the crispest crust.
Here are places I recommend for you to stay in Bologna:
Also, the Hotel Roma (Via D’ Azeglio, 9,051226322) is good value for money. It too has great staff and its location is hard to beat!
And there is Villa Benni’ s 2 extremely spacious double rooms (plus use of a period sitting room, incredible dining room and even more amazing spacious, cool and quiet gardens all round). It’s pricey for a Bed and Breakfast, but in fact a great value, since you will feel like royalty staying in this gorgeous neoclassical Palazzo just outside the city centre with the very frequent number 20 bus to the centre stopping just outside.
Photo Credit: Villa Benni
Grazie mille Carmelita, for this delicious advice! I’ll be sure to stop by Cook Italy next time I’m in Bologna…