February 13, 2017

Brisighella, olive oil and more

When I drove down the small, bending road into the Lamone valley for the very first time, I almost caused an accident: all of a sudden,  I saw a glimpse of the castle in my childhood's princess dreams and I had to stop, overwhelmed and speechless . But these roads weren't built for tourists with childhood dreams, so the Italians behind me started to honk and yell at me, what a rude awakening!

What I saw was just the Clock tower of the real castle, it crowns the top of a hill, overlooking the fairy tale landscape: olive tree fields and vineyards, dotted with farm houses. Olive oil and wine are the most important farm products in this area, grown by the people of the Lamone valley since Roman times - the very special microclimate and soil are just perfect here. After climbing the hill and indulging the princess-feeling, I was ready to focus on the olive - this is why I came here. 

The local olive oil "Brisighello" 

The Romans already settled in this area and built an oil mill in the 2nd century along the historic tradepath between Florence and Faenza. The mill used a special procedure where the olives were grinded, not pressed. This procedure is still in use and the  3000 l production per year rank among the best in Italy. 

Donkey path in Brisighella

Eventhough Brisighella is a small town, there is enough to see, like the via degli Asini: the historic donkey path, on which the chalk soil was transported down to town, the restaurants in a cave and of course, the clock tower and the castle ruin. Brisighella belongs to the most beautiful town in Italy (borghi piu belli dÌtalia)

July 28, 2016

Bologna Food tour with Rick Stein

Behind the scenes of Rick Stein filming in Bologna

When Rick Stein, the famous English celebrity chef and TV presenter, planned a “long weekend in Bologna”, his team contacted me in order to find authentic foodie places - preferable places, which haven’t been presented before.
What a great opportunity to bring some publicity to my favorite food producer in Bologna!
After the pre-tour with his wonderful and highly professional working team, we decided on the factories to be featured and the filming was organized in detail.

The film day itself went smooth, despite the fact that we had fresh snow in the mountains (in March!), the schedule was exactly like a regular food tour: we arrived at the Parma cheese factory Pieve Roffeno at 9 am and while Antonio, the Master cheese maker, proceeded the Parmigiano, Rick pretended to be a regular guest on Food tour in Bologna. Francesca and I explained the whole process of making Parma cheese, from the weigh in the vat to the salting bath and aging room. Rick is such a nice and charming person, if there were’nt the camera and instructions how to position, he totally could have been a “normal” guest!

We had lunch at the Agritourismo La Fenice, which offers not only beautiful rooms, but also a restaurant and their own cattle of  Mora Romagnola, the ancient pig breed of the area. Rick was just too curious to stay out of the kitchen, so he watched Paolo when he prepared the “cotoletta di Mora Romagnola”, later we had a wonderful lunch at the open fireplace in the restaurant.

Balsamic vinegar producer dei Bago

Last destination for the day was the balsamic vinegar manufactory (acetaia) “dei Bago”. The overwhelming smell when we entered wasn’t a surprise for Rick since he was prepared, but it still is impressive and so he was really into it when Diego showed him around, the camera always following. Rick is such a natural, it really was like he is on a food tour and visits a balsamic vinegar factory!

I feel blessed for the opportunity to watch backstage the making of a film for foodie travelers with Rick Stein and want to say Thank you for this opportunity: to the team of Denham TV, who did a great job, to my favorite food producer Pieve Roffeno, La Fenice and dei Bago and last, but not least, to Rick Stein – a real connoisseur and Foodie!

Book this  Food tour here

July 9, 2013

La cucina bolognese

The people of Emilia-Romagna eat more, care more and talk more about food than anyone else in Italy. Yet in the US and Canada, while the bookshops are full of cookery books about Tuscany and Sicily, there's nothing on Bologna - despite the fact Bologna is considered "the culinary capital of Italy". Perhaps this is because the world already knows the most famous recipes, Tagliatelle Bolognese, Tortellini, Lasagne? Or is it because the people here don´t care about exporting their treasure, they just pay attention to cooking rather than marketing?

February 17, 2013

Healthy food in Italy

Ever feel like going for Italian food inevitably means indulging in something you'll regret later?
Don´t worry, authentic Italian food is healthy, even pasta - just follow some simple rules:

November 29, 2012

Never order "Spaghetti Bolognese" in Bologna!

In general, Italians are nice, friendly people, but there are some things  they can´t take a joke about - food is certainly one of them.
Whereas pasta maybe pasta for non Italians, here every geographic area has a special kind of pasta which gets combined with a certain sauce and there´s no way to use another kind!

October 25, 2012

Via Emilia - A street for foodies!

It´s still running through downtown Bologna - while you stroll along Via Rizzoli, you are walking  on the ancient Roman "via Emilia", completed in 187 B.C.

October 23, 2012

How to find a good restaurant in Italy

It´s lunchtime,  your´re driving through the countryside, looking for a good, but not too expensive restaurant?
Seeing lots of parking cars with Italian license plates should make you stop to have a closer look. If it´s  a workday and the place is full, it´s a pretty good sign you´ll get tasty, well priced food - and I´ll tell you why:

September 16, 2012

Back to town - Il rientro

Although the Italian summer is a very long one, it ends at some point and the empty streets, you could dance on during the Ferragosto days, fill up again, daily life relocates to the cities - the chaos is back.

September 2, 2012

visit to a parma cheese factory

The production area of the original Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is stricly limited, within these borders the restictive production rules apply to every factory and you would think: Parmigiano cheese is Parmigiano cheese, right?
But we´re in Italy and it´s not that simple -  you find a wide varity in taste, independent from the maturing age and I´m going to tell you why.

August 5, 2012

How old should Parma cheese be?

The birth month of a Parma cheese also makes a difference, not only the aging time, like most people believe.
When in May the cows get  the fresh grass, the milk taste changes. This change can be tasted later in the cheese, so a Parmigiano, produced in May/June, will always taste different from the one produced in late summer or winter, even if it has the same age.

May 15, 2012

Mortadella di Bologna

What the world calls Balony has its roots in Bologna and the only thing they have in common is, that they both get cooked.

Mortadella at the market in Bologna

Go to the market in Bologna and ask for some slices of Mortadella, you´ll be asked which one: a big, middle or small size Mortadella and from which company - Villani, Pasquini, etc.

January 16, 2012

The "Mora Romagnola" pig

Another almost extincted breed in the area is the black pig, which came to the Romagna with the barbarian invasion and adapted perfectly to the geographical conditions.

December 20, 2011

Parma ham

The main production place for the Prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham) is actually Langhirano, a small town close to Parma.

Parma ham factory

You´ll find the factories in the surrounding hills, where the ham gets the salty breeze from Liguria, which provides the special taste.

December 18, 2011


Bologna and Tortellini - that belongs together like summer and beach.

Handmade Tortellini in Bologna

Here it´s made from the scratch, just flour, eggs and water for the dough and Pork loin, ham and Parmigiano cheese for the filling, everything of the highest quality. In the beginning I didn´t have the skills and the equipment to make it at home, I bought them at the market (very expensive), but claiming myself to be a "foodie", I took the challenge, now we eat homemade Tortellini, Raviogli, Tagliatelle.
The traditional dish "Tortellini in Brodo" (in broth) really warms you up on a cold winterday, it´s also the first course of the Christmas meal in Bologna.

December 11, 2011

Balsamic vinegar

One of my first field trips on my culinary discovery led me to another world famous product from this area  "the black gold from Modena" - Balsamico vinegar.

Balsamic vinegar production in Modena

The process of producing sounds simple: take 100 l of grape juice, cook it for 12 hours, put it in barrels and wait 25 years - you'll get 2 l Aceto.

Of course it's not that  simple: the grapes have to be Trebbiano and Lambrusco from your vineyard (which has to be in Modena), only the first juice is allowed to take. You should have a big house with a big attic for the barrels (also in Modena) and you need the knowledge of 340 years of experience to produce, what the Duke  of Este invented accidently and called  "Balsamico" - they used it like a medicin for digestion, later is was given to kings and the pope as a present and it got famous in the royal families in Europe.

December 8, 2011

Watch the production process of parma cheese

Watching the process of making Parmigiano was the start for Golosaitalia.
Actually, I was immediately addicted to this kind of food tour and started to find out everything about the history and processing. My research for Parma cheese  led me to Parma-ham, which is highly related to the cheese production, not only because it´s originated in the same area: the pigs are fed with the left-over weigh from the cheese production, which is rich of proteins.
But starting to do Food tours in Bologna with Golosaitalia has a serious disadvantage:
I became very picky about food!

December 5, 2011

Bologna, La Grassa

Bologna is not only "la rossa"; it is also "la grassa" - the fat one.
Luckily not the people are fat,  (I always wonder how they manage to stay in good shape with all this Pasta), only the food is very rich. Or what else would you call Mortadella, Tortelloni with Ricotta or Salami? 
But considering, that it´s all made with very high quality ingredients and without any preservatives, artificial colours or chemicals, it´s still healthy. Only the fact, that most of us do not work like a farmer, a cheesemaker or a furrier causes the problem with the fat....

September 27, 2011

Visit to a Parma ham factory

We jumped on one of the rare chances to get to see how Parma ham is made, the factories  are usually  not open for visits, only during the "Festival del Prosciutto di Parma" they do guided tours.

Production of Parma ham

The whole process, from the moment when the meat comes in, follows 500 years old rules and there is nothing else involved than high quality meat, salt, time and a lot of knowledge. The location also plays an important role, so it´s not a coincidence that Langhirano, a small town close to Parma, became famous for its Ham - most of the factories are located in the surrounding hills, they get the salty wind from Liguria, which gives the Ham its special taste.

August 23, 2011

Slow food and fast cars

The region between Bologna and Modena is beloved for its food, but it attracts also those drawn to the brands of Italian sports cars - Maserati - Diablo - Pagani.

Ferrari and balsamic vinegar

These are the Italian sports cars that introduced the world to speed, design and luxury, and here are the factories of its most famous sons, Lamborghini and Ferrari. The 2000 hand-built cars, which are produced every year by Lamborghini -each worth half a million dollar - are the dream of car lovers all over the world.

July 14, 2011

The market in Bologna

It's not that I wouldn't have a fridge at home, but I go to the market almost everyday.

Mercato del Erbe Bologna

Going to the market doesn't mean you do just your errands - living in Italy is a commitment - you have to get the best out of the best! I have, like everybody else, my favourite vendors for vegetable, salami, ham, meat, Olives, Oliveoil, fish and cheese and my decision for the menu of the day is depending on the special daily offer at the market.

June 30, 2011

Mortadella di Bologna

This pork sausage has been made for at least 500 years, today the name is protected, ensuring that authentic Mortadella is free from fillers, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Only finely ground pork, high quality fat squares and a blend of salt, pepper, coriander, anise, pieces of pistacchio and wine are allowed in an authentic Mortadella di Bologna. It's sliced very thin to enhance the unique aroma of the sausage and served for antipasti, but also used as a stuffing for the famous Tortellini. 
It's quite an experience to go to the market in Bologna and to see  all this different kinds of sausages, all hand made in the traditional way with the knowledge of centuries, sold by dedicated experts, who seem to know everything about it.  Once it has been cut, it should be used immediately, otherwise it will dry out and lose it's flavor, but nobody can resist to finish it anyway. 
It's not surprising that this Mortadella di Bologna has nothing to do with the pre-packaged stuff from the supermarket, called "Bologna"!

April 1, 2011

Aceto Balsamico Traditionale di Modena

When Giorgio opened the door, I smelled it right away: Aceto Balsamico, the world famous vinegar, also called "black gold" filled the air of the old villa in Modena.   
The process of producing sounds simple: take 100 l of grape juice, cook it for 12 hours, put it in barrels and wait 25 years - you'll get 2 l Aceto.

Of course it's not that  simple: the grapes have to be Trebbiano and Lambrusco from your vineyard (which has to be in Modena), only the first juice is allowed to take. You should have a big house with an big attic for the barrels (also in Modena) and you need the knowledge of 340 years of experience to produce, what the Duke  of Este invented accidently and called  "Balsamico" - they used it like a medicin for digestion. 
When it came to the tasting, I was quite surprised about the wide spectrum: the taste of 12 years in a cherry barrel is so different from the one which fermented 25 years in an oak barrel, and so on. There is no way to mix it with olive oil and use it for a salad dressing like you would do with an industrial vinegar - a waste! 
I like it best with strawberries or Parmiggiano, the 24 month old......

March 7, 2011

Vini Passiti and Chocolate

Well prepared with our knowledge from the "Salon du Chocolate", we were ready for the advanced tasting: Chocolate + Vino Passito.
Vino Passito is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice -  the result is a sweet dessert wine and the spectrum of different  tastes is as wide as it is for wine, depending on the area and producer.
The goal was, to find the best corresponding couple, so we had to taste lots of Chocolate and lots of wine....but in the end and with the help of two professional Sommeliers we found some perfect matches.  Ramandolo from Friuli goes with a very creamy Milk chocolate whereas the Merlino from Trentino with it´s cherry aroma corresponds best with a 75 % Chocolate from Peru, Barolo Chinato matches with......

March 3, 2011

Salon du Chocolat

Last weekend, Bologna lived up to its reputation of being the culinary capital with hosting the "Salon du Chocolat",  before the event will move on to Paris. Since I love Chocolate, I already know a lot about it and was quite surprised, that there is still a lot to learn. There was for example the very detailed talk with the chocolate producers from Modica (Sicily), where they still work the chocolate "cold" like  the Aztecs did at the time of the Spanish conquistadors.