I’m writing this on the plane on my way back from Bologna. What I’m feeling right now pretty much sums up my trip – I’m full. I’m very proud to say that I have been extremely successful with my list of specialities and even added a few extra on – spritz, Lambrusco and hot chocolate.
My weekend started at 4am so by the time I arrived in Bologna at 9am I was in serious need of a caffeine and sugar fix. After meeting my friend Imogen Spector at the airport we got the bus into town and headed to a cafe for breakfast. Being 2 of the most indecisive people ever we ended up getting 4 croissants: 2 filled with sweet cream, 1 with raspberry jam and 1 with chocolate pastry and cream. To accompany this we both had 2 cappuccinos (at €1.40 each it would’ve been rude not to). The time came to pay the bill and, being used to €4 a coffee in Paris, I prepared myself for the worst. The grand total came to €9.40! What a bargain! Bologna was creating a very good first impression.
3 hours and a short stroll around Bologna later I had seen 3 churches and had worked up quite an appetite. We went to Osteria dell’orsa (http://www.osteriadellorsa.com/) for lunch. This place is fairly well known in Bologna for its good quality and reasonably priced food. We were sat on a communal table which created a nice and relaxed atmosphere. We ordered ravioli, crescentine with salami + parmesan, ciabatta with ragu, 2 x tiramisu and 1/2 litre of wine all for the grand sum of €29. I wasn’t very impressed with the crescentine as I found it greasy and both of the fillings were quite salty. The thing I was most impressed with was the €4 half litre carafe of wine. This is something I can’t understand about Paris. France is wine country so why when you go to a restaurant in Paris does a bottle cost you €18 minimum? I’d appreciate it if Paris took after Bologna with this one.
In 4 hours I had managed to try 4 specialities and was well deserving of a nap. For dinner we went to a bar for aperitivo. Aperitivo is another thing I believe all countries should adopt. We paid €7 and got a spritz (aperol + prosecco + soda) and free reign at the buffet table. I have to admit that the selection of food didn’t blow me away and was mainly different bready things but for €7 I really wasn’t too bothered.
Sunday was a pretty chilled day after the previous night. It started at 2pm and we decided to have a nice hearty breakfast of lasagne (with no tomatoes) and porcini mushroom tortellini. Both dishes were delicious but I’m pretty sure a whole garlic bulb had been used in the pasta so I can only apologise to everyone else we came across that day. For dessert we went to Sorbetteria Castiglione for icecream. Wow wow wow. As it was Easter weekend and most places were shut I had so far not seen any torta di riso so decided to get torta di riso flavoured icecream instead. This flavour is essentially rice pudding and there was even rice in it! I also had icecream made with ricotta, caramelised fig and lemon peel. Delicious.
For dinner we decided to try our hand at pizza making. The result was surprisingly edible! I should admit that my only contributions to this were reading the recipe out loud, spreading the sauce and cutting the pizza. The tomato sauce was spread extremely well though!
My final day in Bologna and only 2 more things to tick off my list. We went out for brunch where I had a very disappointing sandwich and an average cappucino. I say this with contempt as it also happened to be twice the price of anywhere else I had been this weekend. After that we took ourselves up 498 steps to the top of the tower to look out over Bologna before descending and finding ourselves in a cafe writing postcards and drinking ridiculously rich hot chocolate with cream. I still had mortadella (had been putting this off all weekend) and pumpkin tortellini to try but all the nice family delicatessen type shops had decided to shut so we resorted to buying pumpkin ravioli in the supermarket. However, we purchased the mortadella from a book shop. There was an extremely nice food shop and several cafes just nestled amongst all the books. What a great idea! Mortadella I don’t find to be such a good idea. It is edible and I do think I was too quick to judge but I don’t understand why it is so popular when it resembles a tinned hot dog sausage. So we had a dinner of olives + mortadello to start with and pumplin ravioli with rocket for our main, all washed down with a 2 litre bottle of Lambrusco that we bought for €4 and consequently remained mainly untouched in the bottle.