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Imola Draws Every Buona Forchetta

Date: December 6, 2011 - categories: , - Leave your thoughts

Andrea assists Ettore in serving culinary wonders

Andrea and Ettore

In Italy, la buona forchetta is not a favorite eating utensil, not a special serving fork: it’s a person who knows and relishes good food. For any buona forchetta, the cooking of Emilia Romagna is the apex of culinary ecstasy.

Bordering Umbria on the northeast, this region is known for its Parmigiano, balsamic vinegars, mortadella, salami, nourishing soups, lasagne, tagliatelle and endless variations of tortellini (not to mention cappelletti, tortelli, tortelloni, ravioli, and ravioloni). Hearty foods offset the bleak and foggy, bone-chilling winter weather typical of the region.

We recentty arrived in Imola on one of those misty, shivery December nights – and our nephew Tommaso knew how to warm us up. We all headed to the little restaurant of Ettore whose cheery welcome was a prelude to the foods cooked by his wife Monica and their staff. Tommaso is a regular customer here: we quickly knew why.

On our drive from Umbria into Emilia Romagna, one thought kept popping into in my head: will we find ravioli con la zucca this trip?
Che fortuna: that day, Ettore’s wife had prepared a Mantova-area specialty, homemade ravioli stuffed with winter squash enhanced with nutmeg and a bit of crushed amaretti.

homemade ravioli stuffed with winter squash enhanced with nutmeg and a bit of crushed amaretti

Homemade ravioli stuffed with winter squash enhanced with nutmeg and a bit of crushed amaretti

That was my choice for a primo piatto and it arrived topped with a drizzle of olive oil and fine slivers of Parmigiano. Under Ettore’s watchful eye, our server, Andrea, rolled out a cart with my ravioli and another house specialty for Pino, green tortelli (spinach in the pasta dough) with a creamy sauce of radicchio and speck and a spicy spaghetti with local pancetta in the tomato sauce for Tommaso.

Beef fillets with radicchio, pinenuts and balsamic vinegar from nearby Modena were the secondo for Pino and his nephew.

Roast pork in a sauce made of grapes

Roast pork in a sauce made of grapes

I had to try an Emiliano specialty: roast pork in a sauce made of grapes. (As Tommaso had told me, “qui siamo pieni di porcili” – “here, we are full of pigstys!”).

A side dish of grilled and baked vegetables was a work of art in taste and presentation. For dessert, we gamely ordered their homemade apple tart, torta di mele – but with three forks. Imola is no longer famous for its Gran Prix track: the last race here was in 2006. But Ettore’s cooking is the Ferrari of Emilia-Romagna cuisine.

Read about Emilia Romagna’s capital, Bologna, called “la città del cibo”
Read about more good eating in Reggio Emilia
Click here for more on Reggio’s good eating
Read about Ferrara, another Emilia Romagna gem
Read about Emilia Romagna goodness near Faenza
Read more on a culinary specialty of Emilia Romagna
Read about Emilia Romagna cuisine in Bagnocavallo
Click here for a tortelli di zucca recipe (though not Monica’s!)
Click here for a tasty squash antipasto recipe
Click here for more recipes
Click here for another winter squash recipe

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