Monday, 20 June 2011

Teresina: Bologna's Finest?

So after the disappointment of day one (see previous blog on Drogheria della Rossa), the Fashionista and I awoke with renewed determination to work out what all the fuss was about when it came to Bolognese food...

The day before, while wandering the streets of Bologna (albeit in the pouring rain... thank goodness for the kilometres of covered walkways that make up Bologna's pavements) the Fashionista pointed down a little alleyway at a small restaurant called Teresina.  Having noticed the English on the menu and given that the restaurant was a stone's throw from the Piazza Maggiore, I dismissed this, admittedly cute looking, restaurant as a tourist trap and so we moved on.

The next day we found ourselves on the same street again (this seemed to happen a lot on Bologna) and the Fashionista suggested we had another look.  Despite serious reservations we decided to sit down... I am so glad that we did!

As we were planning on heading out for dinner that evening, we decided to keep things simple and light- a shared antipasti and a pasta dish each would suffice- perhaps a little more than my usual sandwich but given that an Italian meal can consist of antipasti, el primi (normally pasta), el secondi (often a large amount of grilled meat with veg) and followed by dolce and sometimes even cheese- this was indeed Bologna-lite.

We knew from the menu that we were ordering aubergine as antipasti however a combination of our complete lack of Italian and a breakdown in translation had led us to believe that it would be the griddled aubergine we had seen elsewhere- while this can be tasty it is not the kind of thing that normally gets me particularly excited.  What came instead was an absolute treat- thick slices of grilled aubergine, in between which was sandwiched melted mozzarella and a solitary sage leaf, topped off with a deliciously thick and flavourful tomato sauce.  We both looked at each other and knew that true Bolognese food had arrived...

Sliced aubergine with mozzarella, sage and tomato sauce.

After the incredible antipasti we were excited about the main.  I decided to go for tortellini in brodo.  I had read about this dish before and was keen to try this stalwart of Bolognese cooking- tight little parcels of tortellini stuffed with a ham and cheese mixture and served in a chicken stock broth- this was something I had never seen on the menu in the UK where tortellini always seem to be much larger and are invariably filled with spinach and ricotta.  The tortellini were light but packed with flavour while the broth was clear and refreshing- a real find and perfect for our "light" lunch!

Tortellini in brodo.

As we were in Bologna, the Fashionista decided to go for the tagliatelle al ragu (bolognese to you and me).  Now everyone has their own way of making bolognese- usually a recipe picked up from your mum for regular sustenance before you head off to university- but the way this was served was different from anything I'd had before.  The fresh pasta was light and the bolognese, which stuck to the pasta wonderfully, was more meaty and had far less tomatoes than I would normally expect.  With a small amount of Parmesan sprinkled on top, this was how bolognese (sorry... ragu) was really meant to be...

Tagliatelle al ragu.

Later in the trip we went to a cookery school at the place we were staying.  The B&B was great but the cookery school, while fun, was a little pricey and on the basic side.  The point being, however, is that we were let into the secrets (which admittedly are not that secret) of how to make proper Bolognese bolognese.  The top tips were:

1) Use 2/3rd beef mince to 1/3rd pork mince to keep the sauce juicy (or pancetta for something a little different).
2) Use a base of a third each of onion, carrot and celery- chop these very finely and only use a small amount of each.
3) Before adding the passata and stock, cook the wine off in the meat- once the liquid has evaporated add a touch of milk- the alkaline in the milk counteracts the acid in the wine and keeps the meat tender.

Our very own homemade tagliatelle (or is it papardelle?) al ragu.

Not quite up to Teresina's standards but tasty nonetheless...

Anyway back to Teresina- as the antipasti and pasta courses had been so good, we were both tempted to stay for round three but decided to reign ourselves in given the many more foodie adventures still ahead in the week.

So one-nil to the Fashionista- Teresina was not a tourist trap, it was in fact a great little restaurant serving delicious food at prices to make you smile- I would recommend it to anyone!     

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