Blissful in Bologna

posted on February 14, 2011 at 9:00 am

If you got to Venice–or any European city–for 9 days, traveling somewhere, anywhere, by train is required. Seriously, how much do you envy Europeans’ ability to country-hop cheaply in a matter of hours? I get some painful college age wanderlust when I sit down on a train as most of my college vacations were spent on trains in Europe and China. Some of the best memories of my life. I am currently trying to convince Moon to bring along Junior on our next European trip and travel almost exclusively by train. What a better way to introduce a kid to Europe. No? I digress.

Deciding where to go for our one day-trip was a challenge since all of us have traveled Italy extensively. Florence required more than a day trip. Naples was too far, but, trust me, I considered going for the pizza alone. So, after much deliberation, we set our sights on a culinary trip to Bologna; after all, it is the culinary capital of Italy.

The morning of our trip, we made a quick stop for some trams and cappuccino at Bar Aperol (they have the most varied trams in Venice), since it is near the vaporetto (Venice’s waterbus system) stop we boarded for  the train station.
Aperol: Venice
Soft white bread. Mayo. Boiled eggs. Thinly sliced prosciutto. What could be better at 9 in the morning?

Our train ride was uneventful and peaceful. I was still groggy and in no mood to have my picture taken so early in the morning, but Hollyweird (who has graciously allowed me to mix in some of his pictures in these posts) thought it would be cute to take my picture anyway.
No pictures please.

We arrived in Bologna around lunchtime and set out towards town on foot arriving at Da Gianni with seconds to spare. The restaurant was super crowded and I was glad Moon had the foresight to make a reservation. I watched the host turn many people away during our meal. The cuisine of Bologna is vastly different than Venice. It’s all about the meat–something none of us had eaten much of since arriving in Venice. Da Gianni serves many classic meat-centric dishes and we tried to eat as many as we could. We all agreed it was one of the most spectacular meals of our trip.

Da Gianni: Bologna
Platter of culatello (my second favorite cured meat in the world next to Jamon Iberico) and lardo with warm toast and butter.

Da Gianni: Bologna
Some tart lambrusco to cut the fat of the lardo and my upcoming main dish.

Da Gianni: Bologna
Hollyweird’s strangolapreti or “Priest strangler” with meat sauce.

Da Gianni: Bologna
My primi of bolognese with fresh noodles. What else do you eat in Bologna?

Da Gianni: Bologna
Hollyweird’s “stinco” or pork shank.

Da Gianni: Bologna
A bad shot of Moon’s bollito misto.

Da Gianni: Bologna
My secondi: the sticky, fatty, and porktacular cotechino with mashed potatoes.

After our mains arrived, one of the brothers–can’t remember which one–noticed there was a specials board in the back that we somehow missed! On that board was a dish of roasted rabbit, a dish neither of them can resist. So, they ordered one.

Da Gianni: Bologna
Roasted rabbit with potatoes.

Da Gianni: Bologna
Gelato with frutti di bosco or mixed berries.

Da Gianni: Bologna
An intense coffee gelato.

Da Gianni: Bologna
The last of this meal, not including the frosted bottle of grappa di bosco they plunked down on our table with some glasses. I guess we ordered so much food, that we earned it. We saw no other tables getting the same courtesy. It was seriously strong, but a sip or two helped the meal settle.

After our lunch, we stumbled around the streets of Bologna, killing time and trying in vain to burn off some of the 10 million calories we consumed. But, of course, we ended up in one of the many food shops of Bologna.
AF Tamburini: Bologna
I’m not telling if any of this somehow made it into my suitcase and through customs. I swear none is in my fridge right now.

Eataly: Bologna
All of a sudden, we found this Eataly outpost–one that opened well before Batali’s NYC location. Funny. Had no idea it was based in Italy, although it makes sense.

Gents selling hot wine on the street, which was still bedazzled with holiday decor.

Fruit, beautiful fruit.

The formerly controversial “Fountain of Neptune” in the center of one Bologna’s squares.

Time to head back to Venice. La Serenísima calls.

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