Gelati al formaggio. Loosely translated, it’s cheese ice cream. Ok, as a purist, it’s actually cheese gelati. There are 3 scoops, so it is gelati, not gelato; and besides which gelato is not ice cream, but I digress!
Let’s get back to the Dream Team alchemy. Firstly it’s cheese. Secondly, it’s GELATI. Need I say more?
A lifetime ago, I studied Italian and had the opportunity as part of my course to study at the Università di per Stranieri di Perugia. Six weeks of bliss living in Perugia – a highly underrated Italian city! We were lucky enough to be there during the Umbria Jazz festival, so the atmosphere was extra special. As a result, Italy has a special place in my heart, and despite Bologna being on my bucket-list for years, I never made it back to Italy until last year. Funny how it’s the things on your door-step, you take for granted.
Bologna: “La Grassa” (The Fat One)
Bologna is the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This region is known as the “Bread Basket” of Italy. The exceptional farmland and ideal climate of the region, yield the “celebrities” of Italian food, such as Prosciutto di Parma DOP, Aceto Balsamico di Modena DOP (balsamic vinegar), and Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP. The celebrities from Bologna itself include lasagna, tortellini in brodo, Mortadella di Bologna, and of course the famous Bolognese ragù, which we Anglophones have bastardized into “Spag bol”.
Truly, Bologna is a foodie’s paradise. Everywhere you turn, delicious morsels await. The ingredients at their disposal are simply incredible. Those aforementioned “food celebrities” are only the tip of the iceberg. And don’t get me started on the wine.
In the UK, my general experience is that French wines are more readily available. Not to say you can’t obtain good Italian wine here, but there seems to less of a market for Italian niche grapes or vineyards nor for the ‘everyday’ local/typical Italian grape varieties. I could be totally wrong. I don’t profess to be an oenophile, though I definitely am an enthusiastic wine imbiber! (Do comment below if you’re based in the UK and you’ve got a secret wee wine merchant with great Italian wine!). One such regional wine that completely blew my tastebuds away was Pignoletto. Cheap as chips in Bologna, and divine. Infinitely better than Prosecco, which I have always found somewhat sweet and insipid. Pignoletto is Prosecco’s elegant, refined, and graceful older sister.
But, let’s get back to the cheese gelati shall we?
Gelati al Formaggio (& the rest of our meal) at Trattoria da Me, Bologna
This was the restaurant I chose for us to go eat the famed tortellini in brodo and tagliatelle al ragù (that’s spag bol for us English-speaking plebs). The pasta is all made fresh in house. As expected, the primi were deliciously hearty and comforting, like a warm hug. (Sorry no pictures, as they were guzzled down with gusto without any thought for photo documentation!)
As delightful as the pasta was, the surprise star of the meal was the cheese gelati. I can’t remember now which cheeses made up the three gelati, but there was one mild, one medium, and one strong (I think a blue cheese of some sort if memory serves correct). They were accompanied with rosemary nut wafers and a caramalised fig compote.
The gelati were genius. Instead of having the expected thick mouth-feel of cheese, you had the essential flavour of the cheese with the light creaminess of gelato. Mind blown.
For wine, I only remember the red Lambrusco as it was like no Lambrusco I’d had before. Drinking this evoked the feeling of bubbly strawberries in the summer sunshine.
Go to Bologna, you won’t regret it. If you wanted to eat the exact items from Trattoria da Me that I’ve written about, I’m happy to report that at the time of writing this post, all the items we ate are still on their menu (English/French/Spanish/German versions here).
Til next time x