Hey Mr Tamburini play a song for me. Tamburini is that trattoria that is just across the street from Eataly. It’s old. It looks fabulous and it was fabulous. We had lunch there. I had some cheesy pasta stuff that was out of this world and Ashish had something with capers and sauce (again). I think veal. It was also good. He had the fried potatoes as well. They were good and I hate to go back to the belgian thing, but I do miss those french fries with every meal. On the other hand I don’t want to end up looking like Mario Batali. Not that I have any orange crocs to wear anyway.
These pictures will not do it justice. There is a fabulous food area in the shopping district in Bologna. And when I say fabulous I mean you can’t imagine the splendor. Old shops selling everything Italian you can imagine. The most beautiful and glorious old trattoria called Tamburini sits on a busy corner. In fact, right next door to the new and highly polished modern “Eataly.” Mario Batali’s huge food, bookstore and trattoria. He sells the same thing, often the same brands, as his neighbors. I am disgusted.
That coupled with the class action lawsuit against him for withholding tips from his employees makes me really not like him. I was going to call him a fat fuck but thought better of it. He’s just an ugly, fat American with an Italian name and a lot of money to throw around. Well, $5.25 million less after that law suit.
The first 2 pictures are taken from the same vantage point, Eataly (I hate that name anyway) and then turning to the left, Tamburini. The next 2 pictures are neighbors.
We arrived in Bologna on Sunday at six. Our hotel, or whatever it is (more on that later) is located in a great spot for being near shopping (hooray for Ashish, boo for me) and churches (hooray for me, boo for Ashish) and restaurants (hooray for both of us). But as it turns out, on Sunday nearly every restaurant is closed (this caused me a small amount of concern) but I could see that there were pizza places all over the place, and besides, after we’d had that half of a gouda sandwich, I knew we wouldn’t starve.
Anyway, we decided to walk to Diana a restaurant highly recommended by everyone on earth, well the New York Times, anyway, and since we had just arrivato we could also take a look at the city, if it wasn’t open it would be OK. As we approached it we saw that there was a McDonald’s on the corner near the restaurant, if all else failed and hell froze over and pigs had wings and a monkey flew out of my ass we could eat there.
But it turned out to be open and we arrived at 7:30, ridiculously early for an Italian but for an American it was just on the cusp of not-elderly dining (and as such, completely reasonable) and since we were early we got seated but 30 minutes later it was jammed and they were turning people away. So we got in just by the skin of our teeth.
Below is a pictorial example of how an Italian would eat a normal dinner. Antipasti, i primi (first course), i secondi (second course) and dessert. There can be a cheese course and contorni (side dishes) but this is like that and mostly what we ate at Diana. As an appetizer Ashish had Spuma di mortadella with grilled toasts, ground mortadella with egg whites which was amazingly good. I had pasta all’amatrichiana (or something). The problem with this is that I make it. And I like my version pretty much. In fact, a real lot, so for Diana, the competition was fierce and unfortunately, the judge favored me. Then I ordered the “carolla” a rolling trolley of roasted meat. The chef rolls it up to the table and serves up slices of roasted meat for you. I had to try it. It had flown by a few times and it smelled really good and looked even better. I had a sample of all of the various roasts. It was good although all of the various meats pretty much tasted the same. Ashish had the veal (not shown) with butter, lemon and capers (he’ll eat shoe leather with butter, lemon and capers) and it was way better. For dessert he had the creme caramel. I am sorry. I cannot get behind this idea. It’s like an omelet with runny caramel on it. I don’t get it. He loved it. I had limoncello and he had benedictine or something. It was fitting because the next day he was hectored by a Benedictine to buy something in a church.
The experience was great. Even the loud mouth Americans and the annoying Japanese were entertaining. In their way.
We left for Bologna yesterday at the crack of dawn. We took an incredibly cheap Ryanair flight that cost about $50 round trip. What we didn’t factor in was that the flight leaves from and flies to out-of-the-way airports. You could think if it as leaving from the Waukesha county airport instead of Mitchell Field. On a map that seems like it’s close enough and it seems like a good deal. Ninety euros later we arrived at Charleroi, the “other” Brussels airport by taxi since taking the train and bus was going to take hours. From there we were to fly to Bergamo outside of Milan, take the train to Milan and then catch a train to Bologna. This doesn’t even sound easy. In practice, it was REALLY complicated.
We arrived in Bergamo, early enough to catch an earlier train to Milan, which we did. And then we arrived in Milan early enough to catch an even earlier train to Bologna. We paid the 20 euro cost difference (for a total of 60 euros each) and went shrieking off to catch our train that was leaving in 47 seconds or something. Yeah, we got on the wrong train. It was a local and cost 15 euros. We arrived in Bologna more than an hour after we would have if we’d caught the original train.
Because were were going to be in transit for a lot of the day we stopped in the deli store in Charleroi to get a sandwich. First I inspected an odd package of something I couldn’t imagine anyone actually buying because it seemed unidentifiable but the package said “So French,” so, you know it had to be good. It was salmon and rice and something gray. I don’t like salmon under the best of circumstances, ranking it just above smoked salmon and well above anchovies but cold, in a convenience store, in the Brussels equivalent of the Timbuktu airport and in a foreign country. Really? I opted for the gouda sandwich.
We went to Brugges. I went because my friend Carol, who visited Belgium recently, and Ashish had lunch together at some particular restaurant there. Apparently the escargots are really good since they both, independent of one another, raved about the snails in the way one raves about anything drowned in butter and garlic, but still, Carol being a world traveler and Ashish being the international gourmet he now is, I had to go.
We took the late afternoon train to Brugges, walked the town for a while, had a beer, well, Ashish had some fruity raspberry beer, I had the more manly not-particularly-aggressively-beery-tasting beer and then we hopped off to eat at some restaurant with a Flemish name I did not understand.
I ordered the exquisite snails and Ashish, at my urging ordered the very fishy and pasty, shrimp croquettes. Don’t get those if you have the chance.
For dinner I ordered the carbonnade and he got scampi and what appears to be a large marshmallow. The carbonnade which was essentially an entire pot roast and was amazing, came with french fries and mayonnaise. The scampi was… I’m not sure. I was too busy with my dinner to notice.
God, shoot me for that pun but it’s been dying to get out. Lunch yesterday. In my quest to completely understand bolognese before I actually got to Bologna, which is where I am now, I ordered “croque monsieur bolognese.” I had no idea what that might be because a croque monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich and bolognese is, well, something from Bologna. Bolognese sauce is a kind of tomato based meat sauce. And it ain’t just any tomato sauce. It’s complicated.
Ashish ordered the vol au vent with shrimp and chicken. It is like a pot pie. It came with fries and some kind of mayonnaise. I so love this idea. The croque monsieur bolognese turned out to be an actual croque monsieur sandwich covered with bolognese sauce and swiss cheese.
It was delicious although it did not come with fries.
Last night Ashish and I went to Valentijn. It was a little and lovely (if over kitched-up with hearts) restaurant where the husband cooked and the wife ran her ass off (two floors of diners with the stairs being more like a ladder and she in high heels). We ordered the “menu” and my appetizer of paté came with a glass of sweet white wine. I had ordered a bottle of completely luscious St Emillion which she poured for Ashish and but left me with only the white wine and while I am capable of pouring the red for myself, she took the it from the table and set it up on a shelf with many other bottles of wine (this caused me a certain amount of concern since, how would she know which was ours?) and so there I sat with the cold syrupy sweet white wine. She was too busy (although she never looked or acted harried in the least) for me to bother her so I drank the white wine like I was supposed to. Good Catholic boy that I am.
I did eventually manage to get the St Emillion. Thank God. The meal was exquisite.
My first dinner. I know its Belgium. I know I will be in Italy in 2 days but when Ashish suggested pizza I was all over that. And when he ordered french fries as an appetizer, well, who can argue with that. I assume it’s very Belgian. And if it isn’t I don’t care. They came with a little gravy boat of mayonnaise, which in fact, is Belgian (the mayonnaise, not the gravy boat). The pizzas were amazing!!