The best road trip we ever took was on the Via Emilia, stopping at each of the wonderful cities along the old Roman road that traverses the nine provinces of Emilia Romagna.
From end-to-end, the journey through this region of Italy takes about three hours. But any culinary traveler would be foolish not to stop at each of the nine pearls along the way. We couldn’t resist.
Emilia Romagna is fittingly called Italy’s greatest gastronomic treasure. So we slowly ate our way through the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna, Forli-Cesena and Rimini. Through foods and wines, we learned about the rich history and culture of the region, and also formed lasting friendships.
If you want to indulge in a week or two of bliss, we highly recommend you take the opportunity to feast on and learn about the bountiful foods that are typical of this region. Some of the best-known specialties include tagliatelle, tortelli, piadina, Proscuitto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, Mortadella and Lambrusco.
Many of these remarkable food and agricultural products are DOP- and IGP-protected. Like fine wines, to bear these names the products must be produced in specific geographic areas according to exacting processes that have been traditions for generations.
A refresher course in New York
We recently had a “refresher course” in New York City when we were invited to an intimate dinner celebrating the foods of Emilia Romagna.
Hosted at the fine dining restaurant Osteria della Pace (which is housed in the fantastic Eataly food emporium in downtown Manhattan), tables were set in a magnificent space overlooking the new World Trade Center Complex.
For this occasion, the Chef to Chef Association of Emilia Romagna (emiliaromagnacuochi) brought together three Michelin-star chefs to New York to create a 7-course dinner pairing regional foods and wines.
The chef luminaries included Chefs Riccardo Agostini of Il Piastrino, Igles Corelli of Ristorante Atman, and Alberto Bettini of Da Amerigo 1934. This stellar team prepared the meal in the kitchen of Executive Chef Riccardo Orfino, an acclaimed chef from the Veneto region of Italy, whose restaurant is tucked into a corner at Eataly NYC Downtown.
“New York is a city that loves Italy,” remarked Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly Americas and son of the founder of Eataly.
And what an incredible evening it was!
The all-star line-up of Michelin chefs
(We had the pleasure of dining at Amerigo 1934 in the truffle city of Savigno last year, where we fell in love with Chef Bettini’s cooking so we knew we were in for a treat.)
We started off with an aperitivo of sparkling Volli Brut (made with Trebbiano grapes) served with chunks of aged Parmigano Reggiano cheese in the bar area of the restaurant as we met other guests and dignitaries. The Volli Brut is called a “democratic wine” because of its affordability.
The dinner menu
The creativity of the meal speaks for itself. As for the tastes, you’ll have to take our word. (Unfortunately, the photography leaves a little to be desired because of the dim lighting.) The stellar meal included some of our favorite ingredients with perfect wine pairings:
The meal was magical in terms of both the culinary experience and people we met (At dinner, we were honored to sit beside the Mayor of Bologna and the CEO of FICO Italy World, and across from the Minister of Agriculture for the region and the editor of La Voce di New York.)
We plan to return to Eataly soon to purchase the incredible food specialties imported there all year, directly from Emilia Romagna. We were also tempted to start planning another road trip on the Via Emilia!
*Disclosure: Our dinner was hosted by the region of Emilia Romagna. Any opinions expressed in this post are our own. In the interest of full disclosure, we admit to being confirmed lovers of the foods and people of Emilia Romagna!
This dinner was one of many events including trade fairs, demos, workshops, films, and lectures aimed at showcasing some of Italy’s DOP products as part of the First Italian Cuisine in the World Week (November 15-23, 2016), a new international initiative of the Italian government to highlight and promote Italian quality cuisine abroad.
IF YOU GO