Buona Forchetta

December 14, 2011 / Food & Wine
Imola, Emilia-Romagna
In Italy, una buona forchetta (a good fork) is not a favorite eating utensil, it’s someone who knows and relishes good food. For any buona forchetta, the cooking of the Emilia-Romagna region is the apex of culinary ecstasy.

This region is known for its Parmigiano, balsamic vinegars, mortadella, salami, nourishing soups, lasagne, tagliatelle and endless variations of tortellini (not to mention cappelletti, tortelli, tortelloni, ravioli, and ravioloni). Hearty foods offset the bleak and foggy, bone-chilling winter weather typical of the region.

We recently arrived in Imola on just one of those misty, shivery December nights – good thing our nephew Tommaso knew how to warm us up. We all headed to Ettore’s little restaurant; his cheery welcome was a prelude to the foods cooked by his wife Monica and their staff. Tommaso is a regular customer here: we quickly knew why.

On our drive, one thought kept popping into in my head: will we find ravioli con zucca on this trip?

Che fortuna! That day, Ettore’s wife had prepared a Mantova area specialty, homemade ravioli stuffed with winter squash enhanced with nutmeg and a bit of crushed amaretti. That was my choice for a primo piatto and it arrived topped with a drizzle of olive oil and fine slivers of Parmigiano. Under Ettore’s watchful eye, our server, Andrea rolled out a cart with my ravioli and another house specialty for Pino, green tortelli (spinach in the pasta dough) with a creamy sauce of radicchio and speck and a spicy spaghetti with local pancetta in the tomato sauce for Tommaso.

Beef fillets with radicchio, pinenuts and balsamic vinegar from nearby Modena were the secondo for Pino and his nephew. I had to try an Emiliano specialty: roast pork in a sauce made of grapes. As Tommaso had told me, “qui siamo pieni di porcili” (here, we are full of pigstys!) For dessert, we gamely ordered their homemade torta di mele, with three forks.

Imola might no longer be famous for its Gran Prix race-track (the last race here was in 2006), but Ettore’s cooking is the Ferrari of Emilia-Romagna cuisine… for any buona forchetta.

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

24 Responses to “Buona Forchetta”

  1. Rosemary

    Anne, my mouth is watering!! I adore ravioli with winter squash and haven’t had any like the meals I had in Italy! Yummmm. Grazie!

  2. Anne Robichaud

    -= and head to Imola to the Albergo Ristorante Moderno when you can: let Ettore take care of you!…and if the dinner knocks you out, just roll UP to the rooms above (6, i think)…..!

  3. Even the best italian restaurants in the Washington DC area can’t replicate these beautiful dishes. I was in Rimini in the same region this year and we had a pasta named “strozapretti” (spelling?) which was wide and flat. It was from a local woman’s little store where she made several dishes a day for carry out. Lovingly made and outstanding taste. Thanks for the memories!

  4. Anne Robichaud

    THanks, Barbara and Babs for notes..and Babs, strozzapreti also called “strangozzi”..and the name “strozzapreti” means “priest-chokers”………..

  5. Angela Melczer

    Once again, you have made me almost taste this food…Annie, you are a “buona forchetta” and I can’t wait until you are bac in Arizona! Buona natale to you and Pino and your family.

  6. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    Buon Giorno Anna, Grazie Mille. Tu sei una buona forchette.
    ci vediamo en Phoenix :-) As you can see, we are waiting for your return to the Valley of the Sun. Buon Natale

  7. Nancy Mazza

    Yum! and what great photos!Thanks for sharing and Buon Natale to you and Pino and the kids.

  8. ho fame! Vai in Orlando? Peccato che non abbiamo incontrato l’anno scorso quando abitavamo a Soriano nel Cimino (VT)

  9. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks to all!
    Angela, hope to see you in Arizona and MAY be doing cooking classes there in Feb / not sure yet..might be in AZ before Denver classes – and Paula, hope to see you there, too..
    Carol..will be in WPBeach FL but not sure about Orlando
    Andi, thanks so much for your kind note…

    Mille grazie to all and buone feste!

  10. It’s kind of cruel to not only have the detailed descriptions of such delicious food, but mouth-watering pictures as well! Thanks for sharing with us though – just more examples of the bounty of Italy and the pleasure of sharing it!

  11. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    As a Chef/Instructor I look at these beautiful offerings and sigh,smile and laugh! There are no recipe! So I look again and decide what is in them (if I could smell them…)well Italian is doing it your way so I will,as they say “la ricetta è la testa nelle cucine italiane”

  12. Anne Robichaud

    Giuseppe, e hai ragione!
    The only way to learn to cook those delectable foods is to spend the day with Ettore’s wife in the kitchen!
    Taube, sorry there are no recipes in my article, but none exist for those dishes!

  13. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    as I said with Italian foods the recipe is in the head and heart of the cuoco

  14. Carolyn Johnson

    It looks wonderful! When is your next visit planned? I would love to join you.
    Happy holidays,

  15. umberto levrini

    joe is right-my wife is gone,my mother is gone and my grandmother is gone -so as much as i love to cook italian -i have got to relie on what they taught me when they were alive and my memory -so i experiment–its true “la ricetta e’ la testa nelle cucine italiane’is all u need for a wonderful italian meal-and if my immediate family and friends are any jugde of good italian cusine –i am doing pretty,pretty good—-buon natale e buone feste!!!

  16. Gian Banchero

    I’ve stopped frequenting Italian restaurants here in the States being I never arrive at the needed attendant satisfactions that comes from experiencing a like-meal in Italy. In Italy part of this satisfaction derives from the welcoming nature of establishments’ owners and the satisfaction of knowing that the food being dined upon isn’t from an impersonal international culinary school(institution) but from the suggestions of well experienced in-home cooks, e.i., grandmothers, mothers and aunts; in Italy the restaurants must strive to be stellar in that they are ALL competing with these legendary and always mythic women. Thank you Anne for the wonderful photos of the beautiful food and beautiful young cooks, obviously two buone forchette.

  17. Eleanor Walden

    The Sicilian restaurant on College Ave. in Berkeley comes as close to your expectations as I have had in California. The owner greets you, his family cooks the food, the place is small, warm, and loud. The parking is difficult, sometimes the line is long, but it’s a welcome breath of “home”. That home being New York or Naples.

  18. Anne Robichaud

    Umberto, how wonderful that you are cooking for your famiily and friends. A gift to them while you commemorate your mother, grandmother.
    Cooking is communication -transmits messages. Preserves culture, traditions.

    Viva la cucina genuina!
    Eleanor, thanks for the news on the Berkeley spot.
    Thanks to all for your thoughts.

  19. Anne Robichaud

    Carolyn – not sure what you mean about “next visit”? Do you mean my US cooking classes?
    I start in LA in Feb and end up in DC in late Mar / cooking in various spots / and working out the route now.

  20. Mille grazie. On a rainy, cold morning in Tennessee, I can taste those flavors. Thanks for the wonderful photos. I can’t wait to be in Italy again soon. Buon Natale and best wishes. Pat


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