Spianata e Squaquarone: Good Eating in Emilia Romagna

March 30, 2016 / Food & Wine
Meldola, Emilia-Romagna

You’ll probably overlook Meldola in the region of Emilia Romagna. Unless you’re out to explore the network of feudal castles in the province of Cesena, our target one weekend.

Rocca di Meldola stands guard over the town
Rocca di Meldola indicated on the map

Meldola boasts a crumbling rocca, the fortress spanning centuries of bellicose history, from the first millennium until the 1870 earthquake devastation.

Rocca di Meldola

The town offers little else – or so we thought, until setting out in search of a trattoria or ristorante. One recommended was closed, the other so hidden away in labyrinthine backstreets that we never did find it. And we almost walked right past La Meridiana. Easy to do: it looked like a nondescript family home.

You could mistake La Meridiana for a family home...

There was a doorbell but no need to ring it – with a push, the door swung open to an enticing display of antipasti. In the dining room, chatting families filled the tables encircling the huge wood-burning oven. The owner of La Meridiana – Vito by name, we learned – spun through the dining room like a whirling windmill, seating guests, pouring wines, serving up tortellini or ravioli, delivering orders to the pizza-maker at the bread oven while also gently directing the two young waitresses (nieces, Cristina and Valentina).

Family groups share tasty Romagnolo foods at La Meridiana
-Wait til they taste these ravioli-
Homemade ravioli with sausages, aspargus
Cristina serves spianata topped with arugula, prosciutto, squaquarone cheese

We ordered the straccetti al radicchio (savory slices of shaved veal topped with radicchio, pine nuts and balsamic), sharing an antipasto plate first. Artichokes and eggplants-under-oil, sundried tomatoes, pickled onions, local salamis and a sharp cheese fanned out on a large plate and la spianata (literally, “the spread out”), the area flat bread topped with rosemary, accompanied on the side.

Rosemary-topped spianata

“No squaquarone?, Pino asked. “Subito!” responded Vito, reminding young Cristina that squaquarone – a soft romagnolo cheese – should always accompany la spianata as an antipasto.

Squaquarone,la spianta and vino rosso - Romagnolo goodness

For many diners, a plate of spianata topped with slices of prosciutto and dollops of squaquarone was lunch. Others opted for spianata topped with a savory array of grilled vegetables.

Slicing la spianata with squaquarone, prosciutto
La spianata topped with squaquarone, grilled vegetables

At the bread oven, pizzaiolo Adriano, worked rapidly, kneading the dough, then patting flat the small discs, brushing them with olive oil, sprinkling with rosemary, then sliding the spianate into the bread oven with a long paddle.

Adrian's ready to slide the spianate into the hot wood-burning oven
Le spianate in the hot oven

When I asked Vito how long Adriano had been making pizze and spianate, “Since toddling around with a pacifier in his mouth,” he replied with a wink.

Veramente… since I was fourteen,” Adriano corrected with a smile as he slid more spianate into the oven.

Adriano, baker since age 14

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.

21 Responses to “Spianata e Squaquarone: Good Eating in Emilia Romagna”

  1. Mary Cameron

    Love hearing about unexpected and surprising treats. Lovely article about both!

    Reply
  2. Anna Retsker

    Anne, the dishes look so tasty! Thank you again for the interesting story!

    Reply
  3. David fleming

    What an outstanding vignette of a simple meal in a small Italien town. Ann continues to share her wonderful discoveries much to our delight!

    Reply
  4. Rosemary Johnson

    Was just thinking about lunch, and your article made up my mind—Italian!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful discovery with us.

    Reply
  5. Lina Falcone

    Grazie, it looks so good with the toppings, it makes me want to have some for lunch.

    Reply
  6. Lynn Cowhig

    Anne provides so many more beautiful
    Places to see, and eat, in Italy. Need a month there next time, and elastic waist pants!

    Reply
  7. Jack Litewka

    The damn article made me very hungry. I’m going to get lunch…in California.

    Reply
  8. Donald Sassi

    What a wonderful way to see this part of Italy without being there. Only problem is that it makes you want to be there…NOW!

    Reply
  9. Marianna Raccuglia

    Another interesting article with wonderful photos, Anne. Such a joy to read.Thank you and look forward to seeing you soon. Marianna

    Reply
  10. carol weed lundin

    You never fail to entice all the senses with your descriptions. I should not have read this before dinner, nothing will compare! Guess it’s time to show up on the boot.

    Reply
  11. Leslie Xavier

    In Italy, the best places to eat are often the hardest to find. Often you have to just follow the sounds of clattering plates, utensils and happy clamoring voices.
    Thanks for sharing this with us – makes my mouth water just reading this and a longing to be back in Italy.

    Reply
  12. Ann Krapf

    Anne, As usual, your pictures are perfect and the descriptions make us feel as though we are there with you! Sadly, we are not…

    Reply
  13. Anna Figurelli Sachs

    This reminds me of my adventures in Italy. Discovering hidden family restaurants that serve the most delicious foods is such a lovely experience. We had the exact same experience in Pasaro, Marche on a family vacation.

    Reply
  14. Donna Ulteig

    I do feel like I was there, so typical is this Italian experience of food discovery in a surprise locations! Thanks for your vivid documentation that appeals to all of my senses!

    Reply

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