If there is one pasta that is associated with Bologna it’s tortellini – those little crescent shaped packages filled with meat, cheese or vegetables. There appears to be some dispute as to whither the dish originated in Bologna or Modena but chances are you’ll see them on the menu in most towns in Emilia. Often they are served in broth, dressed with cream or ladled with a meaty ragu.
However those wily Bolognese don’t just think of tortellini as a primi – take for instance this tempting plate in the picture. You really wouldn’t want to smother these in hot broth, cream or ragu. Chances are that would turn them into a gloppy mess of .. chocolate.
These incredibly rich white chocolate confections are the work of the people at Drogheria Gilberto on Via Drapperie; a sweet shop nestled among butchers and bakers and, believe it or not, candle makers in an area just off Piazza Maggiore. It is a foodies paradise: shop windows hung with cured ham from Parma – included my beloved culatello – and local sausages, displays of cheeses that go well beyond the traditional parmigiana, trays of fish glistening on ice and stalls of vegetables that look so much like still lifes that its almost a shame to disturb their colourful symmetry. And then there is Gilberto with rows upon rows of chocolate truffles, fruit jellies, glacéed fruits, chocolate dipped cherries and citrus and those chocolate tortellini.
Legend says that Lucrizia Borgia sought lodging in a inn near Bologna during her travels. The innkeeper was enchanted by her beauty – as indeed the story goes were many men – and peeped through the keyhole while she was undressing. In the flickering candle light all he could catch was a glimpse of her navel but so smitten was he by even that brief vision of perfection that it moved him to create tortellini. I guess I can sort of see the resemblance, if not the attraction, and much like the reputation of the lady these are beyond decadent and give sinful a new dimension.
21 gennaio – San Fruttuoso di Tarragona