March 27, 2014

Edible Books Festival in Bologna

The International Edible Books Festival 2014 will take place in Bologna, Italy on April 1st. Every participant will present an edible "book", or something that represents a literary work in some way and includes words. In other words, a book to eat!

Several local chefs will present their edible books/works of art. Taste of Italy will present a cooked Bolognese lasagna (fresh pasta, Bolognese ragù, Parmigiano cheese and home made Bechamel sauce). The text on the lasagna reads: Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist. The idea came about to destroy the myth that Bolognese ragu' is served with spaghetti. Never! With spaghetti, the ragu' stays in the bottom of the dish. In Bologna we serve our namesake sauce with fresh noodles, tagliatelle, which holds the ragù so you actually get to eat the pasta with the sauce.

The highest bidder will take a one of a kind, edible piece of art home, just in time for dinner! All proceeds will go to help the Ruffilli Library in Bologna, Italy.

More details as to how this event came to be and why its held on April 1st can be found at

To participate in the event, Just follow the following link: Hope to see you there!

January 31, 2014

The Girl With the Pearl Earring in Bologna: A Report

Reported on February 9th.
What an impressive exhibition! This small exhibition has 36 fabulous paintings from Holland's Golden Age. There are examples from Dutch masters such as Rembrandt (4), Frans Hals, Ter Borch, Claesz, Van Goyen, Van Honthorst, Hobbema, Coorte, Van Ruisdael and Steen.

Exhibited are Vermeer's first first painting: Diana and her nymphs as well as Rembrandt's last work. Then there is Fabritius' beautiful Goldfinch. The master' s paintings demonstrate their mastery in painting light, fabric, skin, tiny details (see Steen's Girl with Oysters) and mastery in depicting gold ornate jewelry (see Hal's Portrait of Aletta Hanemans). All quite impressive.

Turns out that Vermeer's enigmatic The Girl with the Pearl Earring, painted in 1665, is not considered a portrait but was meant as a painting of an oriental girl. In fact, the painting's original title was the Girl With the Turban. 

File:Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) - The Girl With The Pearl Earring (1665).jpg
The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer (1665) 
I liked that most of the paintings were organized by theme in different rooms:  Portraits, Everyday life of ordinary people, still lives, the girl with pearl earring. The rooms were not numbered so you enter a main room with portraits, at the end go left to see the "everyday life" and later walk through the main room with portraits to see the still lives and from there you go to see "the girl." Listening to the audio guide was helpful and helped me avoid straining my eyes in the dark rooms.

Take your time going through because once you leave the last room with the Girl with the Pearl Earring you can't turn around. This is not written down anywhere and I witnessed a couple furiously fighting with the woman guarding the exit. The word exit "uscita" was posted outside the last room, not just inside the last room. So one would see it when it was too late. Plus the last room is incredibly dark, so be prepared or turn on your audio guide and skip reading.

Before you enter the exhibition, you must drop off your coat, purse and any other large items at the FREE deposit area. Then you can pick up audio guides. The shop is in the same area and I must say didn't have much of interest. I usually like to purchase the catalog but was disappointed with the printed quality of several favorite paintings in the book. I ended up purchasing postcards.

Another no-no is that none of the text by the paintings or about the period o the walls are in any language other than Italian. Big mistake! Not sure if the audio guides are available in English, please inquire. Considering that this is the only stop in Europe, the curator should have expected visitors from different parts of Europe (who don't speak Italian). That said, the paintings speak for themselves.
After touring the world for a year, this and 36 other paintings from Holland's Golden Age will be on exhibit in Bologna, the exhibit's only European stop from February 8th through May 25th, 2014 in Bologna's beautiful museum Palazzo Fava, via Manzoni 2.  The museum has organized another exhibition, Around Vermeer, with 25 contemporary Italian artists exhibiting works inspired by Vermeer. The Italian artists include Guccione, Sarnari, Raciti and Forgioli. This 2nd exhibit is on the floor above the main exhibition. No extra payment is necessary to view the second exhibit.
Tickets can be purchased here or directly at Palazzo Fava.
Linea d’Ombra
 tel. +39 0422 3095
fax +39 0422 309777

January 28, 2014

Jan 29 -31st : The Days of the Blackbird

Photo by Andreas Trepte,

I giorni della merla, "the days of the blackbird" refers to January 29th, 30th and 31st, and are supposed to be the coldest days of the year.

It is curious how this old Italian saying is still widely used in the local media and among Italian citizens, especially when we are close to the end of January. Will the giorni della merla be as cold as they are famously known for? This is what everyone seems wonder about, while they wait for the weatherman to make his predictions for this period. When the weatherman announces dropping temperatures and this year, snow, people seem to remember the legend that the nonni told them as children.

There are a couple of legends which explain why these 3 days are referred to as "the days of the blackbird"1.  
The first legend says that blackbirds (called merli in plural which makes no reference to their color) were once white. January consisted of 28 days while February had 31 days. Apparently one of these birds started chirping happily on January 28th, happy that cold January was finally over. January was so angry at the bird's behavior that it asked to borrow 3 days from February in which it unleashed snow, wind, freezing temperatures and rain. The bird hid in a chimney and when it came out it was black from the smoke. Blackbirds have been born black ever since.

A simpler version of this legends states that a female white bird, a merla, and her chicks hid in the chimney during the coldest days of January to stay warm and when they came out they were black from the smoke.

According to the legend, if the "days of the merla" are cold, the spring will be nice; if the 3 days are mild then spring will be late.

Note: Wikipedia, Giorni della Merla

November 9, 2013

Cioccoshow (Chocoshow) is back in Bologna : 13-17 of November

From November 13th to the 17th, chocolate lovers run to downtown Bologna. The best chocolate producers from all over Italy expose their goods to the public who can see the latest developments in the chocolate world and buy all the chocolate they want. This year, the Cioccoshow is all over "centro", the center: in Piazza Maggiore, Via Orefici, Piazza Galvani and Piazza Re Enzo (in front of the Neptune fountain).

The best chocolatiers from all over Italy come together under the cool November skies of Bologna to show off (and sell) their delicious artisanal chocolates. The famous chocolates from Piedmont, Sicily, Tuscany and of course Bologna! All famous for their chocolate production. There will be other lesser known but equally fantastic "chocolate" cities present as well. Some exhibitors are better known as pastry shops or ice cream shops, while others specialize in hard chocolate. 

It really does NOT matter to a chocolate lover, as anyone who attends will testify that it is impossible to find an average piece of chocolate at the Cioccoshow. Its all excellent. Of course its lots of fun to try to find an average piece of chocolate!

If you follow the link to the Cioccoshow site you will even find the recipes for unusual chocolate dishes (in Italian). 

October 9, 2013

Mortadella Bo' Festival 2013

The consortium of Bologna Mortadella is celebrating its 350 years of glorious pink mortadella from October 10-13th in Bologna, Italy.

To celebrate, there will be a number of activities in the city of Bologna. Because all of the information is in Italian, I've translated the more interesting events into English for you.

PINK EMPORIUM in Piazza Maggiore (Main Square)

Thursday the 10th and Sunday the 13th of October - from 10am to 20/8pm
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of October - from 10am to 22/10pm

*Where you can find, choose and purchase the Bolognese Mortadella IGP. Seventeen prestigious brands  will be present.

MORTADELLATECA  in Piazza Maggiore (Main Square)

Thursday the 10th and Sunday the 13th of October - from 10am to 20/8pm
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of October - from 10am to 22/10pm

* Salumi experts will explain to the public what to look for in a just sliced Mortadella.
(although it does not say so, it would seem logical that they will be giving out samples)

PINK RESTAURANT in Palazzo Re Enzo (located in Piazza Maggiore)
Everyday at meal times

* Local chefs will prepare special pink menus with Mortadella in it, from antipasto to dessert!
Fixed menu 20€ - beverages not included.
We suggest making reservations at +39-389-2354012

PINK FINGER FOOD in Piazza Maggiore (Main Square)

Thursday the 10th and Sunday the 13th of October - from 10am to 20/8pm
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of October - from 10am to 22/10pm

*Bologna's Mortadella is the protagonist of a number of tasty recipes that you can eat with your fingers! Great gastronomical ideas to enjoy with your breakfast, snack time and aperitivo.

MASTERCHEF in Piazza Maggiore Tasting booths
Saturday 12th of October - at 20/8pm

*Italy's Masterchef will offer a special cooking show with the finalists of the last edition of Masterchef Italy.

Look for MORE photos of today's events on Taste of Italy's Facebook page : TasteItalyBologna

(PS I will add more events later)