Italian fantastic

Went to Italy last weekend. The wife had to go on business, so we paid for me to go on the cheap with Ryanair. Ryanair sucked (Seriously, the decent into Forli airport prematurely aged me. The pilot took four goes to land the plan, aborting each at the last second to go around again. We were in the air for an extra hour due to “adverse weather conditions” but the sky was clear and there was no wind on the ground. Not funny at all. All that was missing was a hysterical woman standing up and screaming “we’re all going to die!”)

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Anyway, Italy rocked. I’m a major foodie, much to the detriment of my waistline, and this was a great trip to a place called Campofilone around two hours south of Forli and two hours north east of Rome. A very nice place that’s totally off the tourist trail. We spent a fantastic two days stuffing ourselves silly with fantastic cheeses (various pecorino and scarmorzi served with different honeys), deep fried artichokes, stuffed olives, broadbeans in garlic oil and the best pasta I’ve ever had.

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We visited a pasta workshop where some very skilled women hand made different kinds of fresh egg pasta such as tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghetti and the regional speciality macaroncini – a sort of thin vermicelli-like pasta. This place was incredible and extremely cheap. I also learned quite a bit about pasta that I didn’t know. The place we visited makes a pasta dough using tipo 00 extra fine durham wheat, and then hand rolls the pasta out on large marble slabs using long wooden rolling pins. The lady there told me that the reason this is better than factory produced pasta is that in factories, the pasta is made using teflon moulds and as such is perfectly smooth. Handmade pasta has a rougher texture which allows it to hold sauce better than the mass produced version.

She’s obviously doing something right because her pasta is fantastic, and also, she is extremely busy supplying restaurants in her area – they all buy from her rather than make it themselves and having tasted it, I know exactly why. Fantastico!

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In the local restaurants we had spaghetti in lemon sauce, tagliatelli with truffles, gnocchi with sage and butter and a sort of risotto made with radicchio lettuce. The carnivores had 101 different types of sausages and hams, steaks in greenpepper sauce, pork chops in prune and congnac and lots of excellent wine. Fantastic. Anyway, more anon.

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