Monday, 14 June 2010

Vegetables, please

Even the most hardened carnivore or dedicated cheese enthusiast will eventually begin to crave some vegetation, especially in this cheesiest and meatiest of areas. The market in Bologna heaves with a spectacular selection of perfectly ripe and fresh fruits and vegetables. Glistening strawberries, large cultivated varieties and tiny deep red wild berries; luscious cherries; firm asparagus; the reddest tomatoes, all shapes and sizes, clinging to vines; perfectly purple baby artichokes; and tiny courgettes with their delicate yolk coloured flowers. Yet pick your trattorias without care and a visiting tourist could well end up being offered a vegetable diet of little but the odd mixed salad, chipped and roasted potatoes, and perhaps some pale green peas. Here are a  couple of places where you can sample some of the vegetable delights of the market, thoughtfully cooked.

Bistrot 18

Popular with tourists and smart young Bolognese, especially on a sunny lunchtime when pre-booking an outdoor table is a necessity, Bistot 18 offers a good selection of vegetable based dishes. We had fine shavings of raw baby artichokes, simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt, and chunks of larger artichokes, softened and served with a gentle, lemony gremolata - a delicious accompaniment for baked salt cod and black olives. Other contorni offered were braised swiss chard and spinach, borlotti beans and asparagus. The large salads served in deep, multi-coloured coloured bowls are very popular – we tried the ‘Jack’, a generous portion of steamed asparagus, cherry tomatoes and cold roast chicken. The desserts are mostly fresh fruit based. A welcome lunch for a pasta and prosciutto weary palate.

Eat Italy @ Ambasciatore

Is it a book shop? Is it a food shop? Is it a chain of cafes? Well, it’s all of those, spread over three floors in the middle of the market ‘quadrilateral’, the series of streets behind Piazza Maggiore dominated by food shops and eating places. Eat Italy takes the idea of a cafe in a book store a step further. Here you can stop for a coffee, have a light lunch or sample wine. You can do your grocery shopping and maybe also listen to a talk or a short performance.

After a weekend of cucina Bolognese, the top floor wine bar offered a refreshing change. We shared a couscous and roasted vegetable dish and a salad fresh from the market of lambs lettuce, tiny black Ligurian olives, baby plum tomatoes and sautéed spring onions

No comments:

Post a Comment