Emilia Romagna - a region that dances to the rhythm of lambrusco wine and fried dumplings
When you fall in love with a person you fall in love with his/her whole world and it happened to me with a special friend that I met in Florence 20 years ago: Irene. She came from a place unknown to most, Finale Emilia.
Immediately we became close friends: common interests and similar tastes for the "lovers" (as Irene would say) about which we have never quarreled and our love for the kitchen and photography have always united us.
Also because when I found a friend with whom I could cook an eggplant parmigiana for ten others, one August at two in the afternoon, in a student house, I knew that I couldn't miss such a person in my life!
In 20 years of friendship she was the only person who followed me in my eleven house moves, she has always come to visit me and I have visited Finale and surroundings for years. Now that Irene and her family live in Cervia I get to enjoy a town which has surprised me with its beauty and elegance.
For years I have enjoyed Giuliano's hospitality and the super cuisine of Adriana, Irene's mother, the cuisine for which you need a pre and a post lunch fast: fried dumplings, tigelle, the famous Spiana di Finale (an original country recipe from the Jewish tradition), cheeses with any pasta and seasoning not to mention the damn good cured meats!
Combine this with Prosecco and Lambrusco rigorously selected and bottled by Giuliano.
Up to 5 years ago, Irene was the only ambassador of the "emilianità" until I met Elisa and her agritourism company who live under Monte Cimone.
The farmhouse of Elisa is "La Cervarola" near the lake of Ninfa, about 1,400 above sea level.
A family run business, now in its fourth generation, which has dedicated itself from the parents to the children to agriculture and animal breeding. In the generation of Elisa and her brother, the farm has turned into a "real farm" where you can get the smell of hay in the air and where you pick up milk in the barn in the morning.
Every year, in our family camper we spend a week, not as customers but as guests, pampered by Elisa, Giusy, Nicola and Ettore, in the silence of the mountain, playing bowls at sunset after a day of walking, with the certainty that I can just feel in the air the scent of home cooking - Giusy will have the dinner we requested ready for us!
I especially love this food from Giusy: his gnocchi fried with the sliced cheeses that their company produces, and Lambrusco as Elisa
says "that goes down as well as tonic water ..." and the ricotta and black cherry pie made with the ricotta from their cows. Too bad that a week goes by too fast!
I write these lines precisely on the days when I came to meet Irene in Cervia, days of wind blowing in from the sea in a perfect July, hot and dry, and together we had fun making "piadine" with traditional and fusion fillings.
On Sunday the new Emilian regional recipe awaits you .... guess what it will be?!