March 6, 2013

Parma- an Italian Delight

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:35 pm by newsurroundings

I knew I would like Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  A city famous for its ham and cheese is bound to get high marks in my book.  The reason for our visit was to attend an antique fair, but the fair ended up being just a side trip, and we spent most of our time walking around the old city and enjoying some of the best Italian food we’ve ever tasted.

The world’s best prosciutto comes from the Emilia-Romagna region and it is everywhere in Parma.  Every few feet, it seems, there is a macelleria (butcher shop) with prosciutti hanging from the walls and ceiling.  And the wheels of parmigiano reggiano (the finest parmesan)- Mamma Mia, are they ever big!

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We only had time for two meals in Parma, so we wanted to get the most out of them.  For lunch, we had an antipasto of just prosciutto and I had one of the pasta specialties of the region, tortelli d’erbetta.  It’s a stuffed pasta with spinach and ricotta and tossed in butter and parmesan.  Bryan had the spaghetti with tomato sauce, his all-time favorite European meal.  The food was simple, but very tasty.  I think the prosciutto with melone (cantaloupe) would be delizioso, but I’ll have to go back for that since it’s only served when the melons are in season.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the juicy sweet cantaloupe paired with the salty, light prosciutto.

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For dinner, we went to a small restaurant called La Greppia.  I had read good reviews on it and called early in the day to make a reservation.  I practiced what I was going to say in my best Italian accent and proper grammar, and proceeded to make the call.  After I finished my one sentence and was feeling very proud of myself and convinced that I had come across as fluent, the man on the other end replied, “Sure, maam, What time and how many people?”.  We finished the rest of the conversation in English.  So much for practicing my Italian!

The restaurant didn’t even open until 8pm, late for us, but it gave us time to walk off our lunch and work up an appetite for dinner.  For the antipasto, I had spuma di parmegiano con pere al vino rosso, or parmesan mousse with pears in a red wine sauce.  I really liked the contrasting flavors, although parmesan is a little strong for my taste.  Bryan had grilled polenta (it looked like pineapple) with grilled peperoni on top.  He thought he was getting pepperoni (as in salami), but peperoni in Italy is red peppers.  Anyway, he liked it.  For the main course, we played it safe and I had chicken and Bryan had steak.  After the meal, the waiter came by with a huge section of parmigiano-reggiano and he dug out small chunks of it, rather than slicing it, which I thought was an interesting way to serve it.

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After that, they brought a dessert cart by and we shared (Bryan took 2 bites) a slice of banana cake and then they brought a plate of bite-size desserts.  To end it all, we had coffee.  Italian coffee is too strong for my taste and you get about 3 sips out of your cup.

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Obviously, the focus of this trip was food, but Parma is also just a beautiful city to visit with museums, a 12th century cathedral, and a fun atmosphere, with lots of bikers.  Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed, so we didn’t get to see  inside, but maybe another time.

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