I just brought a group to Emilia-Romagna on a food tour, followed by a quick stop in Rome to visit family. Here are the awesome bits.
  1. Formaggio di fossa
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    I spent months in anticipation waiting to go back to Sogliano so I could grab a kilo of this special cheese. Sheep's milk wheels ages in straw-lined pits carved into the volcanic rock, so they take on a flinty, funky flavor. Though the DOP specifies that fossa can be made in a few rowbs in the region, aficionados stick with the original town, Sogliano.
  2. Making pasta with little old Italian ladies
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    Learning how to hand-roll pasta from ladies who have been doing it for decades is awesome and hilarious. Especially since they bicker over the particulars as if they done do it exactly the same way every freaking day of their lives. If I may say so myself we did a good job on the cappelletti.
  3. Passatelli
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    This is an unusual pasta from Romagna made of bread crumbs, egg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, extruded through a thing much like a potato ricer. They're cut directly into boiling broth, which is how they're typically served. Something between a thick noodle and a dumpling.
  4. Life-changing steak at La Sangiovesa
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    A charming and quirky restaurant in Sant'arcangelo, with a Fellini connection. This steak was simple but perfect, seasoned simply with sea salt from Cervia.
  5. Not foraging for porcini
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    That's what we were supposed to do, but the porcini weren't cooperating, so we foraged to truffles instead, unearthing black and white truffles. The aroma when they get dug up is amazing.
  6. Chestnut flan
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    At Il Vecchio Convento in Portico, where we went foraging, the mother made this incredible dessert. Like, wow.
  7. Grand Hotel Terme at Castrocaro
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    An Art Deco Fantasia built by Mussolini to put up his important friends. The whole hotel smells like sulfur but the baths are way cool (actually, warm).
  8. White truffle festival in Sant'Agata Feltria
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    Alba is the famous one, but this is where Italians go. Not just truffles, but chestnuts, porcini, amazing cheeses and so much more. Bottles of wine for under €10. I tasted a super aged caciocavallo that made me weep.
  9. Chestnuts and cagnina
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    Cagnina is like the Beaujolais nouveau of Romagna, a fresh wine with low alcohol content. It runs a little sweet but doesn't suck like Beaujolais nouveau. It's enjoyed with freshly roasted chestnuts.
  10. Cracking a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano
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    When the wheel is first opened, you can totally smell what the cows were eating. This one was milk from last summer. It smelled like chamomile and alfalfa. Also the cheese maker was hot.
  11. Bologna
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    This is one of the greatest cities in Italy and it doesn't get the attention it deserves. It's beautiful, and the food and shopping are unparalleled. I bought my husband a gorgeous bag.
  12. Unexpectedly learning how to make 4505's chicharrones
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    Again in Portico! Not sure how it made it there.
  13. Mercato Trionfale in Rome
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    This is a newly built market, nearly a bazaar, I the neighborhood where my cousin lives. The selection is incredible. Worth the schlep to a non-touristy part of town. Also the artichoke guy was hot.
  14. Eataly Roma
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    The New York store bores me but the Rome one is AWESOME. astonishing selection of everything, hyper fresh fish and meat, good restaurants. I could spend days there.
  15. Riding around Rome on the back of a scooter
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    Not for the faint of heart and WAY outside my comfort zone. If I didn't trust my cousin implicitly I would probably have shit my pants a few times. But I grinned like and idiot the whole time.
  16. This guy
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    Not even Italian; he's Swedish. Whatever, I want to be him. Also his son was hot.