On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Bologna – home of Porticos

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One of many porticos

One of many porticos

Each new place we visit we notice the architecture changing. Given Bologna is just 20+ minutes by train down the road from Modena we were surprised how much the buildings differed.a

Bologna seems to be the city of porticos. I was thankful for this because it was raining. We had been inside the Church, gazing at the wonder of all the gold that was now being used as part of the “decoration”, and walked out into the light to find it was absolutely bucketing down. We knew that thunderstorms were expected and we had set out prepared. We bought a Samsonite fold up umbrella in Geneva (yes I know I’ve not got a post about Geneva, I’m still processing what I feel about the place) and we’ve used it almost every place we’ve stopped (except Milan) because it always rains on us.

Another fine example. There are so many to choose from.

Another fine example. There are so many to choose from. This one however if inside the 7 churches of Santo Stefano.

So the porticos offered some shelter, but the marble is a little slippery. I’m so confused about which side of the street (or portico) to walk on. It’s been that way for a while now. I keep thinking I’m walking on the opposite side to where I walk in NZ, but everywhere it seems like I’m in the way. I asked Sara during our Walking tour in Milan, and she indicated that I was correct to be walking on the right hand side. But I’m not sure when you’re walking down the left hand side of the street if you’re still meant to be walking on the right hand side of the path. Anyway, the constant ducking and diving and often having to step into the street has left me very wary and I’m starting to get annoyed at people who I have to step out onto the street for. Why must people stop in the very narrow path, I mean just stop dead. Why don’t they realise that there will be people behind them. And I’m getting frustrated that I have to put my own life in jeopardy by stepping out onto the road just because someone has stopped for a photo opportunity.

First on our list of things to do was to have lunch. I used the Yelp application to suss out a place for lunch and we headed there.

Here’s another example of not understanding the custom and botching things up. Lunch is the significant meal of the day, and you have a First and a Second. This was the first place we’d been to that had their menu set out like this. We both ordered a First, the waiter said in a slightly disbelieving voice “no second?”. Based on the way he said it I consulted Google who gave me the information I needed about how to order in Italy. I guess I should have looked sooner, but as I say, this was the first place we’d been that have a First and a Second section. They also have the Appetisers. To me that’s a first. Anyhoo.

This from the "First" menu for lunch.

This from the “First” menu for lunch.

Since Modena we were being served really oddly (by our standards) shaped breads. They were almost like a pretzel in texture/density.

Since Modena we were being served really oddly (by our standards) shaped breads. They were almost like a pretzel in texture/density.

I had the roasted Lasagne and Mr Fussy ordered their special of the day, it had Vodka in the sauce. It was a “small” pasta as per the waiter’s description. It didn’t have as much flavour as Mr Fussy wanted so he started piling on the Parmesan cheese. He also didn’t finish it, but I did. See, I did have a second 😉

Having finished lunch we started to work our way through the places that had been suggested to visit if you only have 3 hours. Yes we had longer, but my feet just don’t want to play the game and protest as soon as we venture out.

Lots of gold.

Lots of gold.

So many details. And I think cake decorating has its challenges.

So many details. And I think cake decorating has its challenges.

The church was lovely. We didn’t know if we could take photos and we didn’t see anyone else doing so. The thing about all this travelling about is having to commit to memory some of the sights, and sounds, of the places you visit. Even with the photos it still becomes a blur.

Statue of Neptune, as you'll have guessed.

Statue of Neptune, as you’ll have guessed. And those stormy clouds that weren’t there for decoration.

We easily found the statute of Neptune in the Piazza. The Piazza was like others we’d seen, it is obviously old, and you know it’s a communal place, but it also seems to be the place of a massive screen and rows upon rows of chairs. I suspect the night before they had shown the final of the Soccer and it would have been flooded with people.

I really wanted to see the glass floor which showed the original flooring underneath but it seemed the place was sort of shut at the time so we moved on.

As we walking the streets to reach a kitchen shop, we passed a window that had celebration cakes in the window. I was pretty happy to see this, it gave me hope there might be somewhere that sold cake supplies. When I got up closer to the window I could see the cakes, and shelf were covered in dust. I suspect that display hadn’t been changed for quite some time.

Buildings around Santo Stefano.

Buildings around Santo Stefano.

We weren’t far from the Santo Stefano church that has 7 churches within its structure. We paid €5 for a booklet (in English) that described the history of the place. There was nothing to say whether photos were ok (many places have a sign, but a sign that says no flash – surprising how many people can’t understand the symbol). Mr Fussy decided that our payment for the book now entitled us to take photos, which we did. Such an amazing place. Some of the rooms were too dark to get a good photo. The ceilings were pieces of art in themselves.

The tower on the left had a horrendous lean. Hard to tell from this angle but trust me!

The tower on the left had a horrendous lean. Hard to tell from this angle but trust me!

It was getting late in the afternoon and I still wanted to go up the tower. I guess if I’d done more homework I might have been persuaded to give this a miss. There’s 498 stairs to climb. The shorter of the two towers is on an awful lean and I was astounded when I saw them, just how badly it leant. Anyway we had enough time (just) to get up the taller of the two towers. In order to buy your ticket you’re already inside the structure and walking a number of stairs (in a spiral) to get to the booth to pay. The booth is strangely set into the side of the structure. It’s not a place I would want to work. There’s nowhere to move!

The captivating views especially seeing the rain hovering over the city.

The captivating views especially seeing the rain hovering over the city.

What goes up must come down.

What goes up must come down.

At some point as we were climbing I was starting to have serious doubt whether I could continue. I just had a sense how high we were. The stairs were made of wood, some section sloped and that gave me a really uneasy feeling. I was looking at how they were held to the side of the brick work which didn’t give me any peace, and the railings were quite widely spaced. It was not a very happy place for me. I kept wanting us to be almost at the top. At some points they had built a floor. I would stop and re-evaluate my desire to reach the top. The only reason that kept me going was the experience. I knew that I’d be disappointed if I didn’t continue, and it’s not like I was going to get another crack at it. So on I trudged. Mr Fussy who doesn’t like heights was doing really well. In some respects he was actually encouraging me. Often we had to stop and cling to the wall in order to let someone else down. The stairs were so narrow that you couldn’t fit two people, and I would not want to be squashed against the railing. I get a bit selfish in a situation that I feel might put my life in danger.

On and on we went. Finally we had just 2 flights to go. Mr Fussy giving me the last bit I needed to continue on. We’d not been up and out the top before the rain began to fall hard. Those last sets of stairs were unbelievably steep, and they were wet when we ascended. I didn’t want to slip and fall so I didn’t hang around very long before heading back down. Despite feeling wobbly and anxious about the climb (remember I have a problem with stairs and my judgement of stepping), I was fine at the top. There wasn’t much room to move, but we got some good photos. I suspected the descent would be easier, and it was (mentally), but it still took a good long time to reach the bottom.

Phew. Back down to earth and into the daylight, well as light as it is when it’s raining hard. We skipped across the road and as we were walking I recognised the name of the department store, Coin. I wasn’t looking out for it or expecting to go in, but since we were there, well.

Lots of cookie cutters for me!

Lots of cookie cutters for me!

I picked up a couple of interesting things from the Homeware department. A silicone stick that will be much better when making caramel (never far from my mind) and this funny little felt type pads (looks like a flower with petals) that is placed inside a non-stick pan that you then place another pan onto. Genius. I really need to find somewhere that sells the gloves used to scrub veggies. I’ve seen them in other places we’ve visited but haven’t bought them yet. They kind of look like a shower glove, like the ones you get from The Body Shop but they have the name of the vegetable they’re designed for. I haven’t looked close enough to see if the scrubby bit of them changes based on the type of vegetable they are designed for.

We exited out of a different door having wandered past handbags and scarves and when we reach the street I looked around and saw a Lamborghini store. It didn’t take much discussion with Mr Fussy to take a look He’s funny, at times I have to really encourage him to go into a shop and try things on. We didn’t realise this shop also had a sale, there wasn’t any signage that I recall. Anyway after picking out a top that I thought was his type he gladly paid for it, and got a free energy drink (yet to be drunk, he’s carting it around with him at the mo). Then I spotted some other t-shirts and he went upstairs to try one on (and saw a Lamborghini road bike which he pointed out to me) while I found another colour he often chooses. So that’s a further two t-shirts. He has no intention of wearing any of them while we’re traveling, even though he needs more t-shirts, and had expected to buy them as we went on. Now he has a Lamborghini member’s card which he’s pretty proud of. They ship, but Mr Fussy suspects that they won’t ship as far as New Zealand. And I suspect that if they did, the cost wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

My feet were aching. This seems to be a really common theme now. I don’t know how I could have prepared for being on them every day, all day. During the weekends I’m usually on them most of the day with cookie or cake baking/decorating. But this is something else. Now evening during the nights, when I’m off them I hardly feel any relief the following day. My shoes are comfortable under normal conditions, but they feel like the enemy right now.

Mr Fussy's First

Mr Fussy’s First

My First.

My First.

All I wanted to do was head back to the hotel so I could sit for a while before heading out to dinner. As for dinner, I picked another place that was close, and recommended on Yelp. This time I did the whole First and Second thing. I was probably doing it all wrong since it was dinner time, not lunch. This waiter didn’t blink with the order so perhaps it was ok.

I can tell you that after two weeks of not having any red meat we were very happy to see steak and lamb on the menu, and in fact it was one of the draw cards for me when reading the Yelp reviews. I started with a fettuccini and Mr Fussy with a Tortellini. Next came my lamb, it was really quite cheap, just €10 so I wasn’t expecting a big plate full, but that’s what I got, and what I ate! I was disappointed the salad tasted weird. I really am hanging out for a good plate of veggies. I really should order some, somewhere. Mr Fussy’s steak arrived and it was really large, and it was expensive at €22. He was thoroughly enjoying it, ad while was completely full he wasn’t leaving any behind. He had such a big grin eating it.

Mmmm, lamb. They really had a thing for sprinkling the plates with a little grated carrot.

Mmmm, lamb. They really had a thing for sprinkling the plates with a little grated carrot.

Massive steak with Balsamic vinegar sauce.

Massive steak with Balsamic vinegar sauce.

The following morning we took a stroll to the Post Office. I couldn’t find a box to put the post card in so had to take a number inside and wait my turn. When my turn was up the guy looked really confused about me handing over a post card with the stamp already on it. I suspect there was a place to drop letters etc, but it wasn’t obvious to us where it was.

With everything already packed up we made our way to the train station and waited for the platform number to be displayed. This time we knew to look at the board on the platform for instructions about where the first class carriages would be, and this time there were little monitors all along the platform that lit up with the carriage number close to when the train arrived. The only thing we had to worry about was finding room for the luggage. Thankfully we managed to squeeze it in and sit comfortably in our seats. Sadly, most of the trip was through tunnels so we didn’t have an opportunity to admire any views.

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