02 Nov A Taste of Bologna
Lunch at Tamburini, Bologna
Where better to start with Italy, the home of the Slow Food Movement, as well as producer of my favourite foods and wines. We begin in Bologna, the food capital of the country, and with a discovery that has widened my food repertoire and uncovered a passion I thought I’ve never have: Parma Ham!
I’ve never been a fan of Parma Ham in the UK – thick and greasy, it just doesn’t travel well in my opinion. I remember having it at one dinner party, along with the ubiquitous piece of melon, and just chewing and chewing it until it became a texture soft enough to swallow…but I just couldn’t! In the end (sorry, charming reader) I had to actually spit it out, Ugh!
So, when I tentatively tried Parma Ham at Tamburini’s as part of a Bologna food and wine tour, I was not prepared for how much I loved its saltiness and wafer like consistency, and wanted more. Which meant going back for lunch.
It’s not easy to miss – Tamburini is a wonderland of food right in the centre of Bologna, near Piazza Maggiore, right on Via Caprarie, in amongst a number of streets that make up Bologna’s food market. You can’t walk past its window full of fresh pasta without stopping for a look and a photo opportunity, but I have to admit that without the food and wine tour I may be been a little intimidated about going in.
Atmosphere at Tamburini
We had to wander past a couple of times to spy some empty tables, and for a while I thought that we might be unlucky, but eventually it started thinning out and we were in luck.
Let’s just say that over lunch the atmosphere is loud and energetic – not an obvious Soothed in the City location you might say. But, once we had wandered past the imposing meat hooks and self service cafeteria part of the shop, and located some seats at a barrel like table in the wine bar, our waitress was quite happy to keep bringing us wine, ham and cheese to try for the rest of the afternoon.
And try we did – around six different cheeses and both Parma Ham and Mortadella di Bologna, as well as aged Parmesan smothered in a beautufully sweet balsamic vinegar. We probably spent well over three hours chatting, nibbling, sipping, watching the Italians chatting, nibbling, sipping and of course, flirting.
Tamburini’s is actually called a salsamenteria (where you can buy cheese and cold meats), but the shelves are laden with balsamic vinegar, packets of pasta, bottles of wine, and much more to delight the senses and get the tastebuds working.