The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Bologna: Day 13 (So Many Steps...Why?)

I hobbled onto the front porch to see 75% of our refrigerator's contents strewn upon the table. I mean, neatly strewn about on plates and whatnot. Apparently it was one of those "eat everything left in the fridge and make it into a sandwich" meals.

let's make some sandwiches
Make some sammiches

Tomatoes, toast, squacquerone, mozzarella, burrata, lettuce, basil, butter, something meat based, some kind of citrus fruit whose name I can't remember...mah favorite!

I made a sandwich
Mm, open faced

I went with lettuce, burrata splodge, sliced plum tomato and a basil leaf atop a buttered slice of toast. And I repeated this...oh, a few times (or more), until the toast and cheese ran out.

who wants coffee?
Who wants coffee?

Something I didn't do many times (or perhaps even once) was drink a cup of the brown liquid that bubbled forth from our espresso pot. I'll admit that it looked kind of pretty and on some level I would label the smell as "not repulsive, borderline appealing," but...nah. I can't stomach the stuff. Not without saturating the few tablespoons of liquid per serving with a few extra tablespoons of sugar. Morten and Kåre would not approve.

kinder egg thingy

Dessert consisted of a Kinder Merendero, an impulse buy when I was at the checkout counter at PAM. Kinder eggs are generally those thinly shelled chocolate eggs with a plastic capsule in the center containing the parts of an impressively engineered knick knack that you'll never have any use for, but will probably amuse a five year old for a few seconds. The Merendero variety was, to my surprise, not a chocolate egg but a bisected egg-shaped package, one side containing a pool of white and milk chocolate layered goo topped with two crispy chocolate ball thingies, the other side containing the useless toy. Stuck to the toy side was a white plastic shoveling tool meant to facilitate the consumption of the white and milk chocolate layered goo pool. Uh huh...okay...

There's a reasonable explanation for all of this. Intro to Kinder Surprise explains:

Kinder Merendero/Joy toys should not be forgotten here. During the summer months in Europe, it is often too hot to sell regular Kinder Surprise eggs, because the chocolate melts. So a substitute line called Kinder Merendero in Italy and Kinder Joy in most other countries is sold during the hottest part of the year.

I wouldn't say it was too hot to sell the regular eggs. I mean, PAM was also selling the regular eggs. I guess they had a lot of the Merendero variety left.

toy that came with kinder egg
Useless toy!

What was my reward for eating the chocolate goo with a plastic stick? It was...


When I say that these things are impressively engineered, I mean that this crab came in three parts that had to be snapped together. And snapped they did! Who's the person that has to design this stuff? "He should have a bumpy shell and bumpy claws...and this is how they'll come together." Hell, I don't know how to make toys.

Oh, this wasn't any normal crab. See the wide notches in its claws? They were sized that way to hold...a pencil. One of those skinny wooden ones that you used to use in elementary school, I mean. Anything else is either too fat or too heavy. In other words, I have no use for the crab, but he's sitting next to my stereo anyway. Gives the room some flair.

calling Dr. House...
Calling Dr. House

We spotted this sticker on the bus into the city. Pretty great, I thought.

IMG_0082 copy
Are we there yet?

Our destination for the day was San Luca, a church waaay, waaay up on a hill south west of the city center that is reachable by walking up a really long corridor of arcades. You see the hill on the left side of this photo with the tiny building poking from the top? That's it. Yeah, doesn't look too threatening when it's really far away, but up close is another matter.

We need gelato
We need gelato
strawberry and pistachio

And that's why we had to get gelato first. You know, make the Robyn happy before she goes into "sweating and wheezing" mode.

I went with my now typical cup of pistachio gelato and strawberry sorbet (sporting a mohawk, as Tina pointed out). It was good. Not great, but satisfying. You certainly wouldn't go out of your way for it, but if you're on your way to San Luca you'll probably pass it. And knowing that you won't encounter anything edible and awesome for at least the next half hour (the path is about a mile from where we started from) as your muscles burn from having to carry your ass up the hill, you may as well indulge in something caloric. Because you'll burn some of it. Like...5 calories. (I'm not the most efficient burner of calories.)

a rooftop going up
Going up

The walking wasn't so bad. Initially. Although we were going uphill, it wasn't steep enough to require steps. But then it turned into steps. And steps tend to strain the ol' bronchial tubes.

I don't recall complaining as sweat and exhaustion clouded my vision, mostly because talking would've required more energy than I could spare. Am I really that out of shape? Oh...yes, yes I am. Could've been worse though. Could've gone into asthmatic shock.

Morten trotted ahead like this was nothing more than a casual stroll in the part. Kåre lagged behind to stay by my side, or at least not go more than a foot in front of me were I to collapse and require some sort of medical attention.


The top of the last stretch of steps was marked by a cross glowing with the fiery daylight (so fiery that you can't see the cross in the above photo). Kåre, smiling as always and looking as though he did nothing more physically intense than pluck a dandelion from the ground, gave me some encouragement.

"We're almost there! ...Are you wheezing?"

My eyes twitched with hope while my lungs longed for relief. SO CLOSE. SO VERY CLOSE.


And we did make it. The torture was over! YESSSS!

Oh, I didn't actually go into the church, as beautiful as it may be. Since I was wearing shorts it didn't seem tasteful to offend God with my bare, chunky legs. Or something. I'm not sure; I'm not religious.

crosses we're high up non-hilly version hangin'
People and things

That was fine with me though. The scenery around the church and the view from the top of the hill were beautiful.

bird electrocutor
No birds
in front of the church

Birds were prohibited from reveling in the beauty. The ledge of the church overlooking the paved area was lined with electric wires meant to sizzle any birds who might dare defile the property with their bird-ness, or feces, more like. I morbidly expected to see a line of dead birds at the foot of the church (don't worry—there wasn't one). As the area was free of birds, it seems like they just learned—after repeated shockings—to never go there.

the bright

We sat on a bench for a while, doing nothing (or talking...I guess that's something) until we got bored of doing nothing and decided to go back to the city center.

We tootled around in the Internet cafe until heading to Nicola's for dinner, where we met up with Sarah, one of my blog readers (and fellow attendee of Vassar!, the difference being that she actually stayed there for four years instead of my one) who was doing post-grad studies in Bologna. YES, MORE SARAHS! Like Sara or Sara, but with an h! Which is quite different. Anyhoo, I seem to know a lot of Sara(h)s in Italy now.

We knew that Nicola's was known for pizza. What we didn't know was that it was also known for insanely long waiting times. Or if it's not, I'll like to give it that reputation. Their small staff resulted in us waiting maybe half an hour to have our order taken. And then we waited I don't know how long just to get our food.

"I know how to make our food arrive," said Sarah. "If I go to the restroom the food will probably come while I'm gone. It always works."

Freakishly enough, it did work. As the waitress was placing our pizzas in front of us, Sarah came back from the restroom. Eeeeriiie.


And what a great pizza Sarah came back to! With one basil leaf! Score! Her bufalina pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes was originally meant to come with oregano, but Sarah requested basil instead. I suppose it was better than no herbs at all,, one basil leaf? Really?


Morten ordered the giusy pizza topped with tomato sauce, speck, porcini, and buffalo mozzarella. No lonely wayward basil leaf.

speck e rucola
Speck e rucola

Kåre's speck e rucola pizza was topped with...ah, I think you can figure this one out yourself.

San Martino
Mm, mine!

And my pizza, the San Martino, was the most awesome of them all! Because it had MORTADELLA! OH YEAH! Oh, and mozzarella, mushrooms and arugula. Mmm. I wouldn't say I like arugula much in salad form, but it goes very nicely on a pizza. As does mozzarella, mortadella, and mushrooms.


I was satisfied with my pizza, its thin, chewy, non-flimsy crust lightly topped with a combination of ingredients I loved that I would never find at home. Sigh.

My biggest problem was cutting through the crust with my not so sharp knife. Which goes in line with my problem with eating pizza in Italy (or France); I'm used to eating pre-sliced pizza with my hand. The uncouth American way. I'm aware that such a crude act may seem revolting to the European eye's so much easier! I hate having to slice the crap out of my whole pizza (as the handle of the knife digs a trench into my palm) only for all that effort to result in the chunk I desire putting in my belly to still cling to the rest of the pizza by a 0.5 millimeter-thick bridge of nearly impenetrable gluten. No, I'm not a weakling who doesn't know how to use a knife, nor do I think that I have the unfortunate luck to be continuously stuck with shitty knives. Or maybe I do.

The good thing about having to cut my pizza is that it slows down my eating. I can't shovel the pizza in my mouth. Yay. Awesome.

Panna cotta

Although my belly was quite full after eating the whole pizza, I had to get panna cotta. It was on the menu! And it was awesome. You must be tired of hearing me talk about panna cotta's wonderously creamy smooth vanilla-tinged luscious something-or-other, but man, I love that creamy smooth vanilla-tinged luscious something-or-other. I want to give it a hug. And then eat it.

Overall I liked Nicola's aside from the two hour gap between getting to the restaurant and actually having food put in front of our faces. Maybe it was a bad night. (Avoid on a Sunday night at 8 PM.)

Even though I was full from the pizza and the panna cotta, I still wanted gelato. You're not surprised, are you? Good. I directed us to Gelateria Gianni to fulfill my craving for stomach-busting pistachio gelato. God knows what Sarah was thinking at this point; "She's wants to eat more? Sweet jesus!" Probably not that. Er. Maybe. :)

pistachio and mare d'inverno

In addition to pistachio I ordered Mare d'inverno, a combination of pine nuts and...I don't know what the other flavors were. Whatever it was, I didn't like it much. I should've sampled it first.

Pistachio was awesome as ever, like sucking on a stick of frozen butter mashed with a million pistachio souls. Kind of. I'll admit that sounds gross. All you need to know is that it's awesome, really.

Finally, my stomach was satisfied. And mildly distended. As the clocked ticked near midnight we parted ways with Sarah, who had many more days of pizza and gelato eating ahead of her. If only I could be a part of those days. If onlyyyy.


Gelateria Meloncello
Via Pietro De Coubertin, 30
40134 Bologna, Italy

Piazza San Martino, 9
40126 Bologna, Italy

Gelateria Gianni
Via Monte Grappa, 11/A
40121 Bologna, Italy


dana / October 27, 2007 8:47 PM

uhm, first?

haha, I saw the title and the picture below and I thought you were going to make some really complicated sandwich.

yeah, they should totally install those railing wheel chairs that can zoom up and down a bunch of steps. I'd pay to use it.

Loretta / October 27, 2007 11:10 PM

When I had a Kinder egg in Italy, I had some weird...purple pachyderm-like cartoony thingamabob (no...not a heffalump :\.) They're so random and useless, you just gotta love them.

Alice / October 28, 2007 9:06 AM

Aloha (no, I'm not from Hawaii) -- but I totally dig your blog, especially for the photography and weirdly charming guerilla humor. Plus, as a Californian who's recently moved to NY, it's getting me oriented with a lot of the yummy bakeries and good eats around the area. Alas, I'm a a Brooklynnite, but at least, now I know where to stop by on my way to my ridiculously over-priced private school.

P.S. I found your blog via Kathy's "Passion for Food" -- not that she has any idea who I am, so really, don't bother mentioning me.

P.P.S. Your beautiful photos really make me embarrassed about the dinky little hand held Canon camera I use for my articles.

Tina / October 28, 2007 10:24 AM

Haha...! You've pointed out my gelato comment.

Just looking at the pizza photos were drool inducing even though I ate breakfast about three hours ago.
Me seeing some creamy gelato = stomach rumbling.

You will get the chance to have some panna cotta! ...that's if you like sheep's milk. Just check your email.

Christin / October 28, 2007 10:48 AM

And it just so happens that Hugh Laurie's character in House uses a cane! That's my favorite picture!

Oooh, a moka pot! I was thinking about getting one but decided that an electric would be better because I have an electric range and someone told me that moka pots work better on a gas range.

roboppy / October 28, 2007 1:15 PM



Virtual macaron! (Lee Anne came up with that, heehee.)

Ah, it must've been disappointing to see the dinky simple sandwich. :)

Loretta: Once I got some kind of...octopus thing whose arms would move when you dragged it across a surface. And I've probably gotten weirder things. But yeah. AWESOME!

Alice: I should check out more stuff in Brooklyn. Lots of good food there!...yeah...well, depending on the area, maybe.

YAY, KATHY DIRECTING PEOPLE MY WAY! :) I hope I do the same for her! She's one of the best fooding buddies a girl could have. She'll eat my leftovers! BWAH! (I'm not giving her a good reputation, am I...)

Anyhoo, don't be embarrassed. My photos are a result of carrying a huge ass bag everything and being overly obsessive. My shoulder will probably be screwed up later.

Tina: It's about 1PM and now that you mention stomach rumbling I realize that I HAVEN'T EATEN YET and I WANT STUFF.

Don't have any gelato though. Unless I whip out the ice cream machine. Which I should. Yeah.

Christina: We did use the pot on a gas burner so...perhaps. I HAVE NO IDEA! I suck at using electric ranges; I've only used gas.

Mm, gas.

Annie / October 28, 2007 2:41 PM

Squaquerone? Is this available in New York? What does it taste like? It sounds incredibly wonderful. Please tell all.

I think your bare legs would have been okay in a touristy-magnet church like San Lucia. Imagine what teenagers from California were wearing! In a Muslim country, that's different--as I'm sure you know.

Morten, jaha? Ja! / October 28, 2007 5:03 PM

Squaquerone isn't available outside Italy, as far as I know, as it's a fresh cheese. It's still possible to export it, but I've never seen it. It's surely not available in Norway :(

At San Luca they have a sign that forbids people to wear shorts into the church. You're supposed to cover your feet to the end of your knees. OH, and while we were there there was a service. Not the best time to play stupid tourist.

Hannah / October 28, 2007 7:15 PM

I've never had a Kinder egg, but now I know to stick to the bars. Kinder bars are incredible, every single variety of them. The French may not understand pizza, but they appreciate good chocolate when they see it.

I went to Pozzetto at your recommendation and, of course, got pistachio. It was nice -- not as fabulous as my mom's gianduja, but very nice.

roboppy / October 28, 2007 11:15 PM


Hannah: YES POZZETTO, OH GOD please tell me you went to other delicious places as well? (But no pizza...yeah.)

Their chocolate flavors ARE freakin' awesome. I just love pistachio the most. I remember getting a free sample of the chocolate...I think it was plain chocolate...and it was like "HOLYCRAP what is this gimme more."

Alice / October 29, 2007 11:05 AM

BTW -- can you or any of your foodie buddies help me on the components of a good pizza? I notice you take a lot of pictures of the "upskirts" -- should I be doing that too?

I'm kinda in the midst of starting a new food column called "Food Fight" for this local greenpoint newspaper and my food item this week is Pizza. Dumb. Should've done cheese pizza cuz I've downed 18 slices and am only through week 1.

Anyway, with all this pizza, I'm losing my focus of what makes a good pizza and am growing aware with some people's (cough, newyorkers, cough-cough) standards of a "good" pizza are different from mine. (Yummy, saucy deliciousness, etc.)

Basically -- how important is this "upskirt" and what should I be looking for? Blackened bubbles? Flour? Yellow-brownness?

I'm heading to La Nonna tomorrow, and since there's all this hype around it, I'm kinda worried that I won't do it justice in my evaluations.

shukumei / October 29, 2007 12:34 PM

I love Kinder snacks! My favourite so far is the Kinder Delice, a bar of chocolate-covered chocolate cake with a creamy filling.

Yuizaki / October 29, 2007 1:15 PM

OMG...I'm just so jealous!! Your trip looked so awesome. I wish I could explore like that. Usually, we're in a rush. I guess that's how we burn the calories - do the tourist stuff that require millions of steps and climbing...

That's the kind of trip I would like...minus the Venice incident, :) Sorry you had such a bad time there. My friend was there and loved it.

Pizza, gelato...I think that's all you really need! Oh and chocolate. :D

Morten / October 29, 2007 2:18 PM

Things that I consider important to good pizza:

1. Small black bubbles in the upskirt. This is a sign of a crust that has been perfectly done, and it tends to taste great.

2. The crust in general is very important. Texture (crisp) and flavor.

3. Balance in falvors. I'm not a big fan of too many ingredients on pizza, and it's one of the few dishes I more often make vegetarian than non-vegetarian when I have the choice, and this is simply because most of my favorite pizza toppings tend to be things that aren't meat. Too many ingredients lead to imbalanced flavors where one or more of the flavors will be masked by stronger ones, or the fact that there are too many.

4. Quality of cheese, and how it's done. If the cheese is baked for too long (rarely a problem in restaurants, but very often a problem in people's homes) the cheese hardly taste of anything. It's just suppose to melt. Quite a few places use crappy mozzarella, that also influences the taste a lot. Some versions taste like plastic while others have no taste.

5. Vivacity of the flavors of the toppings. The toppings should have vivid flavors, but not too strong flavors so that they mask the flavor of the actual pizza. A lot of places use subpar ingredients like crappy olives (tastes too watery), anchovies that aren't achovies (and only taste salty, without the awesome ability to heighten the other flavors), tomatoes that aren't ripe etc. Vivacity isn't the same as strength here. Some flavors just don't work on a pizza as they either clash with the holy trinity of the pizza (crust, tomatoes or tomato sauce and cheese), or they are so strong as to hide all other flavors. It's like how some people kill the taste of pasta by using too much sauce (so that you can't taste the pasta), or sauces that tastes too much.

6. The "sauce". I tend to prefer a "sauce" that is just chopped tomatoes (skinned), a touch of paper thin garlic slices and some salt. Some places make a very good sauce, though, where others make a sauce that either disappears (a shame), or that has too many spices and herbs in it so that it almost doesn't taste like tomatoe and it certainly doesn't taste like pizza.

I'd say the rule of thumb for pizza is that it's a simple dish that needs three good ingredients to be a great dish. Good cheese, tomatoes and crust. What you put on top is less important than those three, but whatever it is, it should compliment those three. Too many toppings (I don't belive in a finite number, like the way some people never put more than three toppings on it, as I believe it depends on the toppings) complicate the taste and ruins the balance. It's all about that simple balance.

Pizza is quite simple to make well at home, and equally simple to ruin.

Kathy / October 29, 2007 10:08 PM

Hehe, I like that: ONE basil leaf. And nothing more! bwhwahahah.

The photo with the burrata near brought me to my knees (only thing stopping me is that I'm sitting on that brown rocking chair)...I LOVE BURRATA! Just bought a fresh ball from DiPalo's on Sunday - it was excellent, but after seeing what you had...oh man, I'm totally living in the wrong country :)

roboppy / October 29, 2007 10:50 PM

Alice: Ah...I can't really help with this, I think. BUT MORTEN CAN! Yeah. He wrote a lot, damn. I would also check out slice for pizza info.

shukumei: The cereal bar is my favorite! Taste like...grainy.

wonders: Pizza and gelato rule my world. (And macarons.)

Yuizaki: Rushing is baad!...yeah...I don't think I could do a rush-filled trip. I mean, I could but I wouldn't enjoy it much. That was like my trip to Rome. Oh dear god. It was made bearable by lots of gelato and pizza.

Morten: Mmm, holy trinity...





I mean...that is really cute. Wah.

(still claws at screen)

Alice / October 30, 2007 8:52 AM

Gracias, Morten! I feel better prepared for my evaluation and understand better why I wasn't too fond of a certain somebody's breaded eggplant pizza.

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