September 14th was the day that I ate five meals.
Okay, not five full meals. That would've resulted in an illness involving vomiting.
What I meant to say is that there were five instances of eating out. Six, if you include the final one, which I don't since I merely sat on my bum while others drank. And solely drinking probably doesn't count as a full meal. (Not in my world, at least.)
The day unraveled like so: breakfast, lunch, dessert, aperitivo, and dinner (and after dinner drinks). This wasn't planned, just a result of the combined gurglings of our bellies. Let's start from the beginning.
Our first stop was Pasticceria Levante, about a 15 minute walk from our apartment. I wasn't craving anything in particular—I hope I won't get pummeled for saying this, but there aren't any Italian pastries that I'm drawn to, which might explain why I rarely go to Italian bakeries—but something flaky and filled with sweet something-or-other caught my attention. Also, it was dusted with confectioner's sugar. More sweetness! I embrace thee.
One bite revealed a cavity of sweet, gooey, apple-based matter. Ooh, apple turnover-esque! It satisfied my belly, but didn't make me swoon. Not that any apple turnover-esque thing would make me do so. Those types of things are neutral on my scale of pastry deliciousness.
Morten opted for a selection of their petit fours (or whatever the Italian equivalent of miniaturized tarts and whatnot are called). Four bites later, they were gone.
For lunch we stopped by Trattoria Fantoni, one of Morten's favorite restaurants. If I lived in Bologna I'd go there a lot too; it's tasty, inexpensive, and the outdoor seating makes for a relaxing meal. Their menu changes frequently (daily, perhaps?) based on whatever they feel like making. Or can make from whatever ingredients they have, more like.
Even though there were many items on the menu that I would've been happy to digest ("many" translating to "all of them"), I had no trouble deciding to get the tortelloni with butter and sage, for it combined three things that I highly enjoyed: tortelloni, butter and...um, sage. And it was more like the butter and sage that I was interested in. Or the sage. Or the butter. Let me show you my overuse of emphasis.
What I'm trying to say is that I really like sage. I wouldn't eat a bowl of the stuff (haven't seen any sage salads lately), but cooked in butter and tossed with cheese-stuffed dough ploplets can only result in deliciousness. It's a law of food, kinda like how fat makes everything taste good and how blue-colored things don't look right and how everything tastes better when someone else makes a dish for me than when I make it myself.
Morten, Kåre and Diana also ate food. It's not just me! Like wow. Yes. On a sidenote, I'm tired. I'm allowed to detract from the subject, right? Okay...I am tired. My right eyelid was inflamed this morning and I'm not sure why. There seems to be an epidemic of eyelid inflammation that is only hitting 20-something Asian females. On Mondays.
As I was saying, my friends are human and also eat food. LET ME SHOW YOU.
Tagliatelle al ragu (Kåre's dish)...
Tortelloni al pomodoro (Diana's dish) and...
Tortelloni al ragu (Morten's dish), with a sprinkling of grated parmesan.
The best thing to get after lunch is gelato. Gelato is also good to get before lunch. Or during lunch. The beauty of gelato is that you can eat it any time of the day. Any time, I say. And that's why I'm not a nutritionist. Not a good one, at least.
Although I couldn't read the signs, I got the impression that Stefino's philosophy was to use all natural ingredients, sometimes local and/or organic, without any artificial junk. These qualities could explain why there was a steady crowd of people around the window and to keep things in order one had to take a number before buying anything. It's a good system; you don't have to stand in a line. You can stand ANYWHERE while you wait! Even sit! Yeah!
You know their pistachio is the real deal since anything with pistachio costs more than the other flavors. (The implication is that they use pricey pistachios, not that they're ripping you off.) The pistachio-centric flavors included chocolate and pistachio, plain Sicilian pistachio, and "mediterraneo," a combination of almond, pistachio and pine nut.
I got a cup of pistachio and...honestly, I don't remember what the other one was. (This is a time when taking notes would've been a good idea to prevent myself from feeling like a lump of failure. From the white color I would guess that it was fior di panna.) The pistachio was good. Not mind blowingly good, but ...you know. Good. Better than good. Is that gooder? Oh dear god, my brain is melting.
I think a reason the taste may have escaped my mind is because it wasn't very rich. Richness doesn't equate to good flavor, but a rich mouthfeel is more memorable to me than a non-rich one. Perhaps all I can remember is fat.
You should still go to Stefino if you have the chance, of course. Don't let my foggy memory and incomplete descriptions dissuade you.
Between the gelato break and our next fooding session we went on a somewhat lengthy hunt around god knows what streets in search of the plug related thing that I ended up not needing. Let's forget that dark period of stupidity, even though I just implanted it in your memory meats. De-plant it, if you will.
That was the sound of de-planting.
While Morten used the Internet, Kåre, Diana and I roamed around the food-filled area, in particular Gilberto, a gourmet food shop whose shelves were stuffed with awesome upon awesome in the form of jams, sauces, mashed things, coffee, chocolate, wine, and more chocolate, and more wine. Most importantly, they had pistachio paste, which I needed to make pistachio gelato with. God knows how many pistachio lives were spared to fill one 250 gram jar. Thousands? Billions? Can we every truly know, or shall it remain a mystery, like how the sun manages to travel around the earth each day even though it has no arms or legs? I don't know. Oh, how I wish I could uncover such mysteries of the universe and reveal them to you...
Blogging while sleepy may be as bad as driving while intoxicated. But not deathly. Just regrettable, maybe. I will regret this when I read it in the morning. Yes.
SO. ANYWAY. CAPS GIVE THE ILLUSION OF ALERTNESS.
To kill more time, Kåre, Diana and I sat on some quiet steps that looked into a small alleyway off via del Toschi.
I attempted to draw the alleyway, but there are reasons that cameras were invented, lack of artistic ability being one of them. Messed up perspective and wonky buildings that would instantly collapse if built in real life can be charming, though. I added the flying Poofy to give it that extra oomph, the oomph that only floating bunnies can provide. Before you know it, everyone will be drawing flying bunnies into their sketches. Every single human being...ever...rr...
Sorry, I'm abusing ellipses, among other things.
I thought the nearby building's corner looked nifty. Heads popping out and all. Why anyone would go through the trouble to place such ornate decorations at a location that few people would notice (unless they were sitting on some steps and staring at everything around them or were a gazillion feel tall) beats me, but without all those details you'd just have...an uglier building. And that would suck. A lot.
I liked these windows. Or, rather, the windows next to the windows. Like holes in Swiss cheese.
I liked this too. This wide mouthed blob thing with the power to sprout stars out of its bald head. Or at least one star. "COSO WAS IN BO," it says? Ah ha!...wait, I have no freakin' idea what that means.
After more walking we decided it was time for an aperitivo, or drinks accompanied by a "free" buffet that many many bars serve before dinner. We stopped into Caffe Zamboni for all the sliced fennel, orecchiette, carrot and cucumber salad, marinated artichoke hearts, thickly sliced prosciutto crudo, cold cuts, bready things, and I don't know what else that we wanted, keeping in mind that we also had to save room for dinner. I ordered tea (not that I particularly like tea, but with the right amount of sugar you can make it taste like...sugar!) and Diana ordered a smoothie since neither of us have yet to build a tolerance to alcohol while Morten and Kåre probably got something with alcohol. Because they like the drinkies.
Somewhere along via Piella a small square hole has been punched out of the wall so that passersby may look upon the canal that would otherwise stay quite hidden. And it's already pretty well hidden considering that you have to look through a little window to see it. By sticking my head through the wall, the division between normal society and the magic world of the CANAL, I felt like I was intruding upon someone's personal space. And then I took a photo of this personal space and put it on the Internet. Because I don't care. WAHOO!
There are other points where you can see the canal, but I don't know they off the top of my head. Walk around enough and you'll find them. You can pretend it's a game! And every time you see the canal you can treat yourself to a cup of gelato! And every time you don't see the canal you can treat yourself to a cup of gelato! A good game, I think.
We eventually made our way to dinner at Alle Due Porte. Morten and Kåre got their beers and red wine while Diana and I stuck to good ol' water. I prefer frizzante, while she likes the non-gassy sort. Non-gassy. Gassy. ...Gassy water....water with gas. ...Heh...
Yes, I will chuckle to myself in this corner. And wear this "dunce" hat while I'm at it. Golly gee whiz, it fits perfectly!
Due to a freak electrical burst, the impulses in Diana's brain and my own that determine pasta preference shifted into perfect alignment. In other words, we ordered the same thing: tagliatella with porcini mushrooms. Loads of mushrooms. The strong scent of fungus wafted up my nostrils as the steaming plate of pasta sat before me. Mushrooms struggled under the heft of the wide strips of pasta. And failed. Since they couldn't actually move. That whole sentence about the mushrooms struggling was totally a lie.
I ate it all. Every little slippery mushroom bit. Every al dente strand of tagliatella. Mm. Tasty.
Kåre ordered some kind of very rare slab of steak smothered in some kind of creamy brown sauce with
something-something PEPPERCORNS, as though the meat had broken out green pustules which were oozing brown fluids.
...My god, I just ruined that. I never even looked at it that way until now. Like a thing with oozing things. I'm not amusing myself anymore. If you want you can get out of your seat, you know. Take a walk. Eat a slice of cheesecake. Use the toilet. Whistle. Please do. Any of the above. Or none. Or all of them. At the same time.
Morten ordered a nice slab of Florentine steak cooked sub-rare, if you can imagine such a thing. And I hadn't before, but this ain't no regular steak. Regular steak doesn't have innards that glimmer like rubies. It glimmered, I tell you. The part that wasn't cooked, I mean, and that part was composed of the outer one millimeter layer that encased the raw innards, leaving another 99% to glimmer all pretty and meaty like. I suppose a vegetarian wouldn't find it pretty, but...it looked pretty to me.
This was when I decided to get panna cotta for dessert whenever it was available...which was probably at every restaurant I went to from that point on. Although Morten didn't appear to see why I liked panna cotta so much over desserts he said were similar (creme brulee, creme caramel, etc), I think it tastes (or has the potential to taste) vastly different from the other...things. It's more solid. Blobby. Creamy. Smooth. It's the combination of gelatin-derived solidity, creaminess, and smoothness. Or something. I DON'T KNOW, IT'S MAGIC, OK?
Thanks to Morten my tastebuds were released from limoncello virginity, not that it was something they were dying to taste. ...But now I can say that I've tasted it.
It burns. Well. That was all kinds of nonexistent fun!
We ended the night at Birreria del Pratello where Morten and Kåre ordered beer and Diana and I watched them drink the beer. Two glasses each, perhaps. Judging from the very strange doodle I made in my sketchbook, I probably spaced out at this point. (I'll try to describe it: the top third is taken up by a hill with a sun popping out at the left edge exclaming, "Yeey!" as Poofy prances over it while saying, "Beepy boop!" On the right side of the hill stands a stiff stick figure-esque dude who simply utters, "NO" as a neutral-faced cloud looks down at him. And then there's a huge splodge in the middle of squiggles and things, which didn't look right, so I scrawled, "INTERMISSION" over it and then drew some blob-esque creatures and just above the right-most creature tucked the phrase, "dangly doodley?" The description makes it sound weirder than it really is, I think.)
We probably didn't get much sleep that night, considering we had to get up early to catch the train to Milan. But I'm glad we stayed out late and did that thing most normal people do...I think it is referred to as, "hanging out."
And now I really must get ready for bed. Little bits of the insanity that grows within my person have popped up here and there in this entry. For that, I am sorry. Kind of.
Via Emilia Levante, 113
40139 Bologna, Italy
40124 Bologna, Italy
Birreria del Pratello
Via Del Pratello, 24/A
40122 Bologna, Italy