Rimini Food & Drink. Italy
Our first evening there, we stayed at the Belvedere. It’s a converted farmhouse run by Francesca and Mauro, where they give lessons in regional cooking.
Francesca’s Mum, Isa, was teaching us how to make tagliatelli as her family made it, but Stefania,the Slovenian chef, enthusiastically took over the show and helped us. So there was a tiny bit of bad feeling.
Paulo, the chef, and I had ‘words’ about how to make the best Bolognese sauce and he really enjoyed it. I’ve now compromised, and altered my recipe.
We all had great fun, and I’m pleased to say that our pasta was edible!
Tagliatelli the Rimini way
The recipe is very simple. It just needs patience and time.
Measure 200g of plain flour onto the table or a chopping-board.
With your fingers and thumb, make a well in the centre and crack 2 eggs inside it.
Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs, gradually adding the flour.
Try to stop it leaking!
Keep mixing and adding flour until it’s all mixed.
Now knead it for a while, using the heel of your hand, until it’s flexible.
Take a rolling-pin and, making sure that the work surface is lightly floured, keep rolling out the pasta and turning it round.
When it’s a big as you can make it, roll it around the rolling-pin and, using the flat of your hands, stretch it along the rolling-pin.
Uncurl it and roll out again.
Keep doing this until the pasta is as thin as you can make it.
Now, using both hands, roll it up and, using as sharp knife, slice it thinly into strips.
Using the knife’s edge, keep lifting up the tagliatelli, letting it fall open.
Finally, with your hand, curl it up into little birds’ nests, ready to drop in a pan of boiling water until ‘al dente.’ In other words, don’t cook it too long and make it soggy!
Paulo’s Bolognese Sauce (with Lyn’s adjustments.)
Get the saucepan very hot. (Paulo left it for about 10 minutes, but I haven’t got the nerve.)
Tip in olive oil to cover the base. Add a mixture of very finely chopped carrots, onions and celery. (I use the celery leaves as they’re so flavoursome.) Cook until soft. (I often add a couple of chopped mushrooms and half a red or green pepper, finely chopped.)
Add pork and beef, chopped into very tiny cubes. Don’t mince it! (I usually just use beef.)
Keep stirring it from time to time. (Paulo adds chopped mortadella. I don’t.)
Add a mixture of fresh herbs, wrapped in muslin or something similar.
(I used dried herbs; mixed Italian Herbs, plus extra parsley and basil, and I don’t wrap them.)
Cook gently until browned, for about half an hour. There’s enough moisture in the vegetables and meat to cook it without adding anything else yet.
Tip in some red wine, to cover the meat. (Paulo added a whole bottle. I use a generous wineglassful, plus a dash of Balsamic Vinegar.
Simmer again until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Now add some whole peppercorns and 3 cloves, to sterilise the meat. (I just add ground pepper.)
Add some salt, a dash of brown sugar and a lump of Parmesan rind, if you have it. It won’t melt.
Mix a tube or 2 tablespoons of good-quality tomato paste with 2 pts of water in a jug.
(This is where I disagreed with Paulo. I also added a tin of tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves, blitzed until smooth. Or you can use a tin or carton of Passata) Tip it into the saucepan.
Simmer for 4-5 hours, stirring a few times, until almost completely dry.
Don’t let it burn!
The meat has far more flavour than mince.
Serve over your home-made tagliatelli!
I add the pasta to the sauce and gently turn it over until it has absorbed all the sauce. You don’t end up with sauce at the bottom of your plate.
NB You can simmer it for a couple of hours, then leave it to cool and place it in the fridge overnight, then simmer for another hour or so the following day.
I was recently one of three finalists in a BBC TV Spag Bol competition, with two men.
I came 2nd, so I’m the British Spag Bol Queen!
Thank you, Paulo.
In the evening, we had six courses, with explanations from Paulo.
First starter was a small glass jar with asparagus in a white sauce, and a poached egg at the bottom, served with home-made rosemary bread.
The wine was made from the Trebbiano grape from Mauro’s father’s vineyard.
Next was steak tartar on celery sauce with a parmesan crisp.
Then we had our tagliatelli with a sauce of seasonal vegetables and pecorino cheese.
After that came home-made ravioli filled with goat’s cheese, and duck sauce.
And then we had some very tender ox-cheek cooked in a vacuum for 12 hours, with creamy mashed potato and spinach.
Finally was a very refreshing lemon cream and honey, with a biscuit, served with a Moscatel wine.
As we were in the middle of nowhere, there was utter silence (except for the token moped, which must have been doing about 5 mph!) and we all slept well.
Of course, the wine helped too!
The local bread is piadina. It’s a bit like a tortilla and I didn’t really care for it. All the restaurants make it freshly, with their own version of the recipe.
The next morning we visited Mondaino, one of the Medieval mountain-top villages. It’s famous for its Fossa cheese, which is a sheep’s Pecorino cheese, and very good for the digestion.
It was originally hidden in pits and covered with straw for three months to hide it from the tax-collectors. Then the makers discovered its original flavour when they uncovered it and tried it.
I loved it drizzled with honey and Balsamic vinegar.
The cheese is sold unrefridgerated. It has natural preservatives.
Just down the road is the olive producer Giovanni Renzi. The land has been in his family since 1896.
I was interested when he called the paste of the pressed olives Pasta. Then it was explained to me that the word Pasta comes from Impastare, meaning To mix.
We had a simple but delicious meal of mixed bean soup, served with piadina, of course. Then we had a stronger version of Serrano ham, taken from the pork neck, plus crostini and cheeses with a choice of three simple dips, made of watermelon and honey, kiwi and honey, and plain honey, and an artichoke frittata.
A frittata is an Italian omelette, often with cooked potatoes in it, like a Spanish omelette.
All this was served with wine from their own vines, both red and white, so they’re known as Sunrise and Sunset.
For an unusual gift, you can Adopt a Tree and have the 18 litres of oil shipped to you.
Climbing into our minibus, we made our way to the Grand Hotel in Rimini. Oh, the sheer luxury, only spoilt by the rough, cracked tiles round the pool.
We were greeted with Fellini cocktails, (named after the famous director Frederico Fellini) made with vodka, Limoncello, champagne, cranberry and passion fruit liqueur.
Out came a tableful of 5-star nibblies that we stared at in horror. They were so tempting that we just had to nibble at a few. But we were all far too full to eat many.
I soaked in the bath with jets of water massaging my skin and star-like lights above me.
Then it was eating time again. (Oh, travelling can be such hard work!)
We went to the Trattoria La Marianna, a specialised fish restaurant.
Before the meal, I walked across the road and took some lovely sunset photos of the Tiberius Bridge, reflected in the river below.
We had pickled anchovies with salad to start, followed by more tagliatelli and vongole (clams) and then a wonderful selection of deep-fried and barbecued fish with an octopus salad that I really couldn’t do justice to. But I admired the view!
Back at the Grand, we had a couple more Fellinis with the table laden with honey-roasted walnuts and high-quality chocolates. I wrapped them up and stuck them in my bag. Then along came more Fellinis on the house, with, yes, you’ve guessed it, another pile of nibblies that also went in my bag!
Pickled Spratts or Whiting
Cut the heads off. Pull out the obvious innards. Open the fish out and press firmly along the backbone with your thumb. You can then easily pull out the backbone and the tail.
Place, skin down, in a dish neatly in layers. Cover with white wine vinegar. Leave to marinate for 12 hours or more.
The vinegar cooks the fish. You can add chopped garlic and parsley. They’ll keep for several days in the fridge.
Honey-roasted Walnut Halves.
Mix the walnuts with honey until covered and roast on a tray in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Take out and leave to go hard.
The next morning at 9.15 I had a phone call. I was supposed to be downstairs, ready to leave. Unfortunately, the maids had closed the blinds and the room was pitch-black so I’d slept in!
Luckily everyone came back in the restaurant with me for more coffees, so I had some fresh croissants and pastries.
The waiter brought me a bag and I had a Grand Hotel Bacon Buttie Takeaway!
We visited San Patrignano, which is an absolutely fantastic community for recovering drug addicts. They make everything there, from wine, award-winning cheeses, biscuits and bread, to furniture. They breed horses, keep cows, built their own swimming-pool, have football and basketball teams, They’re almost completely self-sufficient. Their electricity comes from the cows’ methane and solar heating.
It’s non-religious and there is no charge for going there. All that drug addicts need is a will to change their lives around.
Hundreds of gorgeous men and pretty girls working away who had all been in a terrible state, ruining their own lives! It was great to see them so happy and recovered. I couldn’t help thinking of the thousands of others who won’t be so lucky. What a waste.
We wandered around and admired the stunning views, across to the mountain-top villages and the sea in the other direction.
Then we ate in the restaurant, called O’Malomm, which translates as Bad Man! Actually, I think it’s more like Naughty Boy.
We started with Pacchieri, a pasta dish which means Slap, because it sounds like a slap when they put it in the pan!
It’s a large, hollow, tube-shaped pasta, often stuffed.
Then we had absolutely tender ribs. They’d obviously been cooked for hours. But I could just manage one of them. Finally a selection of small sweets arrived, and suddenly we all found some room in our bulging stomachs!
Even the furniture was made in San Patrignano, and it’s all high-quality and sold world-wide in the top stores.
After that, we had a walking tour around Rimini. Yes, we were all flagging by now!
But I absolutely loved Rimini’s answer to Pompeii. It was only discovered in 1989. The mosaic floors of the villas are almost-perfect. The site used to be on the seafront, but the sea is about a km away now.
Our final meal was in Nude Crud, which produced lots of childish giggles. Loosely translated, it means Naked and Raw, or Plain Speaking.
The food is basic and good. We had warm tomato-stuffed piade, another version of the local flat-bread, followed by platters of hams and cheeses, then sliced goat’s cheese and tomato.
I had the local beer as the guided tour made me very thirsty. Well, that’s my excuse!
Then it was off to the airport and home.
Luckily we were booked into the Radisson Blu at Stansted as we were all exhausted.
The rooms were excellent and the beds comfy. But, oh dear, the breakfast wasn’t very good at all! The chef had filled everything up and it had all dried out. I couldn’t cut the bacon as it was so hard, and the fried eggs were mummified. A Ninja Warrior could have killed with them!
It was so disappointing after our meals in Rimini.
The service was good and the staff helpful. But It was so disappointing after our lovely meals in Rimini.
How to get there
The region is served by three international airports:
Rimini – Ryanair from London Stansted and Liverpool
Bologna – BA and Easyjet from London Gatwick; Ryanair from Stansted, Gatwick and Edinburgh
Parma – Ryanair from London Stansted
Belvedere Locanda & Ristorante
Rooms from EURO 75 per night for a double room (2 people) and breakfast
The restaurant is open every night for dinner for residents and non-residents
The Grand Hotel
Rooms from EURO 160 per night for a double room (2 people) and breakfast
Trip hosted and organized by: APT SERVIZI/Emilia Romagna Region Tourist Board
Ref: Barbara Candolfini (mob 39 335 5282325)
OLEIFICIO RENZI GIOVANNI
località S.Pietro Via Giovanni XXIII n. 16
PH. (39) 0541.855005
Trattoria La Marianna http://www.osteriadeborg.it/marianna/ambiente.php
Viale Tiberio, 19 – 47921 Rimini (Rn)
Tel. +39 0541/22530 (Rif. Enrica Mancini_mob 335 7696611)
Tel. 0541 362488 (rif. Oscar Piastra)
NUD & CRUD, Via Tiberio, 27/29 – 47921 Rimini (Rn)
Tel. +39 0541/29009, www.nudecrud.it
We met in the Airport Lounge.