What makes Italian cuisine so delightful and varied is that each region holds tightly to its local traditions that include food, wine, music, dialect, and folklore.
In Bellaria Igea Marina, fresh seafood dominates the local cuisine, and you will find many popular recipes created around various types of fish that are prominent in this area.
Ingredients are simple, natural, and healthy. From the type of salt added to the food (coarse sea salt was preferred), to spices and herbs, each ingredient has a purpose for flavor as well as healthy properties.
In this episode, I share with you two great things that go together so well in Romagna: Food and Music!
Good food always goes well with good wine AND good music!
And nowhere do these three Italian icons go so well together than in the Italian region of Romagna… more specifically, Bellaria Igea Marina.
During dinner at the Hotel Eliseo restaurant, we feasted on delicious Tagliatelle with Ragu, enjoyed the local wine, and we were entertained by the local folk music group called L’Uva Grisa - that translates to “Sour Grapes”.
If you think you know Italian music, you haven’t listened to the fun and upbeat sound of the traditional music of Romagna that makes your heart sing and your feet dance. I’m sharing some of the songs with you in this cooking show, as well in this blog about the local music.
Earlier in the day, we had our first day of cooking class at Hotel Eliseo with Nonna Violante (or Granny Violante in English) where we learned how to make, among other things, the famous Tagliatelle with Ragu, Romagna style!
When not teaching cooking classes to her “bambini” as she affectionately calls her students, Nonna Violante is busy in the kitchen preparing local traditional dishes for their hotel guests using authentic recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation…even from her OWN Nonna (like the Ragu sauce in this cooking show).
Inside its spacious restaurant, guests at Hotel Eliseo have the opportunity to savor the local flavors at lunch and dinner with meals prepared by Nonna Violante and her team of cooks. Here is also where WE had our cooking classes!
We start off with preparing the Ragu, the popular Italian meat sauce that goes perfect with pasta! You will need the following ingredients:
100 g (4 oz) minced beef
100 g (4 oz) minced rump of pork
1 large sausage
1 piece of boned chicken or other fowl
Olive Oil for the cooking pan
1 celery stick
1 Garlic clove
1 spoon tomato paste
1 jar fresh tomato sauce
(or 1 can of canned tomatoes)
2 glasses of Fresh Passata
(uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins)
handful of chopped cherry tomatoes
1 glass white wine (or brandy)
1 basil leaf
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Add some olive oil into a stew pot and preheat.
Saute the chopped carrot, celery and onion gently in the pan on medium heat for 2-3 minutes minutes until the onion becomes soft.
Add the garlic clove (you can remove the clove later if you don’t want it in the sauce).
Add the minced meats and mix well. Cook for a few minutes until the meat is nice and brown.
Add the white wine or brandy and let it evaporate on high heat.
When the meat is browned evenly, add 1 spoon of tomato paste diluted in some water, the passata and the cherry tomatoes.
Add the basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Mix well and let simmer. If needed, add a bit more warm water to the pot.
Cover the pot at first until the mixture reaches boiling point, then place the cover in a way that some of the steam can evaporate.
Stir and check on the sauce regularly. Cook the sauce at low heat and check to see if it needs more liquid. Cook for at least 2 hours. When done, the sauce should be nice and thick.
While the ragu is cooking, you can make the tagliatelle!
400 g (or about 1 ¾ cups) type “00” flour (or all purpose flour if the Italian “00” is not available in your area)
a pinch of salt
HOW TO MAKE TAGLIATELLE:
Place the flour on a working surface and make a well in the center.
Break the eggs inside the well and mix them with a fork, gathering the flour into the eggs as you mix.
Work in the eggs with the flour and knead until you have a soft and elastic ball of dough – this may take a while!
In class, Nonna Violante and her assistants demonstrated how to best knead dough… Use the heels of your palms, and use the strength of your upper body, not just your hands and arms. It’s good exercise and will work up an appetite!
When finished, the ball of dough should be soft and bouncy when gently poked.
Now, you roll the dough with a wooden rolling pin until you achieve the desired thinness. There are no pasta machines in Nonna Violante’s kitchen! You roll the pasta the old fashioned way.
*** Watch the video to see how Nonna Violante and her assistants demonstrates how to knead the pasta dough, and then how to roll it into thin sheets.
When you are finished rolling the pasta into a thin sheet, fold it over a few times to make it a few layers thick (like a loose burrito!).
With a sharp knife slice the tagliatelle about 1/3 – ½ inch thick each strip.
Now you can cook the pasta.
HOW TO COOK FRESH TAGLIATELLE:
Take a large pot and fill it 3/4 with cold water. Bring to the boil and add about half a handful of rock coarse salt.
Add your tagliatelle and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the tagliatelle in a colander in the sink. Place the tagliatelle back in the pan and add the Ragu sauce to it. Stir gently and serve.
At dinner that evening, we all enjoyed the Tagliatelle with Ragu as well as other fabulous dishes prepared by Nonna Violante and her talented cooks.
With such great food, excellent wine, and the lively music of L’Uva Grisa, what more do you need for a perfect evening? Well, Maybe a little dancing!
Stay tuned for more travel + cooking shows with Nonna Violante in Bellaria Igea Marina.
In this video, the local band from Rimini called “L’Uva Grisa” (translated to “Sour Grapes‘) performs their rendition of the popular tavern wine song “Abbasso l’acqua evviva il vino” – “Down with Water Up with Wine“. The lyrics were loosely translated in English (lyrics often get lost in translation).
L’Uva Grisa has been researching, performing, and sharing traditional music from Romagna since 1981. Much of the ancient music they perform has been passed down by oral traditions through the generations – long before anyone knew about documenting music.
Il Trescone di Casola Valsenio
—————————————————————————————————————————————A Very Special Thank you Hotel Eliseo for hosting the #LovingRomagna event, Nonna Violante for sharing her passion for cooking and sharing her authentic recipes, L’Uva Grisa for entertaining us, and special kudos to Maria Regina Rubinetti for putting together such a wonderful event! —————————————————————————————————————————————