After lunch at Osteria dei Sani in Sasso Marconi we headed to Parma. It was a rather uneventful drive. Figuring out the toll process was pretty easy. Since we had a car and central Parma is a restricted traffic (ZTL) zone; that is only vehicles with permits are allowed in the central area, I decided to book an Agritourismo….which turned out to be a mixed experience. Even at only a few miles outside Parma, it was a pain driving to the city, though we did manage to find parking....not in one of the pay lots, but alongside the Parma River (Torrente Parma). And then take a nice walk into town.
And while we didn't spend too much time in the city itself; except to eat and wander the streets. That's the Governor's Palace above.
We did take in some of the sights. That's the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata below.
The Monumento ai Caduti…..the war memorial.
And the large open space in front of Parma Cathedral which we'd visit again a bit later.
On this afternoon and evening, we were just trying to get our bearings and stretch our legs a bit after spending most of the day driving.
We headed back to what we considered the main street in the city; Strada Giuseppe Mazzini and just headed up the street where it suddenly became Strada della Republica.
We decided to stop for a coffee right before Chiesa di San Sepolcro.
You could tell that Parma wasn't a heavily American/English/Asian tourist destination. Some folks were quite surprised to see the Missus and I. My linguistic ability is basically nil, except for food, but folks in Parma were really warm, kind, and easy to smile. The woman working at this cafe; I believe it's called Provinciali was so nice. When we returned again the following day later for coffee she waved and smiled to us.
Our host at the Agritourismo, Adriano was super friendly, and even gave us a list of restaurants...…..places he ate at. I Tre Siochett was outside of Central Parma, it looked fairly close to where we were staying....though we were warned, "it's not so easy to find in the dark". We did find it though.....
Just along a roadside....the place was hopping! The guys working here were very friendly. We were handed menus and I immediately ordered something from the menu.....the Italian menu mind you.....the guy looked shocked....we were immediately brought an English version of the menu and I still ordered the dish....more on that later.
Of course we had to have the Salume Misto, which was a bargain at 8 Euros!
The culatello and the prosciutto were very good; but it was the item on the left side of the plate we both loved.....our first experience with Ciccioli, all the wonderful fatty and scrap pieces of pork, so porky and delicious. Also, this was truly served the Emilio-Romagna way. With lovely, yeasty, light pockets of dough called "torta fritta".
Each version we had was a bit different. This one was light and crisp, not overly "lardy", with some decent salt. You open up the one end of the torta fritta and place your salumi in it and eat....at least this is how we were taught. I also saw folks eating two pieces of torta fritta with salumi between them like a sandwich. Regardless....this was heaven with salumi.
Every area within Emilia-Romagna seems to have their own type of stuffed pasta......and the best way to eat it is "en brodo" in a clear chicken based broth. In western Emilia-Romagna it's Anolini.
Usually the most expensive primi on the menu (it's all relative - this was 12 Euros); because of the amount of work needed to make the pasta, the payoff, like this version, was usually quite good. A bit of meat, cheese, or sometimes "Zucca" (pumpkin). Loved the texture of the pasta.
And then, there was the "Pesto di cavallo con pestata di capperi" (10 Euros). I ordered it from the Italian menu, then was immediately brought the English menu......just for clarification purposes and we still ordered it. Just so you know, cavallo is horse, and this is basically horse tartare. The really nice Server just wanted to make sure. Because as he said in English, "even Italiano...it is yes-no, yes-no, yes-no...." Which made the Missus and I crack up.
This was definitely a "yes"....served with a caper relish on the side....a squeeze of lemon...the finish is so clean, the flavor almost refreshing, with a slight sweetness. The acid and brininess adding character to the dish.
The Missus ordered the "cake" for dessert and holy-moly.....this is one serving of "cake".....
I Tri Siochett
Strada Comunale Farnese 74/A
Parma PR, Italy
Adriano was right when he said finding our way back via the side streets outside Parma in the dark was going to be interesting....even with a GPS. I think we took a couple of circles....the good thing about roundabouts is that if you miss your exit, you just take another loop. After what seemed like 45 minutes for a 15 minute drive, we ended up back at our room.
There was something about the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna that really seemed to suit us.