The market’s setting is similar to a small village square, though it is actually the courtyard of Bologna’s beautiful Cineteca, the city’s film archive. Entrance to the courtyard is from Via Azzo Gardino...
The market’s setting is similar to a small village square, though it is actually the courtyard of Bologna’s beautiful Cineteca, the city’s film archive. Entrance to the courtyard is from Via Azzo Gardino.
Once inside, the producers are positioned so that you are immediately in the middle of a crossroads, which can at times catch the new visitor unawares. A little guide to the market could be of help, and so here I offer you an itinerary, reflecting my own personal shopping journey around the stalls.
Colò Bruno, third gazebo on the right. A stop here is almost obligatory, to ask Signora Colò, who presides over the cheese counter, to set aside some of the ricotta her husband makes from the milk of their sheep. Its popularity can be measured by the number of ricottas already reserved when you arrive at the counter. So to avoid any risk it’s best to get the ricotta first and have them keep it chilled for you while you do the rest of your shopping.
Take a look at the other cheeses while you’re here, as there’s always something worth sampling. And every so often among the cheeses will appear some nests of yellow and green “paglia e fieno” tagliatelle, made by Signora Colò herself.
Take a few steps and get in line at the next gazebo over for Forno Calzolari’s bread. There are three types: montanaro (mountain style), farro (emmer wheat) and grano antico (ancient wheat). My personal choice is usually for the grano antico or some farro loaves. But if you’re not sure which to get, try some of the samples available for tasting while you wait your turn.
Our next stop is usually La Quercia, the next gazebo over on the same side, to buy braided sweet bread, focaccia with pancetta and mortadella (to be eaten immediately or while waiting in line at other stalls) and some excellent apple-cinnamon jam.
Meanwhile we’ll jump over to get numbers for fruit from Rossi Silvia (second gazebo on the left once you’ve turned right at the crossroads) and for vegetables from Muzzano di Sopra (from the fruit gazebo, turn back, then continue straight on to the last gazebo on the left).
There’s no point going to queue for the vegetables right away if there are lots of people – and there’s certainly no point in being in a rush. At this point, you can:
1. Have a look at Cadoni’s beautiful display of different varieties of chickens and roosters. You won’t be able to miss their crowing. Need some eggs? Make the most of their expertise: They can not only advise you on the best eggs to get but also the best way to prepare them to enhance their free-range flavor.
2. Head towards the entrance of the Cineteca to see what the week’s Slow Food Presidium is (last gazebo on the left before the Cineteca entrance). You can find out more about the Presidium and rediscover forgotten flavors.
Now it’s time to line up for some seasonal fruit. If you want something sweet, turn around, behind you should be the stall selling sfrappole fritters.
Fourth and Final Stop
The Muzzano di Sopra vegetables are sold by two women who are always rushed off their feet as they try to satisfy their customers’ demands. Particularly recommended (when it’s the right season, of course) are the tender and flavorful broccoli and the red radicchio.
Variations on the Standard Itinerary…
Do you need a wedge of Parmigiano? The Rosola caseificio (first gazebo on the left when you enter the market) will be able to help you with different ages of Parmigiano and an excellent alternative to Signora Colò’s ricotta, sweet and tasting like cream.
How about some wine? The San Vito stand (the gazebo is next to the chickens, towards the Cineteca entrance) has a delightful range of wines from native grapes, with beautiful ornithological labels. The Pignoleto Frizzante is particularly good.
And a glass of beer, maybe to drink now? You’ll find it at the White Dog Beer stand, serving Irish beer made in the Bologna area.
A slice of Tzischeik like you’ve never had before? Those are the exact words of the shaman of Zocca (at times stationed next to the Slow Food Presidium of the Week stand).
Some Vegetarian Delights to Make with Your Purchases
Ricotta spread on slices of grano antico bread
Roasted radicchio with melted pecorino
Sautéed spinach with Parmigiano flakes
Chard frittata (or quiche)
Cauliflower soup with croutons
Broccoli sautéed with red pepper
Potato salad with thyme and rosemary
Tagliatelle with asparagus
Giuseppe Misurelli, regular visitor to the Bologna market