I’ve just done a week long ‘learn to speak Italian’ course in Bologna. I think I now speak Italian even worse than I did before as I’m now trying to remember – for example – whether it’s essere or avere for the past tense of andare. Something that never troubled me before.
One of the extra curricular activities arranged by the Cultura Italiana was an evening’s cookery lesson. This was fun, but I have to say the food we produced was a bit of a disaster. Dessert was a pear sponge cake, and – as most of us know – to make a cake one needs to cream the sugar, butter, eggs, the flour – and then finally gently fold in the whipped until stiff egg whites. The lovely ladies assigned this task beat the mixture vigorously until it was a paste. The resulting cake looked like a sodden cowpat.
Making the pasta was a challenge as the one and only pasta machine broke, and there were only 2 rolling pins between 10 of us – one of which was small. And folks’ idea of how wide tagliatelle should be varied enormously. The sformato di zucca (a kind of easy soufflé) was sloppy, the vegetable bake was possibly the nastiest I’ve eaten this side of boarding school.
But everyone was lovely, including the hard-pressed chef who had to deal with us all. One of our class was a charming Italian woman called Barbara (she never told me her surname) who recommended Casa Monica as one of her favourite restaurants in Bologna.
Thank you Barbara for the recommendation!
Casa Monica is tucked away down a side street off Via Pratello, a bohemian verging on scruffy area. But once inside this converted industrial unit all the graffiti is forgotten: it’s a chic, informal space, quite different to some of the old style trattorias in the centre of the city. Monica Cuniberti and Daniele Buldrini are the lovely owners (who speak English) and their staff are friendly and attentive, without being ‘hoverers’.
The food is excellent: For starters, Billy’s zucchini sformatino with parmesan cream was so light it was in danger of being a souffle. My duck prosciutto affumicato with chicory salad and agrodulce salsa was also a great combo of flavours, but Billy won this course – not that we’re competitive or anything. But -
Round two, the main course went to me: the roast tuna with a sesame crust was delicious. Billy’s steak with cicoria and mustard was also good, but my choice was the more special of the two.
We drank a pecorino white wine from Le Marche: Ciu Ciu - ‘Le Merlettaie’ - along with promises to ourselves that we should make a trip down to Offida to buy some.
The evening we were there, Casa Monica was choc full of Italians – which is a recommendation in itself. But it also means booking is essential. It’s open for dinner only and closed on Sundays.
Casa Monica, via San Rocco 16, Bologna
Tel 051 522522