What I like about Andrea is that he starts at 8:14 a.m. on a Friday morning with a message on whatsapp saying: 'Hi dear, plans for tonight? Would you like a sturgeon dinner, caviar included? Organise Slow Food Ferrara'. And now you tell me - can I say no?


It had been a long time since I had been to Ferrara. In fact, I remember very well the last time I was there! It was in 2011, I was going out with a certain Marcello whose name I have fortunately almost forgotten... and do you know why? This dear guy, with whom I had been in love for about three months, came out saying that he had already booked a holiday in Crete with his lovely friends and I, with my insane mania for surprises, spent a night on the starboard side preparing a heart-shaped chocolate tart which I took to the airport in Bologna at 5 a.m. for breakfast... too bad he wasn't there with his friends... and I'm not going to tell you about his better half, Lucia, whom I discovered was his legitimate fiancée of over three years... and I'm not even going to tell you about all the postcards I received from Greece with the words 'Love, I miss you... how boring this holiday without you!" Ah, Ferrara... how I've missed you!

The icing on the cake, or rather on the tart, was that when I went to Ferrara to tell him off very gently I got a very nice speed camera...

I'll go back to talking about dinner, which is better!

slow food ferrara dinner

One thing I absolutely must tell you about the dinner: ah, the headmistress of the IPSSAR Vergani Navarra institute is extraordinary! I didn't have the honour of speaking to Dr. Roberta Monti, but seeing the maniacal care of her appearance was already an experience! Needless to point her out to you, isn't it? The beautiful blonde lady with a rose on her chest is indeed her!

I admit that I knew nothing about the evening and after the trauma of parking and a hunger that had become almost unbearable, Andrea and I headed curiously to our table where I had the pleasure of meeting Slow Food Cento trustee Mauro Govoni.

The evening's speaker was Alberto Fabbri, Honorary President of Slow Food Emilia-Romagna, whom I would describe as 'an excellently prepared fine salesman'. A pleasure for the ears!

The accompanying wines of Cantina Mattarelli di Virgano Mainarda suffer from their terroir... they have a free foot because not even phylloxera had the courage to eat the vines of the Bosco Eliceo! The joke got away from me, I couldn't resist! But it is certainly not the fault of this Cantina Mattarelli, which indeed manages to make a 'Rosa x Emy' Spumante Rosé from discreet Fortana grapes, even if it has an unusual nose that I would define as slightly vinous to accompany the delicate hints of red fruits.

slow food menu

And finally the menu! I was very inspired and I must say that I was not disappointed... although I was expecting a slightly higher level! The thing that I found absolutely curious is that I have often heard it said by renowned chefs that hotel professors are failed chefs who have no idea how to run a kitchen... or worse, how to cook! In this regard, I can only say that on Friday evening there were three professional chefs from as many restaurants in the Ferrara area and only one professor from the hotel school we were guests of, and the only dish I would be happy to eat again was the latter's! (I'll leave the other dishes to those who appreciate them... but that's not me!)

caviar from Ferrara

Entrance: "Ferrara-style sturgeon caviar on homemade sourdough bread" of the Chef Maria Cristina Maresi of Agriturismo Le Occare of Runco Porto Maggiore. I was happy to try this ancient recipe from Ferrara that involves cooking caviar, but unfortunately the result was not very successful. Cooking caviar concentrates the flavours causing a significant saltiness that could have been easily corrected by adding a layer of butter. Of course, it would probably have increased the greasiness slightly, but this could have been remedied by spreading the butter very cold so that it did not melt with the caviar compote which, for the best result, had to be served at room temperature in order to enhance its organoleptic qualities. In this case, fatness and a sweet tendency would have prevailed, which would have adequately counteracted the excess of salt. Also wrong was the bread, poorly toasted and therefore mushy when eaten. Note of merit, however, to Chef Maria Cristina Maresi for having introduced me to a dish I did not know and which I will be happy to explore further!

marinated sturgeon

Appetiser: 'Sturgeon escalopes partially marinated in Sauvignon Palina" of the Chef Luca Civenni of the Dogana Restaurant - Osteria di Pesce di Ferrara. And luckily they were partially marinated!!! The chef said he left them to marinate from Tuesday to Friday... he had literally cooked them! The idea of accompanying the Sturgeon with sultanas, toasted pine nuts and curry salt was a good one... not a bad side dish of spinach and potatoes. The real intruder in the dish was the olive oil: too much and too tasty, if I have to tell you what the Sturgeon tasted like I don't know! I could only taste the oil. Too bad, it would have taken only a few adjustments to make a great dish... apart from the aesthetics, there is a lot of work to be done on that!

sturgeon risotto

First: 'Sturgeon and pecorino risotto with seared mirror carp tartare" of the Chef Antonio Canella of the IPSSAR Vergani Institute of Ferrara. Risotto is one of the most difficult dishes in our gastronomic tradition and I am a hypercritical connoisseur of it: after getting used to Gualtiero Marchesi's fantastic risotto all'onda, I find it hard to eat others with satisfaction. But this one was really good. It dosed the salt perfectly, which with the Sturgeon - Pecorino combination was really a difficult mission! Just the right amount of creaminess, perfect cooking and balanced flavour, a very good dish. What a pity about the tartare's fall from style: seared, it didn't look very good... but I would have accepted it if it wasn't for the overpowering caper. All in all an excellent dish that I would be happy to taste again with this small adjustment to the carp tartare: raw and without capers, perhaps with a few flakes of Maldon salt and a few strands of bergamot zest soaked in hot water to soften its intensity.

meatballs sturgeon

Second: 'Meatballs are serious business! Catfish - Pike - Sturgeon" of the Chef Gianni Tarroni of the restaurant Here where the sea shimmers of Ferrara. (In my opinion, the name of the restaurant is enough to tell you what they were like...) Well, I must say that it was by far the least successful dish of the evening. A good meatball alternates the crunchiness of the outer shell with a more or less creamy interior. Here the inside had a common denominator: dry and flaky, it carried such a high degree of succulence that it was annoying. Note of merit goes to the cooking of the meatballs: perfect! The side dish is to be forgotten: the mashed potatoes bland and sticky, the tomatoes and olives coarse...

slow food ice cream

Sweet: 'Citrus trilogy - Artisan ice cream" of Marco Gruppioni of Teatro del Gelato of St Augustine. Blood orange and cloves, lime and fennel and pure bergamot. All very good, personally I preferred the blood orange and clove flavour, but the others were also tasty, balanced and well executed! An ice cream worth tasting in short, and if they work so well, even travelling a few kilometres to eat it!

And now a big applause to these guys who deserve a brilliant career in the restaurant business. A few flaws in the service (Andrea was neglected from start to finish), but they are young and if they are willing to learn they will go a long way!

[Tweet ""Change does not change tradition, it strengthens it." Prince Philip of Edinburgh"]

Thank you very much for a lovely evening, a hug


P.S. Did you know Caviar alla Ferrarese... that is, cooked? Have you ever eaten it?

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