Christmas Shopping at Eataly World


There is a new space for foodies in Bologna, a million square feet of great food from all regions of Italy. Opened November 15, it’s a vast space that will take more than one visit to take it all in. To name but few things: there are meat, pasta or pizza restaurants, grocery shopping, kiosks with street food, like arrosticini from Abruzzo (bite size crispy juicy grilled lamb on a stick) Fontanafredda Enoteca that serves all types of Italian wines by the glass, culinary workshops on gelato, pasta making or truffle tasting, multimedia centers called giostre that exhibit concepts about mother earth (2€ entrance), a high end restaurant, Cinque, from michelin starred chef Enrico Bartolini, outdoor gardens, a book shop and at the cash registers as you exit a post office that will mail all your purchases home.

Around Bologna locals call the new destination FICO (Fabbrica Italiana Contadina). Many Bolognese are skeptical of it, because change is hard in a country that clings to traditions and measures time in centuries. But it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for visiting the city of Bologna itself, with its unique medieval architecture, wonderful regional dishes like tagliatelle con ragu, mortadella or tortellini. Instead it is another reason to come to this lesser known region of Emilia Romagna and its great cities like Bologna, Modena, or Ferrara. Oscar Farinetti, who brought his successful food shops, Eataly, first to Torino then to other cities around the world now brings us this new idea. He calls FICO a world reference point that “by narrating the story of made in Italy, explaining the history of our products and their origin” we will promote the beauty, the quality, the lifestyle of Italians. What do you need to know about FICO?

  • How to get there? A FICO bus from the train station for about 8€ round trip. The bus takes 20 minutes from Bologna city centre to the location outside the city, near the University of Bologna’s Agriculture school.
  • How to get around this huge space? Bikes of course with baskets on front wheel to carry things. It’s a light airy space with vaulted ceilings and very pleasant in any season. It’s open from 10am to midnight.
  • What to expect? To spend a whole day there, tasting, learning and shopping. Bring your wallet, it’s hard to leave without buying something.
  • where to learn more? check out the website to see all available workshops and sign up and prepay ( from 10€ to 90€ ).

In an age of experience based travel, this is the ultimate in Italian food experience.


Un’Estate con AOPP



2nd collage summer aopp













Pesca Gratinata (8 porzioni)

150 g zucchero bianco

succo di un 1/2 limone

150 ml acqua

600 g pesche giallo

Preparare lo sciroppo allo zucchero mettendo zucchero bianco, succo di limone e acqua in una pentola e portare a ebollizione. Lasciar sobbollire finché lo zucchero non si scioglie(2 minuti) quindi lasciar raffreddare.

Lavare le pesce, tagliare in pezzi e unire lo sciroppo di zucchero e frullare fino a ottenere un compost0 liscio. Porre in una teglia lunga e rettangolare che possa stare in freezer. Coprire con la pellicola trasparente.

Controllare il compost dopo un’ora. Usare la forchetta per raschiare la miscela semi-congelate, poi rimettere subito in freezer. Ripetere ogni 30 minuti fino a quando tutto il composto è stato raschiato. (sono necessarie 3 volte). Servire in una coppetta di vetro.


Come si può dire “comfort food” ?

Come si può dire “comfort food” in italiano? Cibo del conforto? Cibo della felicita? Cibo coccola? Cibo dell’anima?

Per me si può definire come una ricetta che ci fa star bene, ci
coccola, ci scalda, ci ricorda un momento dell’infanzia.

Amo cucinare cose complesse, piatti esotoci e nuovi ma le ricette semplici, della mia infanzia americana/congolese, sono quelle che
scaldano il mio cuore. Come la “apple pie” calda con sopra una palla di gelato alla vaniglia….. mmm!

O la pasta corta con sopra il fromaggio fuso, l’hamburger cucinato in un “cook out” il 4 di Luglio, il pollo in una salsa di arachidi servito con “Pili Pili” del Congo, pasta e fagioli della mia nonna Italo-Americana, ciambelle e eclairs, etc, etc.

Tutti mi riportano a casa, sempre, mi fanno ricordare la mia famiglia e il mio paese.

Qui in Italia… vorrei scoprire il vostro “comfort food”, anche se so
che in Italia ci saranno centinaia di ricette che potrebbero esserlo o
diventarlo, perche tutti i piatti sono così golosi, buoni, di una
tradizione lunga e molto legata alla terra, fatti con rispetto per gli
ingredienti e sopprattutto, sempre con amore.

Qualche cookbook per scoprire di più le ricette della felicita:

Con autori come Jamie Oliver, Saveur, Hillary Davis and Joan Donogh.

cookbook jolivercookbook classicscookbook saveurcookbook french comfort



East Meets West at the Holiday Table

In my recipe box I came across this old page ripped out of a McCall’s magazine from the 80’s. Then I found the frozen filo pastry at the supermarket Natura Sì…. mmm…maybe it’s a sign…make some Baklava! I was also in the mood for a different type of dessert after having interviewed a cook from North Africa for Aglio Olio Pili Pili’s upcoming book. We discussed the tastes and smells of North African spices, and herbs and desserts with honey, almonds and rose water. But this sticky, sweet pastry is loved all over the mediterranean, from Greece to Lebanon to Morocco.

foto aopp bakla 1

First ingredient, walnuts…aopp bakla 2

Then add almonds…

bakla 2

Then grind the two nuts until they are the size of small pebbles…bakla 3

Mix the nuts with the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Melt the butter and prepare the filo pastry under a damp cloth….

bakla 4

Lay the sheets of filo pastry in a buttered pan…

bakla 5

Then  brush butter on each of the 15 sheets of filo pastry, placing one over the other…

baklav 7

On the 15th layer add the sugar, spice, nut mix in a thick layer…then continue with the next 5 layers of buttered filo pastry and repeat with a layer of sugar, spice, nut mix and finish with the last 5 layers of filo pastry with each individually buttered…


When the last layer has been added, butter it and then cut the diamond shapes into the pastry. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom. Then bake in the oven for 60 minutes and when done turn off oven and let cool for 30 minutes in warm oven…..

bakla 9

While the baklava is cooking, start with the syrup. Slice the lemons and oranges and add to pot with cinnamon sticks, honey and water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then let cool and strain…


When the baklava is done it will be a wonderful golden brown. Over the same cut lines cut the baklava all the way to the bottom….


Then pour the warm syrup over the warm baklava and let cool for a few hours while the pastry absorbs the syrup…


Serve the baklava at  room temperature or cold, maybe with a nice cup of mint tea. This year I made this for our Easter feast with the baklava next to our Colomba di Pasqua…


Thank you McCall’s magazine for this ‘old school’ classic!

image recipe of bakla


see recipe


How fresh are your eggs?

A Saturday morning in spring is the perfect time to visit an open air market.image In Bologna my favorite place to go is Mercato della Terra. It’s located in an area of Bologna with a great cinema,  walkable streets and a city park.

photo: AOPP

photo: AOPP

There are about 20 plus vendors, farmers and producers who come from in and around Emilia Romagna. Some from even further afield.


photo: AOPP

But I love the fresh egg guy and his sidekick the chicken. It may only be a way to sell more eggs but it works. children crowd around and when I buy them it makes me feel the eggs are truly fresher. At 2.50 euro for 6 eggs they aren’t cheap but reasonable for eggs that are much better than store bought ones.

photo.: AOPP

photo.: AOPP

What to do with such fresh eggs… make egg nog. Usually a Christmas drink but perfect for Easter as well. A drink that is creamy and sweet, served with rum or without, but definitely a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg. See recipe for egg nog.



photo: AOPP

photo: AOPP

Baking Christmas Cookies for the Holidays

In my family Christmas time is always when our kitchens turn into cookie factories. the sweet smell of chocolate, vanilla and spice fill the house. It’s hard to keep people from eating the just baked cookies but there are always enough to last till the 25th.

We have our traditional favorites and also new additions to the list of cookies we make together. they also make great homemade Christmas presents for friends and relatives. check out the Sugar Cookie recipe!


foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

This year we made matcha green tea shortbread, almond spice and colorful sugar cookies MERRY CHRISTMAS from aopp!

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp

foto: aopp