Modena, home of the balsamic vinegar…we really wanted to tour one of the vinegar properties but everything in the area seemed to be by appointment only and we didn’t plan ahead…we’ll have to learn from this mistake! We drove from Bologna to Modena which was about a 30 minute day trip. The countryside had vines and pear trees. We found the center and parked. We heard the best restaurant in all of Italy is in this town…we wanted to at least peek at the menu.
The town was very quiet and much smaller than Bologna. The restaurant was off the beaten path. We walked into La Francescana and saw the person who greeted us was in a full bow-tie suit and it was only lunch time. We asked to see the menu feeling very under-dressed in our hiking shorts. There were three tasting menus ranging from about 100-175 euros (gulp)! Needless to say, we thanked them for their time and left to find something a little more budget friendly. The food on the menu for the record…looked amazing (as it should for that price).
After some searching through Modena, we found our lunch at Hosteria Giusti (www.hosteriagiusti.it). There were only four tables in the whole restaurant and there was only one other couple in the room. We ordered a bottle of the local specialty, Lambrusco. Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine that has a lot of fruit, is priced very well and is cooling on hot summer days. This particular bottle was going down much too easy. For our antipasti, we started with what looked like puffed pastry pillows with a thin slice of local salami on top. The puffs were airy and the meat melted in our mouths…
For our main course, Giff had a homemade tagliatelle pasta with pork cheek and tomato sauce. I ordered maccheroni al pettine con sugo d’anatra (yes I wrote it down because it was so freaking’ good). It was slow cooked rabbit shredded into a homemade tube pasta and tossed in a butter cream sauce. We closed out the meal with homemade vanilla ice-cream drizzled oh so softly with Modena balsamic vinegar…the ice-cream was…well, it made you want to just roll around naked in it!
We spent about three hours eating our food slowly, sipping our Lambrusco and chatting with the other couple about food and wine. When we were finished, the restaurant lead us out of their front door which was their store…where they sell all kinds of meats and local goods.
Now that we had full tummies, we enjoyed meandering through the town taking pictures and admiring the colored houses and detailed architecture. We also noted there were porticoes in some parts of the town, just like Bologna.
We stopped for a quick espresso at a coffee bar before getting back in the car to drive to our hotel and have a relaxing evening.
Tomorrow we will check into our Parma hotel.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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