Modena, Italy.

Getting some semblance of normalcy back into our lives so here’s carrying on with our journey through Italy. 

12 Jul 2019 – Friday.

We spent the morning at Modena’s Mercato, a beautiful central market with vibrant colours from all the fresh produce. Unlike Asian markets, everything was organised and there was ample space between the food stalls for mill around.

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Aside from fresh vegetables and fruit, they also had stalls selling antipasto which were highly popular amongst locals and visitors alike. I bought some Frutti di Mare and Spinach for my lunch.

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Most of these were sold cooked and cold. I believe many locals buy them home and warm them up for a hot lunch, or have them cold during hot summers.

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It was a pity Flo and I stayed in BnBs and hotels throughout our trip, so we didn’t have access to a kitchen where we could cook. The variety of tomatoes alone were enough to whet our appetites and concoct thoughts of having a simply tomato salad composed of a various tomato types.

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They also had fresh breads and ready-pizzas for a quick bite.

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And olives galore.

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Fresh meats were also on sale. The chicken pieces were huge and meaty, and I could certainly see why Italians are so proud of their produce, and why they embrace the idea of home-cooking, especially when Nonna is helming the kitchen.

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Various fresh pastas to suit any tastebuds.

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Smoked, cured, canned fish to top bread.

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A little wine stall selling a host of different wines. Flo had a glass of rosé(?) while I settled for sparkling ‘aqua’. In Italy, alcohol is always served along some light snacks. In this case, it was freshly well-fried crispy skin-on potato chips. Most places provide little crunchy savoury breads to go with.

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My handsome hubs in front of the market.

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I accompanied Flo for lunch at an obscure eatery highly recommended by Gianna for their Gnoccho Fritto. It’s called L’Insolito Bar and looked nondescript as it sat by the roadside, away from everything. Upon entering the little bar, we were shown through the sheltered back area, and then to a covered outdoor area where it was buzzing it lunchgoers. It was a lot bigger and more spacious than it looked on the outside, that’s for sure.

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Every table had cold cuts and a basket of two of gnoccho fritto, as well as a bottle of wine at least. We did without the wines, Flo ordered a basket of gnoccho fritto, and a serving of cold cuts with cheese.

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It took a while to arrive but when they did, the puffs of deep fried bread came piping hot with steam rushing out upon being pulled apart.

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I tried some gnoccho fritto and they were indeed quite tasty.

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Flo was very happy with his fill at lunch since this was something he was eager to have while in Italy. These ones did not disappoint.

Thereafter, we walked to the park just behind the eatery where I had my fill of lunch.

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Mixed seafood and a big ball of spinach for iron.

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Simple but nice.

After my fill of food, Flo and I took a short drive to visit a Balsamic Vinegar Factory.

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Its grounds were huge and it looked like some kind of posh mansion. We wondered if we were in the right place. Thankfully, the little signages that said ‘Leonardi Aceto Balsamico de Modena‘ on some of their walls reassured us that we were where we wanted to be.

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Smelling lemons. I thoroughly enjoyed the bubbles of excitement I felt at seeing lemon and lime trees in Italy since they are so uncommon in Singapore. Especially when the lemons were big and voluptuous. It was fascinating how they could grow so well without falling off the branches due to their weight.

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Inside, we went for the tour that explained to us how balsamic vinegar is made. It’s relatively simple but takes a lot of time and patience in order to produce one with the complexity of flavours that they are so known for.

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We were also treated to some tastings of 100 year old Balsamic Vinegar. One came from a Cherry wood barrel, and the other from a Juniper barrel.

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It was truly interesting how different wood types can influence the flavour of balsamic vinegar, making it spicier, or sweeter, or a hint more tangy.

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All of them that we tried that day were so rich and unctuous. They were thick, and a drizzle on top of a chunk of parmeggiano or some fresh salad or creamy gelato, is all you need to hit that spot.

Just before the tour ended, I started to suffer for a dizzy spell either from standing too long, or from the heat. The staff at Leonardi was quick to get me some cold water and let me have a sit down which I thoroughly appreciated. Once my bearings were back to normal, Flo and I went downstairs to the tasting area and we were generously given some cheese to taste with their vinegars even though we had only paid for the basic tour.

We made sure to buy a bottle back for Mum and Dad, knowing that we would also get to have some by default whenever we eat with them. 🙂 Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

We returned to Gianna’s BnB after this for a rest and to get ready for the meal we’d been looking forward to for the whole three months prior to our holiday…

Any ideas where our dinner location was going to be?

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