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Breakfast time in Italy means a cappuccino e cornetto, and a midmorning snack is usually a quick caffe, but that’s not the case in Modena, EmiliaRomagna, the region raising the breakfast bar with the merenda estiva. A true merenda estiva isn’t found in a bar. Traditionally enjoyed at home by farmers during their morning break, the merenda estiva is hearty and savory snack with the single objective of holding you over through out the day. Honestly, I had never heard nor came face to face with a true merenda estiva until visiting friends at Casa Mara Luigia , a turn-of-the-century farmhouse transformed into a luxury, food-focused guesthouse and its delicious gastro-experiences.
Months before Casa Maria Luigia, Lara Gilmore (co-owner of Casa Maria Luigia and one of a dynamic duo with Massimo Bottura) had been talking about the future of breakfast at the countryside b&b. When I finally arrived on a hot June afternoon, Lara insisted that no matter what I did or ate, I had to be present for breakfast and try the cotechino. An extremely savory and heavy sausage made from ground pork, fatback and pork-rinds, Cotechino has never truly appealed to me, and I wasn’t about to lean in. Breakfast should be sweet, not heavy and salty, I thought and cotechino sounded nuts until Lara let me in on a little Casa Maria Luigia secret. Chef Jessica Rosval roasts the cotechino ritualistically early every morning in the Casa Maria Luigia outdoor wood-burning oven. And it gets even better- Rosval serves it decadently on a square of sbrisolona, a crumbly cornmeal, flour, almond and butter cake, and then tops its with zabaglione. Sweet, salty and savory. Umami. Basta.
Join Jess Rosval and I as we talk a cotechino, country live and Casa Maria Luigia’s kitchen.
IN THIS EPISODE
[01:03] Meet Jessica Rosval, Chef at Casa Maria Luigi
(03:21) Emilia-Romagna Breakfast
[06:07] Sweet and savory cotechino sausage
[10:37] Kitchen Philosophy at Casa Maria Luigia
[13:58] Italian hospitality