Modena: playful Michelin star gastronomy at Bottura's Osteria Francescana
While we were planning our honeymoon, part of our trip involved a roadtrip through Europe. I remember how difficult it was to decide on the fine dining restaurants we wanted to visit. The options were endless and the budget, not enough. What was clear though, was that Osteria Francescana was a must!
A few days after the departure from Madrid, we arrived in Modena, a city famous for many Italian wonders: its world renowned vinegar, Ferrari and Massimo Bottura.
Entering Massimo Bottura’s territory, we were greeted by the friendly staff and an amazing pop art painting of Italian artist, Mario Schifano. Retrospectively it was our first clue of the chef’s evident passion for Italy and postmodernism, that we were about to experience.
It was clear from the first plate that the chef loves to play with food, and admittedly, he does it very well. Who's going to start a menu with a macaron (stuffed with rabbit) and finish the savoury part with a salad other than him? What about the Foie Rocher? It looked like an almond Magnum stuffed with liquid chocolate but no, it's a foie gras filled with balsamic vinegar. The real one! Mortadella sandwich in a 3 Michelin star restaurant? It ended up being the best "Mortadella sandwich" we have ever had. What a taste and what texture!
Talking about texture, that is a concept, of which I am sure, Bottura can not live without.
The 5 ages of Parmesan cheese: Where to start? 5 different preparations with 5 different parmesans, all in one dish. For me, that was his best creation and I would dare say the most innovative dish that has ever been made using cheese as main ingredient. Not only it’s not repetitive, it leaves you wanting more. It's an ode to parmesan.
The crunchy part of the lasagna, a dish that visually looks nothing like lasagna, but it’s exactly what it says. Italian grandmother’s lasagna meets modernism.
As previously mentioned, Massimo likes to play with us. So after offering us a lot of dishes with modern techniques and impossible textures .. Boom! Tagliatelle with Ragu. Or pasta with meat stew. No avant-garde textures, simply one of the classical dishes of Italian gastronomy. Even so, he dominates it to perfection.
How curious, the history behind some of the most famous dishes of the gastronomy world. Apparently, many years ago one of the chefs dropped the last lemon cake on one of the tables in the kitchen. The chef did not know where to hide, but Bottura saw it from a different perspective and Ecola! Oops I drop the lemon tart was born! As for the taste I was not impressed, although for my wife it was THE plate of the night.
In conclusion, Massimo Bottura is a different chef capable of surprising us with almost every one of his creations. Osteria Francescana is far from being the typical Italian restaurant but, if the mammas and the nonas wanted to modernise, they would become Massimo Bottura.
Would I repeat? Yes. Is it the best restaurant in the world? No, but for sure it's one of the top restaurants in the world.
Photos: Callo Albanese & Sueo and Lucas Senderowicz