Al Meni Food Festival with Massimo Bottura- Rimini, Italy

“Food made with both our hearts and hands” is the slogan for the food festival promoting Italian cooking and produce from the Emilia- Romagna region in Italy.

I was lucky to have recieved an invite and in todays blog post I will share my weekend with you! And yes I got to meet the boss himself, Mr. Bottura…

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Part of the opening act outside the main tent.

Al Meni means “on the menu” and this weekend there were so many amazing dishes (and wines) on the menu created by some of the best chefs in the industry, both Italian and International.

The two day festival in June takes place in the beautiful oceanside area by the five star hotel Grand Hotel Rimini, and consists of stalls, stands, food trucks and the main circus tent where all the cooking shows take place.

You can learn more about Italian produce through daily courses on site, and taste and drink your way through the great food region which is Emilia-Romagna all while enjoying the sunny seaside.  You can also buy clothing, jewlery and other exciting Italian made things.

Tips! If you scroll all the way down to the end of the post you can see my video from the festival including the after party with Massimo!

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From the opening show

Massimo Bottura is the vice president of the Chef to Chef organization and is one of the main people behind the food festival where as mentioned, food, produce and wine from the Emilia- Romagna district takes center stage. It was an extra special event since the world famous chefs restaurant, Osteria Francescana was recently awarded the title of the worlds best restaurant.

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One thing that has been a common factor with everyone I have met here in Italy these past two weeks is the word “passion”. Every single person I have spoken to has been very passionate about their work, food, wine and what they produce. The Al Meni festival is the perfect venue to showcase this.

It all comes together under the summer sky by the ocean in Rimini where you can enjoy the best food and wine with your family and friends. The Italians are very social people and this is one of the main reasons as to why Italians live longer and are considered healthier than the rest of the world and Europe.

I also had the honor of meeting great wine producers from the area and discovered some amazing, especially sparkling wines, that you can not get outside of Italy, or at least only in select countries. And of course some of the worlds best chefs! Here are some pictures…

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Day turned into night and after the festival was closed the party continued down by the beach until the early hours of the morning celebrating life, love, friendship, and all that is wonderful about Italy and the food and wine that unites us…

View the video for more!

Visit the website for the festival here 


Orsi San Vito Wine – Made with Passion, Love and the Way Nature Intended

The focus on what we eat and how our food is produced is thankfully becoming more and more important. We are asking questions about our food. We want to know what’s in it and how it is produced. Is it natural, organic and are we actually getting what we are paying for? Because of these questions the food industry is forced to become more and more transparent.

But do you ask the same questions when it comes to the wine you drink? If not then come along with me to Orsi Vigneto San Vito  winery in the magestic hillside of Bologna and learn more!

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I was lucky that Alessandro Martini from Italian Days Food & Wine Tours was able to take me to meet Federico and his beautiful organic and biodynamic winery!

Natural wines are becoming more and more popular as we also understand that it is not only our foods that are being tampered with, but our wines as well. There is also a clear trend in going back to old, traditional methods of producing  and conserving foods and drinks for the sake of our health, to enhance flavour, and also to work more in tune with nature.

Federico and his wine production is a very good example of this philosophy in practice. He is extremly knowledagble and passionate about his wine, and ensures quality and respect for both the ingredients, the environment and takes great care in every single step of the process.

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Federico explains the natural fermentaion process of his wines. The famous Pignoletto Frizzante. Sparkling white wine from the region.

Italian Wine Culture

It was also important for me to get a better understanding of the Italian wine and drinking culture related to “Project Healthy in Italy” ( Read about it here ) as I know it is a part of the big picture as to why Italians are rated as being the healthiest country in Europe and second in the world.

As Federico tells me, “Drinking wine in Italy is about the social aspect as well as the enjoyment of something delicious, made with care and love. Also, we never drink on an empty stomach without food”.

Hense the Italian tradition of “Aperitivo”, a pre-dinner drink always accompanied with snacks or tapas style food.

Organic vs. Biodinamic Wine Production

To produce organic does not mean to produce biodynamic, but biodynamic produced food and wine is always organic. As a biodynamic wine producer there is a holistic approach to everything.

Federico shares, “To produce true wines of this terroir, we practice an agriculture which is capable of revitalizing the soil, stimulating plants and producing fruits with a strong bond with the territory. We don’t use chemicals and we work with nature to ensure the best possible conditions for our vines.

If the vines are under-performing and need nitrogen we plant beans or other pulses, leaving the cut plants to nourish the land. If on the other hand the vines are over-active we’ll plant grasses.”

Biodynamic wines are wines made employing biodynamic methods both to grow the fruit and during the post-harvest processing. Biodynamic wine production uses organic farming methods (e.g. employing compost as fertilizer and avoiding pesticides) while also employing soil supplements prepared according to Rudolf Steiner’s formulas, following a planting calendar that depends upon astronomical configurations, and treating the earth as “a living and receptive organism. Wikepedia

The fermentations are spontaneous without the use of selected yeasts, and there is no clarification or filtration on the wines. Federico is passionate about producing distinct wines with character and a non-standardized personality.

The farm also breeds free range Mora Romagnola pigs  and makes its own mortadella (famous from the area) using the best quality meat and spices.

San Vito has been producing wine for fifty years but since being awarded DOCG certification (controlled and guaranteed designation of origin) the popularity of Pignoletto has grown and wine buffs and entusiasts are starting to take notice.

Federico produces about 60 000 bottles a year and exports about 60 %. Both the USA and Nordic countries are buyers and recently the famous chef Gaggan Anad is on the list to buy the latest vintage for his famous restaurant in Bangkok.

Federicos also produces biodinamic vegetables and here we are inspecting the last of the farms artichokes. San Orsi also supplies the Michelain restaurant Amerigo with vegetables. I am visiting them next Friday! 🙂

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After roaming the vinyards, tasting mulberries straight from the tree, visiting the pigs and the spelt fields (!) it was finally time to taste the famous housemade mortadella and wine.

I love the dry, fresh tast of the natural fermentation process! There is also a low sugar content in Federicos wines, which gives them an extra star in my book. They have a very differant taste and mouth-feel than other wines I have tasted and go perfect together with the local charcuterie which is famous in the region. They taste natural, fresh, (even healthy) and are made with passion, love and the way that nature intended…

And finally the weekend sets in and we may enjoy the wine, eachothers company and shameless self- promation of our books, wine, mortadella and food and wine tours.

Learn more about Orsi San Vito Winery here

Book a food & wine tour with Alessandro and Italian Days here