Friday 18 January 2019

Neven Maguire's Modena - 'a cross between Galway and Sligo'


On the trail of Italian food: Neven Maguire
On the trail of Italian food: Neven Maguire

Sarah Caden

When I was filming my latest TV series in Italy, Modena was the place that impressed me most. For a foodie, it's heaven.

Modena is what I'd call a cross between Galway and Sligo, as it's sort of halfway between a city and a large town. It's also the home of balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano-Reggiano, so the first thing I'd do is go somewhere for a glass of wine and a serving of Parmesan that you dip into a little bowl of balsamic. Gorgeous, and I'd never seen that anywhere before.

The food market is the centre of Modena for me. You could spend hours there, and Modena is a lovely place to walk around, with a sort of mini leaning tower of its own.

Osteria Francescana in Modena was voted the best restaurant in the world in 2016. I was ringing for months before I was going to be in Modena, trying to get a table. When they eventually rang back and said they had one, I nearly wet myself with excitement. I brought my producer, David Hare, and I'd recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

There is a Michelin- star restaurant called L'Erba del Re, and the chef there did the most amazing risotto for me. No onion, no garlic, no wine; instead, it was drizzled with Parmesan-infused milk at the very end. I came home and started doing my risotto that way.

Down the road, the same chef, Luca Marchini, has Trattoria Pomposa. I had the best bolognese ragu of my life there, with pappardelle, the way the Italians do it. I'll fly back there with the family for that ragu alone.

'Neven's Italian Food Trails' is on at 7pm, Thursday, RTE One

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