On a Saturday night, a couple of weeks ago, Massimo Bottura kindly talked a group of friends into relinquishing their table in the restaurant (they graciously accepted a table in his experimental kitchen instead).
The kitchen team were in high spirits having been awarded a much coveted third Michelin star only days before, the quiet streets of Medieval Modena erupting with cries of delight when Massimo reunited with two of his team freshly returned from Cook It Raw Japan.
Once inside the restaurant however all was calm, bar the bubbling excitement of the lucky 11 tables in anticipation of the meal ahead.
The restaurant is simple, the tables wide set. It would be monastic were it not for the abundance of contemporary art that covers walls, adorns plinths and greets diners at every turn of the head. Like the plates that follow, it challenges and inspires, comforts and nourishes.
Leaving my choices in the chef’s hands I was treated to a selection of classic dishes, all of which had their roots in Emilia Romagna tradition and their extremities in his dreams. I was to experience a lifetime’s contemplation of flavour.
There are no fireworks that’s not Massimo’s style, technique is usurped by simplicity. Had I not poked my nose behind the scenes before sitting down, I would never have appreciated the toil that lay behind every immaculate dish.
I thought I knew Italian food. It turns out that I have a lot to learn but with Massimo as my guide it’s sure to be an adventure.
The “mortadella sandwich” is missing from the gallery below as is a spoonful of creamy leeks with shaved black truffles and a pre-dessert vin brûlée. The pictures were taken by Paolo Terzi and Per-Anders Jorgensen.