Food & Travel Guide to Emilia Romagna, Italy – What to See, Eat & Do

Italy

Trace the origin of any Italian ingredient and you will somehow end up in Emilia Romagna. Mention the name to any well-deserving Italian chef and they would talk for ages, about the “sensational Parmigiano Reggiano”, the “noble Culatello”, the “Balsamico Vinegar, smooth as velvet”. The list just goes on. It is where the most Italian of all Italian food comes from, and the most quintessential. In Emilia Romagna, there is no festival. There is only the feast. And so, the gastronomic adventure in Italy’s eating table begins. 

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PARMA

In Parma, the practice of ham-making practice is a tale as old as time. It is here, near the Po Valley, where the luxurious Culatello di Zibello is made. The Bergonzi family at Podere Cadassa has been crafting culatello for decades. In a natural cellar frozen in time, the culatello ages until its flavour is at its fullest. The precious meat is salted and refrigerated, before being placed in the cellar where humidity takes full reign. A walk through the cellar always ends at the family’s restaurant, Al Vèdel. In the kitchen, Chef Enrico arranges thin slices of culatello, from 16 months to 26 months to 38 months, on a perfectly polished porcelain plate. In the evenings, loud chatters emanate from the linen dining tables and red leather booths. Waiters rush to and fro tables to shave black truffles on ox tartare as a cheese cart trails them. Ravioli is served Colorno style, as Al Vèdel calls it, with pears, grape seeds and pumpkin. 

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MODENA

In Modena, the making of balsamic vinegar is a tradition still preserved at Acetaia Pedroni. Cooked fermented grape must sit in the battery, or barrels, to age for at least 12 years.

The tasting menu gives a small but complete offering of dishes that compliments the balsamic vinegar, but it’s the a la carte menu the locals order from. Vegetable flan with Parmigiano Reggiano cream, ricotta tortelloni and custard cream gelato are dished out before the owner comes over with their treasure – a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Slowly, he dabs the smooth, thick vinegar over the food in carefully measured drops as he smiles with pride. It could be the pride of owning a centuries-old tradition, or the pride of owning the barrels that produce the best balsamic vinegar in the world. Nobody knows. But everyone leaves the osteria in silent agreement that it was a dining experience unlike any other. 

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BOLOGNA

When in Bologna, a few slices of mortadella are in order. Mo Mortadella Lab gives a generous serving of Bologna’s favourite slice in a panini. Go before lunch to avoid the queue of hungry Bolognese. In Bologna, the wining and dining hour eases past the reasonable Italian lunch hour. Armed with a few plates from the local macelleria, you can grab a seat and a mandatory drink at Osteria del Sole where this longtime establishment has a strict bring-your-own-food rule. At one table, a class of students from the nearby university are having a toast with their teachers. At another, an old man sits perched over a notebook as he pens some sentences on the parched paper. Everyone has a glass of something on their table. For dinners, Hostaria San Carlino and Osteria dell’Orsa are perfect for Bolognese classics like tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo.

On any day in Bologna, chefs clamber to Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo located on Via Drapperie. Hundreds of kitchen tools hang on wooden displays from ceiling to floor in this historical shop, any kind you can ever imagine. As a customer rattles off a list, the shop assistant bustles about, grabbing two ravioli stamps, an anolini stamp, a truffle slicer, a gnocchi cutting board and a dozen or so ravioli moulds. It’s a busy day at the Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo. 

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BRISIGHELLA

It’s a whole new world further south in the region. Brisighella is nearer to Ravenna, and so nearer to the coast. There is a very serious seafood scene with restaurants like La Lanterna, where plates heaping with pasta and shellfish are paraded to the tables. Others include La Cavallina and Osteria Pontenono, or Il Portolano and Osteria Il Paiolo in Ravenna.

A few minutes on an unpaved road across a bridge from Brisighella will take you to Azienda Agricola Baccagnano, an agriturismo with a handful of rooms. The owner of the winery, Marco, furnished the modern rooms with vintage finds. In a restored church, guests have a breakfast of croissants, local cheeses and fruits on beautifully-mismatched place settings. 

For views of Brisighella, take a walk from the town center to La Rocca Manfrediana and on to Torre dell’Orologio. The town truly comes alive when celebrating the autumn harvest. People come in droves from the neighbouring houses to gather around the white-top tents where the food – salumi, cheeses, pears, truffles, porcini mushrooms – are proudly boasted by their farmers. There is a band making uproarious music. White-haired Italian men are indulging in a guitar riff on a makeshift stage, crooning the tunes of 80s Italian rock music. Even as night falls and the stalls close, the crowds disappear into the bars. The night is still young. 

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Copenhagen Travel Tips from Shini Park, Founder of Cube Collective

Conversations with Locals

Shini Park is the force behind multi-disciplinary creative agency Cube Collective and the editor-in-chief of Cubicle. Having lived in Copenhagen, her visual collection on Instagram is a journey through the architectural compositions and the sleek chic style of the city’s aesthetics. In this interview, Shini gives her creative perspective on Copenhagen – her restaurant picks, the unmissable design festival and how to explore the design city.

Photo: Shini Park

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Copenhagen without trying? 

Smørrebrød is the classic Danish dish that every traveller must experience in Copenhagen.

What about your favourite restaurants?

I love Louise Roe for coffee in the city, The Audo for great breakfast and working space, and Hija de Sanchez Cantina for the best Mexican food in Europe, honestly! Tigermom in Norrebro is also an amazing foodie experience, make sure to order the chillies paired with courses, and the Pink Tiger Tea cocktail.

What is a typical breakfast in Denmark?

You could get this practically anywhere that serves breakfast, including small cafes, but a Danish classic breakfast would be the simple cheese, butter, rye bread and soft-boiled egg with sea salt and a bit of pepper. It’s one of my favourite things to eat as it awakens all the taste buds, probably why I always insisted on having breakfast meetings!

Photo: Shini Park

What are your favourite design festivals in Copenhagen?

3 Days of Design is my favourite, not only is it a great opportunity to experience the newest and most exciting Danish interior design but it happens exactly at a time of the year when the weather is perfect.

Name one Danish etiquette most travellers miss

Make sure to indicate with your arms when you’ve rented a bicycle to get around – mostly for safety but also a very ‘local’ thing to do.

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Copenhagen

Tivoli or the Copenhagen Zoo are some places I’d recommend for second, or third time visitors, or if you’re staying for a long while.

What’s the perfect itinerary to explore Copenhagen?

Make sure to plan an equal dose of food and interior design, breakfast at Lille Bakery, stroll through Statens Museum for Kunst, or Glyptoteket, then hit up Beau Marche for lunch. Make sure to visit Studio Oliver Gustav for infinite interior design inspirations, or The Audo. Book dinner at Kiin Kiin Bao Bao, and a stroll along the canal to digest.

Name one best kept secret of Copenhagen

Probably not a secret to the locals, but Copenhagen boasts some great beaches! One of my favourites is Bellevue in Hellerup or Faxe Kalkbrud, which is a limestone quarry a little outside the city that you can swim in. It was my favourite summer haunt when I lived in Copenhagen.

What about your favourite spot for a weekend getaway from the city?

Make sure to make your way up to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a 30 to 40 minutes drive away from Copenhagen and mandatory for art and sculpture-lovers.


WHERE TO EAT IN COPENHAGEN


Louise Roe Gallery
Where: Vognmagergade 9, 1120 København, Denmark
For: Coffee

The Audo
Where: Århusgade 130, 2150 København, Denmark
For: Breakfast

Hija de Sanchez Cantina
Where: Hamborg Pl. 5, 2150 København, Denmark
For: Mexican food

Tigermom
Where: Ryesgade 25, 2200 København, Denmark
For: Chillies paired with courses

Lille Bakery
Where: Refshalevej 213A, 1432 København, Denmark
For: Breakfast

Beau Marche
Where: Ny Østergade 32, 1101 København, Denmark
For: Lunch

Kiin Kiin Bao Bao
Where: Vesterbrogade 96, 1620 København, Denmark
For: Modern Asian tapas
 

WHERE TO GO IN COPENHAGEN

Statens Museum for Kunst
Where: Sølvgade 48-50, 1307 København K, Denmark
For: Museums

Glyptoteket
Where: Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København, Denmark
For: Museums

Studio Oliver Gustav
Where: Kastelsvej 18, 2100 København, Denmark
For: Interior design inspiration

Bellevue
Where: Bellevue Beach, Denmark
For: Beaches

Faxe Kalkbrud
Where: Østervej 2, Faxe 4640 Denmark
For: Swimming

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Where: Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
For: Museums

Seoul Travel Tips from Alicia Yoon, Founder of Peach & Lily

Conversations with Locals

South Korean native Alicia Yoon is the founder of the New York-based beauty brand Peach & Lily and the voice for Korean beauty in the US. From her esthetician school days and her frequent trips to search for the latest in Korean beauty, Seoul is like a second home to her. Alicia shares her favourite beauty salons, the culture of elders first and where to eat in Seoul.

Photo: Peach & Lily

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Seoul without trying? 

I love Korean street food. I highly recommend going to a PoJangMaCha (or Pocha for short) which refers to street vendors. They have these vendors in many neighbourhoods but a couple well known ones are in JongRo and Mapo. Grab a seat, grab a soju, and fill up on tteokbbeokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (pancakes filled with melted brown sugar), kimbap (seaweed and rice rolls filled with various meats and veggies), dakkochi (skewered chicken), odeng (fish cakes) and mandu (dumplings). It’s also a fun local experience to sit outdoors, eat and enjoy the night out alongside locals who might be unwinding from their work day with colleagues, friends or family!

What about your favourite restaurants?

Hanchu for fried chicken and beer aka chi-maek in Gangnam. YoungYang Center, synonymous with samgyetang, a healthy soup with a whole chicken in it that’s then filled with rice, jujube and boiled in a broth with ginseng, ginger and various herbs, in Myeongdong where the flagship is, that’s been a popular staple for over 60 years now.

Si Wha Dam in Insadong for modern Korean food that’s presented beautifully and artistically. Before eating here, I love walking around the neighbourhood listening to street music and checking out various art stores. And afterwards, there are plenty of cute cafes to grab traditional tea.

Maple Tree House in Itaewon for Korean barbecue. The meat is delicious as are the soups. And it’s perfectly located to go out for drinks afterwards in vibrant Itaewon. La Yeon for upscale traditional Korean cuisine with a modern cooking style to it. This Michelin 3-Star rated restaurant will serve everything cooked and presented to perfection. Yeonnam 223 Café for the tasty drinks and also a total immersive moment like you’re sitting in an illustrated cute book. I like Stylenanda Café for their pink and blue swimming pool themed cafe with a tasty cotton candy drink. Plant in Itaewon for healthy plant-based snacks with soothing decor. Baesan Warehouse Café where you can get good teas and coffee while exploring contemporary art. Arari Ovene for the most delicious, and beautiful, baked goods.

Where would you go to shop for skincare products?

Garosugil, a neighbourhood comprised of one main tree lined street, with side streets. Various beauty retailers as well as individual beauty brand stores are located along this street. The duty-free beauty stores in Doosan Tower in Dongdaemun. Myeongdong for a fast beauty, Times Square-like experience for road shop mass beauty stores. I recommend going at night when the stores and signs all get lit up.

What about your favourite beauty salons?

I love Skin Lab L by Eco Your Skin and going to the flagship Chungdamdong location. High-tech meets highly personalised skincare, body care, hair care and nail care treatments, expect to leave smiling with glowing skin. And don’t be surprised if you run into someone you might have spotted in a K-Drama or K-pop band. Shangpree women’s only spa, often touted as Korea’s top spa for incredibly transformative facials. Spa Lei, also women’s only, for the Korean bathhouse, or jjimjilbang, experience. Dragon Hill Spa is a co-ed bathhouse that has a bigger, more Disney-world like feel that’s family friendly and a bit more touristy.

Name one South Korean etiquette most travellers miss

I love that Korean culture celebrates and respects their elders. So when there’s an elderly person, it’s polite to defer to them – whether it’s allowing them to enter the door first, pick their subway seat first, pass by first and so forth.

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Seoul

Instead of going to all the places mapped out in tour books, it’s worth spending a day getting lost! Bumbling around on the super clean and efficient subway system and popping into various neighbourhoods and checking out hole in the wall eateries, cafés and stores.

Name one best kept secret of Seoul

I love the hiking trails nearby The Blue House in the neighbouring areas. They aren’t touristy like in Namsan and have delicious local eateries near the trails.

Do you have a skincare tip for travelling?

Depending on where you’re travelling from, it can be a long drying 14 hour flight! Don’t be shy about doing your skincare routine, yes even a sheet mask, on the flight. Your skin will thank you for it. And after landing, try sheet masking each night for a few days straight so stays hydrated which can help prevent it from going haywire during your travels. I highly recommend the hydrating, fragrance-free, alcohol-free, gentle and fast-acting Peach & Lily Original Glow Sheet Mask.


WHERE TO EAT IN SEOUL


Hanchu
Where: 68 Nonhyeon-ro 175-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Fried chicken and beer

YoungYang Center
Where: 25-32 Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Ginseng chicken soup

Si Wha Dam
Where: 13, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03162 South Korea
For: Beautiful Korean food

Maple Tree House
Where: 26, Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 04350 South Korea
For: Korean barbecue

La Yeon
Where: 249 Dongho-ro, Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Upscale dining experience

Yeonnam 223 Café
Where: 223-14 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Drinks

Stylenanda Café
Where: 23 Wausan-ro 29da-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Swimming pool café

Plant
Where: 2 floor, 117 Bogwang-ro, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Plant-based snacks

Baesan Warehouse Café
Where: 322-32 Seongsu 2(i)-ga 1(il)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Tea and coffee

Arari Ovene
Where: Seongsan 1 World cup buk-ro 12an-gil, il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Beautiful baked goods
 

WHERE TO GO IN SEOUL


Garosugil
Where: 06028 Garosu-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Beauty shops


Myeongdong
Where: 66, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Fast beauty experience

Skin Lab L
Where: 80-19 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Beauty treatments

Shangpree
Where: 27, Dosan-daero, 51-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Facials

Spa Lei
Where: 06524 5, Gangnam-daero 107-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For: Sauna