Ryan, Sami, and I cooked our breakfast in our Modena hostel before leaving for Parma. We prepared our giant cheese-filled tortelloni from the market with pesto; cheesy-noodles with pesto; grape tomatoes; sausage; bread; peaches; and tea – and everything was exquisitely delicious.
The three of us returned the car and then took the train to Parma, which cost just €7 or so and took 20 minutes. The Parma train station was nothing like I remembered from 2008, with so many new shops and structures. We tried to find a left-luggage area, but in the renovation, the left-luggage lockers were gone. He went to buy his train ticket to Milan for later that day, but the train was sold out and so he had to leave on the train that left in just 15 minutes! We sat in the train station cafe, eating lusciously fluffy lemon and coffee cream-ices (not ice cream, though) until his train arrived. Then, once again, it was just Ryan and me.
The two of us walked to old town Parma, and found the Saturday bazaar in full swing, where vendors sold cheap shoes and boxes of bras. We walked in the heat by the field opposite the Mrs Napoleon museum that Tomiko and I had visited back in 2008. It was now getting to be lunchtime, so we found a little degustation restaurant that served horse meat (and was just two blocks away from the horse butcher). We sat inside the air-conditioned bistro, underneath a couple dozen Parma hams hanging in the rafters.
We ordered the local Lambrusco wine, a sparkling red wine served chilled, that Mr Caselli said helps to wash down the fatty Emilia-Romagna meals. Ryan and I split a salad with purple chicory, arugula, tomatoes, anchovies, and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – absolutely delicious! After the salad, I was tempted by all those Parma hams hanging above our heads, and the fact that we were in Parma, and that I was no longer vegetarian, so Ryan and I shared a charcuterie board of Parma ham (prosciutto crudo de Parma), aged 30 months. It was sliced very thinly and was so buttery soft – the meat and fat almost had the same texture, with a salty, porky, umami flavour. We slowly ate it up, savouring every bite, and I was now satisfied.
The bistro was small, with just a few tables, but was full of locals that were on their lunch break. You know you’ve found a good restaurant when you’re surrounded by Italians!
After our lunch, we continued to wander the streets, but Parma was eerily empty and many of the stores were closed, and the market had ended too. We rested our feet at a gelateria where Ryan got something fruity and I got scoops of stracciatella and tiramisu gelato, and we sat on a bench outside the gelateria and watched people go by. When we were well-rested, we walked back to the station and got a train back to Modena, where we stayed the night before leaving for Bologna the next day.