Mercato coperto di via Albinelli
You can see the culture of a people in a market, and this is a beautiful example of Emilia Romagna. You can find every type of fish from the Adriatic – mackerel, eel from Comacchio; all the different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar; suckling pigs; chickens; breads. Don’t miss Bar Sciavoni, where you can eat cotechino, a traditional sausage, served here sliced in toasted bread with parsley, capers, vinegar, a little bit of sugar and spice.
Mercato Albinelli, 13 Via Luigi Albinelli, Modena; www.mercatoalbinelli.it
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This is my favourite place in the Modena region to go direct to the cheesemaker. The business was created 25 years ago by a very intelligent entrepreneur whose dream was to make Parmigiano Reggiano. Everything is organic; and as well as prized Parmigiano they also make butter and yoghurt. They play Mozart to the cows as they believe it helps them to relax; when cattle are stressed they produce bad milk.
Shop open Mon-Fri 9am-12noon, 3pm-6pm; Sat 9am-12.30pm.
320 Via Corletto Sud; www.hombre.it
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Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale di Spilamberto
This is a non-profit organisation where you can buy traditional balsamic vinegar, based in the medieval village where it was supposedly first made. As well as the museum, you can taste the real thing from the barrels, following the evolution of different aged vinegars; some are 55, 60 years old.
Consorteria dell’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Spilamberto, 28 Via Roncati, Spilamberto; www.museodelbalsamicotradizionale.org
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In the middle of Via Farini is this old drogheria, which has been there since the 17th century. It is one of many beautiful artisan stores in downtown Modena. They sell the best of everything – cheese, salumi and wine – and it is run by very knowledgeable owners.
75 Via Farini, Modena; www.hosteriagiusti.it
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Crescenteria La Chersenta
Tigella is a small flatbread that you cook between two stones and it gets very crunchy on the surface and soft in the middle. In front of the market, this little place has no sit-down tables, but they serve tigelle that are very well made. You put a little bit of fresh prosciutto or creamy melting cheese inside; you can also serve it with aged Parmigiano and lardo, with a little bit of garlic and rosemary.
379 Via Giardini, Modena; www.lachersenta.it
Interview: Natalie Whittle
Massimo Bottura is chef-patron at Osteria Francescana, Modena; www.osteriafrancescana.it