Circolo della Caccia has a well-known restaurant for the exclusive use of its members. The restaurant is open from 12.30 to 3 pm and from 7.30 to 10.00 pm. The opening times detailed above may be extended on request, within reasonable limits, from members.
Circolo della Caccia’s cuisine
Circolo della Caccia’s cuisine has a strong focus on natural methods: its chefs cook “like Grandma when she has the grandchildren over for tea”. Healthy cuisine, nothing more than normal seasoning, nothing that could do any harm. The chefs do their own shopping, choosing only the best of strictly natural, seasonal products. The most prominent events include guest appearances of chefs from Monte Carlo and other famous people from the world of haute cuisine, such as Gualtiero Marchesi or the team from Frasca in Castrocaro Terme. There are also plenty of themed dinners… Circolo della Caccia and cuisine are an enviable combination and some of the best chefs offer members and their illustrious guests a cuisine that uses mainly seasonal and natural produce, purchased with great attention to detail and prepared in a simple but sublime manner. Yes, because it is home to gastronomic traditions protected and reserved by every one of us. Recipes are handed down through the generations and constantly reworked, a process that takes place in domestic kitchens: mothers, wives, daughters, grandmas, aunts and nieces Thus each home has its own dishes, closely guarded recipes that have been handed down through generations and are therefore part of that family’s tradition and only that family. These valuable documents of culinary art are duly and faithfully prepared so they become the cultural heritage of all.
Everybody at table. I think that, from the darkest to the most solar days, Bologna history proceeds with this maliciously repetitive paragraph time and again. Everybody at table. Always, anywhere and anyway. Civilisation of the table. In the Middle Ages, too? And why not, when may be the table- cloth serves to the guests to clean their hands and mouth, when the meals, should they be rich or frugal, are served at 10 o’clock in the morning and at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon, when every guest throws himself with his wood spoon onto the tureen brimming with the soup, when the poor wretches live with a scrap of rye bread, a small slice of lard, the grasses and the legumes of the field, and the rich feast on three-course with three dishes at a time, cold meat, roast meat, stuffed meat-based accompanied by meat pies and cheese.
For the wedding of Bonifacio and Beatrice di Canossa, Matilde’s mother, they feast on three months. Dozzinone, chronicler friar, tells fabulous things. “…the drugs were not flogged into the mortars, but grounded as grain of the water-mills. They drew the wine from a deep well, a silver bucket was dangling on a chain, of silver as well, with which they just drew both the very sweet potion and the wine. A horse brought amphoras and dishes to the dining table and the silver and gold-plate shone: here kettledrums and citterns resonate.
Sixteenth century: the kitchen fills with cooks, carvers, shorts, cupbearers, confectioners, the table becomes a “Status symbol”, image of those ones who are well-of. For the wedding breakfast of Annibale Bentivoglio, six hundred hectolitres of wine and ten quintals of meat, game excluded.
And the banquets of beginning and end of gonfaloniership… In 1500s, but also in 1600-1700s.
A privilege for the guests, an occasion for the servants or “yeomen”, a manna for the “fruiterers”, the grocers, the “butches”, the “poulterers”, the “lard-sellers”, the “fishmongers”, the “cooks who cooked the meal”.
Then Cardinal Legate came: intemperate appetites, wealthy banquets. Some, even simply at level of noble family names, remained unforgettable, as that one offered by the Count Zini in 1739, who proposed only a four-course dinner, but each of them included from 12 to 14 dishes. At that time they are not used to make mass “screening” for the cholesterol. They passed from this to the world to come at a stroke. Even if few were the called and even less the elect, whilst the people did everything so that they could eat something, at least the necessary to live. May be the onions, those were really rather copious, provided that Charles De Brosses in his “Lettres familières sur l’Italie” (1799) says that “he saw mountains of them in the square, which were high neither more nor less as the Pyrenees”.
The gastronomy history has always been written on the side of the Palace, of the rich, never, or hardly ever, on the other side. But the history is always “double face”. The other….a blow-out, only “una tantum” and may be ordered.
At the French entry in Bologna, and then in honour of the newborn Cisalpina Republic, big feast for everybody. It is proposed by the citizen Giuseppe Vincenti at the Big Constitutional Club on 25th March (14th January 1798): “every wealthy citizen leads another citizen into the square, but he has to be poor, this last one will have dinner beside him, he will serve him, hug him and in fact he will give an attestation of true democracy”. On 25th April Piazza Maggiore was unrecognisable with all those prepared tables where rich and poor stay together, served by the troops of the National Guard. Dishes, strokes and even kisses. Tender and sensible scene, an impromptu chronicler commented, or what’s going by the “palace” for once.
By the nineteenth century, Bologna turns the page. The table expands…”urbi et orbi, even if, as it is natural, they are the noble and legatine symposiums which are newsworthy, first alone, and then with others with the most different figures.
They eat everywhere. In the theatre , too. At the Nosadella, so to speak and in witness of Antonio Fidocchi, the Bolognese people reached the theatre with the bagfuls full of macaroni, tortellini, cakes, cheese, sausage, roasts, fruit, flasks and bottles of wine and the unfailing “brazadèla” (doughnut). At the Teatro S. Saverio (today Duse) in via Cartoleria Vecchia, during the intervals some vendors get around the public with baskets of cooked cotechino, sausages and roasted sparrows, while others bring around the “means”, the “little leaves” and litres of new wine, “fess com’è mnestra” (thick as the soup).
They eat at the theatre, but also outside thank goodness and the time news, from which Alessandro Cervellati gets completely information for his “fat Bologna”, a big tapestry of that time, engages not only on plebeian appetites but also on other status…
On 4th December 1876 the “Rienzi” is staged at the Comunale and the municipality gives a banquet in honour of Riccardo Wagner who is in Bologna with his wife Cosima. Big feast at the Italia Hotel. It is known that Wagner has here a party of unassailable musicophiles.
Wagner, Verdi: myth against myth. Suffice it to say that at a dinner of the masses engaged in “Lohegrin”, a swan knight brings the shapes of a doughnut. It is a work of Geremia Viscardi of the prize-winning Viscardi Confectionery.
On the contrary, the wealthy and… genuine Bolognese cooking does not feel in the same class…of their Highnesses, the King Umberto and the queen Margherita, who are visiting the town on 5th November 1878 and it prepares a Parisian menu…with “potage de veau”, foie-gras à l’aspice” and so on.
On the other hand, at the Brun Hotel they refrained from putting local dishes into the menu of the big banquets, but rather English potage, Dutch cauliflowers, woodcocks in truffle sauce and Wiener cakes.
Therefore where does the true Bolognese cooking hide?
In the “palace” is the answer of Giorgio Maioli in his book “Città della tavola a Bologna” written together with Giancarlo Roversi, “where also in this century the tables laid for famous Anphytrions as the marquis Tanari, the countess Gozzardini, the count Giovanni Malvezzi, or Lady Maria Hercolani, or the count Dionisio Talon Sampieri, or the prince of Montpensier or may be Liza Otway remain famous”; this last was a rich English lady who turned back on the plum-cake for the “brazadèla”.
Between this palace cooking and that one of more popular levels, there is the middle-class cooking rich of meats and seasonings. Bologna the fat is not a stereotype, but a reality. A wealthy town, then. “To those ones who wanted to know why there is so much misery in a fat town –the erudite Carlo Finelli wrote yet in 1839 – you could answer, just for the reason that there is the same again of richness”. More obvious than so!
“Some dishes – Maioli asserts – become the symbol itself of the town: the soups, the boiled meats and the fry-ups. And it is in this moment, while the lights and colours of the Belle Epoque are blowing out, that the tortellino, after having floated through the centuries, under different shapes, served with sugar and cinnamon or laced in the capon stock, acquires its place definitively, with the tagliatella and the lasagne”.
1888 comes. It is the year of the Emilian Exhibition and of the VIII Centenary of the University. And these things always turn out the same way. Psalms and salmìs, may be with Carducci officiating. Mind and teeth work. Bologna lives its quiet province life. The signs “excellent cooking and choice wines” squander.
There is even a Magnonica Lodge and, shouldn’t this be sufficient, they establish the square table of the Rospos Volante (TQRV) and it chooses its domicile at the “Chianti”, a place, where the tenants stock on the Tuscan farms of Renato Fucini. An original brotherhood, there are no two ways about it. All the possible opinions and trends find there place and voice, the others not excluded, as Oreste Cenacchi notes hilariously in “Vecchia Bologna”, conservative and radical, clerical and revolutionary, monarchical and republican.
Old Bologna, town of inns and corporative-cafés. And you have only to choose. And who can go to the Club. The upper-class Bologna frequents the “Domino” in via Castiglione. Timetable from 9 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock after midnight, but in every case while members last. The Club nature is strongly elitist: 100 lire the enrolment fee and 15 lire a month for the founders, 50 of admission and 10 lire a month for the associates.
Serious figures, there are no two ways about it. The Bolognese Club is completely particular, real headquarter of the “gros bonnets” of the moderate party where they make and undo deputies and councillors. An other Club joins the other existing ones, the Hunting Club, that seventeen founders stand godfather on 11th October 1888. There is already a “Café dei Cacciatori” but also the students go there. Here the place is exclusive. The society puts the following in the statute: “The Club is established with the aim to attend to what is concerning the interests of hunting in Bologna province and to provide its members for an useful and pleasing meeting”. The walls of its seat in via Castiglione document it with iconography: a dog with a bird into the mouth, a bustard (Australian turkey, they say to me) a wild pig mauled by the dogs. The hunting activity is the fix topic of every conversation. They have the hunting in the blood. They speak about livid sunrises and withering wind, about dogs and birds, unassailable shots and fulminating spongers of rakes in the pinewood, about gunshots exact as embroideries and about old valley wolfs. Tales with the pipe, adventures between truth and imagination accompanied by heavy potations. But to be allowed to eat something without being obliged to go out from the Club, it is necessary to turn the century, just a stride forward. The cooking has a birth date: 1901. It is true, even those ones of the “Accademia de la lira”, the wild, lively, rebel sodality established in 1878, were of no fixed abode and the restaurants were in competition to offer themselves, but the artists, it is known, have always few money and they do not count. Neither Augusto Majani, the painter Nasica, who still lives with his successful caricatures. Therefore a cooking for the “habitués” who made their second home in the Club. Earthly Club rather than not, the members participate to the dances with the red tailcoat of the fox hunters. The “green” are yet to come. And if the gentlemen meet in Clubs, the people animate mutual aid Societies and local Clubs.
Enrico Zironi will write on “Il muratore”, organ of the building working class, dipping the pen in the class struggle, associations of “mutual incensation”, on one side and “mutual aid” on the other side. The aim of the first one’s members is clear: he notes: “to flatter each other and to study the most suitable ways in order to occupy the main posts in the country”. The interested parties let say….A town on display. The hunting cooking, I said. And I stop. I can only imagine how it was because it lacks of any anchor, that one on which every history appeals. There is not only a good-for-nothing in the files (neither a written menu), but in the meantime the witnesses disappeared.
And logically, as someone said, the history does not exist, only the biography.
The vacuum is big: 30-40 years, the Club of Murri, Massarenti, Mazzacorati, the Club that in 1939 makes Benito Mussolini as honorary member in good company with Dino Grandi, Luigi Federzoni, His Highness the Prince Alberto di Savoia, Duke of Bergamo does not leave any written scar behind him.
The cooking is every time that one of the social dinners, with the game as protagonist or of the ordinary meetings on the tradition stave, but the Bolognese tradition, as the Club has not and will never have one of it, preferring to conform to the menu proposed by the members.
Two wars pass and the Club remains. The second one ends and the allied Commando elects it as its own seat. The Chairman obtains the use of half-premises. They have dinner…on the billiard tables, in the evening, when the play ends. A sheet, a table-cloth up and…dinner’s ready. The lampshades with their soft lights create atmosphere. The cinema will use them twenty years later for the Murri case. Finally some period “menu”. Three, in succession, dated July 1948. The proposal is a fix price dinner and a dinner à la carte. The first one: macaroni, t-bone steak, a bread, fruit or cheese. Lire 350. The second one plays on five first-courses (stock rice and chicken livers L. 100, tagliarini in the stock L. 75, royal soup L. 100, tagliatelle alla Bolognese L. 140, couch with butter and tomato L. 140) and as much as eight second-courses (fried sole L. 330, patchcock L. 350, of boiled chicken L. 300, steak L. 300, calf sirloin steak L. 280, tuna calf L. 320, galatina with jelly L. 320, ham and melon L. 250). Side-dishes: potatoes, marrows, beans, tomatoes L. 70, green salad L. 50. Dessert: peaches, pears, plums S.Q., peaches in syrup S.Q.
The other two menu vary of a little bit.
The witness – protagonist of the group portrait in an interior is Rino Grandi. He appears to the scene on 2nd January 1952. “Outside there was a so thick snow”, he tells “and the fear I had in my heart was even thicker. Yes, I was a domestic as walk of life, but for inn, not for a place of so high pretensions. I came from the military service and I was twenty years old, prepared for anything, less than to entry into the society. All those gentlemen intimated me. The first month passes and the ideas become clearer. I can cope, I say to myself, I have to achieve. And so it was. In driblet the Club entered in my life. Now I am more exigent than the members and the relation is of a big reciprocal respect”. Rino remembers. And the same Gino Baldoni, age group 74. For the hunting of course.
“There was nowadays – it’s always Gino who tells – a secretary who had no equal, I think. Ferri, perpetual secretary. He and the Club were the same thing. And he wanted the Club ordered and cleaned as a mirror. He knew to let him obey. Every afternoon he let him bring by Enrico Zarri, the butler of the past, very pleasant figure, a little book where the previous evening he noted the things to do, as “remove the cobwebs in sale-room no. 4”, “call to Calisto, the electrician for that socket to repair”, “let Vignoli, the carpenter, come because that chair cannot always limp” and so on. After having read the whole, he asked that they took back with the workpeople before him lined up to attention, five or six persons. Ferri was an astute: the statement served him as pretext to inspect butlers and servants: that button which flakes is ugly, why have you not polished the shoes, today ? Don’t you know that the nails have to be cut or do you come up in this way to wait at table? It was a daily rite, came what way”.
Also the treasurer Rino Bortignoni moved on equal: “he was an accountant and he claimed a greater economy”.
Over 36 years Rino has seen many things and persons. He feels a sort of orchestra conductor and he wants this orchestra perfectly amalgamated, from the cooking, where Paola and Cesarina work with their experience and fantasy, to the sale-room where together with Gino Balboni and Edoardo Roffi he whets the guests’ appetite. Who knows how much and how does the cooking change even here over 36 years? A real revolution from when 22 years before the secretary councillor professor Coppola thought to introduce, in tune with the members, the dinners in addition to the social ones, to the Club feasts, to the daily breakfast. “Dinners meant dinners on behalf of industrialists, physicians, politicians, of the polite society, we say, no more willing to open their houses to the guests for a convivial meeting. Too much engagement for the ladies, too much struggle. And than, they are able to make cooking at the Club. And at table, a table prepared according to the Amphitryon’s taste, there is who serves you with a great style. Who writes can be a good witness of the last twenty years for the few occasions he had, one more pleased than the other. High, refined cooking. The “Flan” of the hunting, the “semifreddi” make the history. They stand up to any comparison, I think. A wealthy and simple food. Some menu out of the hat. This one in honour of the Chief of Staff of the Army, General of Army Corps Andrea Cucino on 9th June 1977 proposes: appetizer, Langhirano ham, tagliatelle alla Bolognese, beef undercut with cognac, asparagus tops, gratiné tomatoes, bowl ice-cream, fruit baskets. Wines: Trebbiano and Sangiovese.
Winter symposium of the Italian Academy of the cooking, on 2nd March 1975: polenta flavoured with cheese at Giulia, oven roasted chicken livers, milk roast saddle, milk potatoes and fennels, spring salad, coffee semifreddo, coffee. Wines: Rosso Armentano, Malvasia. Other meeting on 12th September 1986; caviar baskets at Geoffrey, autumn tartines, flute champenois; from the kitchens: sweet peppers of Cuneo cooked au gratin, home garganelli of Francesco, aromatic marrows and carrots, roast guinea-fowl with mushrooms of Montello, cheese with honey, semifreddi of the Club, coffee, bread of the Bolognese bakers; from the wineries: Sangiovese “Rocca di Bertinoro” 1984 and 1985, Bellavista 1982, Champenois Method.
A dinner for fine palates, there are no two ways about it.
Dinners aside, how does a menu arise? If it is not the result of specific orders, the Chef gives the idea of the dishes to make. And this every morning, in view of satisfying 25 - 30 table-settings at table every single day.