This blog post is by far the most special for me because it’s been written by the biggest food & travel enthusiast I know, my husband, my travel buddy, Rajeev!
Rajeev spends countless hours planning and doing profound research before all our holidays because he believes in having the most authentic experience in any holiday destination we choose to explore.
He strongly believes in both-> traveling like a local and indulging in extravagance 😉
He’s just the kind of travel buddy every person on this planet would want. Read all about his BIG 30th birthday trip… from the man himself!
Casa Maria Luigia & Osteria Francescana, a THREE MICHELIN STAR wonder
A little back-drop
Late last year, when Aakansha and I were jubilant about our forthcoming 2nd anniversary trip to Zell Am See, Budapest and Prague, my sweet wife shocked me by planning and booking a trip to Italy for my 30th birthday. I had long ago confessed my obsession with Italy to her. I had, for the longest time, harboured a desire to visit Florence to indulge in its magnificent architecture and food. I also wanted to visit the Ferrari factory at Modena and walk around the culinary city of Bologna.
As per Aakansha’s plan, my 30th birthday was to be celebrated in Modena with a luxurious stay at Casa Maria Luigia (more on this stunning property below), an indulging meal at Osteria Francescana prepared by none other than, Chef Massimo Bottura and a guided tour of the Ferrari factory with an F1 simulator experience.
Who is Massimo Bottura?
Sometime in 2019, I watched an episode of a docu-series on Netflix about Chef Massimo Bottura and his three Michelin star restaurant Osteria Francescana (Chef’s Table Season 1 Episode 1). In 2016 and 2018, the restaurant was named as the best restaurant in the world in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Osteria Francescana is also the first Italian restaurant to hold this coveted position.
Massimo Bottura was born and raised in Modena and developed a passion for cooking while watching his mother and grandmother in the kitchen. He is one of the pioneers of modern Italian cuisine and through his non-profit organization (Food for Soul) advocates equitable food systems around the world. I implore everyone to watch Theater of Life (another Netflix documentary) for the heart-warming story behind Food for Soul. If you need any more proof of Massimo Bottura’s culinary finesse and ingenuity, let me tell you that he has worked with Alain Ducasse and Ferran Adrià (of El Bulli).
Casa Maria Luigia
After spending 2 incredible days exploring and eating around Florence, we arrived at Casa Maria Luigia in the suburbs of Modena. The property was acquired by Chef Massimo and his wife with the intention of turning it into a bed and breakfast. Every corner of this beautiful country house has been designed for comfort and decorated with contemporary artwork and sculptures. We spent our first afternoon settling in and exploring every nook and corner of this mesmerizing property.
Our deluxe room:
A little bit of Massimo everywhere:
Landscaped gardens and endless walking paths:
Lip-smacking food at Casa Maria:
Meeting Chef Massimo’s family:
Osteria Francescana……a dream come true
Arriving at Osteria Francescana is nothing like you would imagine. The restaurant is set in the alleyways of Modena, away from all the major piazzas (Italian for town squares) and shopping streets. If you were to walk by the restaurant without knowing about it, you probably wouldn’t afford it a second look.
We arrived about an hour before our reservation to explore the town of Modena and walked around for a few minutes before heading to the restaurant. On the way to the restaurant, we spotted Chef Massimo walking towards his car (a Maserati, obviously). Then something amazing and heart-warming happened. The moment he spotted us, he knew we were headed towards the restaurant and waved at us. He also let us know that he would be joining us in a while. This instantly put us in the best mood possible for our dinner at Osteria Francescana.
A culinary journey
We opted for the 12-course menu and suffice to say, it was the most exquisite and intricate culinary experience we’ve ever had. Each dish was flavourful, tantalizing and crafted with the best ingredients Italy had to offer.
Oh and this deliciousness was washed down with an excellent selection of wines that the sommelier was more than happy to recommend. Here are some of the courses from our menu:
The “maestro” himself…….
Halfway through our meal, the maestro himself walked into the room and spent a few minutes chatting with all the diners at their tables. He was extremely welcoming and excited for us to be there and after we told him we were huge fans of his Food for Soul initiative, he told us that he would be on his way to Rio De Janeiro soon to open a refettorio.
Meeting Chef Massimo was unquestionably the highlight of our trip. Aakansha had a fangirl moment when she asked Chef Massimo if she could hug him and he graciously obliged.
The two days we spent in Modena, indulging in everything Chef Massimo and his team at Osteria Francescana and Casa Maria Luigia have concocted were undoubtedly the best two days of our lives. Aakansha and I would love to hear your thoughts about this blog post.
Do leave your feedback in the comments below! Since Rajeev is so so so so passionate about traveling, I want him to take over the travel section of this blog! 😉