A Travellerspoint blog

October 2014

The best of Parmigaino Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar

two incredible family businesses we visit the Pedroni's & the Panini's

We travel only 20 minutes just down the hill from our village of Castelvetro to the property known as Hombre, one of the most significant Parmigaino producers in all of Italy. We are taken on a guided tour of the dairy, These comments from Wikipedia sum it up perfectly;
It is named after the producing areas, which comprise the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna (only the area to the west of the river Reno), Modena (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia, but only the area to the south of river Po), Italy. Under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled "Parmigiano-Reggiano", and European law classifies the name, as well as the translation "Parmesan", as a protected designation of origin. Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma and Reggiano that for Reggio Emilia. Parmigiano-Reggiano is made from raw cow's milk. The whole milk of the morning milking is mixed with the naturally skimmed milk (which is made by holding milk in large shallow tanks to allow the cream to separate) of the previous evening's milking, resulting in a part skim mixture. This mixture is pumped into copper-lined vats (copper heats and cools quickly). Starter whey (containing a mixture of certain thermophilic lactic acid bacteria) is added, and the temperature is raised to 33-35 °C (91-95 °F). Calf rennet is added, and the mixture is left to curdle for 10–12 minutes. The curd is then broken up mechanically into small pieces (around the size of rice grains). The temperature is then raised to 55 °C (131 °F) with careful control by the cheese-maker. The curd is left to settle for 45–60 minutes. The compacted curd is collected in a piece of muslin before being divided in two and placed in molds. There is 1100 L (291 US gallons or 250 imperial gallons) of milk per vat, producing two cheeses each. The curd making up each wheel at this point weighs around 45 kg (100 lb). The remaining whey in the vat was traditionally used to feed the pigs from which "Prosciutto di Parma" (cured Parma ham) was produced. The barns for these animals were usually just a few yards away from the cheese production
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The cheese is put into a stainless steel, round form that is pulled tight with a spring-powered buckle so the cheese retains its wheel shape. After a day or two, the buckle is released and a plastic belt imprinted numerous times with the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant's number, and month and year of production is put around the cheese and the metal form is buckled tight again. The imprints take hold on the rind of the cheese in about a day and the wheel is then put into a brine bath to absorb salt for 20–25 days. After brining, the wheels are then transferred to the aging rooms in the plant for 12 months. Each cheese is placed on wooden shelves that can be 24 cheeses high by 90 cheeses long or about 4,000 total wheels per aisle. Each cheese and the shelf underneath it is then cleaned manually or robotically every seven days. The cheese is also turned at this
At 12 months, the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects every cheese. The cheese is tested by a master grader whose only instruments are a hammer and his ear. By tapping the wheel at various points, he can identify undesirable cracks and voids within the wheel. Those cheeses that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the Consorzio's logo.
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Those that do not pass the test used to have their rinds marked with lines or crosses all the way around to inform consumers that they are not getting top-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano; more recent practices simply have these lesser rinds stripped of all markings.
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Its worthwhile going to Wikipedia to read the story of this chap , Umberto Panini. The Umberto Panini Classic Car Collection is one of the most fascinating exhibitions dedicated to Maserati. Cars that have made Maserati history and that have been lovingly gathered over the years are housed in a typical building in Cittanova, Modena.

Originally the brainchild of the Maserati brothers and expanded by Omar Orsi, the collection has remained more or less intact to the present day. It is now run by West (a company owned by the Panini family) and includes 23 cars on display and three that are currently undergoing restoration.

After experiencing the end product of this amazing cheese, and wandering through the car museum we depart via the tree lined driveway, and travel only 10 minutes to find our next adventure. This time with the Pedroni family and their prized Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP.
We are shown the process with the grapes coming in whilst we were there, the heating and skin extraction, through to the barrel maturation.

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Then we dine with the Pedroni's enjoying a selection of local anti Pasta's, their own wines and a selection from the region followed by local Grappa.

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we have also done the markets in preparation for tomorrows cooking school,however i will save that for the next episode.

Posted by Bruco 16:47 Archived in Italy Tagged food wine romagna cheese balsamic Comments (0)

travelling to fast car country of Maranello

Ferrari's, Prosciutto, and the village of Caselvetro

We are heading north back on the coast before moving inland at Rimini and along the motorway toward Bologna. and into Maranello, the home town of Ferrari. every minute or so there is a test driven car passing us at some amazing speed, regardless of the 60 zone we were in.
By this stage we had had the opportunity to visit the Consorzia del Prosciutto di Modena. I have never seen so many hams being aged in one area. Parma is the well known Prosciutto producer, but this place rivals the quality.

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After a tasting of the aged produce we move to meet those who have been test driving Ferrari's in the heart of Ferrari territory before heading to Ristarante Montana in the heart of Maranello for a wonderful lunch including some amazing salads, pasta's of course, and desserts to die for. Photos with Michael Schumacher and all the Ferrari sales people , very nice. The village of Maranello would be nothing without Ferrari. Having said that there is a very big area dedicated to the Ceramics that are world famous from this area.
We then head to the village of Castelvetro, where our home for the next few nights is the Hotel Locanda del Fuedo, located in a beautiful little hilltop town not far from Modena (not modeena we are reminded)

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For some of us its an early night, time to explore this little village before retiring to bed. We have the whole hotel booked, all 8 rooms, its very cute, and boasts a Michelin Star restaurant which we will be trying out tomorrow night. But before that we have a a day of Parmesan, balsamic vinegar, Motor cars, and a lunch of all things Balsamic.

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Posted by Bruco 07:06 Archived in Italy Tagged romagna vinegar prosciutto parmigiano emilia reggiano balsamic Comments (0)

A Day in the Olive Groves

organic olive oils, and a long lunch in the grove

Another perfect day unfolds in Monterado, and an early morning walk discovers deer on the hillside below the Castello di Monterado, grazing in the clearings of the forest that surround the castle.
After another breakfast prepared in the ancient kitchens we gather for our Olive Oil masterclass. Time for some education, time to taste. The class is led by our guide and olive oil grower Andreas who is joined by Giordano Galiardi who shares his organic philosophy on the very local industry. We are blessed to have two of the best to guide us through the process, and the history, in this special place.

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From the field to the frantoio >>the oil mill>> there is a specific process to make olive oil beginning with the shaking of the trees to gently release the fruit from the branches during the harvest season ( which was about to start in 10 days time) between October and Dec, depending on variety.
The olives are then cleaned put into the frantoio which presses and crushes the fruit, then separates the liquid, the water from the solids , and the oil.
we are then shown how to pick the good from the ordinary, the old from the new,

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The oils from Cartoceto are all good, but Galliardo's are superb. His estate is currently being transformed into an Olive Oil destination, equipped with a full processing plant, and like his products his buildings are constructed with care, using natural cork , from the region, stones from the nearby mountains, so history is being used to recreate. Giordano Galliardi is working to transform Catoceto's olive oil industry and with his passion he is certainly achieving. His oils are not yet widely available but definitely take time to visit if you travel through this region.
After the tasting workshop its time to head out to Andreas' grove, to meet the family, and kick back for a fun afternoon of wining and dining>>> again. I think i will let the pics tell the story. Suffice to say we had a wonderful afternoon, not one that could be bought as a normal traveller, so thanks to Benfatti, this is what we enjoyed , some more than others !!
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A great afternoon, thanks to Andreas Tomasetti & family and friends.
We head back to Monterado for a quiet night. Our final night here before heading north again

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Posted by Bruco 23:40 Archived in Italy Tagged food wine oil olive monterado Comments (0)

A wine & local food festival in Monterado,

Wines Olive Oils, and and lunch in the Olive Groves

Our stay at Castello di Monterado in Ancona coincides with a wine and food tasting in the historic cellars of the castle. A perfect opportunity to taste the best the of the regional produce. We see the wonderful folk from Terre di San Ginesio , who produce the delicious Sapa , made purely from grapes and continuous boiling of the must to produce a sweet viscous drop that can be used to dress cheese, fruits, icecream, or salads. Quite different, and seriously delicious, and available through Benfatti in Brisbane. They also make a great range of wines, all tasted tonight. If we get back we will definitely visit the family Baleani.
The evening is spent tasting Salami's, local beers ( with hops from the USA ?? strange ), wines, truffles, truffles and chocolate, olive oils, more wines, honey,and learning just how much amazing product comes from Le Marche.

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We were then invited by the producers to join them for dinner at a nearby Trattoria , and a fantastic evening was had by all, making new friends, planning next visits, and consuming copious quantities of wonderful wines.

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Then a quick stroll back to a castle on the hill , some research on the local Olive Oil industry as tomorrow we attend an Olive Oil workshop. Sounds serious, and looking forward to it , starts after breakfast so a chance to try the freshly baked pies they make each morning.

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Posted by Bruco 06:37 Archived in Italy Tagged castles italy marche wine le oil olive Comments (0)

Truffles - Honey - Caves & Oil

traveling from Ascoli Piceno to Monterado

After the incredible day of the Truffle we gather in the main Piazza in Ascoli for dinner at possibly the most famous Cafe Meletti, hosted by the Staffolani family.

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Its another festive night with entertainment provided by local musicians. Just some light platters of delicious food and a selection of local wines including a local Prosecco. Cafe Moletti sits on one corner of the main piazza in the old town,Piazza Del Popolo a beautiful setting, its a bar and cafe downstairs, with a great wine list, all local, some interesting beers, and a very good menu. Definitely worth a visit, day or night, very traditional, great for people watching.
A good walk after dinner as the night cools down. Early night before an early start.

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We are up and away after 30 minutes delay to extricate the cars from a packed car park.We head north down to the coast and back inland to visit the famous caves of Frasassi Le Marche. 30 klms of majestic caves only discovered some 50 years ago.

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After two hours with a guide through the caves we are back on board and heading to meet Giorgio Poeta, at Punto Vendita, who makes honey aged in Barrels.
We are hosted a memorable lunch in his new headquarters which featured dishes finished with honey, cheese with honey meade , both dry & sweet, the ricotta drizzled with honey was amazing .

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Another hour heading north again, this time to our own castle accommodation in Monterado, Castello Monterado.
Located 20 minutes inland from Senigallia the castle dominates the landscape in the hilltop village of Monterado. Outstanding property. It has recently been opened to the public with the main Castle offering about 7 rooms, massive in size, as well as 6 beautiful houses in the town centre right beside the castle
Taken from their website http://www.castellodimonterado.it/ This ancient residence is perched on top of one of the many hills characterizin the Marche, it is surrounded by an Italian-style garden and a vast wood. The views are truly charming, they extend over the Cesano valley, stretching from the Appennines to the Adriatic sea. We are delighted to invite you into our lavish halls and suites, adorned by the exquisite nineteenth century frescoes of Corrado Corradi, one of the most renowned artists of our region.
Here, in this noble castle, Prince Maximilian de Beauharnais, nephew of Napoleon the first, chose to spend his honeymoon after the celebration of his marriage to the daughter of Czar Alexander of Russia.
The inside of the palace was decorated, upon his order, for the important occasion.
The former cellars, built within the bastions of the castle, consisting of spacious galleries with vaulted ceilings, open up to the garden. These refined and impressive surroundings have been restored to bring them back to their ancient beauty.

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We have a couple of hours to explore the village and the Castle its self, not enough time but tonight we will be in the cellars where 20 + local producers are coming in for a Wine & Food festival , held once a year, and guess what , we are invited. Cant wait.

Posted by Bruco 05:26 Archived in Italy Tagged food and of italy marche wine le oil olive monterado Comments (0)

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