During a short stint from January 23rd to 25th, I had the opportunity to once again attend Millésime Bio, an annual organic wine exposition in Montpellier, France. It not only proved to be an exciting and challenging experience with my struggling French but offered me a closer view into the diverse world of wine. A wide range of regions, traditions, styles and levels of quality were represented at the show. My goal this year was to further develop an appreciation for these differences and find language to capture them for my colleagues and our customers. For example, organic, biodynamic, and even no-sulfur added wines can be made quite conventionally through machine harvesting and high yields, with poor terroir, additives and invasive cellar techniques. For me, it is an ongoing effort to understand and be able to explain the differences between industrial, conventional, artisanal, natural, and heirloom even within the categories of organic, biodynamic and no-sulfur added wine. It takes tasting, re-tasting, traveling, and speaking directly with producers to be able to speak to these qualitative differences and really comprehend who is doing the work to make great wines. With this mission in mind, I reconnected with many of my favorite growers – and discovered new ones too. Here are some of the highlights! (more…)
Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category
Posted in Beverages, Italy, Travelogues, Wine, tagged biodynamic, Chardonnay, Domaine du Traginer, Domaine Vigne du Maynes, Gamay, Jean-François Deu, Jo Landron, Julien Guillot, Lo Spaventapasseri, Millésime Bio, Muscadet, organic, terroir, Wine, winemakers on February 2, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Italian cuisine is often associated with Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil. However, if you travel along the country’s northern borders, you will find many locals producing and regularly cooking with butter. Generally speaking, butter gets its flavor from the quality of milk used to make it, and its texture from the techniques used to manipulate that milk into the final product. (more…)
Posted in Candy & Confections, Christmas, Hanukkah, Italy, Producer Profile, tagged candied fruit, Chocolate, confection, fondants, food, glacé, marrons glacés, Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano, Romanengo on December 6, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
In the list of wonderful, accidental finds we have made for the shop, few rival the discovery of Italian confectioners, Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano. On a trip to northern Italy, Ihsan and Valerie were strolling the labyrinthine streets of old Genova when they stumbled across a fantastical, gem-like little shop.
Since 1780, the Romanengo family has been dispensing handmade candies from this beautiful shop with its marble walls, glass shelves and rich wooden cases. Crystal receptacles are filled with confetti-colored candied fennel seeds, threads of sugar-coated cinnamon, sweet fruit fondants, chewy rosewater marshmallows and tiny pastiglie. On his first visit, Ihsan bought some treats to take home and each parcel was painstaking wrapped in dark blue tissue-like paper and tied with a Genovese sailors knot. Since that trip, we have been importing directly from Romanengo and several staff members have made the pilgrimage to Genova themselves! (more…)
Some months ago, Giovanni Bianchi of the prosciutto curing house, Pio Tosini, visited our shop in Cambridge for a staff tasting. Giovanni’s family has been curing prosciutto in the Parma region of Italy since 1905 and today, Giovanni, along with one of his cousins and an uncle, continue the family business.
The tasting had one of the strongest turnouts ever from among staff members – it was the first time we had had someone from one of our prosciutto curing houses visit the shop and everyone was curious and excited. The evening was fascinating and involved some delicious prosciutto tasting, a good amount of talking and lots of questions! At the end of the evening, Giovanni was kind enough to encourage staff members who might be visiting Italy to get in touch and he would be happy to show us around the Pio Tosini facility. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be traveling in the area and took him up on his generous offer. (more…)
Posted in Cheese, Cheesemaking, Education, Italy, Travelogues, tagged casaro, Cheese, cheesemakers, cheesemaking, Cravero, curds, DOP, food, Italy, parm, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, whey on November 26, 2011 | 2 Comments »
On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I had never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. (more…)