Lombardy is a region in the northernmost part of Italy, sitting on the country’s Alpine border with Switzerland. The terrain is varied, ranging from plains in the southern part, to the Alpine heights of the Valtellina in the north. Lakes stretch out along the countryside and rivers criss-cross the verdant landscape. Lombardy is a part of Italy that is home to many well-known cheeses: Taleggio, Mascarpone, Provolone, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola. If you were to follow the Po River, heading west out of Lombardy, you would arrive in the Piedmont, another rich cheese-making region. The town of Bra, home to possibly the most widely respected cheese festival in the world, is situated in this part of Italy. Like their neighbors in Lombardy, cheesemakers of the Piedmont make Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Among the many cheeses in their canon, are other familiar names like Raschera, Robiola di Roccaverano and Castelmagno. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category
Posted in Cheese, Education, Food History, Italy, tagged blue cheese, Cheese, food, Gorgonzola, Gorgonzola a due paste, Gorgonzola antico, Gorgonzola del nonno, Gorgonzola Dolce, Gorgonzola Piccante, PDO, Penicillium gorgonzola, Protected Designation of Origin, Roquefort, Stracchino, transhumance on September 28, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Posted in Beverages, Italy, Producer Profile, Wine, tagged Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi, food, Giovanna Tiezzi, Italy, organic, Pacina, Sangiovese, Stefano Borsa, terroir, Wine, winemakers, yeasts on July 26, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Recently, we were thrilled to welcome Giovanna Tiezzi and Stefano Borsa to our shop. Giovanna and Stefano are the dedicated growers behind Pacina wine and they stopped by our Cambridge shop on a rare visit to the United States to taste out their ’07 Chianti Colli Senesi and speak to folks about what distinguishes them from other viticoltori in their region.
Where is Pacina?
Located about twenty-five minutes east of Siena in the Chianti district of Colli Senesi, Pacina is an old convent, dating to circa 900AD. The land where the convent is located is rich in wine history insofar as Pāca was the Etruscan god of the grape harvest, the equivalent of the Roman god, Bacchus, or the Greek god, Dionysius. For centuries, wine has been made in this region.
Flash forward to 2011: Pacina serves as a home to Giovanna Tiezzi and Stefano Borsa, along with their children, Maria and Carlo. Giovanna took over the estate that was bought by her great-grandparents. Today, she and Stefano cultivate a wide range of produce – from cereals, to fruit, to vegetables, to extra virgin olive oil. Giovanna and Stefano are, however, probably best known for their wine. As with everything they produce, it is organic. (more…)
After an exhilarating five days of intensive tasting in and just outside of Verona at VinItaly, VinNatur, and Vino Vino Vino, my palate has been reinvigorated and my “wine speak” in Italian has once again been thoroughly challenged and expanded.
VinItaly is Verona’s infamous wine expo that brings together over 4,000 producers in a cluster of twelve bustling, cavernous convention halls. Conversely, VinNatur and Vino Vino Vino are smaller, organic tastings that are held in historic sites outside of the city and exhibit less than 150 producers. I tasted recent vintages of some of my already established favorites and made some new discoveries along the way. (more…)
Posted in Italy, Pasta, Producer Profile, Switzerland, tagged dried pasta, durum semolina, durum wheat, farro, Fisler family, food, fresh pasta, Gioie di Fattoria, Giulio Amadio, kamut, Molino e Pastificio Poschiavo, Parmigiano Reggiano, pasta, pasta fresco, pasta secca, Poschiavo, saragolla, spaghetti, ternetta, tortellini on January 20, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
- Federico Fellini
A couple of years ago, I traveled to Bologna to visit a cousin. Based a little ways outside the main city, the family home was situated amidst a gently rolling landscape populated with apricot trees and vineyards. While I was there, I thought to myself that if I ever left the United States for retirement, it might just be to Italy. The weather was wonderful – hot enough to make you want to swim but not hot enough to be unbearable and the food was out of this world! There were a number of firsts on that trip, including my first taste of limoncello. However, one of my most memorable food experiences was tasting fresh tortellini made by a lady just down the road. (more…)
Parmigiano Reggiano is essential to the economy in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. That may not be so surprising in and of itself but, did you know that the local banks there accept cheese as collateral? In 2009, Credito Emiliano had two climate controlled warehouses where they stored roughly 440,000 wheels of Parmigiano. All total, those wheels were worth approximately $187 million.
Parmigiano Reggiano was also considered sufficiently valuable to be the target of a heist. In February of 2009, thieves tunneled into a parm warehouse and stole 570 wheels before they were caught. Honestly, one wonders how well thought out the plan was, considering each wheel of parm weighs about 80-lbs. and bears a unique serial number (much like money) to identify it. The funniest part of the story, however, was the remark made by the vault manager after the cheese had been recovered: “Thank heavens we caught the robbers before they grated it!”* (more…)
Posted in Candy & Confections, Italy, Producer Profile, Travelogues, tagged candied chestnuts, chestnuts, food, Genoa, Genova, marrons, marrons glacés, Pietro Romanengo, Romanengo on December 14, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
“Bella,” he said. “Bella.”
I appreciated the encouragement. Marcello, who works for the Genovese confectioner Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano, has been making marrons glacés for 30 years. I had been in Italy learning this craft for just over a day—not even a blip when you consider that Romanengo has been in business for 230 years! (more…)
“Questo è un grande vino,” said Ferdinando Zanusso, referring to his ’99 Galea Bianco.
The Zanussos produce wines under the name I Clivi in Friuli, Italy, and this past September, I stayed with them to help with the grape harvest. The night before I left, Ferdi led me through a vertical tasting of 10 vintages of I Clivi wines. (more…)
Posted in Beverages, Italy, Travelogues, Wine, tagged growers, Italy, sommeliers, tasting, terroir, varietal, Vini Veri, VinItaly, VinNatur, vintage, viticulture, Wine, wine buyers, winemakers on June 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
To read Part I of Gemma’s post, please click here.
One of the most memorable tastings I had at VinItaly was with Valli Unite, a cooperative I visited in 2006, located in the hills outside of Tortona (essentially in the DOC Gavi growing area). Dreadlocked Alessandro, who now greets me on a first name basis, excitedly mentioned that in 2009 he made all of his wines without added sulfur. He recalled all of the questions and concerns that I have had over the years about sulfur usage. After some successful initial trials with Barbera and Dolcetto, he is confident enough to move forward with a more natural, minimalist approach in the cellar. This courage impressed me a great deal as did his desire to express as much terroir as possible in his wines. One of the questions that I like to ask growers is with regard to the future of their wines and their farming practices. Some producers express an ambition to sell more wine, expand into additional markets and find new exporters. Others talk about trying natural yeast fermentations, yield-reducing practices and no-sulfur cuvées. The latter type of grower is the one with whom I definitely want to establish a relationship. One can ascertain very quickly and easily who is thinking, trying, experimenting and who is merely responding to the market. (more…)
Posted in Beverages, Italy, Travelogues, Wine, tagged growers, Italy, sommeliers, tasting, terroir, varietal, Vini Veri, VinItaly, VinNatur, vintage, viticulture, Wine, wine buyers, winemakers on June 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
During the second week of April, I had the opportunity to attend VinItaly – one of the largest and most well-attended trade shows for wine professionals – and two smaller, organic off-shoot shows: VinNatur and Vini Veri. These tastings brought growers, suppliers, sommeliers, and wine buyers together near picturesque Verona. It was a very special opportunity to taste wines alongside the growers, a process that is important in gaining a true understanding of the wines on our shelves and the farming behind them. Attending a show like VinItaly is the next best thing to actually visiting a producer. (more…)