Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Old and Young Parmigiano Reggiano

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…)

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Bra, Italy - Respect the City of CheeseEvery two years, the biggest festival in the cheese world happens in Bra, Italy. The event is known simply as “Cheese.” Cheesemakers, cheesemongers, journalists, food lovers and folks lucky enough to live close by, descend on the small town of Bra to sample, sell and eat literally tons of cheese. This year at the biennial festival it was no different. With one exception. The thermometer hit a whopping 90°F. (more…)

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Pacina Wine LabelsRecently, 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…)

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Marcel Petite Comté

As a child, I was an avid reader of Asterix and Obelix comics and there are a couple of images from the series that made an indelible mark. One was of Obelix furious and red in the face (I was always a little partial to Obelix) after Dogmatix had somehow been threatened. Another was of some poor, pathetic Roman who keeps losing his piece of bread in a large cauldron full of fondue. As the comic progressed (I think it must have been the one where Asterix and Obelix are in Switzerland), the cheese stretches all over the room and all over the partakers of the meal. That was my first image of fondue – it seemed fun, crazy and probably amazingly delicious. (more…)

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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? Cravero Parmigiano ReggianoIn 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…)

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Perbellini PanettoneFor those with even a remote connection to Italian heritage, panettone and pandolce are essential components of the Christmas holiday. Enjoy either of these traditional breads at the end of the meal paired with a glass of sweet wine such as Recioto di Soave or Moscato d’Asti. (more…)

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To read Part I of Gemma’s post, please click here.


Alessandro of Valli Unite

Alessandro of Valli Unite

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…)

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