2 gourmet food tours plus winery at Torrechiara castle in Parma

Tour of Parmesan, Parma ham and winery overlooking the beautiful Torrechiara Castle.

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

Parmesan production in details

Our best gourmet foods available in Parma are included in the tour. We will start the day with Parmesan, where our guides will go in details about the production of the famous cheese, as usual our visit will include the productions steps, the brine rooms and the ageing cellars, all with the final tasting. Participants will witness the creation of the cheese wheels from raw milk till it is turned into the aged product. This is a food cultural tour to enlighten those interested to see how cheese making happens.

Panoramic winery tour at the romantic Torrechiara Castle.

Just after the cheese production you will taken to a winery facing the marvellous Torrechiara castle (pictured below). Along the fantastic view you will have an aperivito based on 3 wines such as Malvasia (sparkling white) Lambrusco (sparkling red) and other DOC wines available from the winery. Each wine is accompanied with finger food such as reserve Parma ham rolled on bread sticks, vintage Parmesan and so on. After the tasting we will take a short walk to the Castle via the vineyard, where we will visit the castles (please note that it is closed on Mondays)

Parma ham visit with gourmet lunch.

The tour will continue with our Parma ham visit. Here we will visit a producer of the renowned ham, we will go down into details of each step of the production, we will visit the 4 pre ageing chambers, then we will move to the cellars where we will describe how the product achieve its PDO status. The visit will end with tasting of the ham plus other local cured meats such as culatello, the lunch will continue with a pasta main course and of course dessert.

Torrechiara Castle.

The castle is medieval manor overlooking the Parma valley. Dating back to the XIII century and fully restored. it was the home of the count Pier Maria Rossi. He was a valorous knight  fighting against the venetians on behalf of the Duke of Milan Filippo Maria Visconti. Later in life he build the Castle of Torrechiara from what was known as the ruins of Torrechiara, the remains of past strategic settlements.  The castle is dedicated to Bianca Pellegrini who was his lover at the time. In particular he built the Golden Bedroom for her, a beautifully decorated space.

20120916-162528.jpg

What to eat in Mantua

Mantua food exploration

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

This medium town in the north of Italy share many culinary tradition with Emilia Romagna. There you will find hard cheese, red sparkling wines, stuffed egg pasta, vegetable and fruit preserves aromatised with mustard, and cured meats.

Cheese

Mantua produces both Parmesan and Grana Padano. The former is only produced in a small area south of the Po river near the neighbouring province of Modena. Of course it is possible to visit the Parmigiano Reggiano producer in the area. Grana Padano is still a PDO cheese however it is considered of lower quality due to the use of anti fermentative in the ageing process.

Pumpkin the queen of the mantua cuisine.

Manuta lays in the flat of the fertile Padana plain, traditionally pumpkin, melons and watermelons grow plentiful. Especially pumpkins find the way in the local cuisine. Typical tortelli di zucca are egg pasta parcels stuffed with the delicious vegetables. Sometimes to the filling it is added some crumbled amaretti biscuits, giving to the savoury dish a truly unique taste. It is recommended to try them topped with Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

Mostarde.

In this area of northern  Italy is alo tradition to cook pasta dumplings in capon and beef brisket broth.  In Mantua the resulting meat is eaten hot or cold accompanied with mostarde. These are preserved fruits and vegetables with a hint of mustard. So if you are visiting in winter you cannot leave without savouring bollito misto (mix boiled meats) with it matching mostarda.

Torta sbrisolona and torta di tagliatelle.

Torta sbrisolona is the Italian version of the crumble cake, it is traditional and probably inherited from the royal banquets in the region. As the name says it has a crumbling texture and it is topped with almond and sugar. It is possible to taste with your coffee in the cafes’ in the main piazza.

Torta di tagliatelle is an amusing short crust cake topped with ordinary egg tagliatelle which are baked together with the base. The result is a unique crunchy texture, simply divine.

Relax on the 2 lake of river Mincio.

Mantova as we say in Italian, It is the pearl of Padana plain. In fact the city sits between 2 lakes forming from river Mincio which is formed from the run off water of lake Garda. In short the town the embraced by the 2 lakes and it must said that it is very nice to lounge on the lake banks in the summer hot days.

The food, wine and architecture of Mantua, Italy

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

Mantua, or Mantova in its native form, is the shy, but beautiful neighbour to popular cities like Parma, Verona and Venice. Considered to be the finest city in Lombardy, Mantua is an important cultural gateway to a rich Renaissance heritage.

 

Perched gloriously on the banks of the River Mincio, the city is further surrounded by three beautiful man-made lakes that just add to the attraction of this glorious Italian city. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Mantua is a living testament to the powerful Gonzaga family who ruled the city and surrounding towns during the Renaissance.

 

With breath taking architecture, religious sites, palaces, summer houses, villas and even an 11th century Rotunda, visitors have an up close and personal chance to get an idea what life must have been like under the rule of the Gonzaga family during the Renaissance. Much of the extension of the city is owed to the Gonzaga family who had a pinnacle role to play.

 

The family were pioneers in the conservation and promotion of the arts and culture, and the city played host to many a famous artist, composer and musician in its heyday, and Mantua is indelibly linked with the history of opera. The family’s opulent home, the Palazzo Ducale, is an extravagant estate, boasting more than 500 rooms with a massive complex of gardens, courtyards and gardens, and complete with frescoes painted by Mantega in 1474.

 

Right in the heart of the city brings you to the piazzas, where some of the most beautiful buildings can be found. Four impressive squares converge to create the city centre, with Piazza Sordello possibly the most majestic. Each piazza seems to have at least one most-magnificent building, so lovers of architecture will be awed by the examples of Palazzo Vescovile, Torre della Gabia (Cage Tower), the Tazi Nuvolari Museum in the Palazzo del Podesta, Rotunda di San Lorenzo, and the clock tower in the Palazzo della Ragione. Of course, no Italian city worth its salt is without a stunner in the church department, and in Mantua the finest examples are the Duomo and the Basilica Sant’Andrea.

 

Winding around the squares are cobbled streets filled with bustling sidewalk cafes and excellent restaurants. This is where visitors have a chance to experience the other big attraction of Mantua – the food and wine.

 

Northern Italian cuisine is all in a class of its own, and Lombardy is known for a region that is famous for its typical country dishes, like risotto and freshly made filled pasta. A favourite on the menu is tortelli pasta stuffed with pumpkin topped with the special local delicacy – shaved white truffles. Washed down with a mouthful of the region’s most popular, the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC, which comes from the local vineyards just to the north of the city, it makes the perfect taste of Mantua and Lombardy.

 

The city’s River Mincio provides other popular local dishes – shrimps and freshwater pike but, the predominant factor here is that all Mantuan cuisine is prepared with serious care, and only the freshest, seasonal and simple ingredients are used.

 

Family run restaurants seeped in traditions can be found everywhere, from the humble bakery to the elaborate world class restaurants. The atmosphere and the friendly charisma pervade all eateries in Mantua, and spills onto the sidewalk tables and chairs. Families that run restaurants do so with a serious passion for food, and the preservation of local culinary history, often bringing old, traditional recipes back to life.

 

So if you are visiting the city, even for just a few days, put on those walking shoes or pick up a bicycle and cruise the cobbled streets like a local, with surroundings that will whisk you right back into time.