President Obama and First Lady Michelle, wrote a letter to Traditional Balsamic Vinegar producers Acetaia di Giorgio praising them for their wonderful product. It’s not everyday that a company gets such a letter from the president of the United States. One can only imagine the pride and satisfaction they felt. After all, there’s a huge difference between Acetaia di Giorgio traditional balsamic vinegar and what’s sold at the supermarket. President Obama, as well as connoisseurs from Italy and around the globe all agree that Italy’s Traditional Balsamic vinegar is as precious as liquid gold.
The best variety, hands down, comes from Acetaia di Giorgio. Balsamic vinegar made by Giorgio’s family goes through an elaborate process which has been passed on by his grandmother and remained the same over the years. The vinegar is aged for a minimum of 12 years (and up to 24 years) in barrels of different noble woods such as juniper, mulberry, chestnut, and ash. Although many years have passed and the process has gone unchanged, the results still produce the same exquisite balsamic vinegar that goes well in many dishes, and is continually praised even by dignitaries.
There are two ageing of Traditional Balsamic Vinegars that are made according to the highest of standards by the producers at Acetaia di Giorgio. Some batches are aged 12 years, and the extra old ones are aged 25 years. Together, there are seven different varieties of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena made by Giorgio.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena White Cap, White Cap Cherry and White Cap Juniper are those that have been aged for 12 years.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena extra old comes in Gold Cap, Giorgio Primo Reserve Cherry, Giorgio Primo Reserve Juniper, Carlotta 1986, and Superior. All having thier own flavour which satisfies individual palates.
It must be noted that the vinegar labelled Cherry and Juniper have been aged in only one kind of wood to give to the product a truly unique flavour.
Regardless of which Acetaia di Giorgio Balsamic Vinegar you choose, you can be sure that each varieties has an incredible complexity of aromas and flavours and fit for a king or a president.
Emilia Delizia can organise a gourmet food visit in Modena with a balsamic vinegar producer tour, also we can add to your day parmesan cheese production tour, Parma ham, Lambrusco wine tour, castles and art guided visits of Modena and neighbouring towns.
Bologna in the last 20 years has became the mecca of the food lover and foodie travellers. With its world wide reputation for food food it never fails to attract and surprise gourmet eaters from the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, China and so on. We have seen all nationalities coming here just for one reason EAT!
Bologna is big for its fresh egg pasta and it comes in literally 100 of variation with matching sauces. Winter or summer you should not fail to try the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (please do not ask for Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce as it is not an Italian dish but an approximation invented abroad), then you will want to try the lasagne, tortellini and tortelloni, quaretti, maltagliati and so on. A less known dish by the visitor but extremely popular in Bologna or Modena are the crescrentine or sometimes called tigelle . Small breads that back in the days were baked by the fireplace sandwiched between round shapes of clay and they constitute the staple meals for the farmer and their families. Nowadays they are served with all sort of cured meats.
Gnocco Fritto or crescentine fritte.
This is the bad boy of the Bolognese cooking style, as it is flour dough fried in lard, it is divine with prosciutto and it should not be missed for any reason. It is also very common in Modena and Parma, here you will find that it called torta Fritta.
Mortadella in Bologna.
This slow cooked pink sausage is know all over the world in its copycat versions which simply ruined this popular salumi in Italy. Now the real mortadella di Bologna is protected by the IGP label from the Italian government. The Indicazione di origine protetta indicate that the sausage is produced following a traditional recipe using only prime lean pork cut, then ground very finely which will give the pink appearance, and slowly cooked for 72 hours, the only ingredients should be pork, and salt. However it is very likely to contain nitrates added as preservative. It can be eaten finely sliced or cubed.
What to see in Bologna.
After many heavy meals in Bologna you will soon find out that you will need to move a little to shed off the calories. In Bologna the best activity to do so it is to take a walk to the church of San Luca, which is the orange building that you see on the top of the hills surrounding Bologna. The porticoes stretch from the centre of the town and go all the way to the top, it is about 4 km of steep uphill walk. If you do not feel so adventurous you can take the tourist train from the central square. Other urban adventures are the torre degli Asinelli, one of the 2 tours adjacent to Piazza Maggiore has several 100 steps all the way to the top, once representing one of the powerful Bolognese family now offers visitors breathtaking views of the city. Along the Piazza Maggiore don’t miss the Jean de Boulogne fountain, San Petronio one of largest churches in Italy, and finally the room of the Spellati in the oldest university in the western world. It is a room in the faculty of medicine with two statues of man without their skin to expose the underneath muscles to the students.
Where to sleep in Bologna.
Bologna is a major transport hub in Italy, with a large train station, one airport and one major motorway if you are travelling from north to south and vice versa you got to pass from Bologna. Hotels tend to be fairly price compared to most the other tourist part of Italy, however in September you might find it expensive as there many exhibition around that period, in this case you can stay in Modena which is only 20 minutes by train and it has many very good quality hotels.
If you stay in Bologna it is best to book one of the hotel around the station, or around Piazza Maggiore, but remember if you are driving there in a no traffic zone in force so make sure that you know where you are going.
We recommend the Grand Majestic Baglioni that it is the city 5 star hotel with all the luxurious comfort that you will ever need. La Una, Starhotel excelsior and Mercure hotel are all very similar and right in front to the station. The Zan Hotel and 3 Vecchi are also popular choices are all very similar in standard.
Where to eat in Bologna.
Diana and Caminetto d’oro have been the best and most renowned restaurant in Bologna for many years but you will find that the prices have also risen and they are not that reasonable any more. If you are looking for somewhere where the locals eat I would recommend Trattoria Anna Maria Via delle Belle Arti 17, open for lunch. For the evening you can try Taverna dei Lords in Via Nazario Sauro, here you can try many of the pasta dishes from the Bologna cuisine.
Cookery lessons in Bologna
Emilia Delizia organises cookery classes in Bologna with a tour of the local market, student who want to be chef for one day can prepare fresh egg pasta with our professional chef. We can take solo travellers and larger groups anyone is welcome.
Gourmet tour from Bologna.
Emlia Delizia also pick up small or larger parties for our 3 food gourmet food in one day, with departure at 7.15 from your hotel or nearby location we will take you to visit the Parmesan cheese production, a balsamic vinegar producer with tasting and finally an organic winery in Modena or if you prefer to see the Parma ham we can also accomodate that.
Culatello the king of cured meats – how to visit the producers in Italy.
Culatello is an Italian cold cut obtained form the best part of the pig: the back legs. The main differences between Parma ham and culatello are the followings: area of production, and the technique of curing the meats..
Culatello and its area of production – Parma province.
This ham is produced north of Parma on the flat lands of Pianura Padana. The huge flat lands that stretch from the Alps to the Apennini mountains in Italy, The PDO area of production is tiny making this product unique, highly sought after and luxurious, notably the towns of production are Busseto, Polesine Parmense, Zibello, Soragna, Roccabianca, San Secondo, Sissa and Colorno. Here the climate is much more humid and foggy than anywhere else in the area. Because of this characteristics it would be impossible to cure the ham on the bone as we would do for the Parma ham. Therefore with culatello the bone is removed to obtain 2 cuts, the main one culatello (literally the little ass) and the fiocchetto which is the inner muscle of the leg. The ingredients are just freshly slaughtered meat, salt and pepper.
How culatello is cured – the brick cellars.
Culatello requires humid brick cellars that are in the basement of buildings. The ham is then placed in a natural casing (pig bladder), tied and rubbed with salt and pepper only, also the meat need to reach the producer quickly from the moment of the slaughter to keep the bacterial load low, which helps to cure the meat without the use of artificial preservatives. Culatello will spend at least 12 months in these traditional cellars before being inspected by the experts of the consortium of Culatello di Zibello. The product is examined with a wooden mallet checking for potential defects.
Parma ham VS Culatello of Zibello.
Is one better than the other? Well there will be a lot of debate if we say so. In short they are 2 different produces. Parma ham has a very sweet taste and it is cured with very little salt however it is produced on a larger scale with a larger output while still maintaining the consortium high quality. Culatello remains a niche gourmet product still made by a handful producers with methods that track back to their grand fathers or sometimes their grand grand fathers. Culatello is also more difficult to obtain and it is more labour intensive than Parma ham. Finally culatello has a more elegant, fragrant, structured and prolonged flavour than Parma ham. It is drier in texture and more savoury and the taste keeps flowing as you chew it.
The final product – how to prepare it.
When finally becomes the so acclaimed gourmet products (it can cost up to 70 euros a kg), the meats are bright red with nice marbling of fat, which enhance the delicate savoury taste. In order to eat the ham, you will need to prepare it. You will need to remove the strings used to tie it, and soak it in wine for a few hours. This will help to remove easily the bladder . Once this is done you will have to slice it very thinly. A slicing machine gives the best results.
How to eat Culatello di Zibello.
Culatello it is a great appetiser, and it would go with a glass of Fortana del Taro wine, or Malvasia and why not with a nice glass or Lambrusco. As part of your appetiser dish you can also add some shaving of Parmesan and few drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena or Reggio Emilia.
How to visit a culatello producers in Parma.
Emilia Delizia can organise a culatello English guided tour, from Parma as part of our gourmet tours in Italy. We can pick you up from your hotel or meet you at a designated location. Our tours will always include a detailed visit and a generous final tasting. Don’t forget that this experience can be mixed with the Parmesan production, wine tours and balsamic vinegar production and cookery experiences.
Culatello making classes – Culinary experiences in Parma
For those interested in a hands on approach, we organise culatello ham curing techniques. Our highly trained master curer will show you how the make the precious ham. The typical class will last one morning and the participants will learn how to prepare, cure, and tie the meat according the ancient Italian tradition. Your product will be aged in the cellars and it can be sent to you when it is ready.
Cualtello tasting visits with cycling along the Po’ River.
The Po’ river has a lot to offer, in terms of gastronomic adventures that can be combined with cycling tours departing from Parma with destination Cremona, of course with the use of river boats. The Po’ also has a network of cycling paths touching many producers of culatello.
How to see the Parmesan production at a dairy in Italy.
Parmesan cheese is produced only once a day and you will find it only in a small area in northern Italy. In fact it is mainly produced in Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilila however there are some producers in the Bologna and Mantua provinces. To see the production it is recommended to arrive at the dairy between 8.15 am and 9.30 in case there is a possibility to see larger producers where the cheese making process ends later. The visit lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Guests will be able to see with their eyes the whole process, from raw milk, the making of the curds, the brine process and the ageing cellars. There are about 300 dairies in the DOP production areas and Emilia Delizia has selected some of the best places to see the cheese making. We visit family owned businesses or organic cooperatives where the Parmean or Parmigiano Reggiano as we call it in Italy. The milks come from cows owned by the producers in the area, and this milk must reach the dairy within 2 hours as it is specified by the consortium. Parmesan cheese is then aged for a minimum of 12 months before receiving an inspection and only then if it is approved it become a DOP product and it can be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano. Emilia Delizia can organise a tour of the facility that produce the cheese, normally we can pick up the client from their hotel from Bologna at 7.15 am, or from Modena and Parma at 8.15 am. We can organise a car with driver to pick you up and an English speaking guide, however if you have your own car we can set you an itinerary that you can follow and save money on the chauffeur fees.
Parmesan Dairies To Visit On Your Own Around Modena
One of the pleasures of travelling through Italy most definitely lays in its food, especially when enjoyed in unique and picturesque settings. Emilia Romagna has a lot to offer in the way of traditional cuisine, most local dishes have made it worldwide and their success now graces the dining tables of all food enthusiasts around the world.
When enjoying local cuisine with simple or complex dishes – be it at a restaurant, a trattoria or in other such places that celebrate foodies’ needs with great food from the tradition of Emilia Romagna cooking – keep in mind that some of the ingredients you’re tasting are locally sourced and belong to the very history and culture of the Italian region. This is the case for the fames Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, for several kinds of ham and cold cuts made in the area, and is also true for Parmesan cheese.
While it is also employed in several dishes throughout Italy and abroad, and is enjoyed as a topping for pasta and other foods everywhere in the world, Parmesan is notably known in Emilia Romagna as a traditional cheese that can be tasted on its own. As it’s true for many different kinds of dairy products that can be found on a cheese platter, Parmesan can (and should – at least once in one’s life) be eaten as a standalone experience, but not many tourists think about doing this during their trip to Italy. Foodies are more likely to know about this, but everyone should experience Parmesan in its pure form, and going to visit a dairy where the cheese is produced is the perfect way to sample the goods and marvel at the production process and cutting method employed for this Emilia Romagna treasure.
Here are some dairies in the province of Modena that you can visit for tastings, guided tours of the facility, and to shop Parmesan, local products and souvenirs.
Società Agricola Montorsi
This dairy is located just outside Modena and as such can be easily reached if you’re already visiting the city proper. Founded in 1949, this dairy has perfected the production of Parmigiano cheese and the raw materials are all locally sourced, to achieve Parmesan aged for up to 36 months where the milk employed hasn’t suffered any losses in quality through the supply chain. The dairy, opened every day from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 15:30 to 19:30 (open only from 8:30 to 9:30 on Sundays for a brief stop to shop for Parmesan and more), offers a variety of guided tours and tastings for locals and tourists (also in English and with audio guides available). Tourists will be able to choose from breakfast tours, a daily tour (with a visit of the Parmesan dairy factory, a vinegar place and lunch at a local restaurant) or other events such as a workshop weekend where visitors will take part to the production of the cheese and learn more about local culture. Please see antica latteria ducale for info.
Located near the city of Zocca, in the province of Modena, this dairy factory can be visited throughout the week (it’s closed on Mondays and on Friday afternoons, opening hours are 9:00-12:30 and 16:00-19:00). Since the location varies from other dairies closer to the city of Modena, in here you’ll be able to find products related to the mountain territory. Here you’ll be able to sample and purchase a type of Parmesan made from the milk of a white- coated breed of cow from the territory of Modena.
Caseificio San Pietro
The dairy is located near the city of Sassuolo and you can book guided tours of the entire production line of Parmesan, or experience the single phases of the process such as the preparation of the milk and the cheese, the storing area and learn about the aging process. In the dairy’s shop you’ll be able to sample and purchase Parmigiano cheese. Please see their site.
Caseificio 4 Madonne
Through booking, it’s possible to take part to guided tours every day, and they will last 1-1 and a half hours. depending on the type of tasting experience you choose, which will include sampling Parmesan with different aging periods, local cold cuts, balsamic vinegar, wines and more. You’ll have a chance to explore the history and production process of the cheese through the dairy, and you’ll witness the incredible storage for the Parmesan cheese wheels. More info here.
This dairy is located further from Modena, but still retains those aspects of the city’s culture and tradition, with a different spin. Near the towns of Maserno and Montese, the Caseificio Belvedere offers the usual tours and tastings of Parmesan along with other peculiar culinary experiences of the Apennines. In the dairy’s shop, you’ll find local produce, Parmesan cheese and more.
The Parma ham tour – Prosciutto di Parma – producer tour Emilia Romagna.
Emilia Delizia as part our our culinary tours will take you to Langhirano to visit one of the Parma ham producers. Prosciutto di Parma is traditionally cured on the bone, and the ingredients are, pork leg, salt, the right climate conditions and the patience and the ability of the master salter. We will visit the production facility in details and we will learn about each step of the production.
Our clients learn how Parma ham is made during the tours.
To make Parma ham only the back leg of Italian born and risen heavy pigs are used. The animal are fed according the strict diet of the consortium that is aslo supplemented with cheese whey coming for the production of ParmigianoReggiano. The legs are sent to Langhirano in the province of Parma to become the famous Parma ham. The curing process starts immediately and the meat is salted once and stored in refrigerated cells for 5 days. Here the meat will lose water and absorb the salt. Then the meat is washed and salted again for a second time and placed in a even colder cell, at this stage the temperature is just above the freezing point. The ham makers use as little salt as possible to obtain a sweet cure that makes the Parma ham famous worldwide.
The pre-ageing phase will last for about 100 days, then the legs will be “manicured” to turn them into the classic pear shaped Parma hams, in other words all excess meat, fat and bone are trimmed off. From here onwards the hams will stay in the curing cellars until they are 12 months old. Each ham will be inspected by the consortium for approval by using a needle of horse bone. The probe is inserted in the 5 critical points where the meat might go wrong. The inspector probe each point and as he extract the needle he smells the tip. If they are approved they will receive the five star crown emblem of the Duchy of Parma, and then they become the world wide famous cured meat that we all know.
Emilia Delizia and Prosciutto factory tour in Parma.
Emilia Delizia will be pleased to take you to the producers in Parma, this tour can be part of our full day 3 gourmet food tour in Italy. Guests normally start their journey in Parma, Modena or Bologna. We can organise a self drive tour or a chauffeured one with English speaking guide and gourmet lunch. Our lunch is a sumptuous one, a 3 course meal that includes generous tasting of cured meats including Parma ham form the factory we just visited. The meal will continue with Tortelli alla Parmigiana (stuffed egg pasta), home made desserts. Coffee and digestive liquors.
How to visit a traditional balsamic vinegar producer in Modena – Emilia Romagna – Italy.
Emilia Delizia can take you to tour a traditional ACETAIA as we call the traditional balsamic vinegar producer here in Modena. Most visitors will be surprised by the difference between the “regular” or industrial balsamic vinegar and the DOP traditional balsamic vinegar that it is produced only in private houses in Modena and Reggio Emilia. Traditionally a batch of new balsamic vinegar was only started at the birth of a baby girl and it would become her dowry when she would marry. In the past centuries the aceto balsamico was only used within the family and sometimes given to important guests. It is said that the Duke of Modena had his own important vinegar attic, in his palace, important people would be introduced to the delights of the black gold when visiting Modena by the ducal family. As part of our tours we can take people to visit private villas and houses where this black nectar is still produced in small quantities in the most traditional way.
How Balsamic vinegar is made in Modena.
Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is made from initially reducing organic grape juice (must) to about 30% by just simmering the product for about 24 hours, this is to increase the sugar content in the juice. It is important to never reach the boiling point in order to preserve the friendly bacteria that are already present in the liquid. This is done at harvest time between September and October the grape must is obtained from Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes. To age the vinegar a set of barrel is required. A mother barrel usually the lager in a set of 4,5 or 6 increasingly smaller barrels, all made of different woods such as acacia, ash, chestnut, mulberry, cherry. From this moment in autumn it will take at least 12 years of painstakingly topping the evaporated must from the last but one barrel to the last one, and the repeating the sequence from the last but two to the last but one and so on until the mother barrel is then topped up with fresh grape must. No vinegar will be drawn for at least 12 years to obtain at least the “younger balsamic vinegar”.
How to use traditional balsamic vinegar.
The tradition wants that the precious black nectar obtained by the natural concentration of the flavours is used as a digestive at the end of the meal. It is best consumed on plastic or ceramic spoon as metal it is very cold and it would lower the sensory experience.
12 years old traditional balsamic vinegar.
It has more acidity than the other vintages and the sweetness is more subtle. You will soon find out that the favours of the woods are felt on different parts of your tongue and mouth. This balsamic vinegar is particularly indicated on fresher cheeses such as ricotta or mozzarella. You can also add to meat or fish dishes. The important that is used sparingly and only added the end of cooking.
The extra old vintage 24 years old traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena
The acidity decreases and the sweetness is more present, but it is not a flat sugary sensation, it is actually very complex. On your tongue you feel the taste of the blended wood tannins such as the spiciness of juniper or the sweetness of the cherry wood. At this age it is a perfect match for aged cheese such as Parmesan or even for desserts: straberries, chocolate and ice creams.
28 YEARS OLD VINEGAR and over – Only in the Reggio Emilia province.
Only produced and marketed at this age in the Reggio Emilia. At this point the vinegar has lost a lot of its acidity and it the wood and the sweetness becomes even more accentuated, almost like a sweet complex black nectar. It is best consumed at the end of the meal as a digestive. The province of Reggio Emilia is also a producer of Traditional balsamic vinegar due to the proximity to Modena. The tradition was brought in Reggio Emilia as many women were marring across the 2 provinces bringing their dowry with them. During our Balsamic vinegar tour it is possible to visit Reggio Emilia producer and discover the 3 ageing typical of the area. If you want to learn more about Reggio Emilia culinary tradition please continue reading here.
Balsamic Vinegar Places You Can Visit On Your Own
If you’re an all-round foodie or just love food, there are some things that you can do during your stay in Italy that are food-related and are sure to enhance your experience. Besides trying out the local cuisine and all the traditional dishes available to you, there are activities you can do to fully immerse in the world of Emilia Romagna’s food. Restaurants are a thing you really cannot miss (you’re bound to end up eating out during your vacation, and there’s plenty of excellent places to choose from), but you can also go to local producers to sample ingredients and dishes made with them for a full-on experience. And while you’re looking through reviews and suggestions from fellow foodies on great places that offer food tasting experiences, don’t forget about other pleasures available to you. For example, wine tasting tours are a great idea – as are tours of balsamic vinegar places. Balsamic vinegar might just be a condiment, but if you get deeper into the local culture, you’ll discover that balsamic vinegar in Emilia Romagna is a whole different deal: it’s tradition, it’s pride in local ingredients, it’s about employing processing methods passed down through generations. In short, visiting the place of production of balsamic vinegar will give you a glimpse into the history of this part of Italy, and there are several options to choose from when it comes to where you’re supposed to go to have a taste of Emilia Romagna.
Villa San Donnino
Villa San Donnino is located in a liberty-style villa just outside Modena, the birthplace of Balsamic Vinegar, this will be a very picturesque destination if you want to enjoy the history of this product in a suggestive environment. Since the certified DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is produced throughout a very limited and controlled area of Emilia Romagna, it’s something that can truly be sampled only when in this type of location. The Acetaia Villa San Donnino would be a great choice for your balsamic vinegar tasting tour, or shopping and booking through the website is recommended . Once there, you’ll have a chance to see the traditional production methods for the vinegar and taste it paired with great local dishes.
Acetaia Di Giorgio
On their website it’s possible to book a visit to this acetaia (vinegar processing place) to, once again, see how the vinegar is produced, get in touch with the history of this excellent traditional product, sample and purchase DOP Balsamic Vinegar – right at the heart of the beautiful city of Modena. The Acetaia di Giorgio is a tiny balsamic vinegar place, family-owned and with a focus on how the vinegar truly is a legacy passed through the generations.
La Vecchia Dispensa
Another great place you can visit to explore the world of DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is this acetaia, located in Castelvetro di Modena. The acetaia offers guided tours and tastings of different products that can also be purchased at the shop, along with local jams, spirits, wines, sweets and other products from Modena to pair with the vinegar. Mailing the acetaia will allow you to book a tour but also to find out about special events held by La Vecchia Dispensa, such as lunches in the acetaia, cooking classes and hikes through the vineyards.
In this acetaia, you will be able to go on a tour of the place, guided by experts, to discover the secrets of the production of this interesting local condiment. During the tour, you’ll learn more about the history of the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, the techniques employed to achieve the final product, and you’ll have a chance to taste the vinegar. Groups of 10 people or more can arrange a special tour, which includes a vinegar and local food tasting, so you’ll be able to sample cold cuts, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, baked goods and wine typical of Modena all in the same package, for an all-round culinary experience.
Free tastings are held on every opening day in the Acetaia Bompana, and you can book tours if you want to learn about the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, other than just sampling it in all of its amazing shades of taste. The vinegar can be used in many different ways to enhance dishes, or can just be drizzled on a piece of Parmigiano cheese. This acetaia, like the other certified ones in the area of Modena, is the perfect place to sample the excellence of this traditional and local product. Purchasing some balsamic vinegar for yourself at the outlets annexed to the acetaie will guarantee top quality and an unforgettable taste of Modena to bring back home with you.