3 Italian Products That You Should Buy Despite Coronavirus Lockdown.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

The Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano is an Italian hard, granular cheese that is dubbed the King of Cheeses. The production process is time-intensive and takes between 12-36 months to fully age. As such, production must be done daily, all year. The recent hit of the Coronavirus pandemic on Italy has brought several of its top-grossing industries to their knees. The national football league, Serie A, for example, is one affected space. To mitigate the loss in those sectors, the food production division must be supported to remain at full operation. Parmigiano-Reggiano is an important export product enjoyed in France, The US, Canada, and Germany. This makes up to 40% of the total produced stash with the remaining 60% consumed locally. Halting the production process has some serious compounding effects on the supply chain sustainability and on the 2,820 milk producers who supply milk to the Parmigiano-Reggiano dairies. To get a good idea, approximately 1.92million tons of milk, equivalent to 15.9% of the entire Italian dairy production was used in these factories in 2018.

In response, the Parmigiano-Reggiano consortium has stepped in to ensure that this industry does not come to a halt. Nicola Bertinelli, the president of the consortium, placed an emergency rescue call upon the ministry of agriculture and on the EU policies to waiver the Parmigiano-Reggiano factories. He requested for the exemption of the Parmigiano-Reggiano workforce from the health emergency PDOs as required by the law in section 1151/2012. This is set to avoid closure of dairies and farms.

This move is timely as the consortium president brought to light the fact that EU nations and other countries outside the union are taking advantage of the crisis to deploy unhealthy competitive strategies. He adds that its unfair competition from both the legal and ethical point of view. Reggio, Parma, M0dena, and Mantua are some of the most affected provinces by COVID-19 and are home to 330 dairies. As such, it’s not possible to stay immune from the virus and operations must go on. Furthermore, the European Food Safety Authority has confirmed no evidence that food is a source or likely transmission path of COVID-19.

Bertinelli conveyed that all dairies have adopted government measures to limit contagion, especially the 1M social distancing requirement. Upon approval of the request, this will see a €1.4B, 50,000-player niche flourishing again.

Amarone della Valpolicella

As of 2019, Made in Italy wine had enjoyed growing success and popularity. A 3.4% increase in turnover equivalent to €5.3B was recorded in 2019. This corresponds to about 22 million hectoliters of marketed wine. The US, which is the main importer of Italian wine, contributed to this growth along with Russia and Latvia. This was heavily encouraged by the duty exemption on Italian products which allowed them to beat Spanish and French wines, which have additional fees tagged along. It was all bliss until the COVID-19 pandemic hit Italy, hard! The fear of contagion has posed a great threat to the industry as a whole. Home and away, logistics has been a huge challenge. The closure of areas of consumption of these wines such as bars and restaurants has further stagnated the industry. Important fairs and dedicated events have been canceled to contain the spread of the virus adding to the hit. The Chengdu wine fair in chine, vinexpo in Hongkong and Prowein in Dusseldorf are among the most potent clienteles who have been locked out. This is just to mention a few.

The Amarone della Valpolicella is a line of luxury Italian wines produced in the Valpolicella, a hilly area in the province of Verona, in Veneto. Its distinct “bitter” tastes available in dry and full-bodied red recipes, has won a top spot in the international market. In 2019, the sales of Amarone della Valpolicella to the USA, Germany, Canada, China, Sweden, Japan and Switzerland had seen a 4% growth. A compelling 6% growth was also witnessed in the local market. Combined, the annual turnover stood at about €350m.

Note that a huge number of families and workers depend on the production of this wine spread across 8,300 hectares and 19 municipalities. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed the consumption of the Amarone della Valpolicella. However, the world can and should continue to consume Made in Italy wine to help deal with the emergency. With hopes of a win over the virus, Amarone della Valpolicella may surpass its current top 5 best wines in the oriental market

Italian Salumi

This is a world-renowned Italian cold cut predominantly made from pork. With a cloud of uncertainty surrounding Italian products, the Salumi is completely safe and cannot be a transmission medium or cause of the COVID-19. The spread of the virus is mainly conveyed by respiratory secretions from affected persons. COVID-19 can propagate very quickly through the air. While that is certain, the amount of time the virus may last on surfaces is not known. Estimates suggest a few hours. This comes from a report that inbound parcels from china have been declared harmless as the virus does no survive the heat exposure during the duration of the journey.

For the Italian Salumi, safety is assured. Here’s why- the cured meat contains a microbial community such as the salumi molds which create a hostile habitat for the virus. Therefore, you can support the Italian people by buying the Salumi especially from the affected areas of Parma ham, Culatello, Salame Felino and San Daniele. This is much needed as slaughterhouses are working with about 20-25% fewer pigs, coupled with minimum labor and stringent logistics as reported by Claudio Veronesi, a pig farmer from Sustinente. According to Thomas Ronconi, the President of ANAS (National Association of Pig breeders), a wider policy needs to be enforced by collaborating with the EU. He proposes legislation and means that allow for the storage of fresh meat and thighs, which cannot make it to the market until a quick redesign of the supply chain is completed. Less than a week ago the market fell to €1,452 per kilogram resulting in a significant drop in consumption in the hotel, restaurants and catering segments. This is a result of the lockdown. As a result, there was a surplus of at least 2 million legs at the time of writing this article. While the ham boasts the largest consumption, the diminishing prices are closely tagged to the aforementioned thighs. To help support the players in this industry, the world is urged to choose Italian meat and PDO hams for their top-notch quality and careful preparation process.

The Best Food Museums in Bologna, Modena and Parma.

There are a few places in the world where the food culture is as strong as it is in Italy. It is not only about pizza and pasta and whoever has visited Italy knows it very well.

There is something about Italians’ love for their cuisine which makes it special. It is an attention to the raw materials and the regional high-quality products. After all, Italian cuisine is one of the best in the world for something, no?

It is hard not to get overwhelmed by the great passion for tradition, quality, and regional flavors when visiting the country. Every region and every city has something to offer in terms of traditional cuisine which is specific to that area.

Emilia-Romagna is an Italian region full of culture, rich in traditions and historical landmarks. Not many know that is also the home of some of the Italian foods that have gained an important name around the world such as Parmesan Cheese, Parma Ham or Balsamic Vinegar, to mention only a few.

When in the region, you should make the best out of your experience and try out as many traditional foods as you want!

If you want to go deeper and learn something more about real Italian food culture and its ingredients you should make sure you visit these food museums in Emilia-Romagna. They focus on regional specialties and will make you appreciate Italian food traditions even more.

Carpigiani Gelato Museum

from carpigiani website

Who doesn’t love gelato? Italian summers would just not be the same without the classic (and delicious) cones or cups of artisanal gelato, that in Italy seems to be so easy to find. Loving gelato is one thing, but knowing its history and production techniques is another, and it can be quite fascinating too.

For all gelato-lovers, Bologna hosts the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to the history of artisanal gelato. It is the Carpigiani Gelato Museum.

From food classes to tasting, to the teaching of the technology behind the perfect gelato, the museum is a very interesting experience, recommended to everyone, especially those that wonder why is Italian gelato so much better than any other gelato in the world.

The main exposition is highly interactive and it is organized around four main themes: the evolution of gelato from the origins to what we know as gelato today; the history of its production, the consumption of gelato today; and the Italian artisanal gelato industry around the world.

During your visit, you’ll be able to admire many ancient machines used to produce gelato and learn about the evolutions of artisanal gelato. To visit even better, you’ll have some gelato tasting at the end. Not bad for a museum, right?

The Museum itself is located at Carpigiani’s headquarters. If you don’t know what Carpigiani is, you should, since it is the company behind most of the machines producing your favorite artisanal gelato. Located in Anzola Emilia, just 40 minutes from Bologna, the museum is easily accessible by car or public transport.

Keep in mind that before getting there, you should book a tour on the Carpigiani Gelato Museum’s website. Make sure to check also the upcoming events, you might find something interesting to enrich your visit!

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Museum

Museo aceto tradizionale

In Italian referred to as “Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale Spilamberto, the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar museum is centered around the production of balsamic vinegar. It is an interesting door to the sometimes hidden world of the ancient methods of production of this tasty dressing that is still used nowadays and make balsamic vinegar a premium Italian product that has built an important name around the world.

The museum is located in Modena, where real balsamic vinegar is from.

Visiting the museum is a great way to learn about the techniques, the tools and the traditions of balsamic vinegar and its uses. You’ll discover the different flavors, aging method, and combinations so you’ll learn how to use it at its best. A visit to a food museum will not be complete without a tasting, and this museum does it very well.

The love and passion for the “black nectar” from the guides and the traditional production methods which will make you travel in the past, make the visit particularly interesting. You’ll go through all the steps needed to produce balsamic vinegar and learn more about the possible food combinations to enhance its flavors.

In the end, you will have the opportunity to shop for some of the awesome balsamic vinegar you tasted during your tour. You can also opt for having a tour without tasting, but the additional 2 euros for the tasting experience are worth it and will make your visit much better.

To visit the museum, you should book a guided tour of the museum’s website. They organize four visits per day every day, apart from Monday, when the museum is closed.

Parma Ham Museum: Museo Del Prosciutto Di Parma

Parma hams
Prosciutto di Parma

This wonderful museum is focussing on one of Parma’s main specialty: Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham. It is located in Langhirano, a small town about 90 kilometers from Bologna and 20 kilometers from Parma.

The building of the museum is called “Foro Boario”, dating back from the early 20th century. The museum is focused on the importance of the Emilia-Romagna region and its local ingredients and how they fostered the production of Parma Ham. The museum is organized into eight sections all centered around the history of the ham and its production methods over the years.

For example, there is an interesting section entirely dedicated to salt, a staple food that was essential in the conservation of foods in the past and that turned out to be the basis of the industry of cured meat and its “art”. You’ll also learn about the uses of Prosciutto di Parma in traditional Italian dishes and the most recent techniques of production.

At the end of your visit, you can choose to shop for some Parma Ham or also go for a tasting or a meal at the Museum’s restaurant, along with a selection of the best wines of the region.

So, here was a list of some of the food museums you shouldn’t miss when in Emilia-Romagna. Make sure you visit them and enjoy your experience!

Where to Buy Parma Ham in Parma?

In the Northern Italian countryside, you will find the city of Parma, it may be famous for a variety of things including its University and cheese, but what it is most famous for is its Prosciutto di Parma otherwise known as Parma ham.

Prosciutto di Parma is a delicious dry-cured ham that follows an intricate process that can take up to several years, in order to obtain the perfect final taste that everyone knows an loves. While there are other regions in Italy that have their own version, Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous and sought after of them all, even earning certain degrees of protected status.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit or live in the city of Parma and want to experience the most authentic and appetizing Prosciutto di Parma in the country, then we have found the ultimate places for you to go and have just that.

1) La Prosciutteria

The moment you walk into La Prosciutteria all of your senses will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of hanging hams on offer. There is a massive selection for you to choose from, and it is clear to see why this place is famous among locals as well as tourists. The shop provides an assortment of wonderful smells and wonderful sights, and as a bonus, they specialize in other local meats and cheeses, and have fresh bread daily. La Prosciutteria is quintessentially Italian, a place that is a prime example of where you should buy or try Parma ham, it is a delightful shop and you will most certainly leave with a smile.

Situated right in the heart of Parma, the shop is easy to access and easy to find.

The address for La Prosciutteria: Via Farini, 9/c – Parma

Their opening times vary depending on the day/season, so in order to never miss your chance to visit, check out their website for the complete list of opening times: https://www.silvanoromaniparma.it/

2) Casa del Formaggio

For more than thirty years Casa del Formaggio has been serving up some of the best traditional Italian food available, from their fresh plates of pasta, a vast selection of cheeses, and of course, different meats. Their choice of cured meats includes some of the best Parma ham you can buy in the region; you will find only the highest quality of ham at Casa del Formaggio, a ham that has been cured slowly and traditionally with the end result being a perfect and mouthwatering example of why Parma ham is held in such a high regard in Italy.

Casa del Formaggio is located right in the center of Parma and is easily accessible by car or on foot.

The address for Casa del Formaggio: Str. Nino Bixio 106 / C Parma

The shop is open Monday- Saturday

Morning 8:30-13:30 / Afternoon 16:30-19:45

3) Salumeria Garibaldi

Salumeria Garibaldi is another excellent choice for those wanting to find the best Parma ham that the city has to offer. For nearly seventy years this shop has severed the area with its finest hams and cheeses, earning itself as a reputation for providing its customers with a gastronomic delight. Their succulent selection of Prosciutto di Parma has been mastered over the years to be some of the best and famous in the country, with theirs being recognized on a national level. The passion and enthusiasm that the owners of Salumeria Garibaldi have for their work come through in the rich and full flavors of the products, and they truly serve some of the best Parma ham in the whole of Italy.

Conveniently located near the city’s main railway station, you will have no problems with finding it.

The address for Salumeria Garibaldi: Strada Garibaldi 42 43121 Parma

The shop is open Monday – Saturday

08:00-20:00

You will never look at Parma ham in the same way again after you have had the experience of tasting some of the most authentic Parma ham not only in the region but also in the country. Once you have visited the area you will fully understand why the province has earned itself the nickname of the food valley of the world.

Best Parma Ham Factories That You Can Visit (On your Own)

Italy has always been on the list of a lot of people’s bucket list. Aside from the architectural attractions of this place, another must try in this beautiful country is their food. Aside from pizza and pasta, what a lot of people do not know is that Italy has already perfected the art of curing ham. And one of the best places in Italy to get ham is in Parma. Parma ham is one of the best meats in the world. And a lot of ham shops in Italy offer educational tours in shops where you get to see how hams are made, from slicing it to curing and even up until ageing. So if you happen to be around the area, never miss a chance to have a tour of the best ham stores there.
Below are some of the best places to go for a tour and learn all about prosciutto.

Salumificio La Perla

Parma ham tour
Parma ham tour

Address: Localita Quinzano Sotto, 3, Parma, Italy
Opening Hours: Call ahead
Why Visit this place? :
La Perla is a family-owned business where members of the family will personally take you through the process of the tour. Here, you will be able to see how hams are prepared firsthand! And since the whole family manages it, you will surely feel the passion they have for the business. Which means that all their products are made meticulously and with deep love. Plus, the best part of the tour is knowing that this store can produce about 60,000 hams annually! After the visit, their guests will be given a hearty meal offering their best meats plus cheese and wine! And if you like to buy some food souvenirs in the area, there are small shops around the place which you can visit.

Prosciutto Bar Rosa dell’Angelo

prosciutto bar
prosciutto bar

Address: Via Per Parma 6, 43029, Traversetolo, Italy
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Why visit this place?
Prosciutto Bar is one of the unique places in the area since they have their own Biodiversity Park farm where they take their products from. They raise their pigs for the ham and cows for the cheese. And one might think that it’s typical to have pigs and cows, but what makes this place unique are their black pigs and heirloom cow species which they are trying to save.
Aside from meeting the owners personally, you will also get to see how their products are made such as their 24 months Parma ham and their black pig ham. And of course, after the tour, you get to taste their delicious food paired with the best wines!

Salumificio Conti

conti
conti

Address: Strada Fontana 2/A, 43013, Langhirano, Italy
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Why Visit this place?
Conti is another family-owned business where family members show you the process of preparing their ham. Since it is family owned, you will feel the passion and warmth that they have for what they do. Just like other tours, here, you will see the process of how they prepare the ham from slicing the meat, salting it and until ageing. What makes this place stand out is their process of ageing the meats. What people are not aware of is that meats taste different throughout time. A ham aged for 12 months would feel different than a 24 month aged meat. And after the tour, guests will have the opportunity to have a taste and compare the feelings of hams that are aged differently.

Salumeria Gardoni

gardoni
gardoni

Address: Piazza Luigi Leoni 5, 43013 Torrechiara, Langhirano, Italy
Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM, 3:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Why Visit this place? :
In this charcuterie store , you will get to have firsthand experience with a ham expert who is also the owner of the place. Everything you need to know about the preparation of Parma ham will be taught to you. And after learning all about ham, you get to have a lovely meal and taste the best ham this store has to offer.

These are the best prosciutto Places to Visit in Parma. If you happen to be around the area for a visit, make sure to reserve a tour around these stores so you would be able to see the beauty of preparing ham and would also get to taste the different kinds of meat!

Four products that you should take home while visiting Emilia-Romagna

Emilia Romagna is the region of Italy that shaped modern Italian cuisine. Notably there are 4 products that you should take home with you and they are balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano and a bottle of good Lambrusco.

Taking home Parmesan cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmesan cheese as it is an aged cheese is safe to take back to most countries in the world, including the U.S. Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and of course the entire EU. Generally speaking there are no restrictions in self importing Parmigiano Reggiano to any country. Custom officers back home should not give you any trouble when taking with you this aged cheese. It also a common norm to vacuum pack the cheese, and remember to ask for “sotto vuoto”, the shop keeper will oblige and vacuum pack the cheese for you. In this form the Parmesan cheese will last for 6 months and once opened, store it in a Tupperware container for no longer than 2/3 months.

Parma ham and other salumi.

For cured meat is a different story, unfortunately it virtually impossible to bring back any meat products when travelling outside the EU. The U.S. Japanese and Australian customs are quite strict when it comes to cold cuts from Italy, they might impose hefty fines. On the other hand if you travel inside the E.U. there are no restrictions of any kind.

Bringing back Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.

Aceto balsamico tradizionale of Modena and Reggio Emilia comes in 100 ml bottles and it is packed in sturdy boxes. Theoretically you could take it on the plane on your carry-on luggage as the content is 100 ml, however rather than confronting the check-in people with your precious black gold it would be a better option to store it in your checked-in luggage. As it comes in its strong boxes there are no chances of breaking the bottles. Shipping is another option but not all producers do it and it is costly especially for small purchases.

Taking home a bottle of Lambrusco from Italy.

Good Lambrusco is scarce back home, you are more likely to be able to find cheaper versions that fill the bottom of the supermarket shelves. In the last 10 years Lambrusco producers have been working hard to make upper scale versions of the wine and get the recognitions that they should really deserve. Many visitors after trying our best Lambrusco cannot go home without a bottle of the red sparkling wine. Customs wise is permitted to take alcohol back home but the quantities vary depending on the country so it is better to check this details before taking large quantities. Of course there are no restriction for personal use within the E.U. Bottles travel safely in the check in luggage but they should be properly wrapped before packing them. Try to wrap a towel around them. Shipping wine is also an option but really worth only if you buy expensive premium wines.

Emilia Delizia wholesale service, wine, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.

As Emilia Delizia main office is based in London UK, we would like to announce our wholesale food service for delicatessens, restaurants, food importers and resellers. If you are based in London and you are looking for one of our products in larger quantities we are able to supply premium organic quality directly from Italy at competitive prices. The produces are palletised and shipped directly to your doorstep. Parmesan cheese, Balsamic vinegar and Lambrusco can be also sent to the U.S, Australia, Japan, and other countries world wide. For more information about our organic products you can check our online food shop.

 

20130112-133725.jpg
Parma ham too big to pack in your suit case – many countries impose restrictions on importing meats

The secret confessions of a Parma ham maker – How to make prosciutto.

Curing ham in a culinary art and it should not be taken lightly.

To become a master Parma ham salter might take many years. Fabrizio of La Perla Parma ham factory in Langhirano says it might take up to 10 years to really master the ability to put the right amount of salt in the right places, he explained during one of our prosciutto tour in the area.

According to the discipline of the Parma ham consortium the back legs of the animals must arrive quickly at the curing facility. In fact the freshly slaughtered meat has bacteria growing on it, the faster you start the production, the least salt you will need to use.

Parma ham is famous for its delicate aroma, and surprisingly it is not salty at all. This is obtained by adding little salt, time and patience. But curing meat with little salt also increases your chances to fail.

When the meat arrives in Langhirano is loaded on a machine that massage and salts the rind.. The difficult bit is to salt the exposed meat, and that it is done exclusively by hand. Below you can see the 3 fundamental points where the leg is salted precisely by the skill full hands of the master salter.

1) it is important that the meat is not covered in salt, but it is applied only in these critical points. Firstly salt is applied on the femoral head as you can see in the picture above. These are points that if they are not salted correctly they will spoil easily.

2) Secondly he presses on the femoral artery, as pictured above, and he adds salt in the area that he created with his fingers. So this is an other critical point where the ham curer should take care of.

3) The 3rd and last part that has to be salted is the fatty part that it is between the meat and the rind of the pig. Therefore the master salter takes a handful of salt and smears it along the fatty line of the leg.

Emilia Delizia organises Parma ham factories tours at small and artisan producers in the Parma province. If you are interested in ham curing techniques we will be glad to organise a detailed visit in the language of your preference.

 

A day around Parma between ham, culatello and castles

Parma is a town in the north west of Italy, not far from Milan and the Cinque Terre. Parma is well connected via train links, motorway and recently even by air with the newly opened Verdi airport which connects the town with London Stansted. Thanking to this new possibility it is now possible to spend a long weekend to explore the best food in Italy, medieval castles and aristocratic palazzoes.

culatello in Parma
Culatello hanging from the humid cellars

The Castle of Torrechiara and Parma ham.

Heading  south just   30 minutes by car from central Parma, we will find the Castle of Torrechiara. An important manor overlooking the Parma river valley. Once belonging to the Rossi family is now a museum open to everyone interested in visiting this splendid example of medieval architecture.  The highlight of the visit is the magnificent “bedroom” once dedicated to Pier Maria Rossi’s lover: Bianca. But this is not all. The Torrechiara castle is only part of the fun. The castle’s adjacent town is the centre of the Parma ham production. In Langhirano you can sample the best prosciutto that you can find around, and directly from the producers too. The best of all comes when you can stay at the castle b&b and have your dinner right at Locanda del Castello a restuarant providing excellent and  typical Parma style dishes.

Farm stay with Parmesan production.

To make things more interesting you could stay a selected farm and wake up in the morning with an amazing breakfast followed with a tour of parmesan cheese production. This is possible in Lesignano Bagni not far from the Parma ham production area and it also close to a balsamic vinegar producer. In fact you can visit all 3 products in just one one day with a 2 night stay.

Colorno, little Paris, and culatello ham.

The Parma province has a lot to offer and maybe you need to start to make choices in your long weekend. The area once under the French control was named the little Paris, due to the charming resemblance of the river side of the two cities. But another important guest was living in the small town of Colorno. Marie Luise duchess of Parma and wife of Napolon. She made Colorno her home and she had a whole palazzo for herself. The ducal palace of Colorno is a splendid example of renaissance architecture. Not to be missed is the hourly tour inside the palace. Do not forget to walk in the English style palace garden that is always accessible during daylight.
But Colorno is home of another delicacy: Culatello ham. Probably it is the first location making the ham heading north from Parma. Remember that many producers are happy to do guided visits inside their cellars, so just follow the culatello road sign and ask.

Polesine Parmense and the Antica Corte Pallavicina.

Heading north from Parma towards the great Po’ river we will encounter an unpretentious village called  Polesine. The highlight here is the building named after the noble parmense family: the Pallavicini. While the village has been moved from the shores for the river, remarkably the Antica Corte still sits next to to the banks of Po’. The Antica Corte Pallavicina has been completely restored by Massimo Spigaroli, who is the keeper of the secrets of culatello. He will oblige to show you the massive brick cellars of the palace literally filled with the precious ham. Massimo also organises cooking lessons, and ham making sessions. Cycling and boat tours of the Po’ river. Of course you can also stay at the palace by renting one of the modern and comfortable room.

Roccabianca.

Roccabianca literally the white castles lies in the flat of the Parma province just few kilometres from the Po’ River. Pier Maria Rossi not satisfied with Torrechiara castle builds another palace for Bianca (his lover) here in the foggy and marshy lands north of Parma. Roccabianca is simply spectacular, the external walls of the inner courts are completely covered in ivy. Here it is easy to imagine tales of knights and dames. But Roccabianca is also the home of the Italian author Giovannino Guareschi, maybe known more familiar to the Italians than the foreign visitors. It is still worth to mention that you can visit his house and discover this stories of Don Camillo and Peppone. Of course Roccabianca is one of the homes of Culatello, so enjoy it while you are there.

Zibello.

The home of the famous culatello and also the headquarters of the consortium. In November there is the culatello festival called Novemberpork. The local fiesta is totally dedicated to swine delicacies. Their tagline is: speriamo che ci sia la nebbia, it translates as we hope that it is going to be foggy. For many might sound strange but the producers claim that they need to open the windows of their cellars to let the fog. Apparently you will need that sort of humidity to cure the ham correctly.

Soragna.

Needless to say that here in Soragna you will find 2 things: a castle and culatello ham. It is a tiny comune with a characteristic porticoed town centre. While you are here you should visit the Rocca di Soragna, another magnificent castle with the advantage of still being inhabited by its prince descending from the Lupi family. English guided visits can be organised and culatello producers are in range.

San Secondo Parmense.

San Secondo is the home of spalla di San Secondo. A pork speciality made with the front shoulders of the animal. The cooked version is served warm with torta fritta (a earthy fried bread) coupled together it is a mind blowing experience  The flat land around Parma do not produce great wines but if you come across the Fortana wine, or Fortanina you should not miss the chance to try it, light and fruity is heart-warming in those foggy nights.

 Cycling Activities from Parma – Discover the great river from Polesine Parmense.

The Po’ river offers plenty of opportunities for those wanting to cycle or walk. In fact it is possible to rent bicycles locally and go on cycling tour of the area. The activities require some sort of fitness but they are considered easy trails as they are in the flat. The day can be also combined with the navigation of the Po’ river and a stop in Cremona. Of course we will include a gourmet visit to a culatello producer.

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

How Parma ham is made

by Marcelo Pinto  July 8th 2012

Italy’s cozy town of Parma has been known for Prosciutto di Parma for over 2,000 years. The secret recipes of these air-dried hams have changed hands throughout history within families. It is a product of man’s passion and skill, combined with nature. The Parma ham has put Italy on the global gastronomic map due to its uniqueness.

The micro-climate of Parma is very conducive to the ham production, with its dry and airy summers and cold winters. Humidity levels are moderate, while the air carries the smell of the sea and chestnut trees. To maintain the high quality of Parma ham, it must be kept away from variations in climate. The production area is restricted to a height less than 900 meters above sea level on the Parma hills, since regions lying above this height face a very cold and long winter. The production area must also be 5 kilometers away from the humid and foggy Via Emilia along the Po River. The limits are the Enza River on the east and the Stirone River on the west, which bring in fragrant sea breezes that roll down into Parma valley.

The curing of the ham is crucial to its quality. It is carried out by natural methods, even though they take as long as 12 months and require immense care, patience and skill. Traditions have evolved over time, with more refined breeding and farming procedures. This has made the pork sweeter and more tender.

Knowing the process of curing the meat is not enough. The ‘master salters’ from Parma have learned from their ancestors how to identify good pork legs, trim the hams by hand and apply salt properly to ensure outstanding quality. The latter is a deciding factor for determining the quality of the curing process and retaining the sweetness of the ham.

The Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham Consortium was established in 1963. It started with 23 members and has now 180 members. Their mission is to maintain the quality and tradition of Parma ham by sticking to natural methods; salt and air are the only additives. With records kept regarding the origin, birth date and breeding method for each pig, all production stages are closely monitored by the Istituto Parma Qualita, an independent certifying body, in keeping with the rules of the Consortium. A special law was even laid down by the Italian government. The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been recently awarded to Parma air-dried ham, giving it copyright over the name.

The pigs from which Parma ham is made have to be heavy and their meat must be soft, yet firm. They have to be born and raised only on an authorized breeding farm in one of the 11 designated Northern and Central regions of Italy. Traditionally they are fed whey, a by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This imparts a unique flavor to their meat.

The hams are exposed to constant cold and humid conditions for 100 days, after which they are kept in large maturing rooms for 3 months. This way they are protected from the sun. The windows are constantly opened and closed for circulation of the countryside air. In the seventh month, a mixture of pork fat and pepper called sugnatura is hand-applied onto the open surface of the meat. This is meant to protect and soften it. The hams are then put in cantina or cellars for at least 5 months, so that they can slowly dry under close supervision. The producers are trained and experienced in detecting any quality defects by the sense of smell. The spillatura is a horse bone needle which is used to check the curing outcome, before assigning the precious label of ‘Parma Ham’.

The ham gets several imprints in the various stages of production. The breeder makes a permanent tattoo onto the hind legs of the piglets, consisting of the month of its birth and the identification code of the farm. At the slaughterhouse, the initials PP (for Prosciutto di Parma) are fire-branded onto the pork legs if they are worthy enough to be sent to the production line as Parma Ham. At the entry to the curing house, the legs are stamped with a metal seal having the Consortium code and the month and year when curing started. After passing all verification and regulatory tests, the legs are finally fire-branded with the 5-pointed Ducal Crown of the Consortium, along with the name, ‘Parma’. The producer’s code is added under the crown. This is the guarantee of a 100% natural and light Parma ham that is a product of age-old traditions.

A slice of Parma ham has a delicious country aroma; it is succulent and thin, with a distinctive salty-sweet taste. It is best enjoyed stand-alone and no other air-dried ham comes close to Parma Ham in bringing you this divine gastronomic experience.