Parma travel guide for leisure and business

Written by Marcelo Pinto  June 10th 2012

how cheese is made

Science and poetry, craftsmanship and industry, sophistication and authenticity. Parma is an admirable synthesis of these apparent opposites, as revealed in its history, and is still true today.

Background

Parma was the capital of the Duchy, and at one time was ruled by royalty – Marie Louise – the second wife of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. It is a city of affluence and sophistication, famous nowadays for its culinary specialties. It is the only place in the world where the strict rules of an age-old tradition have become the driving force of economic development. The Ducal Palace, offered as headquarters to the European Food Safety Authority, is an emblem of this complex personality. Built in the 16th century by the second Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese, it stands in a splendid park, surrounded by exotic tree species. The very name of Parma fascinated Stendhal and Proust.

Architecture

High on the list of desirable places to live, Parma has been admirably shaped by the hand of history. There is the square containing the Romanesque cathedral, Duomo, with frescoes by Correggio, and the pale-coloured Baptistery, designed by Benedetto Antelami, that are silent witnesses to a great architectural heritage, preserved in the very heart of the city. Piazzale della Pace, redesigned by Mario Botta to show off the massive proportions of Palazzo della Pilotta, houses a theatre built by the Farnese family, and entirely of wood, unique in that it could be filled with water for staging naval battles, to the delight of the court. The grandiose building now hosts the Galleria Nazionale, and features paintings by Correggio, Parmigianino, and Leonardo. The Teatro Regio – Royal Theatre – elegant in its neoclassical simplicity, is a temple dedicated to the music in the city of Verdi and Toscanini. Facing it stands the imposing Church of the Steccata, with precious works by Parmi
gianino. A short stroll away is Piazza Garibaldi, the real centre of the city, an elegant showcase of buildings reflecting different historical periods.

Food

The love of good food, reflected in products famous all over the world, is more a matter of art than an industry. Discover our unique local products, with their bewitching flavours. Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Culatello di Zibello, and other exquisite foods – tomatoes, Parma’s Red Gold; mushrooms from the Valtaro; black truffles from Fragno; and sparkling aromatic wines. The genius of this city has been in inventing ways of transforming these fruits of the earth. It has conquered an international market by maintaining the authentic flavours of farm-made preserves and hand-rolled pasta, even when producing them in large quantities – a decision based on policy rather than marketing. And it has proved to be a winning formula, because it is deep-rooted, drawing on the history and the traditions of this fertile land.

High-Quality Standards

Parma has succeeded in combining taste and technology, developing a culture of food and its production. Of course, everyone has heard of Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Throughout the world, hams marked with the five-pointed crown symbol are a benchmark of quality. For cheese to lay claim to the Parmigiano appellation, the milk must have come from cows bred in the region, and been processed using a method dating back to Etruscan times. Then, it is left to mature for at least a year.

Economy

It was here that the humble macaroni first became an international business. 1870 saw the founding in Parma of the firm Barilla, the first in Italy to produce pasta on an industrial scale. Here in Food Valley, the statistics say it all – a turnover of €10 billion, 25,000 employees, and exports worth €3 billion.

Education

Culture is synonymous with the University of Parma, founded in the 10th century, and one of the oldest in Italy. The new campus offers a wide range of specialisations, including food science.

Other Industries

But Parma’s story is not only about food and technology. Parma also has important clothing and leatherworking industries, reflecting an ancient tradition of craftsmanship, dependent on skilled labour and top-quality raw materials.

Ducal Palace

Just outside the city walls stands the Reggia di Colorno, once known as the “little Versailles” on account of its gardens. Only one word adequately describes it – a marvel. It now houses the ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine, interpreting Italy’s gastronomic tradition to the wider world.

Castles in the Countryside

This is a fertile, generous land, bisected by the ancient Roman highway of the Via Emilia, and peppered with castles erected to defend the estates and vaunt the fortunes of its feudal lords. Torrechiara was built by Pier Maria Rossi in honour of his lover. The couple would meet in the sumptuous golden chamber, whose terrace dominates the whole of Food Valley. The fortress of Fontanellato, built by the counts of Sanvitale, boasts some magnificent frescoes by Parmigianino. The Meli Lupi Castle at Soragna is another splendid aristocratic residence, with magnificent gilded interiors.

Torrechiara castle

Famous People

This is the province which, in the 19th century, produced the operatic genius of Giuseppe Verdi. It was also the home of Arturo Toscanini, whose house is now a museum, and of humorist Giovannino Guareschi – creator of Don Camillo – whose books have delighted millions all over the world.

Spa Town

It also boasts the invigorating waters of Salsomaggiore, one of Italy’s oldest spa resorts, already popular with the Romans 2,000 years ago.

Strategic Location

The quality produce, research, investment, hospitality, and general sense of well-being associated with Parma, are also explained by its favourable geographical location. Parma is right at the heart of the Po Valley, just an hour’s drive from the international airports of Milan and Bologna. From its own airport, named not surprisingly after Giuseppe Verdi, there are daily connections with Rome Fiumicino and several European capitals. Parma is within easy reach of some of the most beautiful parts of Italy. An hour’s drive up over the Cisa Pass, and you are at the seaside – Lerici, Cinque Terre, Portofino. In the opposite direction, passing through a string of splendid medieval towns, you arrive at the world’s most beautiful city – Venice. Strategically placed between middle Europe and the Mediterranean, Parma has been able to blend the two different culinary cultures throughout its history, refining it through scientific research, a heritage now widely recognized and shared with the rest of Europe.
Science and charm, industry and tradition, business and culinary excellence. Parma already has all these things. Rich in history and timeless wisdom, this is a city waiting to be explored.

The text has been extracted from the Parma chamber of commerce video

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwb1nDpGBvg

Parmesan production video – how Parmigiano Reggiano is made

Normally its cows that are branded, but this is Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy often referred to as parmesan cheese. Parmesan does start with cows but it’s only their milk we want. This dairy in Mantova, Italy uses half a ton of milk for each block of cheese. It’s made in these huge copper vats. Each one holds 990 liters enough to make two giant Parmesan wheels.

Those cows have a lot of grass to eat to keep up with production. Parmesan is a hard cheese so the milk needs to be solidified. The ideal temperature for this is 33 degrees. To get the milk to solidify, the cheese maker will use rennets. This enzyme comes from calves stomachs, and it’s poured in and left for a moment to work its magic.

Because of strict European laws constraining trademarks. Parmigiano-Reggiano can only be made in certain Italian regions. This means each producer must make as much as they can because global demand is huge. As the rennet takes effect, the head cheese maker will notice subtle changes in the milk’s consistency.

The workers keep a very close eye out so they know when to start the next step. When the time is right, they get to work. Using custom made cutters, they slice through the yogurt-like substance, breaking it into lumps. This helps separate the cheese curds from the whey. After three minutes of this, the temperature is raised and the two parts separate.

The solid curds fall to the bottom leaving the liquid whey at the surface. This custom made knife casts over 4,000 pounds and it’s designed to cut the big lump of cheese at the bottom of the tank in half. In the Parmesan business, high tech goes hand in hand with old school. The cheese master now uses his big wooden paddle to lift the two halves so his colleagues can wrap them in cloth.

If they left the cheese in the bottom of the tank, someone would have to climb inside to get them out. This way is far easier. The workers can now suck out all the old whey, making the tanks ready for the next load of milk. Once the cheese is removed, it’s wrapped up and a weight is put on top. This squeezes out excess fluid.

As a hard cheese, Parmesan needs as little fluid as possible. It’ll remain like this for eight hours in a Teflon-mold. As the cheese spreads out, this imprints the dairy’s name into the sides. After about 24 hours, the Teflon form is substituted for a metal one. Here it will sit down and take on the characteristic wheel shape with a flat top and bottom and curved sides.

After three days in their molds, these cheeses could really do with a bath, a salt bath. This process actually improves that cheesy smell. The cheese is left in this salty brine for a month before it’s taken out to be dried. This helps improve the cheese’s final flavor. Once it’s time to get out of that shag bathwater they make their way to the ripening room.

The contents of this room are estimated have a total value of 17 million pounds and our freshly baked Parmesan wheels are about to join them. The wheels will spend up to two years in here maturing slowly. But to avoid growing mold they have to be turned at least once every two weeks. Turning this many cheeses would be very dull and very hard so a robot is used instead.

Although after doing this job for such a long time it looks like the robots could also do with some turning. As it matures the staff keep a close eye on the cheeses. Using his official hammer the head cheesemaker will tap on a random sample. His expert ear knows the sound of a good Parmesan from a bad one.

He’ll use a little corkscrew to test a sample, and ensure the cheese is maturing nicely. When he satisfied it up to scratch, he’ll fire up his trusty brand and mark the cheese. From it’s humble beginnings via some rather dark and briny bathwater, the world’s favorite pasta topping is born.

The Text has been extracted from this video, the cheese represented is actually Grana Padano and not Parmigiano Reggiano.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BZEy6dSY6Q

 

A video in high quality shot during our gourmet tours in June 2012, with cool music and special effect enjoy.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTm9lqzD9GM

Tenuta Rampada and Traditional balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia

Originally appeared on Fine dining Lovers by San Pellegrino

Transcribed by Marcelo Pinto  June 1st, 2012

The traditional balsamic Italian vinegar from Reggio Emilia is one of the most
well knows product of the Italian cuisine. A rare product spread all around the
world for its particular taste ad proprieties. Grapes and tradition linked to
give to the people a unique product loved by everyone. A way of life, tradition
and respect for the land, love and family heritage that stand still in this
particular area since many years. The Italian food culture is well know all
around the planet and this is why it is so. The heritage of the families stand
where it belongs.

The Rampata word comes from a non common term, a dialect from Reggio Emilia
“La Rampeda”, a famous area that slopes or in some cases “ramps” upwards the
hills around.
We find our selves on the banks of the little Enza river in the Montecchio
Emilia area. A region well known for Lambrusco and obviously for the balsamic
vinegar from the region
Henry III of Franconio in 1046 crossed the north of Italy traveling to Rome to
see the Pope and receiving the imperial coronation.
In the days in the Po’s region he brought a lot of gift to Boniface of Canossa,
the father of Matilda and one of the most relevant men in the kingdom. This
is because he’d like to receive in return the famous vinegar from this area a
product well known in the area and made in his castle. Many people told him
about the qualities of this product.
Balsamic vinegar is a rare good, a luxury good because the specific
term “balsamic” comes from the word “balsam” and it was used and considered in
the past as a drug and an elisir of long life.
The secret of this product is the time that guarantees the best quality and it’s
impossible to have a traditional balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia without a
long time process.
We’re cooking the grape juice because the must needs one day cooking in a
cauldron directly on the fire, but at low heat.
In this way. The liquid part slowly disappear and the sugars can concentrate.
When the product will be put into barrels the natural process will happen, the
fermentation that get converted the sugar into alcohol.
When I was young, none of us: my brother, my cousins and me can help in this
particular phase because it was considered too dangerous.
We can watch the cooking from the window and because it needs a long time, we
woke up early in the mourning opening the windows smelling the aroma of the must
entering the rooms.
Knowing what was happening, but the only thing we could do was to peeking out
from the window.
Our farm stands inside the vineyards, our oxygen, our family’s oxygen.
We have Malvasia’s wine, Trebbiano, Ancellotta, Grasparossa and few varieties of
Lambrusco.
There is a maniac care gives to the plants, because we perfectly know that
everything is born from here, from this soil. So we can’t leave everything to
chance, especially in this last period, thanks to all the attention and care to
the basic ingredients and production phases of the Lambrusco Wine, we’ve reached
incredible results.
Not just the Italian market, but also the foreign markets have given us huge
satisfaction. Wines absolutely need a good years.
We try to produce the traditional balsamic vinegar during good vintage, but the
grapes play quite a relative role, meaning that grapes juice when cooked for
long time automatically loses a but of its vintage.
Talking about the traditional balsamic vinegar, really needs ageing in the
barrels, into the barriques. This is the real secret.
We’re in the “acetaia”, in the attic. All the “acetaie” are always in the top
parts of the buildings, in the attics because the strong cold during the winter
time and the humid heat during the summer are really crucial.
To get the traditional balsamic vinegar you need a series of different barrels
called “batteria”.
Our family tradition use to have a 5 barrels series made of different sizes: 50
litres, 40 litres, 30 litres, 20 and 15 litres. All made from different woods.

Evey time a child was born, especially a girl, a new “batteria” of barrels
started. This “batteria” was given as dowry for the future marriage of this
girl.
Every member of my family has a personal “batteria” and obviously every
personal “batteria” is personally considered the best one.
Thinking about my childhood the treasures were these family traditional balsamic
vinegar barrels.
My family has been producing traditional balsamic vinegar and wine for 4
generation, about 100 years.
My grandfather Ermete inherited this passion for the work, the wine, while the
traditional balsamic vinegar was kept only for family use.
The word “tradition” is connected entirely to my microcosm like everything that
belongs to me. It’s an experience of my life, a part of me from the outside and
the inside.
The important is communicating this feelings in a correct way to the others, not
only the children, but all the persons the we meet daily.
I have a huge respect for the people who have passed this down to me, but always
watching to the future.

The Italian tradition inside a simple product that is possible to use in many
different ways. A precious recipe that stand still on the top of the Italian
goods export. The traditional balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia is the essence
of the Italian rural culture and a cuisine product that is possible to use on
many different foods. If you have never tried this amazing product, now it’s
time to change you habits and to enjoy the taste of a unique essence.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H547ulm-Io

 

 

Food Shopping In Parma – A Walking tour in Italy’s Food Valley

If you want to explore the delicacies of Parma you can do this by following our walking guided tours of the town, either on your own or you can hire one of our English speaking guide to take you around and help you with your gourmet shopping. These days there are many deli shops in downtown Parma, and many local producers have opened their own spaces there, so you do not need to travel to the countryside if you want to do some food shopping before heading home.

parma
Salumerias and high quality Delis are very common in Parma – source

CASA DEL FORMAGGIO

Parma cured meats and cheeses are sold here. As the name says “The House of Cheeses” you already know what to expect.
The shop has a wide selection of the local produces including , Parma ham , Culatello (a type of ham), Salame di Felino (a local mountain salami, very tasty indeed), and rare cold cut like Spalla di San Secondo which is a true pork delicacy.  The shop  also sell many varieties of Parmesan cheese as well cheeses from Italy. In the Pasta department you will find ready to cook tortellini, tortelloni and tagliatelle.

ANTICO FORNO FERRARI

It is a family run bakery which opens only in the morning, you will find many hand crafted speciality bread here. They use white  and wholemeal flours as well as spelt flour, which is supposed to be very good for your digestive system.

Salumeria e gastronomia dall’Olio Mauro

Typical delicatessen in Parma with a wide selection of local cured meats, cheeses, food, and other household items. As you might be expect you will find all best Parma’s Salumi (Italian for cured meats), here you will able to buy Parma ham as well as Parmigiano Reggiano of different ageing. Here you can also buy ready made meals such as lasagne, Tagliatelle, a large selection of cakes and desserts. They also stock more generic items such as ground coffee, milk, dried pasta. water, wine and softdrinks.

L’Angolo Del Parmigiano

The name says it all. Gourmet shoppers will be able to purchase the products that put Parma on the map: ham, salami, cheese and wine. The staff is very approachable and they will be able to advise regarding the various and excellent products that they stock.

Pasticceria D’Azelio.

Your trip to Italy and Parma will not be complete without a trip to the local pasticceria. The store is just minutes from one of the main park in Parma: Parco Ducale.
It is a typical upscale cake shop and here you will be find satisfaction for both sweet and savory gourmet treats. You can savour your snacks outside in the patio and accompany the food with wines and champagnes from the well stocked wine cellar.

Enoteca drogheria Viani

An Italian typical wine and spices shop. Here you will find a wide selection of local and not so local wines including organic beers. The shop also stocks household and general cooking items such as sugar, flour, soaps, detergents, pasta, canned sauces and so on.

Parma
Buy some salami and Parma ham before heading home – source

President Obama Praises Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

acetaia di Giorgio guided visit

by Marcelo Pinto May 28th, 2012

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.

visit a producer of vinegar in Modena

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.

Obama and vinegar of Modena
President Obama and Michelle write a letter to praise balsamic vinegar of Modena

 

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.

balsamic vinegar producer in Modena

 

 

What to do in Bologna in 48 hours

Main attractions in Bologna and why to stay here.

Bologna - The church of San Luca
Bologna – The church of San Luca

What to eat in Bologna.

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.

mortadella
typical products of Bologna artisanal mortadella

Culatello ham tour from Parma

Culatello the king of cured meats – how to visit the producers in Italy.

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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.

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