What is Lardo di Colonnata?
Lardo di Colonnata is a true Italian heritage food; (it is very unfortunate that non-Italians will generally confuse the name with simple lard, which is far from the truth). This product is a deliciously seasoned, cured slab of pure fat from the back of the pig, which has been cured in a particular way, and it is a delicacy in Italy where it can often be seen on a platter of Salumi (Italian cured meats). Lardo di Colonnata is a superior product and it is protected by an IGP designation, meaning that production is restricted to the region around the little village of Colonnata. In addition, the IGP brings with it certain regulations regarding the production, and ensures that the product is matured in a particular way in the Marble caves near Colonnata.
The Marble Caves of Carrara and the Apuan alps
The magnificent mountains that surround the town of Carrara are a sight to behold! In the height of summer they appear to be covered in snow, but it is not snow but precious white marble that is gleaming in the sun. The marble from Carrara has been known since Roman times, and is where the huge block that was the basis of Michelangelo’s famed “David” was hewn. The town of Carrara is a monument to marble, and you will see marble wherever you look – marble benches, marble statues, marble steps and a gleaming marble Duomo (cathedral). Today you can go on a quarry tour to get an idea of how incredibly difficult it must have been to produce the marble here all those years ago, with no equipment! Above the town of Carrara, in the village of Colonnata, you can learn how the marble caves of the area are essential today in the production of Lardo di Colonnata, just as they have been for centuries.
Legend has it that the original Lardo was produced by the Roman quarry workers who needed a nutritious meal to sustain them during their labours in the quarries.
How Lardo di Colonnata Is Made.
Thick slabs of trimmed pork back fat are seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic (and sometimes other herbs such as star anise, oregano, coriander, cloves, etc) and packed into specially carved Carrara marble containers, which are porous and allow for the curing process to take place. Production only takes place in winter, and the vats of seasoned fat are aged and matured entirely naturally in the Marble Caves, where the micro-climate is perfect for the job of curing the meat without any additives or preservatives.
The resultant Lardo di Colonnata, shaved into delicate thin ribbons, is a delicate, creamy textured sliver, full of the rich flavours of the herbs, which perfectly complements a slice of grilled Italian bread – crostini. It tastes a little like the fatty part of a slice of perfect prosciutto, but with a lot more flavour! It is generally eaten just as described above, and forms part of an antipasti platter, along with other cured meats (salumi). It can also be used to impart flavour and moisture to roast game birds or other dishes that require a little extra fat.
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The tour of the Parmesan Reggiano cheese dairy, Balsamic Vinegar farm, the Parma ham and lunch at the organic vineyard was thoroughly enjoyed by our family of 4. Paolo was a gracious and knowledgeable host for the day and provided us with insights to the production of the cheese and balsamic vinegar which was enhanced due to his chemistry background. We would thoroughly recommend this tour to those interested in the specialities produced in the Modena region.
We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!
The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!
Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.
Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.
The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.
I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.
Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge
The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide
It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.
Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).
My family felt our first trip to Italy must include a tour of a Parmesan Cheese Factory so when I stumbled on this website several months ago I had no idea what I treasure I found! From the moment I submitted a request for the tour, my experience with Emilia Delizia was first rate. Gabriele provided excellent customer service by patiently answering all my questions to guide me through the selection and reservation of our Foodie Delight Tour. Paolo, our driver, was prompt, cordial and knowledgeable about the processes we were observing and the area in general conveying loads of information with his well-developed English speaking skills. Our stop in Modena fell on a Saturday so we were quite fortunate to end up with a private tour which allowed us to have a nice, personal interaction with the people at each site. Everyone was friendly, generous with the tastings and we never felt rushed to move along to the next location. Now that we have returned to the states, my family agrees this tour was a highlight of our 10 day trip. I was really looking forward to this excursion and am glad to report it exceeded my expectations.