Travel itineraries: from Parmesan to Lambrusco, Modena to taste at 5 stages

The itinerary that I suggest today brings us in Modena, and it is a high level of gluttony, strictly dedicated to people who love good food, because it touches five excellences, five legendary brands, making of Modena territories in greater food vocation throughout Italy. I'm talking about the Ham Dop, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Pdo traditional balsamic vinegar, vinegar of Modena and Lambrusco Doc. An enviable Quintet, that integrates and completes, passing through other excellent products as Vignola cherries Igp, cotechino Modena but also the tortellini, zampone, the noodles. If you think that, Thanks to the Consortium Pleasure Modena bringing together all products protected for about a year, all this becomes an experience of taste in 360 degrees, then it gets really interesting. I warn you three days in this province of Emilia Romagna (birthplace of Massimo Bottura, the best cook in the world in 2016 according to the World's 50 best restaurants and established his Osteria Francescana) are enough to make one lose to anyone at least one month's benefits of dieting (I am a living testimony), but I'm also an injection of agricultural tradition and pride, seen that from Modena arrive iconic products, known, purchased, envied, and unfortunately imitated, worldwide and representing a big chunk of made in Italy with a turnover, to quote a number on all, of nearly a billion euros.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO We start weighing ninety: the Parmigiano Reggiano Pdo. Had long wanted to assist in the process of production and I documented everything (unless the milking and the arrival of milk, who have prohibitive schedules!) in a video on my You Tube Channel I invite you to watch carefully, because I firmly believe that know how the food is produced, experience first-hand the effort and time required, radically changes our perception on what we buy and we eat. I went to the the new Creamery Martignana, Hotel in Baggiovara, where the dairyman, with his wife, the son and the employees, does Parmesan from in just 9 boilers: a small handicraft production, as with most dairies belonging to the Consortium. To produce a form of Parmesan cheese do you need 600 liters of milk and the ingredients used are only three: milk, rennet and salt. Then comes the time, to do its job.

The quality of this PDO product, though, part from farms (the product specification as a guarantee for the consumer is very harsh), where the cows are fed only locally sourced fodder, without the use of fermented fodder or silage, or by-products of the food industry. There are two types of milk that will give life to the form: the evening, skim fat from the rest and made, the cream; and whole milk in the morning. Both are machined in copper kettles, with the addition of natural whey starter and rennet, in precise proportions. The dairyman supervises all production, making measured gestures and gently: breaking the curd at the right point of coagulation, the heats, the shatters into tiny granules that are deposited on the bottom of the boiler. You get a mass that is divided into two forms, Collections in linen canvas and knead until the two final forms. These, After a period of rest, are soaked in a mixture of water and natural salt, before you begin the seasoning, that should last a minimum of one year. Needless to describe the result, but rest assured that assist in the production process and be lucky enough to enjoy a Parmesan 30 months from a form you just opened by the dairyman, with a complicated system of knives and levers, so the cheese will open following his natural inclination, is something I will long remember.

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EAT IN MODENA: James Macdonald, Chairman of the Consortium Modena at the table, Chef of the restaurant King grass, definitely can't take on our hands and decided to open, a few meters from the main local, a typical trattoria’ modenese cuisine: Pomposa-King gras. The name is a whole program: in the local, Basic and rustic, overlooking one of the most beautiful squares in the old town, arrives at the table tradition: local meats, Patty and potato frittata, Tortellini soup (tortellini you also do takeout), Gramigna with sausage ragu (Honorable mention for the quality of sausage), Green lasagna, pork sausage with mashed potato, Chicken Cacciatore. The prices are really small: 6 appetizers,5-7,5 euros, pasta 8-10 euro, seconds 10-13,5 euros) and the kitchen is true.

Traditional balsamic vinegar of MODENA and the vinegar of MODENA The province of Modena, land of major productions of wine, thanks especially to Lambrusco and Trebbiano, the world also is known for its historic tradition in vinegar, that has been handed down from generation to generation. The practice of grilling the must is documented at the time of the Romans and was in the middle ages, Alla corte degli Estensi, He was born the first production unit of balsamic vinegar: sweet, DENSO, with a persistent acidity and complex, traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is a product that the world envies. I highly recommend a visit to acetaia del Duca, in Spilamberto, to better understand this remarkable product, where time plays a key role: you're starting to produce it does to leave an inheritance to their children. The vinegar factory, family-driven Gator, traditional balsamic vinegar rests for centuries, as witnessed by a small barrel of 1867, where the black gold is still in process of aging. According to the regulations of the Consortium (collecting 80 enterprises), the raw material must be obtained from grapes of the territory: After pressing, the must is cooked slowly until a reduction of 50% and then racked into casks, composed of different Woods (Oak, Cherry, etc.), so that over time can give the vinegar different scents. Minimum aging 12 years, but for the extra old you get to a minimum of 25 years. This vinegar so precious can be bottled only in a special container: a small glass bottle, designed by the Italian architect Giugiaro, one hundred milliliters. The cost? They range from 50 euro for the aged 12 years to at least 80 euros for the extra vecchio. Obviously, for use with the eyedropper. And it's not a joke. Modena is not only traditional vinegar Dop but also vinegar Igp, produced in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia with a mix of vinegar and balsamic vinegar, and not with just cooked as for traditional Dop. for that, the Igp is produced in much higher quantities and The minimum aging period is two months, as for what it takes 3 years aged. The prices of the Pgi are naturally much lower and now in supermarkets they are found even at 2 euro per pack (but I suggest you buy those from 6-7 euros at least to enjoy a good product). The vinegar of Modena is especially for export: on over 93 million litres produced annually if they export more than 90%.

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EAT IN SPILAMBERTO: as a stopover between a bottle of Lambrusco and a vinegar tasting, You can find the cuisine Trattoria La Busa, practically adjacent acetaia Del Duca. A trattoria (also in the prices) that brings to the table the Emilian tradition, starting from meats and fried dumplings (just wish the ham served both Parma and not the Modena), to switch to tagliatelle with meat sauce, Tortellini soup, pumpkin ravioli and a cart of stews and roasts, served with real mashed potatoes, mustard and salsa verde. If you have limited time or want to eat just one dish did not hesitate and choose without fail the stews and roasts. Then don't miss one of the most classical sweet place: trifle, creamy, very alcoholic, very well done.

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LAMBRUSCO Vinegar is closely linked to that of wine, It provides to the raw vinegar: the must. Among the grapes that you usually use to make the balsamic is the Lambrusco, that has made the fortune of hundreds of winemakers of the modenese. Think about about 7,700 acres of vineyards are over 6 thousand those cultivated with Lambrusco. Producers are gathered under the Consortium for the historic mark of Modenese Lambrusco, which every year produces about 35 million bottles, with a turnover of more than 110 million. La cantina Chiarli, with over 150 years of history, It is the oldest of Emilia Romagna and whose family has owned Chiarli for five generations. Led by Abdullah and his brother Mario, In addition to the historical structure of Modena, the company has an Office in Castelvetro, within the estate Villa Cialdini, combining modernity and tradition for the production of quality but also of wine Lambrusco and Pignoletto, recently, even sparkling brut and rosé, especially with a base of grape Grasparossa. Anselmo will, If you are particularly interested, to let you try the latest creations: a classic Rosé method from grapes Sorbara, under the brand “Fifth step”, He winks to the most elegant traditional Italian sparkling wines.

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EAT IN MODENA: Also in the Center, next to the trattoria Pomposa, found The grass of the King, the Michelin-star chef James MacDonald (Patron of the restaurant): Here the chef of Tuscan origins, but now “naturalized” Modenese seen lived here 27 years, makes a no-frills kitchen, deliberately Spartan, speaking of Modena, in Emilia Romagna, but of all the great Italian products, from Mazara del Vallo red prawn to pouring from Cetara. Three tasting menus prepared by chef: Expressions (Freehand, 95 euros), Step back in time (with in traditional modenese revisited at 65 euros) and historicity in the dishes (the dishes of his cuisine through the years to 80 euro). Available of course a la carte menu from which I tasted the beef tartare white modenese with squaquerone and traditional balsamic vinegar Dop. As the first two dishes that I most enjoyed in the menu: passatelli dry and Parmesan risotto. Passatelli, prepared with meat sauce sovracoscia chicken and Chilean Air lemon raisin, they are one of the typical recipes of Macdonald, who reviewed the recipe of passatelli exclusively from the point of view of doses to make them more ' consistent’ and created a dish with modern flavors and textures. Great easy Parmesan risotto with balsamic vinegar of Modena PDO, done with a Parmesan broth 26 months and bits of crust inside the risotto. Yet, as the second a beef cheek with spinach and shallots to lambrusco and finally dessert, honestly a little’ subdued, puff pastry with custard, figs and balsamic vinegar Dop.

PROSCIUTTO DI MODENA DOP Now, What better combination with a Lambrusco di a nice slice of bread with ham, the King of Salamis? A PDO is produced in Modena (whose producers are gathered in a Consortium) He has been awarded the 1990 protection: a savory ham, soft and mild grease. Every week, the prosciuttificio Gianfranco Nini, in Savignano sul Panaro, can produce an average of 500 hams. Small numbers, much lower than those of large companies Consorzio del prosciutto di Parma PDO, They also produce 25 thousand legs every week. However, for this company, driven by Nini family for generations, the ham is serious business (and it is for me). Animals coming predominantly from Emilia Romagna, Piedmont and Lombardy (9 regions are permitted by specification); the trimming of the fat parts, follow two phases of salting with just salt (No spices and preservatives) for 20 days; This is followed by a rest of your thighs for the next 70 days at a temperature and humidity controlled (around 6 degrees). Once this phase is complete, the hams are washed, dried and processed for long aging, that will last 14 months minimum. By the eighth month, seasoned hams at room temperature. At this stage, the legs are covered with suet (a mixture of fat, Salt, spices and rice flour). The certification is guaranteed by independent bodies authorised by the Mipaaf. Quality checks are carried out on specific points of the thigh, with a horse bone (that holds the scents and the moods of the thigh seasoned for a few seconds and then lose them quickly). Every ham should weigh 7 kg minimum. On average, from inception to final, a thigh passes from 14 kg to about 8-9 kg. And the Consortium's logo is placed on those hams that the first phase of raising pigs (minimum 9 months old) have fulfilled all the criteria of the product specification.

THE TOWN’ Amidst all the olfactory and gustatory strain of this gluttonous weekend, be sure to visit Modena, with its arcades, the Big square with the Cathedral and the Museum, the Ghirlandina Tower and the historic rooms of the Town Hall (the whole site is a Unesco World Heritage site), Piazza Roma with the Palazzo Ducale, the gallery and the library Estensi, the historical market place Albinelli, opened in 1931 and recently renovated, where you can buy and taste the local products.

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EAT IN MODENA: walking through the alleys of the city you might enjoy a typical dinner at the Tomato stall, a tavern with a peculiar name (but that has very specific historical origins) and Modenese dishes revisited, as the Mille-Feuille of pancetta and radicchio with Parmesan cream and green tortelli with ricotta white modenese with butter and lavender.

TRIP OUT OF TOWN: for a trip outside is worth to stretch the step up in Vignola, Home of the eponymous cherry Igp. In its old town stands the imposing Rocca, the first records date back to 1150. Modified and enlarged several times over the centuries, Today the fortress is one of the most visited monuments in the territory. In Vignola, don't forget to enjoy a coffee at the bakery Gardner, historic place of the whole province, to enjoy the legendary Torta Barozzi, gluten free cake created by Eugenio Gollini in 1886 in honor of the architect Giacomo Barozzi (lived in the sixteenth century). The ingredients are known (Peanut flour and almonds, coffee, sugar, eggs, butter and chocolate) but the secret lies in the doses and in case, that the owners wouldn't show up even under torture and that handed down through generations. The bakery also produces the cake Builders (with almond flour Blondes), to celebrate the famous architect Vignola, Ludovico Muratori.

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