Saturday, April 20, 2019

In Search of the Elusive Parmigiano Reggiano, and Lambrusco

In this Northern part of Italy, one finds more dairy cows, hence the cooking here is a bit heavier, using butter and cream.  The plate above is an example of  what the dairy cows here produce: in the center, butter on the bread, to the left, ricotta, continuing down the left side, Parmigiano Reggiano from 12 months all the way to 48 months on the right side.  The condiments are jams, honey and balsamic vinegar.
We began our tour at Quartro Madonne Caseificio dell'Emilia a large producer of Parmigiano Reggiano.  Parmigiano Reggiano can only be called that if the milk, cows, and production take place in Parma or Reggio, a very small area. 

The production begins by combining the morning and the evening milk in large copper cauldrons

The gentleman with the beard is the cheese master

from the cauldron they only get two wheels of cheese

A modern facility with modern equipment for transportation

The cheese begins to form

The cheese master does his job by feeling the curds

Transfer into tubs

at this point the cheese is stamped or tattooed with the stamp of the consortium
A salt bath

and young cheese 

Cheese cathedrals


The consortium uses the golden hammer to test the cheese before it is given a fire stamp
With the fire stamp the cheese must now age for a minimum of 12 months before being sold.  The cheeses that don't make the cut are fed the pigs raised for prosciutto.

During the earthquake 10 years ago, this is what was lost.  Below you can see the new protection for the cheese

Cheese is cut then vacuum packed for sale

This process for making cheese has been going on since the Middle Ages, it has only recently in 1964,  been controlled by a consortium that makes sure that every wheel is worthy of the fire stamp.
After our tour, we tasted the cheeses and had the opportunity to buy cheeses of different ages.  On to the Lambrusco winery!
We arrived at the Cleto Chiarli winery, toured the vineyards and the processing areas.  



Sparkling reds and whites are the wines from the area; Trebbiano and Lambrusco, these help to cut the richness of the foods.  
After our wine tasting, we were back on the bus going to lunch
So we are off to the country to an agriturismo and our lunch.  Ciao for now!

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