Showing posts with label Parmesan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parmesan. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2015

Slow Cheese 2013 ~ Bra Italy

Slow Cheese may be the most tasteful festival on Earth. A cornerstone of the Slow Food movement, this biennial event, next scheduled for September 18-21, 2015, takes place at its headquarters in Bra, Italy. Aside from travel and lodging expenses, this sumptuous celebration is free and open to the public. Slow Cheese 2013 was my last stop on a month long self-guided tour of Italy’s Emilia Romagna and Piedmonte regions and it nearly convinced me to cancel my return flight and take up residence there.

Started in 1997 when Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, first brought together a small band of local dairy farmers, attendance is now approaching the 200,000 mark. Hotel accommodation in the region is at a premium and usually booked several years in advance. For that reason and the fact that I love to mingle in local atmosphere, I stayed in a modestly priced Turin hotel about thirty miles from Bra and took the train back and forth. Round trip was 15 Euros and lasted about an hour each way with stops at every village along the route. Since trains run at thirty minute intervals throughout the day, I took breaks to explore these villages on my return trip. Trofarello, Vallongo, Morello, Oselle, Carmagnola, Bandito, and even Alba down the line from Bra, all have a place in my mindscape now.

My first trip to Bra was the day before the festival opened and I recommend doing this if at all possible. It is an opportunity to enjoy this delicate village for its own sake as its ancient cobblestone streets are still relatively empty of outsiders. And it is thrilling to observe the focused intensity that brings this enormous festival together from all parts of the world, often with less than a day of on site construction.

Bra, Italy

Preparation Day

Chaos turns to ecstasy overnight. Mishaps become happy accidents in a way that only the Italians have mastered.  Most notable for me was locating a pairing workshop I purchased as an additional event. As a side note, all the special workshops are affordable and rewarding.

This particular workshop was a high profile vertical tasting of Parmesan cheeses ranging in age from six months to ten years, paired with French champagnes aged three to fifteen years. Not finding the venue on the official Slow Cheese map, I went to a Help tent where the guides, after extensive consultation among themselves, realized that the venue hadn't been included on the map. Va bene! They quickly improvised a sketched addition to my map and I came away with a personal experience of Italian perspective.

Slow Cheese is a distillation of all that is essential to human culture.  Those with the good fortune of being there know what a sensuous treasure that is.

Slow Cheese 2013

Friday, December 19, 2014

Savory Parmesan Crisps ~ Kitchen Table Bakers

Kitchen Table Bakers ~ Parmesan Cheese Crisps
I'll begin by claiming my predilection for Parmesan.  As a cheese type, I favor Blues. But for complete gratification and versatility nothing competes with Parm in my mind. 

So, when Marcella Wright opened her Amazon Online Cheese Shop and awarded me a celebration prize of Parmesan Cheese Crisps, there could not have been a more appropriate gift. 

To mitigate my prejudice, I enlisted a German friend as a taster too. Carla Bissinger, a new arrival to the US from Berlin, is an artisan goldsmith with a discerning palate for savory snacks. A perfect candidate to keep any of my misplaced praise in check. 

UPS delivered the package in perfect condition. Small boxes with three varieties of Crisp (there are 11 possibilities and a smaller Aged version listed on the website) were cushioned with a generous ball of brown craft paper and accompanied by a letter from Barry Novick, founder of Kitchen Table Bakers. 

Reading Barry's story online explained his thoughtful introduction and packaging. Barry left a lucrative career as a hospital administrator to start Kitchen Table Bakers, an unmistakable sign of total dedication. 
Flax Seed, Aged, Rosemary

The three varieties in my gift were Rosemary, Flax Seed, and unadorned Aged. Of the three, I would probably recommend the Aged as a versatile first selection.  

I'm partial to trying new foods in their naked state, but at two and half inches in diameter, the Crisps are an ideal size for dipping and hors d'oeuvre building. There are inviting recipes and serving suggestions on the Kitchen Table website. 

Carla and I paired our Crisps with an Italian Prosecco, a combination so tempting we had to
Carla Bissinger ~ Grateful Taster
consciously stop ourselves from over indulging. 

Despite their cracker shape, the Crisps are actually 100% Parmesan cheese. Three of them are the equivalent of a half ounce serving of Parm. Carla and I agreed that we'd choose the smaller Aged Crisps, shown online, for simple snacking. 

As an appetizing and convenient serving variation on a classic Italian cheese, Parmesan Cheese Crisps by Kitchen Table Bakers are a unique product that is bound to spark both conversation and taste buds anytime they are served.  

Of course, the whole reason behind this unexpected pleasure is Marcella Wright, the daring ACS Certified Cheese Professional who has launched a whole new chapter in her dream career.  Kitchen Table Parmesan Crisps are available on her Amazon Cheese Shop, along with an expanding array of other fine cheeses and related products.

Thank you, Kitchen Table Bakers and Marcella the Marvelous Cheesemonger!