I like doing things by hand. Get them covered in dough, paint, glue, dirt. I like the sense of achievement I get when I get my hands dirty and I like to see other people using their hand too. Whatever comes out when using your own hands, no matter how imperfect it might be, it will always be magical.
All this bla bla introduction to lead you to my latest food experience in Italy!
Thanks to Cucina Semplicemente I had to chance to travel to one of Italy’s culinary heavens – the province of Parma. My adventure actually starts in Busseto, a small town best known as the place of birth of Giuseppe Verdi. There I was welcomed by the hardcore Bloggallina and IFoodie Cecilia, who also happens to have a fresh pasta shop <3 <3 First contact with someone who does things by hand: check!
After stuffing myself with specialties from her shop and a relatively good night sleep (never drink espresso after dinner, it’s too close to sleepy time!), off we go to Palazzo Calvi. This is where Salumificio Squisito has a dedicated cellar, full of fascinating, vintage and dusty wine bottles and Culatello hanging in every corner.
A brief introduction to the other food bloggers and organizers and off we go again to our next destination: ALMA – La scuola internazionale di cucina italiana. Wow. I admit the first time I heard of it was from Masterchef Australia 2 years ago, where the contestants had to cook Gualtiero Marchesi’s saffron risotto with a gold leaf (yes, I had to watch that episode again once I came back ahahah). It looked cool on tv but being there was just THE experience.
We had a great guided tour of the palace and of the various rooms and classrooms of the structure, where we saw people busy with sugar work, filleting fish and all those things chefs do by hand and that I can only dream of doing. People dressed in chef outfits everywhere and best thing of all (well, it had to be expected), there is a WHOLE library full of cook books!
Time at ALMA flew so quickly and slowly our little group started to get hungry as well. It was time to head back to Palazzo Calvi, where Giuseppe and Angelo were waiting for us to enjoy their products from the Salumificio Squisito. Squisito means “delicious” in Italian, so the expectations were pretty high! Needless to say, they were met 100% and furthermore I found it totally fascinating how such a young guy like Angelo knows so much stuff about pork and what to do with it. It might sound silly, but I always pictured older men being busy with such things. And the shiny red slicer made the whole atmosphere in Palazzo Calvi even cooler!
At the end of our lunch I could say that I consumed more cold cuts & co. on that day than during the whole year but that is definitely a good sign;) To be honest I could not stop eating. I was hungry and greedy but the various products we got to taste were just perfect – fresh, nice and soft, perfectly seasoned. To complete the package, 32 Via dei Birrai, an artisan brewery represented by Mauro Gajo, a very entertaining guy who knows his stuff about beer, was also a guest of the event. Since pregnancy, alcohol has been a no-go for obvious reasons, plus I am suffering from multiple side effects, such as instant sleepiness, that are really really unpleasant. This beer, THIS BEER, made me rediscover what a little alcoholic treat could do. It is not your regular beer, the beer I am kind of used to, that does not really taste any different from other beers and that you just drink for the sake of drinking it. No, this beer is to be interpreted in the same way one would think of wine and also enjoyed in the same way. It is such a pleasure to drink. Each sort is completely different and you can actually taste it! Last highlight about this beer: all the packaging cool features! With the idea of re-using everything, you can turn the silicon cork into a key ring, the cardboard boxes have perforated bits that you can get beverage coaster out of and well, the bottles are so pretty and can be perfect prop for us food bloggers.
Next stop: the place where the magic happens – the production of the Squisito cold meats&co. And when I say “production” I mean 4 people working, again, with their own hands to make all those beautiful products. Angelo showed us how the culatello is made, where it is stored to season.
The day is not over yet, off we go back to Palazzo Calvi where we get to know each other a bit more, hear a bit more about Berlino Cacio e Pepe – a successful online magazine mostly for Italians in Berlin represented by Roberta for the occasion – and Tourism Insider, another successful online magazine with its headquarters also in the German capital city. Last but not least, Ottavio di Canossa presented Pasta di Canossa , an excellent product that was brought to life because of the love of good pasta. And to finish this super mega interesting day on a great note, chef Daniele Persegani cooked for us two amazing dishes: paccheri filled with ricotta, parmesan and pork shoulder – battered and fried accompanied with an onion compote + handmade chestnut tagliolini with porcini and cardamom sauce. YUM
Wow, that was a long post 🙂
Thank you Cecilia again, it was such a great pleasure to meet you in person, your hospitality was amazing, your pasta also and #concalmaeperpiacere !!
Thank you to Monica and Valentina from Cucina Semplicemente for giving me the possibility to discover so many delicious things in just one day!
Thank you to Angelo, Giovanni, Mauro and Ottavio for doing such a great job with their products and for getting all that passion across!
Thank you to all the other bloggers, Berlino Cacio e Pepe and Tourism Insider for being part of such a great experience!