NEWSLETTER ARTICLES

FOCUS DESTINATION EMILIA ROMAGNA - RICH, ROBUST & REFINED

EMILIA ROMAGNA REGIONAL SPECIALITIES- CELEBRATE THE ART OF EATING WELL

In the 1400’s while wandering through Emilia Romagna, Leonardo da Vinci was intrigued by the way the farmers hung their grapes for the winter, sketching what he saw. Welcome to the wonderful food and wines of Emilia Romagna where history and tradition are alive and well.

The cuisine of Emilia Romagna deserves respect. Rich, robust yet refined cuisine – an opulent parade of pasta, velvety sauces, meat, charcuterie and cheese. If eating and loving are two of life’s great pleasures, they come together in Emilia Romagna and in the passion of Pellegrino Artusi.

Pellegrino Artusi, a great gastronome and foodie pioneer was the first to research and collate Italian regional recipes in a systematic way. Such recipes form the basis of Italian cuisine and are still in use today.  The cooking of Emilia Romagna is showcased in Forlimpopli, where Artusi lived, doubling as a cookery school and gastrodome, the Artusi Centre serves as a shrine to the great gastronome.

Atrusis spent twenty years collecting recipes from all over Italy but appreciated his ‘home’ cuisine above all. Emilia Romagna celebrates the art of eating well, with a succulent array of dishes prepared with culinary skill. Simply savouring the names of the traditional pasta dishes is a deep pleasure. Pellegrino Artusi, like many a gastronome since, believed these dishes were good for your soul as well as your tastebuds. In Romagna, savour hat-shaped cappelletti, passatelli in broth or ricotta-stuffed ravioli. Bologna boasts tagliatelle and tortellini, inspired by Venus’s navel. Enjoy pumpkin-filled cappellacci in Ferrara or anolini in Parma and Piacenza.

Parma justly deserves its reputation as a temple to gastronomy. As the seat of the European Food Authority, Parma is a capital of culinary delights. The whole province is studded with specialities and criss-crossed by food trails.  Explore the hills along the Food & Wine Routes, and food museums to savour the rich history and magic of local delicacies.

Langhirano is the home of Parma ham while Felino is a byword for superior salami, with Culatello, another prestigious cured meat. The pigs live like princes, fattened on chestnuts and whey. We visit the Strada del Prosciutto and donning shapely gowns, experience first hand the methods of curing the finest prosciutto, before tasting the best of the best. A highly rated on-tour favourite experience of TIKI travellers.

PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA

Why is Prosciutto di Parma valued more highly? The history and region of Parma Ham production are what set it apart from other prosciuttos in the world. Since Roman times, the geographically protected food became world renowned for its delicate and sweet flavour. Prosciutto di Parma can only be produced from the hind legs of specially selected heritage breed pigs raised in 11 regions of Italy and approved by the Consorzio. Unlike other cured hams which can be produced from pork raised anywhere, Prosciutto di Parma may only be produced from Italian-born and bred pigs raised according to the highest monitored standards, they are, inspected and traced from birth to the plate. In Parma, making prosciutto ham is an age old tradition passed from generation to generation. The methods used thousands of years ago have remained consistent, as has the guarantee of the Parma Crown, fire-branded on every ham. The Parma Crown is only stamped on the hams truly ready for enjoyment. Originally created to symbolize the Duke of Parma and Piacenza it means a 100% natural product: no additives, colours, hormones or preservatives, just sea salt, air and time. Look for or ask for the Parma Crown next time prosciutto is on your menu, ensuring you’re getting only the very best available.

Prosciutto ham vs. other hams.  With so many different types it is understandable to be confused as to what separates prosciutto ham, pancetta, bacon or other cured meats. There are many such as Jamon from Spain (Serrano or Iberico) as well as other Italian prosciuttos ie prosciutto di SanDaniele and prosciutto Toscano. All have unique flavours from the regions where they’re produced. Prosciutto di Parma separates itself from other hams such as Culatello due to the area of the ham that is cured. Hams like bacon and pancetta differ in that they are made from pork belly and require cooking prior to consumption while Parma Ham is served as is. Prosciutto di Parma can only be produced in the countryside surrounding the city of Parma where the air is dry with aromatic breezes from the Apennine Mountains creating the perfect conditions for the natural curing of the hams and imparting the unique sweet flavour.

PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

The prince of cheese, yes you guessed, Parmigiano-Reggiano is another unforgettable experience on tour. Infinitely versatile, suiting the simplest to most sophisticated dishes, it’s been produced in its wheel-shape for over eight centuries.  The hard, slightly gritty texture is adored by both gourmets and the health conscious. Parmesan eschews additives and is simply the result of raw milk matured for up to two years. Each wheel of cheese can be traced back to the farm and the day the milk was produced from the markings on its exterior. Our tour of a co-operative factory follows the delivery of fresh milk through to the table – a fascinating journey.

BALSAMIC VINEGAR

Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena or Reggio Emilia are without doubt the most highly prized of balsamic vinegars not just in Italy but worldwide. Forget the industrial versions, this artisanal nectar transforms any bland side salad into a delicious dish. Made from the must of top quality grapes and aged in barrels for at least 12 months and up to 25 years. On tour you will visit an acclaimed producer, test and taste sample the very best.

Unique regional branding in Emilia Romagna follows a quality control system along the lines of the French appellation controllee wine classification system and as such are applied to Parmesan cheese. Parma ham and balsamic vinegars are also classified ‘DOP’ according to stringent requirements for brand protection and quality. Certain wines are classified DOC or DOCG – be aware of these protocols, enabling you to be certain of purchasing superior quality products, still produced in the traditional way.