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Stop #14: Morgan’s pickles, a vegetable garden in a jar @ Malo (Vicenza)

Russi-Malo

We said goodbye in autumn with Marangoni’s chocolate-covered fruit and now, after many months and some vicissitudes, the Travelling Delights are back at their best, with a north-bound trip looking for Morgan and his magic Pickles.

As soon as we get to the headquarters of the company, Luciana, Morgan’s wife, welcomes us with lots of energy, smiles and words. In the small office, also used as company shop, surrounded by colorful jars filled with vegetables, we meet the man who gives his name to the pickles. The passion which moves him clearly shows through his blue attentive eyes, even before than through his words.
In the warehouse used for the various activities, he begins to tell us his story.

L'ingresso del magazzino

The hall of the warehouse

Morgan was born in Friuli as a chef, he travelled the world to better himself and at some point of his life he stopped in Veneto where he opened the restaurant “5 Sensi”. It’s not hard to imagine him cooking and studying new original recipes, changing them at the last minute in order to follow his inspiration. The role of the chef, as he often states, is full of fantasy, and needs both passion and technique, but leaves an edge of freedom where to express one’s flair.

Polipo con giardiniera di Morgan tritata

Octopus with lentils, polenta chips and pickles

One day, Luciana suggested Morgan to prepare some jars of pickles: she used to make them at her place with her roommates during the electronic ingeneering studies at university. She gave her husband her recipe, and he immediately challenged her saying that it was good but he could makeit better. So, after many tries, the recipe of Morgan’s pickles was born, and they began to sell them in a small shop at the restaurant.

Giardiniere in fila

Morgan’s Pickles (La Giardiniera di Morgan)

At some point, Morgan and Luciana noticed that some clients came back from all over Italy not only to eat at the restaurant, but mainly to buy some jars of pickles! In that moment, the spouses understood that it would have been right to give them the space they deserved… so, complicit some circumstances in favor of this decision, the restaurant was closed and Morgan’s activities moved to the industrial area near Vicenza.
Since he didn’t want to abandon completely his activity as a chef, he maintained the “5 sensi” alive and it continues to produce, among other things, a high-level catering service for ceremonies and private events.
Simultaneously, Morgan’s pickles evolved giving birth to many other products, each of which is based on the same philosophy but has got specific characteristics.

Giardiniere esposte

The small Morgan and Anna’s pickles (Giardiniera di Anna di Morgan) and two other kinds of pickles

But what is this philosophy? First of all, at its base there’s the choice of excellent products and their respect. The vegetables (peppers, carrots, cauliflowers, fennels, green beans, onions…) come from small and big companies of the area, some of them are organic and they follow as much as possible the periodicity. The first thing that happens, immediately after the arrival of the loads, is the tasting: everything, before being put into the productive chain, passes through Morgan’s teeth so that he can evaluate the product and make sure it’s tasty and crunchy.

Paola e Morgan alle prese col cavolfiore

Morgan and Paola cut the cauliflower

After it, the vegetables are cleaned and precisely cut by hand by some diligent guys, very young and accurate in their job. It’s important that the final size of the vegetables is the right one to allow a perfect final product.
The following step is the steam cooking, that happens separately for each vegetable. Right after it, the vegetables pass through the blast chiller, so that their color and consistency stay the same.
In the end, they are potted in specific percentages and left to macerate in their seasoning, then pasteurized – in other words, the jars are put into big ovens for some hours, in order to make their hearts reach the temperature of 85/90°. In this way you provide for the complete lack of chemical additives and preservatives, which is a characteristic of these pickles.

La pulizia dei peperoni

The guys who clean and cut peppers

Apart from the processing, aimed to the preservation of the vegetables’ properties, the secret of Morgan’s products is obviously the seasoning in which they macerate… every kind of pickles has its own seasoning, obtained with different percentages of vinegar, oil and spices – and the recipe is clearly secret.

Paola alle prese con le verdure

Paola cutting vegetables

But Morgan’s genius also gave him the idea to dedicate a kind of pickles to every important person of his family. The first one was Luciana, sweeter and “well rounded” than the usual pickles; than it was the turn of Giada, dedicated to the firstborn: fanciful and colored, characterized by a cap which is blue like the girl’s eyes; then Anna was born: it’s still in the testing stage, it has a small and roly poly jar like she is, with a fresh and strong flavour thanks to the ginger and whole chili peppers. The only missing one is the pickle dedicated to the little Giovanni that – they say – will be the craziest one.

Giardiniera Giada di Morgan

Morgan and Giada’s pickles (La Giardiniera Giada di Morgan)

In addition to these, the other specialties are the purple onions, the “pioppini” mushrooms, the white asparagus and the chicory from Treviso… so there is really something to suit everybody’s fancy and every match!

Giardiniere esposte 2

A wall of colors… purple onions, carrots and pioppini mushrooms

Yes, because what Morgan wants to communicate with its work is that pickles are not only something to eat in winter with boiled meat, but on the contrary it’s a great way to include vegetables and their colors all year round, turning them into appetizers, matching them with meat and fish or using them as a salad seasoning.
Morgan put the vegetable garden in a jar, and gave it a new life.

Assaggio di giardiniera Anna di Morgan

A tasting of Morgan and Anna’s pickles (Giardiniera di Anna di Morgan)

We’re sure we made your mouth water, right?
So don’t hesitate, step by La Delizia (in Russi, near Ravenna) where you can find different kinds of Morgan’s pickles… they will satisfy your curiosity and your taste!

 
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Pubblicato da su 19 luglio 2014 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Invasione di formaggi e altre delizie!

Dopo le feste, ricominciano ad arrivare nuovi prodotti alla Delizia: questa volta si tratta delle specialità artigianali del caseificio Carozzi – che speriamo di poter andare a trovare presto!

Guardate qui: sono o non sono una meraviglia, questi formaggi?

Toma Carozzi

Taleggio

Gorgonzola Carozzi chiuso

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola Carozzi aperto

Gorgonzola

Paola taglia il latteria Carozzi

Paola taglia il latteria

Latteria Carozzi

Latteria

Purtroppo no, pensare intensamente che li volete non li farà materializzare davanti allo schermo del vostro computer… se volete far gioire le vostre papille gustative assaggiandoli, dovete andare alla Delizia a Russi! 🙂

Sempre della Carozzi, potete trovare anche la nuova linea di yogurt naturali arricchiti con preparazioni a base di frutta, miele, cereali, caffè, nocciole… insomma, ce n’è sicuramente uno che risponde ai vostri gusti!

Yogurt artigianali Carozzi

Infine, non dimenticate che il banco gastronomia è sempre fornitissimo di piatti pronti e gustosi, preparati sul momento, che vi stuzzicheranno con i loro profumi e colori.

Sformato di verdure

Sformato di verdure

Asparagi

Asparagi gratinati

Fritto misto di pesce e verdure

Fritto misto di pesce dell’Adriatico e verdure

Per concludere… desiderate una fetta di torta di mele?

Torta di mele

 
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Pubblicato da su 9 gennaio 2013 in Uncategorized, Versione italiana

 

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Stop #9: Friultrota’s fish specialities @ San Daniele of Friuli (Udine)

Our last trip took us to closely discover a reality that we wanted to share with you since ages: the Friultrota company and its delicious products.

In San Daniele of Friuli, in an area that seethes with ham factories, there’s a plant that proudly stands out for its typology, showing at the entrance not a pork thigh but a modern wrought-iron fish sculpture. Its main product is known everywhere as “La Regina di San Daniele” (The Queen of San Daniele), and in the matter of celebrity it doesn’t envy at all its fellow citizen ham. That company precisely is Friultrota, which we visited for you and now we’re pleased to tell you.

The history of this company, and of the family that gave birth to it, is more than ever characterized by that healty craziness and that courage that bring to follow one’s own passions even when the wisdom says to let them go… but, at the showdown, it’s the glaring proof that the hard work, when it’s based on a deep and strong passion, fully pays off.

Giuseppe Pighin, founder of the company and father of the current owner Mauro, wasn’t a well-learned man – as it usually happened at his time – but he was extremely clever. He was curious and had a lot of innovative ideas, that he often followed even if who knew him called him crazy – until when all of them had to change their mind and give him credit for his far-sightedness.

At the beginning, the family business had nothing to do with fish farming: indeed it used to deal with gravel and concrete, and it mainly took place in a quarry located on the river Tagliamento. Little by little, by constantly digging, they formed a small lake where Giuseppe put some trouts, that he later started to raise and fish as a personal pleasure.

Since the fishes began to grow in size and number, in the Seventies the Pighin family tried to sell them on the fresh market, but they were forced to stop because their way of raising the animals – very “domestic” and regardless of the costs – brought them to lose money.

At the end of the Seventies, for a series of accidental coincidences that, in retrospect, have been providential, they met a person who was fond of fish processing and a chef who had been a pioneer in smoking salmon, and who wanted to try with trouts. Relying on their enthusiastic comments and on those of who tasted their fishes and claimed that their quality was definitely superior to the one of other trouts that they previously tried, the members of the family decided to permanently abandon the work at the quarry and to dedicate themselves to the farming and processing of trouts – choosing to follow what they were fond of, despite the uncertain perspectives. 

As complete self-taught apprentices, Giuseppe and his sons started to experiment fish preservation, following their own intuitions, without choosing paths well-trodden by others but venturing into that field in a totally empirical way. Their first “laboratory” was an aunt’s cellar, then they moved to a train carriage internally covered with stainless steel. The sons were guinea-pigs: every experiment they approved was put forward to the public.

The main processing method they used was smoking, but in that way their trouts found themselves in competition with salmon – which at that time was still of excellent quality since it wasn’t an industrial product.

In 1984, despite all the people who told them they were crazy, the Pighin’s took up the gauntlet and started the current Friultrota company. At that moment, thanks to all the experiments and collaborations previously made, they already had the necessary expertise in order to perfectly know what they wanted and how to achieve it – for exemple, their smoking cells have never been the “standard” ones suggested by the suppliers, but they were custom-made based on their needs.

This was for sure a strong point of the company, while the second fundamental one is certainly the quality that from the beginning characterized their farming: indeed it is a low-density breeding (15kg of fish per cubic meter, which is even lower than the standard of the organic production), realized without force-feeding and with good fodder, and respectful of the natural growth time of the animals.
Even the quality of water is vital, because the trouts need it to be extra pure: in this geographical area there luckily is resurgence water, which is taken from the river Tagliamento with a system of canals and goes straight to the farming.

The fish is then fished with non-invasive methods (using a small net which is casted into the water when needed) around two or three times a week, and afterwards it’s immediately butchered in special facilities located next to the lakes, so that it can arrive very soon and already gutted in the close plant where it’s going to be processed.

A vital thing, in this series of steps from the fishing to the final processing, is the speed – less time passes from the first step to the last one, more the fat of the fish maintains its quality and better will be the resulting product. Moreover, in the processing it’s always observed the cold chain: all the operations – cutting, boning, salting, possible spicing – are hand-made in rooms where the temperature doesn’t exceed 12/14 Celsius degrees.

The timing of the different steps, like for exemple the salting or the smoking, aren’t fixed but they change based on the characteristics of fish, like the size or the quantity of fat – this means that every detail is carefully assessed and supervised by staff people provided with a huge experience about. The business is therefore a completely artisan one, so the processing of fish requires around 4/5 days (on the contrary, the industrial one is executed in 10/12 hours). Moreover, as a choice Friultrota doesn’t use colouring nor preservatives… and the final quality of the product fully testifies that all of this attention makes a difference!

In the course of time, for market requirements they included also other kinds of products, such as smoked salmon and chicken breast, trout eggs, herring… always with an innovative point of view. This last kind of fish, for exemple, is processed salting and smoking it less than the classic one (that’s why it’s been called “Aringa Sciocca” – “Bland herring”), and it’s been released from tradition – which consigned its use in the Easter period – making it a product suitable all year long, even during summer – matched, for exemple, with rocket and green apples.

Friultrota series offer a very wide choice of products, for people who love good fish and at the same time love the convenience of ready-for-use dishes – indeed their products are sold already ready for eating them, even if they can be further elaborated (maybe using the recipes that can be found on their website) by whom would like to create delicious dishes.

Their fishes have good full taste, they can be easily distinguished, some are stronger while other more mellow, with such a soft consistency that it melts in your mouth, and their excellence is now multi-awarded.

At this point, all you can do is try them… you can find them at the shop La Delizia, in Russi (Ravenna), so we wait for you!

 
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Pubblicato da su 26 ottobre 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #5: La Pasta di Aldo @ Monte San Giusto (Macerata)

This time we kept to the point of first courses and, after Zaccaria’s rice, we went in for pasta going to the province of Macerata in order to discover who stands behind the great brand “La Pasta di Aldo”.

After a few bends and some tiny uphill – or downhill, it depends from the point of view – street taken by mistake, we arrived in front of a small building with a sign written in italic that unequivocally told us we were in the right place.

The first thing we found out is that, behind Aldo’s pasta, there’s actually no Aldo – there are Luigi and Maria instead, husband and wife. So who’s Aldo? Nobody, it’s an acronym that comes from the union of the first two letters of their surnames. Good choice!

Luigi is a character with whom everybody should spend at least one day in a lifetime, he’s a powerhous of ideas, energy, words, initiative, charisma. You could listen to him for hours, and he could keep on telling you his adventures, his life and his philosophy without getting tired.
Maria is a woman with a sweet face, much more calm and quiet than her husband, but with a strong character. Luigi says that he’s projected into che future, while she’s focused on the present and she’s the best in solving problems as they appear.

Without lots of ceremonies, with the simplicity and the ouspokenness that mark both the person and his product, Luigi invites us to quickly enter the laboratory, because the daily production of pasta is almost ending.

There we find Maria, dealing with a machine that, from a roller of dough, constantly obtains and pulls out noodles of pasta that look like gold. She collects them with a steel stick, hooking them exactly at the half of their lenght, with a precision given by long years of work, then she places them on the trolley that stands in front of her.

At the end of the process, every trolley is loaded with 50 kilos of pasta – and every morning they produce around 4 trolleys. Maria is obviously not alone in this job, but another couple of people help her.
“Anyway, in a short time this task will be done by a robot!” – annouces Luigi, who not only produces his pasta, but also conceives the machines that he needs to make his work progress.

For exemple, he invented the machine that spreads the dough – on the market there wasn’t what he wanted, so he thought to work on it and he created it himself, keeping it for himself too.
The same thing happened for the dryer machine: the ones that he bought were good, but they weren’t perfect. He ideally went  back to the old wooden dryers and he conceived a new one, putting together the ancient and the modern. In this case he patented it, and now it’s sold all around the world.

But how did Luigi and Maria get to this point?
You could think that they inherited the pasta factory from their families, but it’s not the case since their parents were all farmers.
Luigi, at the end of the junior high school, started an agricultural school with the disapproval of his father, who wanted for him a different future, maybe as an accountant. On the contrary, he was dreaming of producing Parmesan and exporting it in his region, Marche… but then reality won over fantasy, and Luigi started for real to work as an accountant, opening an office with his brother.
The passion for pasta, that his grandmother handed down to him since he was a boy, teaching him how to make it and revealing him her secrets, started knocking again when he met Maria. At that point, around 20 years ago, he abandoned his prosperous and successful job and he started experimenting.


Since he is a researcher inside, Luigi wasn’t for sure content with producing an ordinary pasta: used to ask himself “why” for everything, he naturally applied this question event to the new world he had decided to explore. At the end of every experiment, he analyzed the result and he asked himself why it didn’t reach the desired perfection.
This improvement work has been and it’s also now nonstop, and in about ten years brought him to obtain results satisfying enough to start a more structured business in the current laboratory.

As you can see, nothing happens by chance in Monte San Giusto’s pasta factory. The pasta which is made there is the result of a painstaking work, more similar to the artistic ritual of a genius than to the simple labour of an artisan.

The secrets that stand behind the extraordinary result of this product are only seemingly simple: first of all the choice of first quality ingredients – all the flours are selected by Luigi, who only addresses trustworthy mills, which often prepare some kinds of semolina expressly for him; then the mix of flours and semolina, that is only known by the two spouses and changes based on the product, and that is what gives to pasta the right porosity; in the end the drying, slow (it lasts from 7/8 hours to a whole night) and at low temperatures. And you need to know that, only to learn how to dry their pasta in the best way, Luigi and Maria spent two years trying!


Also the employees’ labour is important, and not always replaceable with machinery: when it’s time to pick pasta up after its drying – before the packaging – the skilled human eye is the only guarantor in the selection.

If pasta is not perfect, it’s discarded in order not to alter the quality of the product that leaves the laboratory. Some days, whole trolleys of pasta are thrown away, maybe because the drying didn’t come out as it should have. What if the boxes fall down and the noodles of pasta crack? They’re given to relatives and friends as a present, for sure they’re not sold.

Talking about the boxes, not even those are accidental: the cardboard is the one used even for pizza boxes, not plastic-coated. Another paperboard is fitted inside in order to “fill the space” and avoid that pasta moves leaving half of the packaging unaestethically empty.

The lids are simple but elegant, and very versatile thanks to the label, that is stuck in the end and of which there are different version depending on the need – every market requires different pieces of information on the label and Luigi, instead of making only one of them full of facts in many languages, preferred to differentiate them.

La Pasta di Aldo is in fact sold around the world even more than in Italy. Luigi selects not only the ingredients but also his clients: he only wants the best ones, he’s not interested in far-reaching distribution but he wants it to be a quality one. This is how his pasta takes flight for exemple towards Saudi Arabia, or England, where even Queen Elizabeth tastes it, or towards very selected Italian shops like our “La Delizia”.

At this time, this brand is a guarantee of absolute quality: Luigi and Maria’s pasta is multi-awarded by all the greatest specialists of the field as the best dry egg pasta in Italy. If you want to give a look to the press review that you find on their website, you can get an idea…

And if all this is not enough for you, we can guarantee even personally: it’s a fantastic pasta, compact, full-bodied, porous, that perfectly stays al dente, with a strong but not intrusive flavour, light and digestible. There are a lot of available formats, and they go from the classic egg pasta from Marche like Maccheroncini, to the one that is typical of other regions like Pappardelle, from the truffle or saffron-flavored pasta to the ones made with buckwheat and spelt. There’s really something to suit everybody’s fancy, and every format is excellent.

Getting to know “Aldo” has been a discovery and an injection of overwhelming enthusiasm: in one’s life there’s always room to improve oneself and, if you strongly pursue a dream working hard to make it happen, you can obtain results that go beyond any expectation. La Pasta di Aldo is a proof of this, and every one of you is invited to experience it at first hand – but above all to taste it… stop by Paola’s shop in Russi (Ravenna) and you’ll understand!

 
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Pubblicato da su 23 giugno 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #2: S. Ilario’s Parma ham @ Mulazzano Ponte (PR)

After the first stop that we made in Felino, to closely see Branchi’s company and their cooked ham, our itinerary said that we were going to visit S. Ilario’s ham factory in Mulazzano Ponte, a small town not far from where we were. To get there, we drove through streets full of ham factories: it’s incredible to see how many plants are set in that area, you can literally find one of them after the other!

This time, who welcomed us was uncle Paul (“Like the apostle”, he said), who is the brother of Piero Montali – the owner of the company. He’s an agronomist and he looks after his fields, but he reaches for the plant when someone calls him, in case of need, and he perfectly knows every secret of meat processing. He’s a hearty, lively and nice gentleman, with long grey hair, a moustache that frames his mouth, a red bandana around his neck and a S. Ilario-branded uniform, hat included.

The first thing we did was the plant tour, and in the end we sat at a desk in order to have him tell us the story of the company… but to make everything clearer, here we switch the order of things, and we start from the origins.

Piero, as said before, is the founder and owner of the company. He never really loved life in the farm, so when he was just 12 he started working as a boy in a pork slaughterhouse.
As time went by, when he was older he found himself eating every day in the same tavern during his lunchbreak. Then, around 1960, he decided with a partner to start producing seasoned pork shoulder – followed by other kinds of cold cuts – for that very restaurant.
In the end he started working by himself, so he gave birth to the “Salumificio S. Ilario SNC” and he moved to the present plant around 1970.
Who follows and helps him in his work are above all his sons: Raffaele takes care of choosing the meat and processing it, while Stefano deals with the commercial side of the job.

Their ham is Parma-marked, so it obeys to all the criteria imposed by Parma’s consortium. The processing is apparently not particularly complicated… but, probably, the secret of their success it’s the simplicity itself. The simplicity, combined to the huge knowledge of the secrets of the trade (like the wind, the humidity, the temperatures) and to a complete devotion… indeed, even though they produce around 70/80.000 pieces of ham per year, they are all treated with love, as if they were Piero’s sons! You can’t believe that if you don’t see it…

Our tour in the plant was absolutely exciting: unfortunately, technology doesn’t allow us to make you smell the perfume we smelled among the lines of hanging thighs that were seasoning, but it was the most heady thing that you could ever imagine… so that, the next night, I (Arianna) dreamt of lots and lots of pieces of ham. We’ll try to give you an idea of all that, using words and pictures… we hope to make it!

First of all, an important thing needs to be said: every thigh that is processed in S. Ilario’s plant is personally chosen by Piero and Raffaele at the slaughterhouse. Everyone of them, after reaching the plant and being unloaded from the truck, goes across a roll and is singularly checked, from the first to le last one: the meat has to be excellent and to respect all the criteria that will allow it to become sublime raw ham. Moreover, maintaining the tradition, during winter they stop the processing for three months: from January til March they don’t collect any raw material, but they use that period of time only to go on with the seasoning and perhaps to fix some parts of the plant.

After seeing the roll mentioned before, we went to the machine that “massages” the thighs, in order to perfectly clean the femoral artery, and that does a first salting, which is later manually finished off – always piece after piece, obviously.

The salted thighs are subsequently put to stand in refrigerating rooms for 20/25 days, at a low temperature (between 2 and 4 Celsius degrees, because if it was closer to 0°, the meat would become too tough and wouldn’t absorbe salt properly) and at controlled humidity – controlled by the owners in person, not by machines.

Every batch of thighs is marked with a very technologic method: a small paperboard obtained from the cover of an old notebook, handwritten. An exemple to say that, in this company, there are not many industrial and complicated things… it’s all based on the quality of the raw material and on the ability of who perfectly knows his art.

After the curing period, the meat keeps on standing for 70/80 more days in refrigerating rooms. “Keeps on standing” doesn’t mean “it’s left to its own resources”: indeed, the thighs are constantly monitored and closely followed, to make sure that their processing goes on in the best way.

After the rest, the seasoning can begin: this follows specific rules too, they’re necessary in order to obtain an excellent product. Seasoning doesn’t consist of just leave the pieces of ham hanging and waiting to be ready. To be optimal, you need to consider the quality of the air, of the weather conditions, of the winds. Currently, it’s forbidden to season ham in the open air, due to the excessive quantity of fine dusts, so they are kept in huge rooms which are closed… but with windows. Suffice it to say that sometimes it happens that Piero goes to the plant at 3 a.m. in order to open the windows, because he knows that at that time the marine wind will come, and his pieces of ham will take advantage from it. This is complete devotion, isn’t it? And it’s the basis that you need if you want to obtain a unique final product!

Two more important operations in the processing of ham, taking place in different moments of the seasoning, are the filling and the greasing. Both hand-made by employees that pass each other these huge thighs (they’re about 15 kg each!) and that seems to caress them when, for exemple, they put in the filler with their fingers.

The greasing takes place a little later, first of all brushing the uncovered part of the meat with warm suet and then massaging another cold layer above the first one, in order to perfectly protect ham. The suet recipe changes in different companies: S. Ilario’s one is basic and doesn’t alter the flavour of ham – it’s made with pork fat and rice flour only (another important thing to note: rice flour is gluten free, so their product is suitable also for people with celiac disease).

The last thing to do is to complete the seasoning of the pieces of ham. That’s the point where you enter the Paradise – for who loves this food: huge wooden structures hosting thousands of hanging thighs.

If they’re already seasoned enough, they’re Parma-marked and, in the drawstring that holds the piece of ham, you can often find a small paperboard – another technologic means to remember which pieces are destined to which buyer.

The fragrance that leaks out in these corridors is indescribable, it’s already enough to understand that you’re surrounded by precious products and that it’s unlikely to discover such a quality somewhere else.
We also need to underline that S. Ilario’s ham is the only one, among the ones of Parma’s Ham Consortium, to be seasoned at least for 22 months. This removes from it the unpleasant sensation of “raw meat” that you sometimes can find in other kinds of raw ham… this one is a perfectly seasoned ham, but also very sweet, so you can taste the harmonious flavour of its meat.

The reason why Paola, some years ago, chose to sell S. Ilario’s Parma ham in her shop “La Delizia” is just this : for a lot of time, she has been looking for a ham which had to be seasoned and of the highest quality. She found it in this company, with which she fell in love without leaving it anymore, believing it’s the best in its genre.
I am a mere taster, but I can say that I never tasted such a good raw ham before.


If you want to try it too – which we highly recommend to do – stop by Russi (Ravenna) and you’ll find it there, waiting and winking at you from the shelves of the shop!

 
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Pubblicato da su 1 giugno 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #1: Branchi’s cooked ham @ Felino (PR)

Our travels across flavours start with the King of delicatessen: ham.
First stop: Felino – a small town in the province of Parma, famous for its salami – in order to visit the small Branchi company, specialized in high quality cooked ham.

The factory is located in the center of the town, but we only knew how to get to the main square. As we got there, we met a Branchi truck and we decided to ask the driver for some infos… and, how we later found out, he was Mr. Tito Branchi in person, current owner of the company. Who could show us the way better than him? Indeed, we didn’t have any problem in finding the plant: 100 mt away, rusty gate, nr. 11.

The first thing I noticed was the front of the house (that we later got to know is still occupied by Tito Branchi’s old mother): a pale, clean facade, with a small plant of climbing roses, their color perfectly matched with the window green. A poetic sight, symbol of the simpleness and the authenticity of the company and of their products. And its romanticism too, because there surely is a lot of love in the devotion that the Branchi’s put in their job.

In the courtyard, we found a welcoming Giovanni, Tito’s son and brother of Franco, the three pillars of the company.
After taking us to a cellar converted into a meeting room, soflty enlightened and full of family heirlooms, he started telling us the story of their business.

The firm started in the Fifties maturing ham. After a while, the family – because, we need to underline this, it’s a family-owned business – decided to specialize in cooked ham and to abandon the maturing activity.

Giovanni, in particular, has been a rugby player at a semi-professional level until the age of 29. Then he graduated in Food Science and Technology, he left rugby and he decided to dedicate himself to the company. They updated everything, in order to create a more modern series of products even if keeping on respecting all the criteria of homemade production.

That’s how they gave birth to Magnolia Cooked Ham, the series of the Smoked ham and the one of the Specials – High Quality: the Classic Local Printed Cooked Ham, the Hand-Tied, the Cooked Culatta (made with a fine part of the thigh) and the Mec Special (the only one made from non-local thighs). Every local ham has the P.P. brand, which stands for “Parma Production”, and the meat is personally chosen by Franco, who goes on purpose to the slaughterhouse every week.


The latest launched is also the flagship of the Branchi production: the “Cotto ’60” (“’60 Cooked ham”). It was born in 2010, and it’s a completely natural product, cooked inside the typical can used in the Sixties for this kind of production. It was subject to various tests, but even the very first version revealed itself as a world-beater: it was indeed awarded – by the prestigious “Gambero Rosso” magazine – as the best cooked ham in Italy in July 2010, after it was introduced to the market at Taste exhibition in April of the same year.

After this introduction, it came the moment to go and visit the real plant, quite small in its genre – it’s about 1100 square mts – and suitable for a company that, as we said, is an artisan and family enterprise.
The production is not very extensive, we’re talking of about 500 pieces of ham per week… which are a lot anyway, if you think of all the hand-made actions that Giovanni and the employees do!

Our tour started in a cold store where the fresh thighs were hanging. Everyone of them was marked, so that their origin and characteristics are recognizable.

Then Giovanni let us see the “ribollita”: a huge pot full of very dark water, which was the concentrated infusion of spices, used to season the pieces of ham. Real spices, that we later saw with our eyes and profusely smelled, which are mixed following a secret family recipe and then boiled to extract their essence. No flavourings, normally used in the industrial output, nor other weird brew to make the meat damper and heavier – at the expenses of quality and above all of our health! The Branchi’s only use their secret spices, salt and water in a sufficient but not excessive quantity: the pieces of ham loose a bit of weight compared to the fresh thighs, but they absolutely gain quality.

The brine is injected in the meat with a multi-needle technology, the femoral arteries are hand-cleaned one by one and the thighs are manually salted, then they are churned – that is they’re put in a kind of a “concrete mixer” which massages and softens them, and finally they’re put into the molds – or into the cans if it’s the “Cotto ’60” – and cooked for about 24 hours.

For the smoked series, the smoking is done on the raw meat by burning beech wood, then the pieces of ham are cooked.

Once ready, the products get to the small room where a brisk worker hand-packs them, sticking every single label on the bag and then wrapping the pieces of ham.

The last step is the pasteurization, and after that the products are ready to be sent to the addressees!

Addressees among which stands also Paola, who cuts and sells Branchi’s cooked ham in her shop “La Delizia” so, if you got fascinated by this story of complete devotion of Branchi’s family towards their products, if you’re looking for absolute quality which respects both the meat they use and the consumer, if you want an excellent product both in the processing and in the flavour, you ought to know that you can find it in Russi (Ravenna), always at your disposal!

Believe me, after getting to know this kind of reality, seeing how they treat their products and, instead, listening to how ham is processed in the industrial production, you couldn’t desire nothing but a few good slices of artisan cooked ham, made in accordance with the rules… like this!
So when you’re around you should run to “La Delizia” to taste it! 🙂

 
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Pubblicato da su 27 maggio 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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