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Stop #15: The poetry of Scaldaferro’s nougat @ Dolo (Venezia)

Russi-DoloSome months passed after the last Travelling Delights’ trip… Summer has gone and, at least theoretically, it has made the way for Autumn. From here to Christmas, it’s a short step: isn’t it the best moment to taste its flavors in advance? So here we are, ready to tell you the behind the scenes of Scaldaferro‘s torrone sweet (nougat), a one-of-a-kind product! Follow us and discover this wonder…

Scaldaferro insegnaThis time, more than ever, we delved into a small apart world, which smelled of honey and roasted almonds, where tradition and innovation walk hand in hand to create sweets… and it would be reductive to define them delicious.

Foto nonno Scaldaferro e Pietro
But let’s start from the beginning: after our early arrival to the nougat factory, the very kind Urania welcomes us and diplomatically tells us that they were waiting for us at least an hour later… until that time, the nougat production won’t be starting.
Here we learn the first lesson: the long cooking times of this special product aren’t only bragged about, but they are strictly respected. Of course, of the ten hours of cooking needed, they can’t bypass one only because we arrived in advance.
The torrone sweet has its needs, and in this small company they are supported from first to last. Just think of this: Pietro, the member of Scaldaferro’s family who currently runs the company, moves to the plant and lives there for the whole production period – which means months – so that he can personally verify every single detail of it.

Albumi che si montanoSo his work starts every day around 3 a.m., measuring the temperature and humidity of the air, then preparing the mixtures that will fill the eight copper pots, one after the other. The machines, some of which come from the early years of ‘900, whip more or less 50 egg whites together with honey, confectioner’s sugar and Bourbon vanilla. Pietro supervises, changing the speed of the whisks or adjusting the heat of the pots, for the thirteen minutes of the whipping and the following hours of cooking.

Impasti in diverse fasi di cotturaAt some point in the morning, the other employées of the small family company join him: there are three men who help preparing the mixtures, which is a job that needs physical strenght, and around ten women who – hear ye – make the final products by hand, shaping the nougat in wads, pinnacles or small cakes depending on the needs and giving life to unique creations, each of which is different from the others.

Collage sciroppoJust before the end of the cooking of the mixtures, which already have a strong personality thanks to the different kinds of honey in them, they add another handful of vanilla, then a waterfall of honey and sugar syrup, that will help the nougat crystallize at its best, and finally the almonds, which will be the 55% of the final product. These are roasted in advance and then kept in jute sacks, that allow them to perspire their humidity but maintain the heat – it’s important that, when they are added to the mixture, they are at its same temperature – so that the egg whites won’t un-whip.

Collage aggiunta mandorleAfter amalgamating the mixture so that it equally covers all the almonds, it is taken away in small amounts and shared among the women who work it when it still has a temperature of 60/65°C. The temperature is high and the hands are reddened, but there isn’t an alternative: if you leave the mixture out of the pot for just a few minutes, it completely solidifies and becomes useless.
The following step is the wrapping, which happens when the nougat is still warm in order to maintain its crispness, but not before a final check of the wads’ shape and of possible unexpected contents.

Fiocchi di torrone fatti a manoThe raw materials used for this torrone sweet deserve a small but necessary parenthesis: Pietro himself tracks down the most unusual and rare kinds of honey, like the “mascena” rose or medlar honey, he chooses the best nuts, like the  IGP Piedmont hazelnut or the DOP Bronte pistachio, and he matches them adding other excellent ingredients, in order to create the classic products and the limited editions.
All of them, it’s worth underlining it, are rigorously made without adding any chemical additive.

Donne al lavoroI don’t know how many of you have ever had the chance to see the production of nougat with their eyes, least of all of such a quality of torrone sweet: since we had this luck, we can testify that it’s pure poetry, a marvel for each of our five senses.
Sight could get lost for hours looking at the mixtures dancing in the machines or at the fingers running fast on the soft nougat.
Touch is amazed by the gummy texture of the mixture when it’s still raw and warm.
Smell gets inebriated by the sweet fragrances of honey, almonds and vanilla that fill every corner of the plant.
Hearing impatiently listens to the sound of the friable, just cracked nougat.
Taste enrapturedly welcomes the always different flavors – delicate or strong, floral or fruity, traditional or innovative – that this special creature can offer.

Stella di torrone fatta a manoAt this point, you can’t help but tasting Scaldaferro’s nougat: we’re sure that, among all its types, you’ll find the right one for you and you’ll never leave it again. Moreover, thinking about Christmas, these sweet creations could be the perfect gift for everyone… relatives, friends, fiancés, gluttons of every age and every need – consider that many of their products are also glutenfree, so suitable for celiac people too!
What are you waiting for, then? Step by La Delizia (in Russi, near Ravenna) to try this artisan marvel. Paola and her girls are waiting for you with lots of brand new Scaldaferro products!

 
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Pubblicato da su 20 ottobre 2014 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #7: The honey of Mieli Thun @ Vigo di Ton (Trento)

After a break, we’re ready to tell you other wonderful things about Italian food and wine.
We restarted in the best way, with a dream visit at the famous company Mieli Thun, which makes honey of the highest quality and is located in Val di Non.

When we arrived, feeling peaceful thanks to the perfect weather and landscape that sourrounded us, we were stunned by the beauty of the building – where you can find the offices, the machinery for the processing of honey, a shop called “A_tipico” (“A_typical”) where they sell products made by excellent friends from all over Italy, and “Honey Park”, an area where you can find – and taste – both the jars of honey by Mieli Thun and the ones by other national and worldwide producers, in addition to different kinds of products that contain honey.

After taking a peek, Andrea Paternoster – owner of the company – took us out for a quick visit to the Thun Castle, in order for us to have an idea of the environment in which the company is located… it’s always a huge emotion to overlook the valley from the balcony of a castle, and from there you can understand how this can become a source of inspiration for realizing one’s own life projects!

The company takes life from Andrea’s devotion for the bees and their world. He perfectly knows them, he aknowledges their enormous talents, he knows how precious they are for our ecosystem and when he talks you can feel that he’s thankful for this reason. He interacts with them without fear but, on the contrary, with deep love – so much that at a certain point he tells us that, if he could, he would kiss all of them!

The company, deeply rooted in this enormous passion, proposed a re-evaluation of honey to all the people that used to consider it only as a cure for sorethroat. Andrea, who perfectly knows all the qualities and characteristics of the mono-floral kinds of honey that can be obtained, looked for a way to communicate them also to the not-insiders, conveying the message that honey is much more than people think. It’s nobler, more versatile, more precious, more multifaceted, “younger”, richer in potential.

So he chose the places where to put the hives – literally located all over Italy, starting from the cold northern mountains to get to the hot sicilian valleys – and he spends his life moving up and down the Country in order to follow and help the job of his beloved bees.

During our visit, we had the chance to personally observe how these insects busily work, building perfect wax cells, every one of which is hexagonal and has a gradient of 13° – the ideal slope to prevent the honey from drain out – that then will be filled with the queen bee’s eggs or with pollen or honey by the worker bees.

We managed to see the bees while carrying pollen agglomerates, the marking of the queen bee by Andrea – who in this way will recognize her in the next years – and also the birth of a bee! Not only, but from the upper part of the hive – the one that hosts the frames where the bees will deposit honey – we took out a comb full of millefiori (multi-floral) honey and we enjoyed the privilege of tasting the honey that directly poured from it. These experiences don’t happen every day, and they leave us open-mouthed! Nature is something superlative…

From the hives in the various locations, Andrea goes and collects the combs full of honey, in different periods of time based on the flowering of plants. The comb is then scratched with a sort of a fork, in order to remove the wax that plugs the cells, and then it’s spinned so that the honey can come out. The wax is then pressed in order to extract even the last drops of honey, then it’s processed by other companies.

The honey subsequently slides in a serie of descending pipes, until it gets to a tank where it’s stored at a temperature of about 14 Celsius degrees, before being filtered and then left to settle in very wide basins.

The different kinds of honey by Mieli Thun are not processed in any way, not even pasteurized: they stay exactly the same product that the bees have made. Before the confection, they’re brought to crystallization, so that they can release their flavours, then they’re taken to room temperature in order to preserve their qualities in the best way. Honey could already be preserved potentially forever, so it’s perfect and it doesn’t need anything more than the properties that bees already gave to it.

We have to point out that the labels are put on the jars one by one by hand… the employees of Mieli Thun are busy workers just as the bees!

Our visit to the company ended with a wonderful honey tasting. Elegantly put into small goblets, whe warmed them up by moving them with a spoon in order to appreciate their olfactory flavours in the best way – and we found out that, for exemple, dandelion’s honey smells like vinegar and eucalyptus’ one as dried boletus mushrooms! – and in the end we tasted them, fully realizing how many different shades of flavour they can offer, and letting ourselves go into the sceneries that they evoked.
Andrea’s purpose is to hold in his different kinds of honey the taste of the pure flower nectar, and after this tasting we can testify that he totally made it.

There are really a lot of types of honey by Mieli Thun, both mono and multi floral, and they also offer a serie – called “Quintessenza” (Quintessence) – that contains the best of mono-floral honey obtained from their beekeeping: the combs are collected in the very few specific days when the flowering is at its peak, so the honey is as possible pure and not contaminated by the nectar of other flowers.

I’m not exaggerating if I say that tasting one of the kinds of honey by Mieli Thun is really like to directly suck the nectar out of the flower… in this case too, what makes a difference and permits to reach an excellent quality is the total devotion to one’s world – here the beekeeping – and the absolute simplicity – without intervening in the already perfect bee’s product.

Are you curious to try these types of honey and to let them surprise you? So all you have to do is to step by La Delizia in Russi (Ravenna) and provide yourself with some jars… we wait for you!

 
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Pubblicato da su 8 agosto 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Tappa #7: Mieli Thun @ Vigo di Ton (TN)

Dopo una piccola pausa, siamo pronte a raccontarvi altre meravigliose realtà enogastronomiche italiane.
Abbiamo ricominciato alla grande, con una visita da sogno alla celebre azienda Mieli Thun, che – come suggerisce il nome – produce mieli di altissima qualità ed ha sede in Val di Non.

Al nostro arrivo, già in pace col mondo grazie al clima ed al panorama perfetti che ci circondavano, siamo rimaste piacevolmente colpite dalla bellezza dello stabile – dove trovano spazio uffici, macchinari per la lavorazione dei mieli, un negozio chiamato “A_tipico” in cui vengono venduti prodotti di amici eccellenti provenienti da tutt’Italia, e “Honey Park”, una zona in cui trovano dimora – e si possono degustare – sia i mieli della Mieli Thun che quelli di altri produttori, nazionali ed internazionali, oltre che vari prodotti che contengono miele.

Dopo aver dato una sbirciatina qua e là, Andrea Paternoster – titolare dell’azienda – ci ha portato a visitare velocemente il Castel Thun, per poter avere un’idea dell’ambiente in cui la sua compagnia si inserisce… dominare la vallata dal balcone di un castello fa sempre un certo effetto, e si capisce bene come questo possa diventare fonte di ispirazione per la realizzazione dei propri progetti di vita!

L’azienda nasce dalla devozione che Andrea ha per le api ed il loro mondo. Le conosce perfettamente, ne riconosce le enormi doti, sa quanto siano preziose per il nostro ecosistema e quando parla si percepisce che è come se le ringraziasse per questo. Ci interagisce senza paura ma, anzi, con profondo amore – tanto che ad un certo punto ci dice che se potesse le bacerebbe tutte!


Affondando le radici in questa grandissima passione, l’azienda si è proposta di far rivalutare il miele a tutti coloro che lo consideravano poco più che un rimedio per il mal di gola. Conoscendo benissimo tutte le qualità e le peculiarità di mieli monofloreali che è possibile ottenere, Andrea ha cercato un modo per comunicare tutto ciò anche ai non addetti ai lavori, trasmettendo il messaggio che il miele è molto più di ciò che si pensa. Più nobile, più versatile, più prezioso, più multisfaccettato, più “giovane”, più ricco di potenzialità.

Così, ha scelto i luoghi in cui posizionare le arnie – dislocate letteralmente in tutta Italia, a partire dalle gelide vette al Nord fino alle calde valli della Sicilia – e trascorre la sua vita spostandosi su e giù per andare a seguire ed aiutare il lavoro delle sue adoratissime api.

Durante la nostra visita, abbiamo potuto osservare in prima persona come questi insetti lavorino alacremente, costruendo perfette cellette di cera, tutte esagonali ed inclinate di 13° – la pendenza ideale per non far colare il miele all’esterno – che poi verranno riempite di uova dall’Ape Regina oppure di polline o miele dalle api operaie.


Siamo riuscite a vedere le api che trasportavano palline di polline, la marcatura dell’Ape Regina da parte di Andrea – che così potrà riconoscerla i prossimi anni – e persino la nascita di un’ape! Non solo, ma dalla parte superiore dell’arnia – quella in cui vengono posti i telai nei quali le api depositeranno il miele – abbiamo estratto un favo carico di millefiori ed abbiamo avuto il privilegio di assaggiare il miele che sgorgava direttamente da lì. Esperienze che non capitano tutti i giorni e che fanno rimanere a bocca aperta per la meraviglia! La natura è qualcosa di superlativo…

Dalle arnie sparse nelle varie località, Andrea va a raccogliere i favi pieni di miele in periodi diversi in base alla fioritura delle piante. Il favo viene poi grattato con una specie di forchetta, per eliminare la cera che tappa le cellette, e viene centrifugato per far uscire il miele. La cera viene poi pressata in modo da estrarre anche le ultime gocce di miele, poi lavorata da altre aziende.


Il miele estratto dai favi scivola successivamente in una serie di tubi in discesa, fino ad arrivare in delle cisterne in cui viene conservato ad una temperatura di circa 14°, prima di essere filtrato e poi lasciato a decantare in delle vasche molto estese.


I mieli della Mieli Thun non vengono lavorati in alcun modo, nè pastorizzati: rimangono tali e quali a ciò che le api hanno prodotto. Prima del confezionamento vengono fatti cristallizzare, in modo che possano sprigionare gusti ed aromi, dopo di che vengono trattati a temperatura ambiente per preservare al meglio le loro qualità. Il miele è già di per sè conservabile potenzialmente per sempre, quindi è perfetto e non ha bisogno di nulla in più rispetto alle proprietà che le api gli hanno conferito.


Una nota da fare è che le etichette vengono applicate ad una ad una a mano sui vasetti… i dipendenti della Mieli Thun sono lavoratori alacri quanto le api!

La nostra visita all’azienda si è conclusa con una fantastica degustazione di mieli. Elegantemente posizionati in piccoli calici, li abbiamo scaldati muovendoli col cucchiaio per poter apprezzare al meglio gli aromi che sprigionavano a livello olfattivo – scoprendo così, per esempio, che il miele di tarassaco odora di aceto e quello di eucalipto di funghi porcini secchi! – ed infine li abbiamo assaggiati, rendendoci pienamente conto di quante sfumature di sapori diversi possano offrire e lasciandoci trasportare negli scenari che questi evocavano.
L’obiettivo di Andrea è quello di racchiudere nei suoi mieli il sapore del nettare puro del fiore, e dopo questa degustazione possiamo testimoniare che c’è assolutamente riuscito.

I mieli della Mieli Thun sono veramente moltissimi, sia monofloreali che millefiori, e contemplano anche una linea – chiamata “Quintessenza” – che racchiude la crème de la crème prodotta dall’apicoltura monofloreale: i favi vengono raccolti nei pochissimi giorni specifici in cui la fioritura è al culmine, per cui il miele ottenuto è il più possibile puro e privo di contaminazioni da parte di nettari di altri fiori.

Non esagero se dico che assaggiare un miele Thun è proprio come suggere il nettare direttamente dal fiore… anche in questo caso, dedizione totale al proprio mondo – quello dell’apicoltura nello specifico – e semplicità assoluta – senza intervenire sul prodotto già perfetto delle api – fanno la differenza, permettendo di raggiungere una qualità davvero eccellente.

Siete curiosi di assaggiare questi mieli e di lasciarvi sorprendere? Allora non dovete fare altro che passare alla Delizia a Russi e procurarvene qualche vasetto… vi aspettiamo!

 
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Pubblicato da su 1 agosto 2012 in Uncategorized, Versione italiana

 

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