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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!

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

 

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Stop #13: The magic of Marangoni Cioccolato @ Macerata

Russi-Macerata

After visiting the realm of Giamaica Caffè, the trips under the sign of intoxicating aromas continue: this time you can come with us to meet the magic world of Marangoni Cioccolato, in Macerata.

Negozio

In the late morning we reach the small shop, where we’re welcomed by two nice and kind ladies: Francesca, Mrs. Marangoni and mother of the chocolate master Alfredo, and Carla, that we later find out to be the mother-in-law of Alfredo himself. We look around for a few minutes, fascinated by the glass jars full of different kinds of dragées, by the chocolates neatly placed inside the cases and by the colourful tissue paper that contains the chocolate-covered fruit. Carla offers us a “novembrina”, that is a round and flat dark chocolate with a thin layer of almond paste on the inside. We obviously can’t decline the offer and, in the exact moment we taste it, our immersion in the magic of Marangoni Cioccolato officially begins.
In the meanwhile, from her crimson sofa, mum Francesca starts telling us the story of the family, that goes at the same pace with the one of the shop and of their production.

Cioccolatini

The great-grandfather of her children was the one who launched the activity, which was born as a bakery and continued by his son, who was passionate of both bread and motors (love that he passed down to his grandson Alfredo). Hereinafter, Eros Marangoni, Francesca’s husband, bought the building where part of the family still lives and the shop is located, and he also launched a patisserie, so sweets became part of the family tradition. Being a farsighted man, he was one of the founders of the consortium of bakeries in Macerata, but unfortunately he couldn’t pursue all of his proposals. When he died, Alfredo was about 4 years old, his sister Lorian was 17 and his brother Giorgio 18.
During the years, the family preferred to entrust the management of the bakery and patisserie to the employées, but then…

Cioccolatini allo zabaione

…but then Alfredo, who in the meanwhile got a diploma as a land surveyor, became fond of chocolate and its processing. It’s the eighties, and in Italy there are very few chocolate masters. Even less are those who think of matching fruit and chocolate in a happy marriage of taste.
He started experimenting new pairings and he took the reins of the professional life of Marangoni family, who has always remained united even in this new adventure: Alfredo is the chocolate master, Giorgio works behind the scenes, Lorian takes care of the confection, her daughter Valentina is the brilliant mind who creates the packaging and graphics and, as said before, Francesca and Carla give life to the shop.

Parete con frutta ricoperta

In addition to them, in the small family company work the smiling Cristian, Fabrizio and the intern Giacomo, and two ladies that wrap up every single chocolate in its own colourful tissue paper.

Confezionamento

Imagine a typical day at the laboratory: the few employées untiringly work until lunch time, doing everything by hand, cleaning and preparing the dried fruit or covering it with chocolate, while Alfredo and Lorian keep on working until night, sometimes even late, in order to take care of every single detail of their creations.

Al lavoro sui fichi

As soon as he stops working, Alfredo runs to the shop… or better, under the shop, where he can unload his second passion: music. In the basement he built a rehearsal room, that is now turning into a small recording studio, and there, still dirty with chocolate, he plays the bass and the guitar with his friends, who scold him because his perfume distracts them.

And we could open a separate chapter about the perfume. Entering the laboratory, situated in a small warehouse in a badly paved alley, you’re hugged and pleasantly invaded by a scent of cocoa and rum that, even by itself, would be able to raise again any bad day. Such a scent necessarily has to come from something magic…

Fichi in fase di copertura

In the room where the chocolate creations are produced, we find the guys busy around the machine that is covering – in this case – the figs. On the right, three other machines continuously temper white, milk and dark chocolate.
In the meanwhile, the base of the raisins chocolates is cooling down as much as needed by Alfredo to cut it with a knife, in perfectly similar squares. He is the only one responsible for the cut and preparation of the chocolates and chocolate bars, that he makes by hand in the molds.
We taste another creation: a zabaglione-filled chocolate… greatest of wonders!

Trancetti all'uva passa

Here Alfredo tells us about his philosophy and his way of producing: he only chooses excellent ingredients, even to the detriment of of the price, he experiments with his beloved pots and molds in order to create the best chocolate blends, that change based on the preparation he wants to realize. As regards the covered fruit, Marangoni specialty, for exemple he needs a “round and neutral” dark chocolate, not too acid or invasive because otherwhise it would alter the final taste, covering the flavor of fruit and rum. The latter, moreover, it’s not a random rum but it’s made with an Alfredo’s recipe, so that it’s not too much alcoholic but very aromatic, with a vanilla aftertaste, and none of its shades gets lost during its evaporation.

Frutta in uscita

After finding the perfect balance, the blend of dark chocolate is made in a huge pot, that contains around 700 kg of it, and it’s used to hug fruit and fruit chocolates.
Alfredo’s words are soaked with all of his passion for chocolate, that happily accompanies his life in and out the laboratory. Every creation is born from an idea that is experimented and refined, every chocolate is like a child that belongs to the big Marangoni family.
You understand that Alfredo’s love for chocolate is total and insatiable when he tells you that at night, at home, when he’s hungry, he eats the chocolates that surrounded him during the whole day, never tired of them.

Cioccolatino in sezione

And, after all, it exactly goes in this way: the small Marangoni sweets are unique, each of them is a microcosm where the perfect balance among fruit, rum scent and chocolate emanates at every bite… and you’d love to taste every available type, one after the other, because you never have enough of them.

Fiore di cioccolatini

At this point your mouth is surely (and properly) watering… if you want to personally try the magic of Marangoni Cioccolato, step by the shop La Delizia in Russi (Ravenna) and let yourself get inspired!

 
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Pubblicato da su 2 novembre 2013 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #12: The little realm of Giamaica Caffè @ Verona

Russi-Verona

After some months off, the Travelling Delights are restarting their trips seeking the food and wine jewels that Italy conceals.
This time, more than ever, we had to dig deep in order to find the enterprise we’re talking about: Caffè Giamaica, an artisan company situated at the doorway of Verona.

Actually, the word “artisan company” it’s absolutely reducing: Caffè Giamaica is a small world on its own, a realm that moves to the rythm of the philosophical laws that regulate it by nature.

But let’s start from the beginning…

We stop the car in front of an apparently ordinary building from the seventies and we wonder if we are in the right place. Two unmistakable clues confirm that yes, besides the look, this is the coffee roasting plant we are looking for: a dark iron sign, that reads “Caffè Giamaica”, stares at us from the gate and the coffee scent flutters in the air intoxicating us since the first breath.

Targa torrefazione

We get in and a continuous noise of machinery and moving grains welcomes us. Right after it, comes Simone Fumagalli, that we later find out being the son of the wife of Gianni Frasi (the owner of the company) and the latter’s successive. This guy, with a nice face and a patient manner, takes care of the coffee roasting, after watching for years more expert people at work, absorbing the fire art. Or, as we later understand, his first years of “apprenticeship” haven’t done anything else but helping his nature fulfilling itself… apparently no one else, in the little Giamaica realm, has ever been as good as him in roasting coffee.

Tostatura del caffè

Simone himself explained and showed us how the roasting plant works, and we had the chance to watch it for a long time completely enchanted.
We learnt that their machine, a Vittoria that comes directly from the fifties, roasts the grains with a direct flame for about 15 minutes, whithin which the specific timing changes not only for different kinds of coffee, but even for every single sack… here the mastery of who roasts the coffee gets in the running, because he has to ensure that in the end every grain reaches a consistent “monk’s robe” color – which means that it’s homogeneously roasted.
Thanks to Simone’s words we start to understand that nothing, in there, is trivialized: the roasting is not just a basic recurring process, but it’s the way with wich they give to the coffee the possibility of expressing itself for what it is. Only at that point, tasting the final result, an expert can recognize its qualities and flaws.
Before arriving to the roasting plant, the coffee is grown in an environment with certain characteristics, then it’s harvested and procesed so that the pulp of the seed of the fruit of the plant – what we commonly call “coffee grains” – is ready to be roasted. All of this obviously influences the coffee and gives it specific characteristics: the already quoted qualities and flaws.

Raffreddamento

After the roasting, the grains that will be grinded and used to prepare espresso have to rest for 48 hours.
In a week, that coffee reaches the peak of its potentiality and expresses at its best all of its aromatic and physical characteristics. After a month, those characteristics begin to decline… and this is the reason why the Giamaica coffee is not granted to any client that doesn’t pledge to be able to use it within that period of time. Yes, because in this roasting plant they attentively select not only the grains (from those who “seem to be” the best plantations in the world) but also the clients. They are examined and they have to be approved by Gianni Frasi before deserving a part of this precious treasure.
Precious, very precious… both because it’s an inherent quality of coffeee – in the regulation of trade it’s only secondary to oil – and because in this roasting plant everything that wheels around it forms a kind of mystic cult, and finally because you can definitely say that the Giamaica coffee is a limited edition product. Gianni, Simone and their collaborators only work on demand and, just to have a hint on the amount of their production, read this anecdote: last year, record year for what concerns the amount of the coffee production, working 365 days without any interruption, from the Giamaica plant came out as much coffee as the one that gets out of a big industrial plant in 8 working hours.

Cartelloni Giamaica

This is the reason why, when we met Gianni Frasi, one of the first things he said was that Caffè Giamaica shouldn’t exist. Yet there it is, since the 1930s it continues its activity and it has no intention of giving up.
Perhaps, as Gianni himself told us, if he hadn’t received a crucial suggestion from above in a critical moment, it would have disappeared like thousands of other italian roasting plants, on the contrary it resurrected from its ashes and it started to burn even brighter than before.

Tazzine Giamaica

But who’s Gianni Frasi? It would be reducing to just identify him as “the owner of the Caffè Giamaica company”.
Frasi is a guru that developed a life philosophy that mingles with the cult of coffee, an enigmatic man who inspects the world through his penetrating blue eyes, with which he stares at you as if he wants to understand if you’re worth, if you’re able to get the meaning of his truth facts and to overcome the initiation ritual.
Meeting him smells like coffee and tastes like a university lesson given by that professor that everybody fears and venerates, with an aftertaste of theatre show where nothing is left to chance. Every sentence is weighted, every word has a specific meaning and is a metaphor for the almost esoteric point of view that Frasi has about coffee, his vocation and the whole cosmos.

Torretta dei caffè

It would be impossible to report all of the stages of the fascinating journey that we made following him on the paths charted by his words, but there’s a central concept through which it’s possible to grasp the point of view of this “coffee holy man”.
The raw coffee grains only have a potential existence, and they can develop this potential only thanks to the baptism obtained through the “aqueous fire” of roasting. The product, before and after it, has the same nature but it’s not the same thing anymore. In order to take advantage of their nature, then, the roasted grains need “burning water”… so the circle can close: espresso is not just an ordinary espresso, but it’s the result of an opposite way antinomy with a religious-philosophical aftertaste.

Uomini e caffè

“Men should be like coffee: Strong, Good, Warm”

Are you curious to try the mystic experience of a coffee that comes from the Giamaica plant?
Don’t fear: we overcame the initiation ritual… not only Frasi allowed us to take the pictures that you can see here, but he also granted Paola to sell his coffee at her shop La Delizia (in Russi, Ravenna).
Step by as soon as you can!

 
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Pubblicato da su 24 settembre 2013 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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Stop #10: Acetaia “La Bonissima” @ Casinalbo di Formigine (Modena)

Russi-Modena

After a long winter break, our trips in the name of Italian excellences restart from one of the most famous and unique products of Emilia-Romagna: the balsamic vinegar of Modena.

Paola Franco e Donatella

In a very sunny morning, driving through narrow country streets, we reached the headquarters of Acetaia “La Bonissima” in Casinalbo di Formigine (Modena).
There we found the welcoming and very kind Franco De Pietri and his wife Donatella, owners of the company, together with Arturo, a lively puppy dog who kept us company during the whole visit.

Arturo

The company was founded by Celestino, Franco’s grandfather, who started making balsamic vinegar for his restaurant where the participants in the “Mille Miglia” used to stop to take refreshment. From then, the activity went on generation after generation, and the De Pietri family’s passion grew together with the number of barrels crammed in the attic.

Botti con nonno Celestino

To this day, indeed, the company is family run and the barrels where the vinegar takes life and matures occupy the attics of Franco and Donatella’s houses. This is not only a matter of logistical convenience, but also a necessary choice for the final quality of vinegar: the product needs to “feel” the natural seasonal interchange, because the winter cold helps the sedimentation of the impurities on the bottom of the barrels, while the summer hot facilitates the fermentation and concentration.

Solaio con tutte le batterie

Our visit at Acetaia “La Bonissima” turned out to be an interesting lesson about the fascinating world of balsamic vinegar, and we’ll hopefully be able to get at least part of what we learned across to you through this post.

Batteria del 68

First of all, there’s an important specification to be done: there are two types of this Emilian “black gold”, that is the D.O.P. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and the I.G.P. Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena).

Botti e utensili

The D.O.P. is the finest quality, which is made only using cooked must (Acetaia “La Bonissima” chooses  the Trebbiano di Spagna variety), left to mature for at least 12 years (if it goes beyond 25 years of seasoning, it’s considered an extra-aged – and in the plant we saw some barrel batches from 1964!). I used the word “batch” because the Traditional Vinegar is characterized by a dynamic ripening: every batch is composed by barrels of different sizes and woods, and a small amount of vinegar is periodically taken from each of them and moved to a slightly smaller barrel – and so on. In this way the vinegar, in addition to aging and thickening (every barrel is only covered by a dressing, so that the watery part of the product can evaporate), also absorbs the scents of the different woods through which it passes, enriching with organoleptic shades. Every year, from the last barrel of the serie, they take two of the 10/15 liters that it contains. This amount of the precious product is checked by the consortium, that evaluates it, bottles it and puts its seal on it.
Just think about this: in order to obtain 100 ml of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, it takes around 300 liters of must – that the De Pietri’s family autonomously cooks at home. This makes you understand why a D.O.P. vinegar cannot be a mass product…

Barilotto portatile

The reason why I.G.P. was born was in fact to allow a greater diffusion of the balsamic vinegar of Modena, so its criteria are less restrictive and permit a quantitatively more abundant production.

Cantina dei Sigilli

This doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality: as for everything, it depends on the raw material and on how the product is processed. The I.G.P. Balsamic Vinegars “La Bonissima” contain high quality wine vinegar and a cooked must percentage much higher than the minimum 20% required by the consortium – and this makes them naturally sweet and dark. Moreover, they’re never aged less than a year (even though the guidelines say that 60 days are sufficient), which helps their density and the richness of their flavour. Even in this case the aging takes place in wooden barrels, but it’s not dynamic like the D.O.P. one: at the end of the seasoning period, the barrel is simply emptied and the vinegar is bottled in the plant. As regards the I.G.P., so, the production is personally managed by the company, that is anyway subject every year to checks made by a certification agency which grants the origin of the raw materials, the quality of the processing and the bottling.

Sigilli

Apart from the technical issues, we were intrigued also by a couple of curiosities: Franco told us that, at every child’s birth, the family inaugurates a batch of vinegar (tradition that he obviously followed) and that, if there’s a daughter and she gets married, she gets part of her batch as a dowry. After all, the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar truly is an extremely precious good and it’s looked after with almost as much love as the one for one’s own children!

Batteria del 99

Going back to “La Bonissima” production, we can say that their serie proposes all the best that someone could offer: from the I.G.P. balsamic vinegars, aged for different periods in different kind of barrels, to the D.O.P., even extra-aged, of which they make around 1000/1500 bottles a year.

Tutta la linea di prodotti

If you love this kind of product you cannot help but try their vinegars, that will amaze you thanks to their creaminess, their scents and their sweet and intense taste. All of them are obviously genuine: there’s no trace of thickeners, colourings, preservatives or other additives.
You should try and put some drops of one of them on a fresh ricotta, on the classic Parmesan flakes or – why not – on a tasty onion frittata… you would be enraptured!

Piatto di degustazione

If you’re curious to try this vinegars for very expert people, you can as always find them at “La Delizia” in Russi (Ravenna)… we went back from the trip in Modena with the car full of these wonders! Now we are not waiting for anyone but you: come visit the shop soon!

 
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Pubblicato da su 26 febbraio 2013 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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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 #8: The cheeses of Mambelli Dairy @ Bertinoro (Forlì-Cesena)

Summer is coming to an end, rain is starting to pour… and the Delights are leaving again, looking for new excellences!
This time we didn’t go far from home: our trip took us in the middle of the Romagnol countryside, in order to discover the King of our cheeses, the squacquerone, and its “colleagues” fresh cheeses.

Our destination? Mambelli Dairy, located in a small plant in Bertinoro. When we got there, we have been welcomed by Raffaella, a smiling woman with bright eyes, who runs the family company with her sister Federica.

The activity began in the fifties, when Raffaella and Federica’s grandmother started making ricotta cheese – in order to use all of the milk that the family had and didn’t need – and started selling it at the market. Her son, then, broadened the sphere of activity selling also to the wholesalers in Cesena and giving birth to the first real dairy laboratory, for which he personally built part of the machinery that wasn’t commercially available at that time. Raffaella, who had totally different ideas about what to do with her life, actually started working in the family business: her father taught her the trade, she became very fond of the job and never left the company – on the contrary, with her little sister (who later started working there herself), made it and still makes it grow.

The market leader of this dairy is squacquerone, the Romagnol cheese par excellence, traditionally served with piadina bread and rocket, whose cradle resides just between the provinces of Ravenna and Cesena.
Very fresh cheese – it reaches its ideal seasoning in 6/7 days – it’s made with whole milk, rennet, milk enzymes (made in the dairy itself) and salt. In particular, Mambelli’s squacquerone comes in two different varieties: one with quarry salt and the other one with salt that comes from Cervia’s saltpans. This one was chosen in order to promote and increase the value of the excellences of our region – which is a thing that lies at the heart of the Mambelli sisters.

Squacquerone is made by mixing all the ingredients in big “crib tanks”, inside of which the cheese is cut into cubes of about 2.5 cm per side, before being touched by the dairyman – who needs to evaluate the consistency – and then poured as a waterfall inside the moulds. These are finally piled up and put to rest in refrigerating rooms, so that the cheese cubes can get compacted and give to the squacquerone cheese its typical soft and creamy consistency.

This cheese has recently obtained the PDO certification, thanks to which a pillar of Romagnol food tradition, that needs to be made with a series of exact criteria, can be protected and not perverted.

Another strong point of Mambelli Dairy is ricotta cheese: made with whole milk and water coming from Fratta thermal baths, it’s produced in different formats – the newcomer is a small 90 grams heart, a concentrate of flavour and creaminess.

In order to make ricotta cheese, the milk is put into huge 10-quintal-capacious cauldrons and brought to a temperature of about 80 Celsius degrees, then thermal water is added. After very few minutes, the milk starts to curdle and the resulting product is manually transferred into the moulds using colanders. The curd that first emerges on the surface, softer and lighter, is used to make the heart-shaped ricotta cheeses; after them, they move to the more capacious moulds, that need to be filled with a more thick product.

All of the Mambelli cheeses are made without using additives or preservatives: they perfectly keep undiminished the traditional authenticity, even though they’re made with highly modern technologies. The dairy is indeed equipped with a laboratory, where a sample of every batch of milk is analyzed with the purpose of studying its properties and, depending on these, of understanding how to adapt the processing in order to obtain products with qualities as homogeneous as possible. Thing that, as Raffaella explains, is really complex when you make very fresh cheeses – contrary to what people could think.

Their series of products, in addition to squacquerone and ricotta cheese, includes casatella, stracchino, ravigiolo, primosale and caciotta, often characterized by imaginative and intriguing names, and some Loverie – that are sweet and glutton matchings with Mambelli’s ricotta cheese.

So, the fresh cheese lovers are spoilt for choice… do you want to try the real squacquerone cheese, good as only the authentic one can be and of a quality that you could hardly find somewhere else? So come by La Delizia shop in Russi (Ravenna), you can find it there and let yourself be tempted by the flavour of tradition!

 
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Pubblicato da su 10 settembre 2012 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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