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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 #11: Bazza, the cold cuts artisan @ Terrassa Padovana (Padova)

Russi-Terrassa Padovana

After our trip to Acetaia La Bonissima, our journeys went on, always dedicated to tradition: this time we went out of the borders of our region and we got to Terrassa Padovana, where the Bazza company is located.

Stemma

In an industrial zone, not very “poetic” – word and concept often used by Giovanni (called Vanni), owner of the company – it stands the small Bazza plant, a real treasure chest filled with tradition, the cold cuts artisan’s kingdom.

Salami senza aglio in asciugatura

Born in a family of generations of butchers, Vanni Bazza himself, when he was only 14 years old, started working in one of the most famous butcher shops of the area – also equipped with a laboratory where he had the chance to learn the first basics of meat processing.
After some changes in his working life, when he still was very young, he opened his own first butcher shop, then a second one, but he finally decided to close both of them because – with the arrival in town of a big supermarket – he wasn’t able to sell his products anymore.

Tagliere di salami

At that point he decided to take a big leap and do his utmost opening a laboratory where he dedicated himself only to the production of salami. As it often happens to those who have the courage to start an activity that goes “against the tide”, the first years have been very difficult, so that he thought to close also the laboratory down.
But then it made the scene an element of “lucky coincidence” that brought to a positive change and to a happy ending – as it happens in all the best fairy tales.

Rassegna stampa

Vanni met Giorgio Onesti, a famous discoverer of Italian food excellences, who tasted his product and simply asked him: “Can you make it even better?”.
At that point he realized that it was the right moment to completely revolutionize his production: he gave all the salami he had in the warehouse away, he began studying their chemistry and he restarted all over again.
The proof that that was the direction to follow came from Giorgio himself, who liked his salami so much that he started selling them in different parts of the Italian boot… when Vanni didn’t even know how to ship them!
From then on, the cold cuts artisan career has been an escalation: now his products are sold everywhere in Italy (and also in a shop in Stockholm) and everyone acknowledges their outstanding quality.

Salame Bazza

But what makes these cold cuts so unique?
The first secret surely is the specialization: Bazza’s cured pork meat factory produces almost only salami and soppressa, apart from smaller quantities of other cold cuts – both seasoned (coppa and pancetta) and raw (zampone, cotechino and bondiola). If you’re an expert in the field, you will probably have better results than those who do and know (or think to know) a little bit of everything.

Pancette arrotolate

The second secret, as we often underlined, is the choice to use first quality ingredients, selected with attention and awareness. A few elements, all of them natural, and an apparently simple processing that repeats the traditional one – but making it “modern” thanks to all the chemical knowledge that stand behind the natural cold cuts production. In other words, it’s a rediscovery of tradition through scientific means.

Salami dall'alto

Let’s consider salami as an exemple: they were the first born in Bazza’s cured pork meat factory and they still are the main product. Their only ingredients are pork meat (thigh and bacon), salt and pepper – with the addition of garlic in one of the two kinds of salami. No niters, no preservatives, no flour (grain, milk or animal), no sugar, no water – all of these are added in the industrial production.
This choice obviously requires the need to pay absolute attention to every detail, from the selection of the meat to the processing, in order to obtain an excellent product without external “help” – which is dangerous for the consumer’s health.

Salami all'aglio in asciugatura

Vanni perfectly explained us all the chemical “behind-the-scenes” of the salami production, especially regarding the bacterial formation within the processed meat. There are “bad” and “good” bacteria (the second ones are necessary for the meat fermentation and seasoning) and, without the niters’ help, everything is up to how you choose and handle meat, as well as the timing and temperatures of the different production steps.

In Bazza’s particular case, when the meat (of the rear part of the pig, less polluted by the butchery) arrives in the sterilized spaces of the laboratory, it’s kept and grinded at very low temperatures, then put into sterilized natural sausage skins, hand-tied one by one.

Salami all'aglio

The following step is the drip, which imitates the kitchens where our grandfathers used to keep the fresh salami: in the shortest time possible, so that harmful bacteria can’t grow, the very cold meat has to get to a temperature of 19 Celsius degrees. In this way, the product obviously loses weight (around 15%) because of the water loss, and the salt within the meat begins to work as a preservative.

Muffe da vicino

After it, it’s time for the drying, which corresponds to the warehousing in our grandfathers’ granary, where the salami are kept to a fresh cellar temperature and on their surface the mold begins to grow – and this is a very positive thing, contrary to the expectations, because it shows that the water went out of the sausage and that bacteria aren’t growing in the inside. Substantially, these molds are a proof of the absence of niters and of the fact that the harmful bacteria are killed in a natural way.

Muffe da vicinissimo

In the end, there’s the conservation and seasoning phase, that lasts about 90 days.

Salami in mantenimento

It is clear that a product of this kind, completely genuine and natural, needs absolute attention and devotion – which brings to an increase of the costs and to a necessarily limited production.
Vanni Bazza, driven by a huge passion for his profession and by the continuous desire to grow and improve himself, didn’t get discouraged but, on the contrary, he has been farsighted: his efforts are now completely rewarded thanks to the satisfaction of knowing that his customers are enthusiastic about his cold cuts.

Lo speck

The history of Bazza’s company is not ending here: Enrico, Vanni’s son, is studying food science and technologies in order to deepen the knowledge of those subjects with which his father dealt almost as a self-taught. He inherited his big passion and there’s no doubt about the fact that he will be able to bring that treasure chest filled with tradition straight into the future.

Salame

Paola met Vanni almost 20 years ago, and from then on she has been selling his salami at her shop La Delizia. If you want to try them and go back to the past of Italian tradition, you can as always find them in Russi (Ravenna). We are waiting for you!

 
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Pubblicato da su 12 marzo 2013 in English version!, Uncategorized

 

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