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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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Tappa #15: La poesia del torrone Scaldaferro @ Dolo (VE)

Russi-DoloSono passati alcuni mesi dall’ultimo viaggio delle Delizie Itineranti… l’estate è finita e, almeno formalmente, ha lasciato il posto all’autunno. Da qui al Natale, il passo è breve: quale miglior momento per gustarne in anticipo i sapori? Eccoci allora pronte a raccontarvi i dietro le quinte del torrone Scaldaferro, un prodotto più unico che raro! Seguiteci alla scoperta di questa meraviglia…

Scaldaferro insegnaQuesta volta, più che mai, ci siamo trovate immerse in un piccolo mondo a parte, profumato di miele e mandorle tostate, in cui  tradizione e modernità si prendono a braccetto per creare dolci che definire deliziosi sarebbe riduttivo.

Foto nonno Scaldaferro e PietroMa partiamo dall’inizio: arrivati di buon mattino alla sede del torronificio, ci accoglie la gentilissima Urania, che diplomaticamente ci comunica che il nostro arrivo era atteso un’ora più tardi… fino a quel momento, la lavorazione del torrone non inizierà.
Qui impariamo la prima lezione: i lunghissimi tempi di cottura di questo speciale prodotto non vengono solo millantati, ma sono rispettati con precisione. Ovviamente, delle dieci ore di cottura richieste, non se ne può bypassare una solo perché noi siamo arrivati in anticipo.
Il torrone ha le sue esigenze, e in questa piccola realtà vengono assecondate dalla prima all’ultima. Vi basti sapere che Pietro, il membro della famiglia Scaldaferro attualmente titolare dell’azienda, si trasferisce nello stabilimento per tutti i mesi di produzione, in modo da poter controllare personalmente ogni più piccolo dettaglio ad essa legato.

Albumi che si montanoE così il suo lavoro inizia tutti i giorni circa alle tre di notte, rilevando temperatura e umidità dell’aria, poi preparando gli impasti che andranno a riempire gli otto pentoloni di rame, uno dopo l’altro. Le macchine, alcune risalenti ai primi anni del ‘900, si occupano di montare circa 50 albumi ricavati da uova di galline allevate a terra, insieme a miele, zucchero a velo e vaniglia Bourbon. Pietro supervisiona, cambiando la velocità delle fruste o regolando il calore delle pentole, per i tredici minuti della montatura e per tutte le successive ore di cottura.

Impasti in diverse fasi di cotturaA un certo punto della mattinata, subentrano gli altri dipendenti della piccola azienda a conduzione familiare: tre uomini che aiutano con la preparazione degli impasti, lavoro che richiede forza fisica, e una decina di donne che – udite udite – preparano a mano i prodotti finali, modellando il torrone in fiocchi, pinnacoli o tortine a seconda delle esigenze e dando vita a creazioni tutte diverse l’una dall’altra.

Collage sciroppoVerso la fine della cottura degli impasti, già dotati di un proprio forte carattere grazie ai diversi tipi di miele utilizzato, si aggiunge un’altra manciata di vaniglia, poi una cascata di sciroppo di miele e zucchero, che consentirà al torrone di cristallizzare nel migliore dei modi, e infine le mandorle, che saranno il 55% del prodotto finale. Queste vengono preventivamente tostate e poi conservate in sacchi di iuta, che lasciano traspirare la loro umidità ma ne mantengono il calore – è importante che quando vengono aggiunte all’impasto abbiano la sua stessa temperatura, per evitare di smontare gli albumi.

Collage aggiunta mandorleDopo aver ben amalgamato l’impasto in modo che ricopra uniformemente tutte le mandorle, questo viene prelevato in piccole quantità e suddiviso fra le donne che lo lavorano quando ancora ha una temperatura di 60/65°. La temperatura è alta e le mani arrossate, ma non si può fare altrimenti: basterebbe lasciarlo fuori dal pentolone pochi minuti per farlo solidificare completamente e renderlo quindi inutilizzabile.
Il passaggio successivo è quello dell’impacchettamento, che avviene a torrone ancora caldo per mantenerne la fragranza, non prima di aver effettuato un controllo finale sulla forma dei fiocchi e su eventuali contenuti anomali.

Fiocchi di torrone fatti a manoUna piccola ma fondamentale parentesi la meritano le materie prime utilizzate: Pietro in persona scova i mieli più inusuali e rari, come quello di di rosa mascena o di nespolo, sceglie la frutta secca migliore, come la nocciola trilobata delle Langhe o il pistacchio di Bronte, e li abbina fra loro e con aggiunta di altri ingredienti, tutti eccellenti, per creare le linee di prodotti classici e le limited edition.
Tutti, è bene sottolinearlo, sono rigorosamente realizzati senza l’aggiunta di additivi chimici di alcun tipo.

Donne al lavoroNon so quanti di voi abbiano avuto l’opportunità di assistere coi propri occhi alla lavorazione del torrone, men che meno di un torrone artigianale di questa qualità: noi, avendo avuto questa fortuna, possiamo testimoniare che è pura poesia, uno spettacolo per tutti i cinque sensi.
La vista potrebbe perdersi per ore a fissare gli impasti che danzano nelle macchine o le dita che corrono veloci sul torrone morbido.
Il tatto si stupisce per la consistenza gommosa dell’impasto ancora crudo e caldo.
L’olfatto viene inebriato dai profumi dolci di miele, mandorle e vaniglia che occupano ogni angolo dello stabilimento.
L’udito ascolta impaziente il “crock” del torrone friabile appena spezzato.
Il gusto accoglie estasiato i sapori sempre diversi, delicati o decisi, floreali o fruttati, tradizionali o innovativi, che questa creatura speciale è in grado di offrire.

Stella di torrone fatta a manoA questo punto, non potete non assaggiare il torrone Scaldaferro: siamo certi che fra tutte le qualità troverete quella che fa per voi e non la lascerete più. Fra l’altro, pensando al Natale, queste dolci creazioni potrebbero essere un’idea regalo perfetta per tutti… parenti, amici, fidanzati, golosi di ogni età e con ogni esigenza – considerate che molti dei loro prodotti sono anche senza glutine, quindi adatti per i celiaci!
Cosa aspettate allora a passare alla Delizia per provare questa meraviglia artigianale? Paola e le sue ragazze vi aspettano con tanti prodotti Scaldaferro appena arrivati!

 
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Pubblicato da su 14 ottobre 2014 in Uncategorized, Versione italiana

 

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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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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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Tappa #12: Il piccolo regno di Caffè Giamaica @ Verona

Russi-Verona

Dopo alcuni mesi di stop, le Delizie Itineranti ricominciano i loro viaggi alla ricerca dei gioielli che il mondo enogastronomico italiano nasconde.
Questa volta, più delle altre, abbiamo dovuto cercare veramente bene per scovare la realtà di cui vi parleremo: l’azienda artigianale Caffè Giamaica, situata alle porte di Verona.

In realtà, il termine “azienda artigianale” è assolutamente riduttivo: la Caffè Giamaica è un piccolo mondo a parte, un regno che si muove al ritmo delle leggi filosofiche che lo regolano per natura.

Ma partiamo dall’inizio…

Fermata l’auto davanti a quello che sembra un banale condominio anni ’70, ci chiediamo se siamo nel posto giusto. Due indizi inequivocabili ci confermano che sì, al di là delle apparenze, è questa la torrefazione che cerchiamo: dal cancello ci guarda un’insegna di ferro scuro che reca la scritta “Caffè Giamaica” e nell’aria aleggia un aroma di caffè che ci inebria fin dal primo respiro.

Targa torrefazione

Entriamo e ci accoglie un rumore continuo di macchinari e chicchi in movimento. Subito dopo di lui, arriva Simone Fumagalli, che poi scopriamo essere il figlio della moglie del titolare Gianni Frasi e il successore di quest’ultimo. Questo ragazzo col viso simpatico e il fare paziente si occupa della tostatura del caffè, dopo che per anni ha solo osservato i più esperti all’opera, assorbendo l’arte del fuoco. O meglio, come più tardi abbiamo capito, i suoi primi anni di “apprendistato” non hanno fatto altro che aiutare la sua natura a compiersi… pare che come tosta il caffè lui, non l’abbia mai tostato nessuno prima d’ora, nel piccolo regno Giamaica.

Tostatura del caffè

E’ stato proprio Simone a mostrarci il funzionamento della torrefazione, che abbiamo osservato a lungo affascinate, ed a spiegarci la parte tecnica relativa alla tostatura del caffè.
Abbiamo imparato che il loro macchinario, una Vittoria degli anni cinquanta, tosta i chicchi a fiamma diretta per circa 15 minuti, all’interno dei quali ci sono tempistiche che cambiano non per ogni tipologia di caffè ma addirittura per ogni sacco… è qui infatti che entra in gioco la maestria del torrefattore, il quale deve far sì che ogni chicco raggiunga sul finale un color tonaca di frate omogeneo – ovvero che sia omogeneamente tostato.
Già dalle parole di Simone capiamo che nulla, lì dentro, viene banalizzato: la tostatura non è un semplice processo ripetitivo, ma è invece il modo con cui si dà al caffè la possibilità di esprimersi per quello che è. Soltanto a quel punto, assaggiando il risultato finale, un esperto può riconoscere i suoi pregi e difetti.
Prima di arrivare alla torrefazione, il caffè viene coltivato in un ambiente che ha determinate caratteristiche, raccolto e lavorato affinchè la polpa del seme del frutto della pianta – quella che costituisce i “chicchi” – sia pronta per la tostatura. Tutto questo ovviamente lo influenza e gli conferisce particolari caratteristiche: i già citati pregi e difetti.

Raffreddamento
Dopo la tostatura, i chicchi che verranno macinati e utilizzati per preparare l’espresso devono riposare 48 ore. Nel giro di una settimana quel caffè raggiunge il picco delle sue potenzialità ed esprime al meglio tutte le sue caratteristiche di aroma e fisiche. Dopo un mese, tali caratteristiche iniziano a decadere… e questo è il motivo per cui il caffè Giamaica non viene concesso a nessun cliente che non garantisca di poterlo consumare entro quel periodo di tempo. Sì, perchè in questa torrefazione non sono soltanto i chicchi ad essere attentamente selezionati da quelle che “sembrano” le migliori piantagioni del mondo, ma anche i clienti vengono esaminati e devono ottenere il benestare di Gianni Frasi prima di potersi guadagnare una parte di questo prezioso tesoro.
Prezioso, preziosissimo… sia perchè il caffè lo è intrinsecamente – nella regolazione delle leggi di mercato mondiali è secondo solo al petrolio – sia perchè in questa torrefazione tutto ciò che gli ruota intorno costituisce quasi un culto mistico, sia infine perchè si può ritenere il Caffè Giamaica un prodotto in edizione limitata. Gianni, Simone e i loro collaboratori lavorano infatti solo su ordinazione e, per farvi intuire a quanto ammonta la loro produzione, vi basti questo aneddoto: l’anno scorso, anno record per quantità di caffè prodotto, lavorando 365 giorni senza alcuna interruzione, dalla torrefazione Giamaica è uscito tanto caffè quanto quello che esce da una grande torrefazione industriale in 8 ore di lavoro.

Cartelloni Giamaica

E’ per questo motivo che, quando abbiamo incontrato Gianni Frasi, una delle prime cose che ci ha detto è stata che la Caffè Giamaica non dovrebbe esistere. Eppure c’è, dagli anni trenta del secolo scorso porta avanti la sua attività, e non ha alcuna intenzione di uscire di scena.
Probabilmente, come ci ha raccontato lui in persona, se Gianni non avesse ricevuto dall’alto un suggerimento cruciale in un momento critico, sarebbe sparita come altre migliaia di torrefazioni italiane, invece è risorta dalle ceneri ed ha ricominciato ad ardere ancora più brillante di prima.

Tazzine Giamaica

Ma chi è Gianni Frasi? Sarebbe riduttivo definirlo semplicemente “il titolare dell’azienda Caffè Giamaica”.
Frasi è un guru che ha sviluppato negli anni una filosofia di vita che s’intreccia con il culto del caffè, un uomo enigmatico che indaga il mondo attraverso i suoi penetranti occhi azzurri, con cui ti fissa come cercando di capire se sei all’altezza, se sei capace di comprendere le sue verità e di superare il rito d’iniziazione.
Un incontro, quello con lui, che ha l’odore del caffè e il sapore di una lezione universitaria tenuta dal professore che tutti temono e venerano, con un retrogusto di pièce teatrale in cui nulla è lasciato al caso. Ogni frase è soppesata, ogni parola ha un significato preciso ed è metafora della visione quasi esoterica che Frasi ha del caffè, del suo mestiere e dell’intero cosmo.

Torretta dei caffè
Sarebbe impossibile riportare tutti i passaggi dell’affascinante viaggio che abbiamo compiuto seguendolo nei sentieri tracciati dalle sue parole, ma c’è un concetto centrale tramite il quale si può intuire la visione di questo santone del caffè.
I chicchi di caffè crudi esistono solo in potenza, è il battesimo ottenuto attraverso il “fuoco acquoso” della tostatura che fa sì che essi possano sviluppare questo loro potenziale. Il prodotto, prima e dopo, ha la stessa natura ma non è più la stessa cosa. Per mettere a frutto questa loro natura, poi, i chicchi tostati hanno bisogno di “acqua ardente”… ed ecco che il cerchio si chiude: l’espresso non è più un banale espresso, ma è il frutto di un’antinomia del senso inverso dal retrogusto religioso-filosofico.

Uomini e caffè

Curiosi di provare in prima persona l’esperienza mistica di un caffè proveniente dalla torrefazione Giamaica?
Non temete: abbiamo superato la prova di iniziazione… non solo Frasi ci ha concesso il privilegio di poter scattare nel suo laboratorio le foto che vedete, ma ha anche permesso a Paola di vendere il suo caffè alla Delizia.
Passate in negozio appena potete!

 
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Pubblicato da su 9 settembre 2013 in 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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