RSS

Archivi tag: sweet

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!

 
1 Commento

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

 

Tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

 
1 Commento

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

 

Tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,