Happy belated Thanksgiving! I spent Thanksgiving in Quebec City enjoying lots of delicious Québecois delights and Christmas decorations, so I have missed a few posts! To catch up, since Thanksgiving is a day of celebrated gluttony, I am posting about Dan and my gluttonous tour through the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy with Emilia Delizia, which was a total a food fest! The cost of the tour was approximately €160,00/person and included more than enough food to get you through the day!
Our tour started with an early pick up at the Modena train station. The tour would have picked us up at our hotel in Bologna proper, but that was an additional €35,00/person (way overpriced in my opinion). So, instead, we took the train about 25 minutes to Modena at about € 7,00/person round-trip. We were the only people on the tour, so it was just me, Dan, a guide and our driver, who did not speak any English (always fun!).
The first stop was at Caseificio S. Michele, a certified Parmigiano Reggiano producer. Similar to certain alcohols, like champagne and cognac, Parmigiano Reggiano is a protected classification that can only be borne by certain cheeses that come from the Emilia-Romagna region and meet certain requirements. That’s why its so expensive at home! This sign is indicative of true Parmigiano Reggiano:
Once inside S. Michele, we realized that our early start was necessary, so that we could watch the cheese makers prepare the daily Parmigiano Reggiano wheels! Unknown to us, Parmigiano Reggiano is made every morning from fresh cow milk in a rather quick fashion. The entire process takes about 30 minutes, two men and is really hard work! See the beginning (left) and finished product (right) – all in 30 minutes!
After watching the preparation, we got to tatste the freshest piece of Parmigiano Reggiano. Although it didn’t really have much taste…
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese obtains its flavor from aging, first in a bath and then in a cellar for between 6 and 24 months.
Finally, we got to taste fresh ricotta, 6, 12 and 18 month Parmigiano Reggiano! We also bought some home!
After tasting as much Parmigiano Reggiano as we could handle, we visited a basalmic producer – Acetaia Clara (acetaia means a basalmic producer)! Like Parmigiano Reggiano, basalmic is a protected name and you have to meet certain requirements to produce true basalmic. Lucky for us, the proprietor of Acetaia Clara is on the board to determine which basalmics qualify as true basalmic. We were in good hands!
Somewhat surprising to me, basalmic is made in a similar fashion to wine, starting with grapes from a vineyard and then aging in barrels. We were walked through the production process and given a tour of the production facility, where the proprietor pointed out a variety of different “batteries” of basalmic, including juniper infused basalmic and certain basalmics made for his grandchildren (basalmic used to be part of a girl’s dowry!).
After touring the facility, we were treated to a tasting of saga, a sweet product maade in the same fashion as basalmic, and a 12 month, 24 month and a juniper barrel aged basalmic over cheese! We also tried nocini, a local liquor made from unripe walnuts. Apparently there is a contest every year in the area as to who can make the best nocini, and Acetaia Clara has won! We bought some basalmic and nocini!
After the basalmic tasting, my least favorite stop of the day – a tour of the Mueso della Salumeria (“MUSA”), which is a new museum in Castelnuovo Rangone devoted to the production of pig-based meats. The museum was comprehensive and modern, but there is only so much you can learn about pork production. The tour ended with a sampling of proscuttio, cooked ham and salaimi. Oh, and the museum is sponsored by Villani, a local but large scale produced of pork meats, so there’s that…. If taking this tour again, I would skip the tasting here and proceed directly to the final stop!
The last stop was a vineyard tour with lunch – Azienda Agrituristica San Polo. San Polo is a small-poduction vineyard with a restaurant and a few rooms. San Polo produces a few different wines, including lambrusco, which is a sparkling red wine! Upon arrival, we were taken on a tour of the bottling facilities. San Polo has some old school Maselli bottling equipment!
After touring the bottling facility, we were taken into the kitchen for a wine tasting and a home cooked lunch. The owner opened three bottles of wine and told us we could have as much as we wanted, so we did! I only got a picture of the red, but I loved the pink cap on one of the wines!
The lunch started with a variety of plates, including local cheese with home grown carrot and zucchini sauce, fresh bread with homemade pomodoro sauce, beautiful pig products and tomatoes stuffed with veggies:
After eating all of that, the chef brought out another plate of proscuitto and homemade bread and showed us how to eat it like the locals:
San Polo also has a really cute truffle hunting vineyard dog and a few rooms. It offers truffle hunting tours and overnight stays. Also, San Polo’s main restaurant is said to be quite delicious!
After so much food (and wine), we were dropped back off at the Modena train station, turing down a driving tour through Modena (too much wine). All in all, the day was really fun and our guide and driver were great! The only part I didn’t love was the MUSA. The tour was a great way to travel through the Emilia-Romagna region and visit some of its small food producers, although I found it to be over priced after all of the added fees (such as a fee for weekend tours, a fee for hotel pick up, etc.).
STEAL OUR TRIP
Emilia Deliza – The Emilia Delizia company offers a number of tours around Emilia-Romagna. You can check out their offerings online and email for reservations and price quotes. I found them to be quite responsive to online inquiries. The cost for our trip was approximately €160,00 a person, which I found to be a bit hight.
Caseifico S. Michele – Via Giardini Sud, 327 – Loc. Camatta, 41020 Pavullo nel Frigano (MO). T: 0536-41006. E: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you cannot watch the cheese production, there is a shop that anyone can visit and purchase some cheese!
Acetaia Clara – No website. Via S. Antonio, 60, Torre Maina di Maranello (MO). T: 0536 943191. C: 3388730306. E: email@example.com. Definitely email before showing up. The production facilities are just off the proprietor’s house!
Museo della Salumeria – Via E. Zanasi, 24, 41051 Castelnuovo Rangone (MO) Italy, Tel. +39 346 2557407, firstname.lastname@example.org. MUSA is open everyday from 10:30 – 6:00. Entrance is €3,00 (recommended) or €7,00 for a guided tour. A sampling at the end of the tour is an additional €7,00.
Azienda Agricola San Polo – dal 1938 Azienda Agricola San Polo – Via San Polo, 5 – Castelvetro MO – P.IVA 01886170362. Hotel T: 059790539 – 3480738343 – 3401260028. Ristorazione T. 3381120331.
E: email@example.com. Check out the website and email for hotel, restaurant and/or tour reservations! I imagine all of their offers to be fantastic. Oh, and the proprietor’s wife is a really fabulous interior designer!
On A Budget
If you are on a budget, Emilia Delizia may not be the best option for you. As I mentioned above, I felt that the company “nickeled and dimed” quite a bit… You could try to visit the places that we visited on your own, although you will need a car and navigating around could be somewhat difficult. Alternatively, there are a number of shorter, walking food tours that take place in Bologna city and cover many of the great foods of the Emilia-Romagna region. That would be my recommendation!