Tag Archives: Slow Food

Autumn tour part 2: the long road to Basilicata

Crossing the high plateaus in the area of Monte Genzana

The 3rd day was a long haul. We headed further south on smaller country roads, lulled by the changing landscapes that ranged from large tracts of tilled earth to mountain plateaus. We needed to cross the regions of Molise, Campania, and a small section of Puglia before reaching Basilicata, but not without stopping for a proper lunch.

We have 2 small dogs, is it a problem?

It always goes like this: MotH calls to reserve a table, sets the time, then just before hanging up, he politely asks “Abbiamo 2 piccoli cani, è un problema?” A Slow Food guide restaurant along the way didn’t open before 1pm and dogs were okay, but I didn’t factor in 2 hours at the table.

Lunch at Ristorante La Pignata

When I think of the cuisine in Campania I think of pizza, mozzarella made with buffalo milk, and fried stuff. Head inland where Campania borders the other southern regions and the dishes are a cultural mix of flavors. As a complimentary tasting we were offered bruschetta with fresh mozzarella and anchovies.

Bruschetta w/mozzarella and anchovies

Followed by 2 antipasti: prosciutto made from suino nero (local black pig) with artichokes and grated caciocavallo, plus a type of dumpling called pancotto all’arianese, a truly frugal dish using day-old bread, chicory greens, translucent strips of cured lard, and peperoni cruschi.

Prosciutto di suino nero

Pancotto all'arianese

When the pasta arrived my stomach was already signaling my brain that it was getting full, but I was quick to tuck into this dish of wholewheat spaghetti with baccala and peperoni cruschi. MotH had tagliatelle with porcini and black truffle. It was definitely a leisurely lunch, but we had to get going and here’s the funny part – the waiter was surprised that we were leaving so soon.

Wholewheat spaghetti with baccala on a puree of broccoli

An hour later we arrived at our b&b in Castelmezzano, a mountain-top village listed among the most beautiful in Italy. Its unique location and appearances in films and documentaries has brought more international attention as a tourist destination (there’s a zipline activity called Volo dell’Angelo – Angel’s Flight), but hopefully the remoteness of the area will keep things in check and prevent it from turning into a circus. More on Castelmezzano coming up, but first, time to get ready for Halloween! 👿

Castelmezzano in Basilicata
Castelmezzano in Basilicata

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Slow Food Cheese: food trucks, street food, and beer

Molisani street food

Visiting the cheese stands can be quite exhausting if you’re gung ho on seeing/tasting from every single vendor. In earlier editions of Cheese there were street food stands for a quick bite (if the lines hadn’t formed yet), but from 2015 up til now, food trucks are also part of the food-to-go scene. Event organizers did a strategic move this year in grouping food trucks and beer stands together in one big section. Brilliant! There were only a few operators, but one caught my eye immediately when I saw this guy fiddling with a dangling caciocavallo.

Caciocavallo impiccato

At street food Molisani there was an item named Impiccato (hanged) – caciocavallo cheese on toasted bread, topped with preserved garlic scapes and wild asparagus. Suspended above an electric hob, the caciocavallo cheese was lowered until melted and bubbly, then scraped onto a slice of bread. Totally mesmerizing, titillating, tantalizing food porn.

Poormanger

Another food truck to check off my list was Poormanger. They do amazing gourmet baked potatoes (something that I’ve never seen here actually) and who doesn’t love a steaming hot spud? Like this one here with fresh tomino cheese, anchovies, and italian green sauce. It was HUGE! And it was excellent with a cold one from a beer stand less than 10 feet away from us.

Acciughe al verde

Food, beer, and cheese shopping behind us, the perfect end to the day was at the Piazza del Gelato. One flavor in particular was unexpectedly delicious: farina bona. Farina bona is a type of corn flour from Ticino (Switzerland) and the taste was like toasted corn. Almost, but not quite, like really good popcorn that you get at a county fair. I think it would’ve paired well with salted butter caramel gelato but that’s for another project. Now we simply wait another 2 years for the 12th edition of Slow Food Cheese in 2019.

Slow Food Cheese gourmet gelato

11th edition of Slow Food Cheese: the coolest ever

French cheese display

Cheese: pungent, spicy, sweet, hard, soft, creamy, fresh, aged, and the list goes on and on. Like every single edition in previous years, the Slow Food Cheese fair this past weekend was an enormous success, attracting visitors in the hundreds of thousands. The layout was pretty much the same as 2015 with a few new additions: an area for food trucks and beer stands, and a gelato stand that had this amaaaazing toasted corn flavor.

We went on Friday, opening day, just before lunch. In my opinion it is the best day to go if you want to have a look around, nibble, taste, and stock up without feeling as if the hoards have already been there before you. The pressing crowds have yet to arrive (the shuttle bus to and from was practically empty on our ride) and the whole town of Bra has a nice, clean feel to it. A big plus was the weather which was much cooler in comparison to past events.

Slow Food cheese stash

Firm, semi-firm: Keen’s cheddar and Stichelton (UK), Montébore and Macagn (Italy). New to us is the Stichelton, which is similiar to Stilton but uses raw cow’s milk instead.

Slow Food cheese stash

Soft, semi-soft and downright oozing: Anneau des Gors and Figuettine (France), Tartucrem (Italy), Capri Algas (Spain). With the exception of the Tartucrem (truffles and soft gorgonzola) the remaining 3 goat cheeses are already half gone. Capri Algas has flecks of seaweed in it, and hidden within the Figuettine is a candied fig!

Figuettine
Figuettine

Caprí Algas Bahía de Cádiz
Caprí Algas Bahía de Cádiz: oozy goat’s milk cheese with seaweed.

Anyone who went to/blogged Slow Food Cheese 2017 is welcome to add a link to their post in the comments!