Slow Food Cheese, (Bra, Piemonte) – it just keeps getting better and better. A pity that this occasion happens only every 2 years because like all the fairs before this one, Cheese 2015 had us sniffing, tasting, and buying a good variety of items that we probably would’ve never seen in our lifetime. The weather was ideal – sunny yet cool – on our late Sunday afternoon and Monday morning visit, and for whatever it’s worth, we now know that Monday (the last day of the fair) is waaay less crowded than the weekend. We even scored some freebies!
The new addition this year were food trucks to help sate the appetites of the masses. Beer on tap at the beer piazza and Ales&Co booth were very popular stops, while the street food vendors pumped out lots of fried things. Switzerland did not make a repeat appearance with their raclette station this time around, so I’m really happy that I got to make a video of them in 2013. Oh why, Switzerland, why? I was looking forward to some melting cheesy goodness!
As Team Castelli is comprised of a foursome, I gotta say that the dynamic duo were patient and well-behaved although the doxie was shaking in his boots. People kept asking me why I would put a muzzle on a little dog (like I was mean or something). At first I replied that he bites when stressed, but eventually switched to “because he eats all the shit on the ground”. With a knowing nod of their heads they believed that response over the biting issue. He didn’t get to be toted along in the trolley, but to make up for all his troubles, I let him nap on the Spun chair that was in our b&b. Look at the westie sleeping like an angel. Tired and stuffed from sneaking cheese scraps on the ground.
It’s all about personal taste when it comes to cheese and ours run along the more pungent notes. More photos can be seen in my album on Flickr but rest assured that this isn’t the last you’ve seen of cheese on my blog. Just yesterday we attended a cheese sagra and bought – you might have already guessed it – MORE CHEESE!
And not just cheese… There is only ONE reason why anyone would brave this cheese fair but once we got the tasting and purchasing out of the way – or what I call “the Mission” – we turned our attention to everything else. There is just so much information to be had at this epic event that again, as I said in the last post, if I had taken notes I’d have enough material to keep me busy for a month.
Slow Food Presidia
Whether it’s for environmental, economic, social, or cultural objectives, the products in the Presidia section are always of great interest. Naturally I’m drawn to products from Italy and it amazes me at how much more there is to learn about food traditions in the italian kitchen. One example were these cherry-filled cookies – piscquett’l – from Ceglie (Ceglie Messapica) in upper Salento (Puglia). Made from almonds, honey, sugar, lemon zest and eggs, they have a history that goes back hundreds of years. They’ve got a wholesomeness to them and aren’t too sweet, and come in a version filled with grape jam.
“They’re on their way here right now – come back in an hour.” This is the response we got when inquiring about Pan di Sorc from Gemona (Friuli Venezia Giulia). This was another product at the Slow Food Presidia, and behind its humble appearance is a fascinating history that saw a lot of back and forth travel between the corner of Italy where it borders on Middle Europe. The term sorc is dialect for cornmeal, and the bread is made with a mix of cornmeal, rye and wheat flours. Figs and raisins are also added; they’re the only sweetening agent(s) in the bread. Read more here: slowfoodfoundation.com/italian-presidia/details/4508/pan-di-sorc
Made in Langhe&Roero
Adopt-a-goat and reap the rewards. The concept isn’t new, and who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end when an X amount of goat cheese made from the milk of the adoptee is destined to the adopter. Unfortunately you’ll have to make the shipping arrangements, but the whole point of Made in Langhe&Roero is to get the visitor out there (you want to meet your adopted goat, don’t you?) in one of the most beautiful areas of Piemonte. We’ve stayed in the Langhe and Roero on separate occasions and enjoyed every second of playing tourist, so this project is headed in the right direction for environmental tourism. There are 9 other adoptees (insect, plant or animal) and I’m kinda liking the idea of adopting a truffle dog!
Eat slow, eat cheese! If I had taken notes on every single item that impressed us at this year’s cheese event, I would have enough material to write a whole month’s worth of posts. This time around, MotH and I elected to visit on Friday before the big crowds arrived, and again on Saturday (when they swarmed the town of Bra from morning to night).
Undoubtedly, our main reason for attending was to bring back a bunch of international stuff that is difficult to obtain in Italy, but the first stop is always at the street food stands. Fried olives, farinata, bombette, Recco-style focaccia, pizza napoletana and so much more. If you’re in the mood, they got the food. Add to that the 100’s of opportunities to cheese sample plus the obligatory stop at the Great Hall of Cheese & Wine and you’ve done a serious number on your digestive system.
My favorite was raclette-to-go at the Swiss stand. Something about hot, bubbling cheese that is so mesmerizing, dontcha think?