This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Millésime Bio which has arguably become France’s most compelling organic wine exposition. As in previous years, it once again convened in Languedoc’s Montpellier and I had the opportunity to experience the show for the fourth consecutive year.
We have been importing Lisbona Tomatis cookies from Italy for 15+ years. Many of our customers know them well – a sweet-savory-secret in our bakery section. However, we worry that tucked on the shelves as they are, new customers may be missing out on this delicious taste of Piedmont.
Historically, the category of balsamic, balsamico or balsamic vinegar consisted of products with levels of quality all over the map. Some careful producers, employing traditional methods, produced balsamics with beautiful balance and depth of flavor. At the same time, large, industrial producers sold balsamics using inexpensive ingredients and time-saving technologies to maximize profits, capitalizing on the balsamic name.
The easiest way to introduce the nuances of balsamic vinegar is by taking a look at Balsamico Tradizionale from two small provinces in Italy: Modena and Reggio-Emilia. The highest quality balsamic, representing the purest form of the condiment, is produced only in these two provinces.
As Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge’s Wine Buyer, the long-awaited arrival of spring usually means having the opportunity to travel to Verona for Italy’s most significant wine expo, VinItaly. This year was no exception.
During a short stint from January 23rd to 25th, I had the opportunity to once again attend Millésime Bio, an annual organic wine exposition in Montpellier, France.
Italian cuisine is often associated with Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil. However, if you travel along the country’s northern borders, you will find people producing and regularly cooking with butter.
Shortly before Christmas, a display went up in front of our wine section: stacks and stacks of beautiful boxes of egg pasta. Brand new to the shop, the pasta was made by Marco Giacosa in Alba, a town in the northwest of Italy.
Since 1780, the Romanengo family has been dispensing handmade candies from this beautiful shop with its marble walls, glass shelves and rich wooden cases. Crystal receptacles are filled with confetti-colored candied fennel seeds, threads of sugar coated cinnamon, sweet fruit fondants, chewy rosewater marshmallows and tiny pastiglie.
Every year, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of panettone from Pasticceria Perbellini. And, every year, we order as much as we can, filling the shop to the brim! Piled high on our shelves, chock-a-block with torrone and candied fruits, staff members are thrilled to see these delicious Italian breads again.
Prosciutto di Parma is a DOP product – this means that in order to receive that name, the prosciutto must come from a specified geographic area (in this case, Parma) and must be made in accordance with certain parameters.
On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I have never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. A small group of farmers in the area bring milk to the co-operative each week and, starting at 5am every day, that milk begins a process that transforms it into a cheese so many of us know and love. Parmigiano Reggiano is a DOP product. In Italian, DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin).