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  • Day17

    Food and Ferraris

    July 21, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    This morning we embarked on our much anticipated Food and Ferrari Tour. Our tour van met us two minutes from our hotel and off we went.

    Our first stop was a parmigiana regiano producer. The producer makes 100 000 wheels each year, so it's considered a large producer. We had to suit up in protective gear before entering the production facility.

    We first watched the cheese being cooked in large copper vats. Then we moved to the room where the cheese is first moulded in a plastic ring and then transferred to a metal ring. Once it maintains its shape, it's moved to a salt bath where it stays in the salted water for quite awhile. Finally we got to see the huge aging room where there was literally a library of cheese! We learned how they tap it to listen for bubbles and then how they flame stamp it to show that it's been approved.

    Finally, we got to taste both a 24 month old parmigiana and a 36 month old one. We expected the 36 month one to be quite sharp, but it was the opposite. The 36 month cheese was much milder than the 24. As a bonus, we got to wash it all down with a locally produced sparkling wine!

    The next stop was at a small prosciutto producer near Modena. They produce about 30-40 000 legs each year. Depending on the aging, each leg can go for €400-€700! We got to see the three cooling and salting stages of prosciutto. Then we saw where they hang the legs to age them, as well as how they run a lard and pepper combination on the legs to seal them. Legs can age anywhere from 2-5 years. At the end, we got to taste the prosciutto. It was so and velvety, unlike some of the more leather like prosciutto you sometimes gets at home. We also got a small glass of Lambrusco to go along with our tasting. It's never too early to drink here, apparently!

    Back on the bus, we drove to a balsamic vinegar producer. This family has been making balsamic vinegar for over 100 years! We got to see the room where the barrels of balsamic are kept and they explained how each year they harvest grapes, squeeze them, cook them, and then add liquid to the barrels. A young balsamic is aged for 12 years, but the longer it's aged the better it becomes. This is obviously a generational operation for good reason! We then tasted balsamic on cheese and on a vanilla gelato. It was interesting to try a 15 year old versus a 30 year old balsamic. Apparently it also has medicinal benefits as the wealthy used to have a teaspoon after dinner to ensure good digestion and good sleep.

    The fourth stop was Evan's most anticipated- the Ferrari Museum in Maranello. We got to tour the museum and explore the history of the Ferrari company and see many of the early Ferraris. Evan was quite excited by the newer Ferraris - the ones that look like race cars. He quite enjoyed taking pictures!

    It was 2:30 by this time and that meant it was time for lunch. We left Maranello and drove back towards Modena.

    We had a six course lunch at a place called Ca Bianca. Our first course was a puffed pastry with prosciutto on top. Then we had three pasta courses: tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta; tortellini filled with meat; and a tagliatelle with ragu. We were feeling quite full at this point, but the dishes kept coming. The fifth course with grilled vegetables (eggplant, endive, zucchini), roast potatoes, and steak (grilled just medium rare - just!). The final course was a glass of lemon sorbet and a glass of whipped marscepone. We finished with a shot of espresso and were back on the bus towards Bologna, completely stuffed and exhausted.
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