Next we proceeded down into the cave-like basement, passing from room to room. Here was the last stop in the aging process. Thousands of culatello hung from the ceiling and walls on chains. Some had tags showing they were specially chosen and reserved for a particular party. We saw one marked Cocchi Trattoria. That was the restaurant where we had eaten in Parma the night before. We also saw tags for Anthony Bourdain, La Bernadin Restaurant in NYC, and Buckingham Palace.
Next we headed upstairs for a tour of the kitchen before our meal. One man was arranging fresh flowers from the garden for table decoration. Others were making soup in a big copper kettle or preparing a variety of sweet desserts.
The waiter (in black suit below) seemed perturbed. Our group was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time--his path between the kitchen and the dining room. He finally shushed us to our table.
Sunshine streaked through the windows of this Michelin star restaurant. In the middle of the dining room old stoves and tables were lovingly stacked with cookbooks, candelabras, and bottles of various colorful liquids--oils and vinegars, liquors and syrups. It looked a mess, but it worked!!
There were murals of fun kitchen scenes on several walls. A nice touch was a little stool-like table was set next to our feet to lay the ladies' purses on. In stead of handing you a napkin, they were "served to you" with two forks.
The waiter was impeccable in his service, but still icy in personality. After a bit he came around though with a big smile, when I said he looked just like my most handsome nephew (which was true). After that he was an angel of a waiter. The meal started with bread sticks, light-as-a-cloud crackers, and plate of charcuterie.
Instead, I got a mixed green salad (which I had been craving) but without dressing. It was just one of two places on our trip that served a green salad. Not what I expected. Our Italian descendant friend Cheryl said they always served a salad at the end of her Italian family's food feasts. Not so, at least in this region of Italy.
Next we had a bean, barley, and shrimp stewy-soup.Here are some veggies and pork ribs. Then the others got frogs legs while I got ricotta spinach paramasean ravioli. All the foods were masterfully arranged. Each plate a work of art.
There were several desserts to choose from and we all swapped bites. My favorite was what I think was freeze-dried sweet parmesan "tiles" over ice cream. But every single option was delicious and beautifully arranged.
After that we walked a little in the gardens to work off some of our calories. The fields surrounding were beautiful. Across the road was a herd of white cows and brown horses grazing away their day.
Just as we were ready to hop in the van for our ride home, the assistant chef hopped on his bicycle for his ride home. We waved him down to tell him what a wonderful meal it had been. He said that he was not really a chef but a stag (not like the animal, but a soft "g" and rhymes with homage). This meant he worked for no wage, but got room and board to learn the trade of a chef. This was a new term for us. John (our tour guide) said he worked as a stag in Italy during his student years.
As night closed in, I returned to our comfy room overlooking the square. Accordion music playing Italian tunes wafted outside our window. That and the busy day put me to sleep in moments.
Back in Parma, Mike decided to nap while I browsed store windows along the street. There were many interesting food and clothing shops. Lots of wonderful high style shoes made of velvet soft leather. Heels too high for my precarious balancing act these days. Several stores display car racing memorabilia.