03 July 2016

2015 ITALY Parma 21 - Shame on Me

With the holidays, a wedding, four short trips, business obligations, volunteer gigs, and half a year of pure lack of inspiration, I got side-tracked with the "Italy story." Look at blog entries September 29 through November 23, 2015 to see the first part of the story.

As we have signed up for another Italy tour this fall, I figured I better finish documenting this one. So I start back today to complete that commentary. Better late than never?!?

Still near Parma ...
After visiting the Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese production, we continued to Antica Corte Pallavicina (website) located n the Po River region. And it earned one star in the Michelin guide. There is a small B&B attached to a fabulous restaurant. Workmen were cutting grapes from the arbor of vines in the lovely courtyard.

We met Chef Massimo Spigaroli for a little aperitivo of cheese, cold-cuts and, of course, wine. A newlywed Japanese couple that was staying at the B&B joined our group for the tour. A little cat kept us company and voluntarily hopped on my lap for a snuggle. Heaven!! Oh, how we miss Bella.

Then off to see the culatella production, a cured pork product called the King of Salumi (salami). It is made from the large muscle mass in the back of the rear leg of the pig. The meat is removed from the bone, wrapped in a bladder, hand tied in a string "net" semi-football shape, and hung to age for 8-10 months. Then there is a second aging in a cellar or cave for up to 3 years.

Culatella is only produced from pigs raised in this region of Italy. First we saw the pigs in their breeding and maturing yard. There were itty bitty piglets up to full grown hoggers. Among other things their diet includes cereal, barley, whey and chestnuts. Cute seeing the tiny squeakers run around. Pretty stinky though.

Next we drove to a nearby farm complex sitting next to a maturing vineyard. There was a veggie garden abundant with corn, tomatoes, beets, etc., and a pen with a mixture of various domestic geese, chickens, and ducks. A few wild German mallards where invading the feed stations as well. 
Here we entered a big barn and found the mature fattened up pigs, ready to become culatello. Our guide said the pigs were very intelligent. They reach 260 kilos by about two years of age before they are ready for slaughter. That's almost 600 pounds. They are a black pure breed only raised in Parma near the Po River.
The next structure housed the culatello in the first aging process. Windows open left open to help with humidity. 

This made us all hungry, so back to the restaurant we went.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.