Tag: excellence

L'Italie à table, the Italian gastronomic excellence show in Nice – Italian Cuisine

L'Italie à table, the Italian gastronomic excellence show in Nice


Truffles, oil, wine, pasta, desserts and much more along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice where the Italian food and wine excellences conquer the French.

Cured meats, cheeses, desserts, pasta and even wine: the list of quality products is long, the result of Italian gastronomic excellence, which could be tasted in Nice from last June 7th until 11th along the beautiful Promenades Des Anglais, scope of the Salone L''Italie à Table, an appointment under the European program Sistina, now in its 15th edition, in which small artisans have made tourists, passing customers and French catering professionals taste their products. A way to promote across the border niche productions of the highest level that could intercept the demand not only of tourists but above all of those who work with food every day, as chefs, owners of premises, wholesalers. "The idea came about 16 years ago," he explains Michele Palmieri, a young person in charge of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Nice – when they were looking for a way to introduce some typical excellences of Piedmont and Liguria, the two regions closest to France, to the French market. It began with only references from the provinces of Cuneo, Imperia, Veneto and Emilia, to arrive at today where there are over forty exhibitors, they come from all over Italy and most of them have confirmed their participation for years ". A won bet therefore.

Cheeses, honey, oil and biscuits. All the Made in Italy excellences

Walking through the stands is like finding corners of Italy where accents mix with local products. Among the many exhibitors, the company Bonifazi, was one of the first to believe in the project of L''Italie à Table. It produces extra virgin olive oil from the early 1900s in the Umbrian countryside. The olives are the local ones, leccino, moraiolo and frantoio, the production remained artisanal, although over the years the numbers of the bottles produced have grown. Giuseppe Veglio produces his own Tuma d 'Fe on the hills of the high Langa, with milk produced by its 120 sheep that graze freely in the meadows. He has been coming to Nice for years. The cheese is made only from April to November, when the milk is rich in all the aromas and aromas of the field herbs. Once heated to 37 ° the sheep's rennet is added and then the toma remains to rest for two days. It is "caressed" with a pinch of light blue Sicilian salt, left to rest for another week and then it is ready to be tasted. At their first salon they are the owners of the Perfumed Experience Laboratory by Riolo Terme, a shop where ancient grains mix with seeds and spices to create recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation biscuits that smell of lavender, turmeric and hazelnuts, in which every bite is like a return to childhood.

Meeting with French cuisine

These benches at the L’Italie à Table salon are an opportunity to get to know those who really are behind the products they often use, without knowing their history. This is why Sebastien Perinetti, manager of the restaurant "Canon" in the center of Nice every year this fair is not lost for anything in the world. “I have always used many Italian, Ligurian and Piedmontese specialties above all – he tells us when we meet him – starting with oil, cheeses, polenta, which in the restaurant I propose combined with lamb and white beans from Pigna, another Italian specialty , a Slow Food presidium cultivated in the province of Imperia ”. And then the natural wines of Fornovo and the trombetta courgettes, typical Ligurian. In his restaurant the menu changes twice a day, "because – he explains – it depends on what the suppliers bring me: the fisherman, for example, arrives at 13. I know what I can offer my guests at that time". Attention to the highest quality products also for the restaurant L'atelier, by Stephane Chenneveau, who specialized in porridge, which in France they call Socca. He proposes it as a base on which he then serves fish, meat, vegetables and cheeses, and accompanies it with a good glass of wine (he has over 600 references between biodynamic and natural), often Italian. He also does not miss the L’Italie à Table show because, as he tells us, “we French are like you Italians, attentive to detail, always discovering new excellence to offer to our guests. And this is the right place to stay ”.

How PDO Parma Ham is born, an all-Italian excellence – Italian Cuisine

How PDO Parma Ham is born, an all-Italian excellence


Citterio has been working and maturing the best pork legs for 140 years, becoming the Parma Ham that the whole world envies us

Gentle hills lost in a still very rural landscape and the breeze coming from the Apennines: this is the context where one of the Italian excellence known throughout the world is produced, the Prosciutto di Parma Dop. A Felino the Citterio for over 140 years it has been working the thighs of heavy pigs to make them slices with a delicate aroma and sweet taste, which only here, in the province of Parma between the Enza river in the east and Stirone in the west, find the ideal climatic conditions that give them that characteristic taste.

The search for quality above all

Parma PDO hams are produced only with a particular type of pork, called heavy precisely because of the size and weight it reaches. Pigs are slaughtered not before nine months of age, when they have reached 170 kg. The back thighs are worked so that they acquire the characteristic shape of the ham and then salted twice, so that the salt can penetrate well between the fibers and the muscles (there are eight!) Of the thigh. These are then seasoned for a period of time ranging from 18 to 36 months, to become the unique product that we all know.

A natural process

All the process that leads a heavy pork thigh to become a Parma Ham Dop it's completely natural. Controlled salt and temperature are the protagonists of the first phase of transformation, to which are then added the drying and maturing in a continuously aerated environment, naturally and conditionally, so that the meats acquire the aromas and the perfumes that make them so special.

Checks and tests to get a product of excellence

Each leg of pork is checked throughout its production phase. The quality of the PDO product is guaranteed by the "signature" left by each member of the supply chain: at any time it is possible to trace all the steps in the production chain and verify the Consortium's quality control program. After 12 months, a specialized technician checks that no errors were made in the processing and, if everything has been done in a workmanlike manner, he affixes the branding consisting of a 5-point crown with an oval base in which the word PARMA is inserted and the code that identifies the company where the work was carried out. This stamp identifies and distinguishes the product among all the other hams, ensuring its authenticity and making the real Parma Ham recognizable to the consumer.

The Citterio world

The leader of ham preserved in tubs, Citterio has been a family business since 1878, when Signor Giuseppe opened a salami shop in Rho, in the province of Milan. There he invented the recipe for preserving pork. Thus the first Salame Milano was born, a product designed for export, for all those Italians who emigrated to the USA. With the industrial revolution, Mr. Citterio developed a system to make the production of cured meats continuous, exploiting the forced refrigeration. Success came after 1955, when Citterio products ceased to be destined only abroad, but were sold in Italy. In the Rho plant the first Laboratory of Chemical and Bacteriological Analysis was inaugurated, to study, analyze and control all production. Since 1980, the idea of ​​preserving the cured meats in vacuum-packed plastic trays, to ensure the aroma and freshness of a freshly sliced ​​product, made the company take off, which today is the symbol of the Italian quality and passion for doing well.

From a small shop to a large company

The strategy of all Citterio heirs has always been to acquire small realities in every region where salamis were made to obtain, in addition to the raw material, the necessary experience to make products of the highest quality. Together with that of Felino, today the Citterio has six other production districts, in Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia and Trentino, where bresaola, cooked ham, mortadella, speck, San Daniele prosciutto and Milan salami are made, as well as one in America , in Pennsylvania. In the coming months, a plant in Tuscany will also be set up. And the mosaic of Italian cured meats will be complete.

How beet sugar is born. An Italian excellence – Italian Cuisine

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There are products whose origins we forget. We are so used to seeing them packaged in a perfect and clean way to forget that they are the result of hard labor in the fields and of the ingenious work of human transformation. It is rare that we stop to think that a can of peeled tomatoes, fruit juices, wine and even a simple sachet of sugar are born from the earth and can tell a story.

The story we are writing about today is all Italian. We are talking about beet sugar produced in the heart of the Po Valley, in Minerbio (BO), where it is located Italy Zuccheri. It is a production very close to many of us, which follows procedures that are clearly different from the best known and most widespread of the cane from Brazil, India, China, Caribbean …

For a start, the vegetable from which it derives is different: the reed is a tropical plant of the grass family, growing outdoors in warm and sunny climates.

170669There sugar beet instead it is a plant whose roots, very similar to large potatoes of elongated and pointed shape, are very rich in sucrose: it grows in temperate climates, under the ground and never sees the light. Indeed it arrives with its radicles up to two meters deep. And yet, pushing so thoroughly and working incessantly to take and release substances, it enriches so much the soil to be strongly desired by the producers of wheat in the rotation of crops. Yes, because if one year the beet is cultivated and the next one in the same field grows the wheat, the soil will have treasured mineral salts and amino acids and can return them to the cereal, which will be richer and will have better yields.

The agricultural rotation is annual: the life cycle of the beet would be about two years, but after 9 months from sowing the roots are already beautiful and ready to be processed. Therefore it can be harvested before completing its biological growth.

The reality that Salt and pepper he visited the work in a cooperative system, where the farmers who supply the product, or at least many of them, are also members and are directly involved in the management of the company. In practice, the final product is precisely those who, day after day, sowed, cultivated and processed the raw material, up to the finished product. Among other things, this is one of the very few 100% Italian companies that have managed to resist the changes of the 80s and 2000. If in the post-war period Italian sugar factories were around sixty, those active today are counted with one hand: over time in fact, there has been an overrun without appeal of cane sugar from distant countries, but also of beet sugar produced in other European regions.

Harvest and processing of beet

170672Harvesting takes place from the end of the summer until mid-autumn. Huge trucks transport tons of beets every day, which are carefully stored in huge heaps in front of the plant. The politeness towards the beet is also prompted by the signs scattered here and there that invite not to trample or damage them. If opened or split, in fact, a fermentation process begins, leading to the division of sucrose into glucose and fructose, compromising and rendering sugar beet unusable.

In this preliminary phase, a series of quality controls are also made on the raw material, then a roller carries the roots in the factory.

This is where the actual processing begins. The roots they are washed repeatedly, using the water obtained from the processing of the same beets, to avoid the waste of enormous quantities of water with an unsustainable environmental impact, then they are cut into julienne and passed in cooking columns where they are reduced to mashed, turning into sauce dark, dense and sticky. This slurry is still unclean and is filtered several times before being crystallized: all processing waste is grouped, dried and returned to the countryside, where they are used to enrich the soil of mineral salts and amino acids.

At this point the dark sauce is crystallized, centrifuged and rinsed, melted and recrystallized over and over again. On the one hand, dark and viscous molasses is obtained, which is stored and sold as a supplement for animal feeds or to yeasts (primitive sugar is an excellent nourishment for yeasts!), On the other, the product is finally reached more white, which will then be sieved to become a coarse-grained, fine, fine or veil-grained sugar, depending on its destination.

White or dark sugar? Myths to be debunked

170675It is thanks to this behind-the-scenes tour of the processing that we discovered that it is appropriate to debunk a myth: how many do not consume white sugar, thinking it is "bleached" chemically? Nothing could be more wrong. The brown sugar and the white beet sugar are exactly the same identical product: simply that dark is less worked. It has a color that tends to brown because it has been rinsed less often. Those who work in the plant have also told us that light-colored sugar is a fairly recent novelty: in the post-war period the machines were not as sophisticated as today, achieving the current white was not possible and people were used to consume a decidedly darker sugar, tending to beige.

Then the less refined sugar was a necessity. Today is a plus. In particular, 100% Italian beet raw sugar is one of the flagships of Italy Zuccheri: is called Nostrano, comes directly from the beets grown in the Italian fields, ensures balanced organoleptic properties and, thanks to a careful and skilful processing, maintains the nutrients contained in the juice of the mother beet.

The market currently offers many different products and the only way to understand where it comes from and how it has been processed is the sugar we are reading carefully the label, where are indicated raw materials and processing plants.

Barbara Roncarolo
February 2019

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