For the penultimate event of The Culinary Project “Assi nella Manica”, a project that celebrates The Perfect Italian Pair, Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. & Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O., we feasted on a 6-course menu created by chef Jake Simpson at Bocca di Lupo, and guest Italian chef Isa Mazzocchi from Ristorante La Palta in the town of Bilegno, Italy.

Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) is a mark of quality granted only to food products under strict production law within a specific area. Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. are produced in the Emilia Romagna region in Italy, each utilising ancient production methods that are safeguarded by a Consortium which ensures compliance with production specifications and guarantees quality. Both undergo an extensive ageing process, to ensure proper time is given to develop their delicious flavours and characteristics.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed with glasses of sparkling wine from Bologna. I loved the Sui Lieviti, produced from the white grape Pignoletto, which was really refreshing with fruity notes of pear and apple – the remnants of in-bottle fermentation resulting in the cloudy appearance of the wine. This was presented to us by Federico Orsi himself, who took over the Vigneto San Vito estate in 2005 and focuses on biodynamic farming. They believe that biodynamic agriculture allows them to produce more original wines, more representative of the place where the vine has grown. The vines are neither fertilized nor irrigated, but instead the natural humus of the ground is sustainably obtained through the rediscovery of ancient techniques.

Prior to dinner, was the tasting session, presented by Simone Ficarelli of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O., and Mario Gambigliani Zoccoli, President of the Consortium of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O.

We were presented with different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. (18, 24 and 30 months), also known as “The King of Cheeses”, followed by two different ages of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. (12 years and 25 years).

24 months is the average ageing for Parmesan Reggiano P.D.O. cheese (ideal to be served grated or shaved on traditional Italian pasta dishes or on beef or fish carpaccio), with the minimum ageing being 12 months, the highest minimum ageing in the world. Aged Parmesan is known for its complex flavour and granular texture – the granular texture becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages, with more frequent white crystals formed throughout the cheese.

Although there are many products on the market that incorporate the word ‘balsamic’ to in a way, ‘elevate’ the quality/price, the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. is very particular, which can be identified by the shape and capacity of the container (Giugiaro bottle). Usually stocked in the best food/wine shops, it is produced in small quantities by less than 100 producers, coming up to a total of 95000 bottles. That rich, dark glossy colour as it was poured on white ceramic teaspoons, with a pleasant acidity, and delicate balance of sweet and sour flavours was an absolute luxury. This is definitely going on the Christmas wish-list (!)

Moving on to the first course of the evening: crispy Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. Scorzonera with Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O., which was black salsify rolled in a crispy, golden Parmigiano Reggiano. This was followed by a poached egg with a perfect runny centre, served on a smooth Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. cream, the flavours enhanced by the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O., with an added crunch from the crispy tagliolini.
Grilled polenta was a first for me, and was quite tasty, topped with meaty fresh porcini (one of my favourite mushrooms), with Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. cream.

I do love a good pasta dish, and Isa Mazzocchi’s Ravioli di Ravioli filled with different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. was a joy to eat. She even brought her own Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy specially for this delectable masterpiece, which consisted of 6 different degrees of maturity and age. We tried each row individually as well as together, each mouthful gave a different taste experience – and tasted even better with some drops of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O.

I was craving for some meat at that point, and was very pleased when each of us were presented with a whole roasted squab, marinated and glazed with Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O.. I love game meat and was delighted that it was lovely and pink inside, stuffed with a comforting mix of delica squash and chestnuts and served with Radicchio di Treviso on the side.

We finished with a sweet and creamy vanilla crème brûlée, topped with delicate pearls of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O., white chocolate cream and fresh fruits – a very satisfying classic dessert to finish.

Another exceptional meal that truly celebrated the flavours of Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. & Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. – many thanks again to all our hosts for the evening for putting together another great showcase of brilliantly executed food.

You can read about my previous experiences at Brooksby’s Walk and Sager + Wilde by clicking on the relevant links.

The Cheekster, signing out x

  • I was invited to review, but views remain my own.

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