As part of The Culinary Project “Assi nella Manica”, that celebrates The Perfect Italian Pair, Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. & Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O., we were treated to a 6-course menu created by Chris Leach, Head Chef of Sager + Wilde, and guest Italian chef Gianpaolo Raschi of Ristorante Guido in the Romagna region, 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.
Prior to lunch, 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 know 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. I loved the rich, dark glossy colour as it was poured on white ceramic teaspoons, and the pleasant acidity, and delicate balance of sweet and sour flavours.
The first dish from Chris Leach was already quite a stunner: a lusciously creamy burrata that just melted in your mouth, complemented by a strawberry and pine nut soffrito with 25 year aceto balsamic tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. – a beautiful balance of textures, and sweet and savoury notes.
Next was from Gianpaolo Raschi: fresh and juicy prawns with black truffle liquid lettuce and 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. cream. The black truffle was aromatic without being too over-powering, and I liked the hint of saltiness from the cream.
The following two dishes were also by Gianpaolo Raschi. The squid was well-cooked and served with spinach, duck liver and a slice of red onion with 12 year aceto balsamic tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. that added a bit of sharpness to the dish.
The Passatello Romagnolo with 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. was an absolute bowl of comfort, mixed with chickpeas, clams and rosemary.
The final two dishes were created by Chris Leach. The beef sausage that was made in-house was delicious and flavoursome, served with crispy, golden fried potatoes and burnt shallots, garnished with 30 month Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. – extremely hearty and satisfying.
The dessert of baked figs was the perfect finish to the meal, soaked in sweet 12 year balsamic tradizionale di Modena P.D.O. and topped with vanilla ice cream.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable meal, and well-thought out menu created by the chefs, incorporating the flavours of Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. & Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena P.D.O.
I look forward to more taste adventures with The Perfect Italian Pair, and more exciting things to come with The Culinary Project. Until then, I’ll be having plenty of pleasant parmesan/balsamic-filled dreams.
The Cheekster, signing out x
- I was invited to review, but views remain my own.