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Archive for the 'Cooking & Eating' Category

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Mario and Vanessa lead the sheep along a tratturo
In addition to learning about sheep, shepherding, cheese-making, working farm dogs, and horses, Vanessa and I have been introduced to one of Italy’s most ancient signs of human activity: the Tratturo.
Shepherding in Italy dates to prehistory, and before barns and hay [...]

Saffron

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Crocus Sativus: the flower that brings us saffron
Piero and Raffa planted saffron crocuses (Crocus sativus) last year as part of a trial program sponsored by the local government to determine whether Piedmont could produce salable saffron. They had a very successful harvest and the saffron received a top grade by analysts. Although the [...]

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Andrea, Elena, and Vanessa a tavola
I haven’t seen Andrea in four years. We met five years ago while working on a farm in Tuscany together and quickly became friends. Andrea’s story is that he grew up in Aosta, the largest city in Valle d’Aosta, and was on track to become a career banker. [...]

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Vanessa enjoys the crisp air and view from Piero and Raffa’s porch
Vanessa and I have completed our crash course in shepherding and returned to the north of Italy. We have a few days to kill before the start of Slow Food’s biennial Terra Madre event in Torino, so we have taken [...]

Ricotta

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Ricotta is a byproduct of the cheese-making process. The word translates as “re-cooked”, and refers to the re-heating of the remaining whey after the curds have been removed for cheese. Sheep’s milk has a higher fat content than cow’s milk and the same is true of cheese made [...]

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All of this work with the sheep has one main purpose: to produce high-quality milk that will be transformed into pecorino, Italian sheep’s milk cheese. Carmella heads up the cheese-making here at Colavecchio Borraro farm, and she has shown me the process from start to finish. Everything is done under strict standards of [...]

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I spent all of yesterday alone with the sheep at pasture. I rode a pregnant horse named Lady to some of the more distant fields where the sheep had plenty to eat. Mario and Carmella, the sheep’s owners and cheese-makers, do not own the fields where the sheep graze. Instead, they make special [...]

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Giuseppe has many fruit trees on his farm. Some are rare varieties of pears and apples that are native to Piedmont. The quality of his fruit is exceptionally high and there is an abundance of it. Piero will take crates of pears and apples back to Cascina Piola to add [...]

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Grape Must and Autumn Fruits Stew Together to Make a Classic Piemontese Condiment
The time of the wine harvests in the Monferrato is also a time to make mostarda d’uva, called cognà in the Piemontese dialect, a fruit conserve whose primary ingredient is the grape must from the harvest. The name is misleading: there [...]

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Farinata: a crispy top crust with rosemary and a custard center
Piero and I went alone today to his vineyard in Strevi to collect the cortese grapes, a white variety native to Piemonte. He has a small number of cortese vines, so the two of us were able to do the job [...]

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