Monday, March 4, 2013

Repost on Parmigiano Reggiano - with a twist!

Hello everyone!

Our Parm Crack is just around the corner! Join us on March 9 at 12pm to see Kevin and Manny cut into two wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano along with every other Whole Foods Market in the company! Whole Foods is trying to take back the Guinness World Record of the most Parmigiano Reggiano wheels cracked simultaneously, so if you're there you'll be a part of history! It's a great event and there are loads of samples, so don't miss out.

As an added bonus, I will be holding a contest on who can come up with the best use for Parmigiano Reggiano. The winner will receive a free copy of Cheese for Dummies (http://amzn.to/Xvqryf) provided by culture: the word on cheese! To win, please post your idea to this blog or email me at leah.mcfadden@wholefoods.com by the end of day on March 10th. The winner will be announced the week of March 11th.
The basics -

Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano
Producers: Farmers from Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna (to the west of the Reno River), and Montova (to the east of the Po River).
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Aged: 18+ months
Rennet: Traditional (animal)



Parmigiano Reggiano has the PDO label, which means it has a Protected Designation of Origin. Basically, this is a trademark. In order to be called Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese must be produced in certain regions (listed above), must be made by the recipe used since the Renaissance, and it must be approved by the Consortium (or in Italian, consorzio). Anything else that is called Parmesan is just an imitation of Parmigiano Reggiano. As for the Consortium, they are no joke. While the wheels are ageing, the people at the Consortium are constantly tasting the cheese and using little hammers to knock on the outside of the cheese to ensure that they sound alright. Every wheel is branded with: the inscription Parmigiano Reggiano, the inscription DOP (PDO, but in Italian), the inscription Consorzio Tutela as well as the identifying number of the dairy, and the production month and year. If after testing the cheese and it is not up to snuff, these identifying markers are scratched off, the cheese is grated and sold as Parmesan. The Consortium is also responsible in making sure that no one else uses the name (or trademark) Parmigiano Reggiano. Because of this, the consumer knows that they are getting the actual, superior Parmigiano Reggiano. For more information, visit www.parmigianoreggiano.com

One of the best experiences I have as a cheesemonger is breaking into one of these 80 pound wheels. We use special tools to cut into the thick rind and crack the wheel open. Once the wheel is cracked in half, you are rewarded with a beautiful nutty and fruity fragrance. If ever you have the opportunity to see a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cracked, be sure to ask for a sample from the heart. This is the part of the cheese that is in the absolute middle - the furthest from the rind - and has the richest, most decadent flavor. It is especially tasty after being freshly cracked and being exposed to the air for the first time in around two years. I use this cheese in many things, but being Italian, I almost always use it in my pasta dishes. 

See how much fun we had at our Parm Crack last year... click here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=294572983942264&set=vb.157987874230719&type=2&theater I'm the one doing the countdown at the beginning :) (I couldn't figure out a way to get this video as a separate link so I had to link it through Facebook... you'll need to have a Facebook account to view this video.) You can tell in the video that it is a lot of fun. Don't miss out! Be sure to swing by my store on Saturday, March 9 at 12pm sharp! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!!