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An Evening Of Parmigiano Reggiano

Picture the scene; you’ve had a hard day at work, followed by an hour on sweltering public transport to finally reach your destination: a former 1930s public toilet in East London. You walk into the former men’s toilets to see the urinals still intact, but topped with wood and turned into bars around the room.

(See that naughty little hand whipping in to steal some cheese and ruin my shot? That’s the very lovely Emma from Supper in the Suburbs!)

As soon as you arrive, you’re given a glass of water, a twist on a vespa martini and a lump of Parmigiano Reggiano to munch on whilst you chat with a room full of other foodies; all busy trying to guess what we’ll be served on the terrace by the chef.

Sounds fun, right?! Well that’s just what I had the pleasure of doing at Brooksby’s Walk a couple of weeks ago.  I was invited by Parmigiano Reggiano to sample a menu put together by the head chef to show just how versatile and varied this cheese can be, along with a selection of wines and cocktails designed to bring out those flavours.

We were offered a massive SEVEN courses, so I think to save you from being too jealous I’ll just share a couple of my favourites.

By far the stand out course for me was the first; these parker rolls enriched with Parmigiano in place of salt and accompanied by a whipped Parmigiano butter. I could have eaten about a dozen of these in one go, they were THAT good. Seriously, I’m drooling just thinking about it.

You may be shocked to know, given that I’m such a foodie, the below dish was my first ever taste of rabbit. I am very pleased to tell you it definitely won’t be my last as it was delicious! The Parmigiano Reggiano added to the dish really helped to lift the flavours of the rabbit and added a lovely touch of seasoning.

By far my favourite wine of the evening was this ‘Theodora’ from Gut Oggau; an Austrian blend of Gruner Veltliner and Welschreisling grapes. Bottled with a little CO2 to aid sulphur-free preservation, you’ll see this wine has a bottle cap rather than a cork; it also means this wine is very slightly sparkling when opened which then subsides and allows more of the complex flavours to come through. It’s a biodynamic wine (have a google if you’re curious about what that means), so every bottle looks and tastes slightly different. It was so delicious, with an almost apple taste to it. Like the very finest of ciders in wine form. Just scrumptious!

As a delicious sweet treat, we were also served honey and thyme ice cream served with a parmesan panna cotta and chocolate textures. Cheesy panna cotta sounded all kinds of wrong to me, but trust me when I say it was H-E-A-V-E-N!

So, by now you might be wondering why I needed to go to an evening with Parmigiano Reggiano in order to learn about it. Parmesan is parmesan, right? WRONG!

What makes Parmigiano Reggiano so special? A number of things…
  • It has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), and is produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of the provinces of Mantua and Bologna, on the plains, hills and mountains enclosed between the rivers Po and Reno.
  • “IT IS NOT MANUFACTURED, IT IS MADE” sounds like some superficial advertising slogan, but with Parmigiano Reggiano it’s really true. Each part of the cheese making process is completed by master cheese makers. Just as each cow is different, each batch of milk is different too. So to maintain the quality and consistency of the cheese, the cheese makers have to tailor the process to each batch. It takes a master cheese maker to get this just right.
  • Once made, the cheese is left to mature for anything up to 36 months. Throughout this period, the cheese is turned and maintained to ensure consistency throughout the wheel and is checked and tasted before allowed out for sale. With a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano retailing at £1,000 or more, it is imperative that the cheese is in peak condition when it leaves the storage for sale. 
So, I hope you’ve learned something about what makes Parmigiano Reggiano so special or, at the very least, given you some delicious food to drool over!

As a parting gift, I’ll leave you with a selfie of me in one of the gifts received from the PR team. I like it, even if it is a bit cheesy!

Disclaimer: I was invited by Parmigiano Reggiano to this tasting event, free of charge but was not compensated for my time in writing this post. As always, all views expressed are my own honest opinions and I wasn’t required to write a positive review.

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