Aceto Balsámico in Italy – Acetaia Pedroni di Modena & Osteria di Rubbiara

Aceto Balsámico in Italy – Acetaia Pedroni di Modena & Osteria di Rubbiara

Over our years traveling to Emilia Romagna, Italy, we’ve learned all about how they make Balsamico di Modena, the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena. I now consider myself a bit of an expert on the process. One of our favorite places to visit also happens to be one of the most well-known producers of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP, Acetai Pedroni di Modena. In this post, I will talk about the history of Acetaia Pedroni Modena. I will also share how Aceto Balsamico tradizionale is made and what the difference is between Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP and Aceto Balsamico Tradzionale di Modena DOP. Also, I will share what it’s like to eat as Osteria di Rubbiara, Pedroni’s historic restaurant in Nonantola. Learn more in our Emilia Romagna Food Guide – Every blog we’ve written about Emilia Romagna in one place What is Aceto Balsámico Di Modena The first step to understanding traditional balsamic, or Aceto di Modena, is to understand the production process. This is a very high level overview. There is a lot more detail in my book, The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna. In order to make traditional balsamic, grape juice is heated on a fire and cooked in open air for about 24 hours. About 100 kilograms of grapes are used to produce about 75 liters of liquid. After the heating process, only 35 liters remain. The reduced liquid is placed into a series of a minimum of five barrels, called a batteria. Over time the balsamico Modena is transferred from one barrel to another, from the largest to the smallest barrel. The increasingly smaller amounts are due...
10 Top Tips for Driving in Italy – Exploring Italy by Car

10 Top Tips for Driving in Italy – Exploring Italy by Car

For many travelers to Italy, driving in Italy can be both a blessing and a curse. Exploring Italy by car is one of the best ways to see the countryside. Driving in Europe, though, and in Italy in particular, can be a challenge. This post includes our top driving tips for travelers to Italy. We also answer some frequently asked questions and Italy driving rules and provide advice on driving through Italy in a rental car. Our Italy Driving Experience One of the things I love about traveling through Europe is traveling by train. It has been our main way of traveling Europe during most of our visits. One thing we learned from all of our experience touring Emilia Romagna, Italy, is that many of our trips involved exploring the Italian countryside. Some of our trips we never step foot on a train. As much as sometimes I miss the idea of training through Europe, it’s often fun driving Italy and exploring the smaller towns, villages, and wineries. At least it was fun to drive in Italy once we got the hang of things. The first hour was a little hellish. We tried to use the GPS on my iPhone, which stopped working pretty quickly without a local sim card. We got onto the Autostrada, or highway, and could not figure out how to get off. Eric drove in the wrong direction for a good thirty minutes, had to get off, pay a toll, just to get back on and drive in the right direction. Needless to say, we did not research driving tips for Italy before getting in that car. Eric was excited about driving...
What is Formaggio di Fossa? Learning About Cave Cheese in Italy

What is Formaggio di Fossa? Learning About Cave Cheese in Italy

Fans of cheese generally travel to Emilia Romagna, Italy, to taste the King of Cheese. They may hope to learn about Parmigiano Reggiano and assume they will taste ricotta, and probably other types of Italian cheese. Only true cheese aficionados travel to Emilia Romagna to learn about formaggio di fossa, or cave cheese. How many people have even heard of cave cheese or could answer the question: “What is cave aged cheese?” What is Cave Aged Cheese?  At its most simple, this is cheese aged in a cave. There is more to it than that, though. Certainly, folks in Emilia Romagna, Italy, know formaggio di fossa, and maybe Italians, in general, know about cave cheese. But, this is a foodie find. Something only hard core Italian food lovers will know about or search for. Because of its rarity, I knew that tracking down cave cheese in Emilia Romagna was a must do. This experience was like something you’d see Anthony Bourdain talk about, or even better, Andrew Zimmern because as far as cheese goes, this is certainly a Bizarre Food.  There are several towns in Romagna that are known for cheese stored in caves. There are also other places known for cave aged cheese, including French cave cheese. Here we will focus on learning about the history of cave aged cheese in Italy and how to taste it. Visiting Fossa Pellegrini After a long morning tasting Italian wines with Helena from Yummy Italy, we started making our way to the village of Sogliano, high in the hills of Romagna. We were southeast of Bologna, and northeast of Florence, almost to Rimini and...
What is Parma Ham? How To Make Parma Ham in Italy

What is Parma Ham? How To Make Parma Ham in Italy

When I started traveling to Italy, I always wondered how they actually make Parma Ham (and mortadella too!). When I walked around any small town in Italy, I always saw large legs of Parma hams hanging from the ceiling. More often than not, they were stamped with a crown-shaped marking that bears a single word: “Parma.” But, how did they get there? I always wondered what the steps are to making Parma ham. What is Parma Ham? What is Prosciutto di Parma? Prosciutto di Parma, or more generally, Parma ham, has been around since Roman times. There are stories from 100 BC referencing the unique flavor of the air-dried pork from the area surrounding Parma. At the time, they dried pork to extend its life and prevent it from spoiling. A group of Parma ham producers created a Consortium, Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, in the 1970s, to control the quality of prosciutto. In 1996, the European Union gave the DOP designation on Prosciutto di Parma. Like all DOP and IGP products, the Consortium regulates the types of pigs that can be used, what the pigs are fed, and how the ham itself is produced. They regulate all of the steps in making prosciutto and every aspect of this particular Parma food product. How to Make Italian Prosciutto – The Ingredients How is Parma Ham made?  What is Parma Ham made of? The Parma Ham Consortium likes to say there are only four ingredients in Parma ham: Italian pigs, salt, air, and time. In reality, it’s really only two ingredients. Although air and time are also key components. They...
Piedmont Food – Why Food In The Piedmont Region Is So Good

Piedmont Food – Why Food In The Piedmont Region Is So Good

Italian food is one of my comfort foods. But, I grew up surrounded by Italian-Americans who cooked southern Italian cuisine. Northern Italian food, though, is so different than what I grew up with. And, some of the best northern Italian cuisine can be found in the Piedmont, Italy, region. We are going to share what makes Piedmont food so good, and so different from other Italian cuisine. Understanding Italian food by region is important. There are so many different types of cuisine depending on where in the country you travel to. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a food capital of Italy. Piedmont recipes are going to be entirely different than recipes from Rome, or Florence, or Sicily. And, a big part of this is because of the key ingredients that the Piedmont region is known for. What is the Piedmont Region – Piemonte Versus Piedmont The first thing to understand when learning about the food and wine of the area is to define Piedmont. It’s not an Italian region that is as well known as other areas of Italy, like Tuscany or Umbria. First off, what is the difference between the Piemonte region and the Piedmont region? That’s a simple one. Piemonte is the Italian spelling and Piedmont is the English spelling. In this post, I might use both versions interchangeably. The Piedmont area is located in the northwest corner of Italy. The capital of Piemonte is the city of Turin, which is known as Torino in Italian. Some of the other major cities in Piedmont include Alba and Asti, as well as the tiny...
Modena Food Market – Mercato Albinelli Modena Market

Modena Food Market – Mercato Albinelli Modena Market

I still tend to get a little intimidated by the amazing markets of Europe. Markets like La Boqueria in Barcelona, which receives so much tourist traffic, is an easy market to navigate. Many of the stall owners are used to travelers traversing the narrow walkways snapping photos. It is the more traditional markets, the ones like Mercato Albinelli, the Modena food market, which still intimidate me. In this post, I introduce the Mercato Albinelli market in Modena, including how to visit it and make the most of your trip to Modena, Italy. Visiting Food Markets in Italy and Europe Anytime that I am in a foreign country and I am treading on the daily activities of locals with my camera in hand, I worry that I am creating a spectacle of their lives. I never want to interfere and I am always hesitant until I get an okay or a nod. It is not because people are defensive, on-guard or anti-tourist in any way. Instead, it is my own insecurity as a photographer and an observer of other cultures.  In the Modena food market though, this was certainly not a problem. I don’t think it is because Modena is such a well-touristed city. The opposite is the case, as Modena remains a city that is truly Italian and virtually untouched by the tourism that affects cities like Rome.  I believe the Modena market is so approachable because Emilia Romagna is a region of die-hard foodies, and has been since well before the phrase foodie became popular. The region is one that focuses on local products and excels in retaining their food history. And they know it.  Nowhere...