One of the best things about working with Italian brands such as Prosciutto di Parma is being able to visit Italy several times per year. Last weekend was no different, as we were extremely excited to take 4 journalists and bloggers to Parma for the Festival del Prosciutto di Parma!
After hopping on an early morning flight from London to Bologna, we were transferred to the beautiful Grand Hotel de la Ville in Parma. Upon arrival, a giant half leg of Parma Ham was waiting for us in our rooms, sparking much debate on how we were going to transport this back to London.
(Foodies planning a trip to Parma soon - rest assured you can take cured meat on flights within Europe!).
A delicious lunch prepared by Chef Luca Paffetti was served in Ristorante Parmigianino in the hotel, consisting of:
Prosciutto di Parma and focaccia bread
Pasta with swordfish and olives
Chocolate and cherry soufflé
After lunch, we embarked on a sightseeing tour of Parma, where we walked by the house of the now-famous Barilla pasta; marvelled at the ceiling in the Duomo di Parma; and entered the Battistero di Parma.
Following this, we enjoyed a well-deserved aperitivo at the Bistro del Prosciutto di Parma, a pop-up bar for the Festival del Prosciutto di Parma. The week-long festival occurs every year to celebrate Parma Ham and spread awareness about the product's premium quality. During this week, producers of Parma Ham open their doors to the public to share their story, spreading the message about the product's quality and all-natural production process. The festival also includes several Parma Ham tastings, designed to encourage foodies to pair the product with new ingredients.
Of course, the trip wouldn't be a true foodie experience without another elaborate meal! This time, dinner was served at Ristorante Angiol d'Or, where the menu consisted of:
30 month aged Prosciutto di Parma with torta fritta and pickled vegetables
Violet potato gnocchi with Parmigiano Reggiano fondue, seasonal vegetables, and herb bread
"Rosa di Parma" pork fillet with roast potatoes
Coffee semifreddo with milk chocolate sauce, cardamom, and matcha wafer
After breakfast at the hotel (which included Parma Ham of course!), we drove to Langhirano to visit a Parma Ham production factory, Giancarlo Tanara. Here, we learnt all about the traditional production process, whereby each leg of Parma Ham is salted by an expert "Salt Master", then left in a series of humidity-controlled rooms to dry.
As a PDO product, the production of Parma Ham is controlled and regulated every step of the way. Part of this inspection involves inserting a horse bone into 5 points of the leg of ham, smelling the bone to ensure that the ham is fit to be sold. Once this is verified, an inspector brands each leg of ham with the official Ducal Crown firebrand, authenticating it as the one and only Prosciutto di Parma!
We couldn't head back to the airport without enjoying another mouthwatering lunch, so we headed to Michelin-starred restaurant, Antichi Sapori. As you may expect, the food was simply unforgettable, consisting of:
24 and 30 month aged Prosciutto di Parma
Salame di Felino
Culatello di Zibello
Caramelised onion tart with Parmigiano Reggiano
Tortelli filled with ricotta and Swiss chard
Tortelli filled with pumpkin
Roast veal and potatoes
After ending on that delicious note, it was time to pack up and head back to London.
The press trip has left us excited to read all the journalists' write-ups on the occasion, and we would be lying if we said we didn't leave with a few cooking ideas!