Next up after Pecorino Romano was Parmigiano Reggiano. We arrived near Modena at twilight and visited a Parmigiano Reggiano producer and ager. This was not the caseificio we buy from but it was still interesting to see. Much bigger and more modern than our caseificio, this factory makes about 100 wheels a day.
Cheese professionals hold on for a second because I know you know this — while 100 wheels doesn’t sound like a whole lot, you have to remember that these wheels are 85lbs each when sold and this is a lot of cheese. Even the biggest producers don’t make much more than double this amount per day. While there a number of producers who’ve recently gone out of business– especially post-earthquake — Parmigiano Reggiano, despite being sold all over the world, is still a cheese (mostly) made with very traditional methods in the region where it was born.
(Here are pictures of an aging room after the earthquake that was posted on the wall)
Still, most of our Parm sightseeing would wait until the next day. That night we just watched the the milk truck to come and deliver the milk for tomorrow’s cheese. Why is this important? Because the milk has to be stored overnight and then skimmed in order to make Parmigiano Reggiano the right way. There wasn’t a lot of action going on, but there’s no Parm in the morning without the milk from the night before.
And that’s kinda beautiful:
I should note that this trip was made possible by Michele Buster at Forever Cheese and Brad Dube at Food Matters Again. Ethics require me to say that you should take everything written here with a grain of salt since they took me on the trip. Of course, I also carried these cheeses for decades without getting a trip to Italy so keep that in mind too.
Yum! Can’t wait to see the next post/s, but that post-earthquake shot breaks my heart.
I have to thank you for turning me on to Carr Valley Cheese. I read “Cheesemonger” a number of years ago and noticed how often that name was mentioned. Turned out that we go past Mauston each year on our way to Wyoming in the summer. Now we always make a stop (or even one each way) to stock up on their delicious cheeses.
Sid Cook was also a tremendous resource when I was writing Cheddar, helping me pin down the transition from clothbound to block cheddars in US cheese production. His cheese is the real deal.
I really like his wildflower cheddar. Now I’m thinking we should make a trip to Madison soon to stock up, as vacation doesn’t come until August. 🙂 It’s not too far, as we’re in the Chicago area.