After being here in Italy for about five days, I have officially tried about 4 new wines, and about 6 new cheeses, and this wasn’t even for class. I also have now been one of the few people to have tried 100% cacao chocolate. This is not something I would recommend after just having tasted another 5 70-90% chocolates, but definitely something you should taste if you get the chance.
I think my time her will be very productive in not only introducing me to some new tasting experiences (like chocolate, and olive oil, both of which I’ve never done) but also it is allowing us to go to the local market, the local shops and find the products that we have been talking about in class. This is a great advantage, when the local products are priced very nicely, are always made of what seems to be a great quality and the shop owners give the gastronomy students discounts. All a plus.
I would attempt to list the cheese and wines I have tasted and such, but I think they would be quite expensive in the US, or would just not be available. I can say though, that you can seek out a nice Italian red called a Barbera. Those are made quite close to me, and are an excellent red wine. Barbera d’Asti is particularly close to me, and is enjoyable with many things such as a basic red pasta, a steak or just on its own. Barolo is also a local red that you should be able to track down, although it probably won’t be as nicely priced as a Barbera.
Bra is quite small, but is very nice. I enjoy the small town feel it has, especially the closeness that the University has to the restaurants, food stores and such. There is everything one could need here, and some things one doesen’t, but thats neither here nor there.
I haven’t had the time or chance to explore much, or really the energy, but there are some lovely villages around us that all seem to produce their own specialty. Chocolate, cheese, wine, etc. are all quite local. Turino, as I found out, is quite a centre for chocolate production, being home to not only Ferrero (makers of Nutella) but also Domori chocolates (they were the ones that did our tasting). I think i’m looking most forward to the coffee tasting as well as cured meats, which is I think, underrepresented in the US.
As I move through the year, if you have any thoughts or questions about a particular product, place, policy, slow food thought, etc. just let me know. We have a very large amount of reading to do for class, but I think I’ll have time to track down some answers for you. As for now, you can look up Slow Food on the net, and just put your town or closest city before it and you should find a chapter or a local group that is also talking about, eating and enjoying these types of things as well.