I recently attended Cheese 2017 in Bra, Italy along with a group of my coursemates; it was the last field trip to end our gastronomic studies. After a delayed flight and two-hour car journey, we arrived at Erbaluna, a biodynamic winery located in La Morra, Italy.
That evening we had a wine tasting at Erbaluna and then went into town to enjoy some more wine with a delicious Piedmontese meal that included dishes such as risotto topped with freshly shaved truffle (the region is world-renowned for its truffles) cured raw veal, and Vitello tonnato, a cold-cut style sliced veal with a tuna salad-type sauce, another regional speciality.
The next day started bright and early with a tour of the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) and Banca del Vino, a comprehensive library of sorts of various Italian wines. We then met with Konstantin, a hazelnut seller who kindly provided us with a delicious lunch filled with local produce… I was tempted to eat an entire bowl of marinated heirloom tomatoes… they were that good. After lunch, we then went to a hazelnut processor/bakery not only roasting hazelnuts but making all sorts of gluten-free treats (this seems to be a big trend in Italy now).
We then went to Alba to grab some various meats, cheese, olives, and other snacky bits for a cheese tasting with a raw milk cheese maker, Angela Cairns from Errington Cheese, who accompanied us on the trip. Unsurprisingly, the cheese was fantastic.
The next day was the first day of Cheese. After going through the massive Italian cheese tent, I enjoyed a lunch consisting of deep-fried olives stuffed with pork, which was really tasty and super filling. I also enjoyed a few tastes of gorgonzola gelato (super weird, but oddly tasty).
In the morning of our second day at Cheese, a few of us went on a “punk cheese tour”, that wasn’t so punky, but rather more of a chance to speak a bit more at length with some of the raw milk cheese producers that attended the event. For the last dinner, a few of us went to a local restaurant in Bra that one of our lecturers recommended, and had the most delicious pasta, wine, and lardo (tasty sheets of spiced pork fat).
The last meal before departing for the airport was a lunch in La Morra, filled with dishes like gnocchi with fresh black truffle, as well as two salads with more delicious Italian tomatoes. I also made sure I enjoyed one last cone of hazelnut gelato.
Overall, the whole Cheese experience was quite overwhelming; from the sheer amount of cheese being sampled and on sale, to the smells of said cheese, and the crowds (it took over the entire town) it was an intense, once in a lifetime sensory experience.
In other news, I will be leaving Scotland in a few days to head back to the US, which is bittersweet seeing as I’ve made so many good friends during the past year here. But fear not, I will be back next July for graduation (!). Job-wise, I have nothing lined up, but I have some exciting potential business ideas…