Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keys to the city
Tonight the famous chef and food photographer Lido invited us to an apertivo on the walls of Lucca at the famous newly reopened cafe Gran Cafe Antica delle Mura.  I got myself out of my exercise clothes and into my one decent black dress in record time. I had no idea we would have access to the terazzo where the view was spectacular. It was like Mayor Tambellini (think Bloomberg) gave us the keys to the city. Plus we scored an invitation to a great party in two weeks time hosted by Anna the food magazine author with all the VIPs of the evening. It made everything make sense. While I was waiting for F to arrive from T's end of the year skating party where she had pizza fun on wheels, I channeled Angelina Jolie and looked down on our favorite walking path from a vantage point I never thought possible. When F came and finally procured some of the famous parmigiano that was to go with the Lambrusco wine we were served, we shared one of those moments where we understand why we worked so hard to come live here. Looking down on the garden party below, I spotted the Italian Johnny Depp and begged him to take a photo with me. It doesn't get any better than this.

Seriously, so Johnny Depp . . . Italian style.

The Tourist, anyone?


Laurence said...

How do you distinguish different grades or sub-varieties of Parmigiano-Reggiano? Assuming they exist, and that it's all not just supposed to be the same for every wheel?

I know you can verify the appellation authenticity from the rind imprint, but I've never seen any P-R sold as anything but generic P-R.

Since I acknowledge Reggiano to be the King of Cheese, it's of considerable interest to me whether or not there are different levels or degrees of royalty....

FB said...

Yup. I understand your concern. Not to be confused with the less fatty Grana Padano, the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium has six quality levels that are assessed by third party inspectors who thump on the rind with a special hammer and taste at least one wheel of each lot with a cheese probe and then make decisions based on its appearance, texture and aroma. Parmigiano-Reggiano has to be aged for 12 months and the aging process not only has to do with the time elapsed, but with temperature and humidity levels and how frequently it is turned. The butterfat rises to the surface in the summer so it makes for better grating and the winter one is the creamier version. There is a new P-R prima stagionatura that is good enough to be parmigiano but not suitable for long aging. The good stuff now has to be aged for 24 months and you can tell by the date on the rind below the cheeser's mark or by the horizontal grooves which are closely spaced on the rind and are a give away that it is a younger cheese. P-R cheeses with no markings on the rind are the ones that have failed inspection. Long live the King!