May 8, Emilia-Romagna
We visited a small Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese producer, but this was disappointing in several ways compared to the producer we visited last September. Rather than seeing the cheese production, which had happened earlier in the morning, we got an explanation of how it was done and a look at the equipment. It was interesting, but not as good an experience. This was a "cooperative" producer where they get milk combined from various farms, so there is less control over the milk; the one we visited before had their own herd and grew their own feed so they could control the flavor and quality. We thought the cheese this time was not as good, either.
Then it was on to a Parma ham producer, which was something we had not done before. We saw the hams in most stages of production, from recently butchered, a machine that "massages" the legs after hand-salting, and then various stages of aging. We were told about the powder (including rice flour) that is applied to help dry out the meat - this falls off over time.
The last stop of the day was to a producer of "Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena". We had visited a different producer last year, so it was interesting to compare. Of course, we did a tasting, but thought the vinegar from the previous visit was more to our taste.
But wait, there's more! Adjoining the vinegar facility was a fascinating house full of "art deco" pieces with a definite theme. We were able to take a quick visit.