Fresh Off The Boot: A Taste of Italy

7 Dec
by Deanne

Have you ever found yourself in a totally new situation, juggling your purse, a cocktail napkin and a little plate of food?  I found myself is such a circumstance on Sunday.Map of Italy

Steve and I drove for 2 plus hours and got lost (because of my Apple map…… grumble grumble ). However, when we finally arrived at Broders’ Pasta Bar in Minneapolis for a tasting event that raised funds for Slow Food Minnesota, we were glad we made the effort.

Where do I start with all I learned?  Keep in mind this blog’s purpose is to help me learn about real food and local food.  I first discovered the slow food movement about ten years ago. Since this is my first event, I must be a slow adopter.  It is an international non-profit, member-supported association.  Slow Food was founded in 1989 in Europe as a concern about the rise of fast food and fast life, and the disappearance of local food traditions. The organization now has 100K members in 153 countries.

You can’t get more slow than aged vinegars made from traditions that have been passed along from generation to generation in Italy. We sampled an apple balsamic vinegar made by Acetaia San Giacomo, located in the Reggio Emilla region of Italy. (See #8 on the map for the location of this region.)  I was surprised that apples can be made into balsamic vinegar and discovered that the process, in this case, substitutes Trentino apples for Trebbiano grapes during the reduction and acidification process of making aged balsamic vinegar.  

Back in October, when we attended Fermentation Fest, we learned that balsamic vinegar takes years to make.  Unless one attends an event like this one, most people have never tasted “real” balsamic.  According to blogger, Rebecca Wine, in a recent post, what we consumers usually end up buying in our stores is a commercial product that simulates the original one and is made from wine vinegar with the potential additions of coloring, caramel, arabic gum and corn starch.  

My first ever taste of panforte occurred across the room from the vinegar table.  Panforte is an Italian fruit cake.  However, it didn’t taste like any other fruit cake from my childhood (thank goodness). Back at home, I did a little research and discovered that David Lebovitz, a blogger and author that my cousin Susan told me about, has a post with a recipe for this treat.

Steve and I both enjoyed the Villa Reale Semi-dried Cherry Tomatoes, and the mushroom risotto prepared by the chef.  We tasted four varieties of olive oils. All the products did not have the additives and extra salts/sugars Americans have been tasting in increasing amounts since our childhood.

semi_dried_cherry_tomatoes

For local food we tasted Borsellino Salami by La Quercia.  This company is located in Norwalk, Iowa.  They use traditional dry curing methods and pork from hogs  not raised in confinement.

We were impressed with the passion and knowledge shared by the staff at Broders’ as we traveled around each tasting table.  We met Molly Broder, the owner and chatted at the bar with one of her sons.

With our taste buds both refreshed by the pure flavors and intrigued by the possibilities, we left looking forward to returning to Broders’ again for a nice meal as well as attending the next Slow Food Minnesota event in January. 

Have you heard of the slow food movement?  If not a member and you believe in this mission, join as a way to celebrate Terra Madre Day on December 10th.

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2 Responses to “Fresh Off The Boot: A Taste of Italy”

  1. Julie December 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    We were going to eat at Broder’s when we were in Minneapolis last time but we were so tired from shopping, we ate a quick dinner at TGIFriday’s. Now I know I have to go there next time for sure. Hope you guys are well. Happy Holiday’s.

    • realocalcooking December 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      Hi Julie,

      Good to hear from you again. Are you coming to Minnesota for the Holidays? Broders’ should be a good place for a meal. They really seem to have it all together with good staff and a family run place. I look forward to reviewing them. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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