This past week my classmates and I embarked on our first of six study trips (or as call them here at UNISG, stages). We crawled out of our warm apartments Monday morning, before the sun had even risen, and loaded ourselves and our backpacks onto a minibus that we would quickly get to know quite well over the next five days. Five hours and two pit stops later we arrived in the northeast region of Veneto.
We bypassed the typical stop to the canals and back alleys of the region’s capital city, Venice, for more gastronomic-inspired ventures. It was a morning to night nonstop journey from our first day to our last. Focusing on regional food and beverage production, we visited nine different producers, all with an enviable passion for their work and a desire to share their craft with us. Here are just a few of the highlights:
At the Azienda Agricola Littamé in Padova, Michele Littamé is breading Romagnola white geese for a Slow Food Presidia product called oca in onto. Michele is only one of two producers in Italy of this traditional goose confit. He specializes in two forms of the product: one made with raw goose meat that has been dry salted, covered with goose fat and stored in sealed jars, and the other made with meat that has been brined, cooked at a low heat for ten hours and vacuum sealed with goose fat ready to be cooked sous vide.
We discovered the very heart of Prosecco production among the awe-inspiring hills of Valdobbiadene. The tiny town, along with the neighboring town of Conegliano, produces the highly regarded DOCG Prosecco Superiore. DOCG is the highest ranking of quality assurance that can be given to an Italian wine and less then 100 wines in the country are given this recognition. It was easy to see how superior this Prosecco is compared to the run-of-the-mill stuff being poured behind many bars when we visited the incredible Sorelle Bronca winery, owned by sisters Antonella and Ersiliana. A practicing organic winery, they are producing Prosecco that is fresh, sharp and balanced.
If Willy Wonka had preferred panettone to chocolate I am almost positive his factory would have looked like Loison Pasticceri in Vicenza. Passionately outspoken Dario Loison and his wife Sonia own this third generation bakery that focuses on panettone, the traditional Christmas sweet bread dotted with raisins, candied orange peel and citron that originates from Milan. While Dario runs the business side of things, his wife creates the elegant packaging, which elevates their baked goods to something quite special. Their products are exported to high-end food shops in the states, such as Dean & Deluca, and all over the world. While panettone makes up 70% of their production, the company also produces the traditional Italian Easter bread called colomba along with cookies and sweet focaccia.
Other snapshots from the trip: