The Cheese in Bra cheese fair, organized by Slow Food Italia, is for professional gourmets and cheese lovers of all stripes what Mecca is for a good Muslim: the holy pilgrimage cities that you must visit at least once in your life. And so, in the 20th year of the Biennale's existence (1997 - 2017), we too finally followed this call. Together with several thousand visitors from all over the world.
During the Cheese, the inner city of the small Piedmontese town is transformed into a buzzing beehive, which not only attracts trade visitors but also many other interested parties and of course the residents of the area: at the last edition in 2015, 270,000 visitors came to see the products of the around 300 exhibitors from 23 countries to admire and of course to taste.
The area is divided into different thematic areas: in the street of the affineurs such big players like Neal's yard Dairy from London, Mons from Paris and Guffanti from near Milan, but also smaller players are represented.
Small producers are represented on the Via del Preisidi, who produce their artisanal products using traditional production methods, using milk from autochthonous animal breeds and coming from protected rural areas from all over Italy and abroad. A very exciting mix!
As the name suggests, Italian cheese manufacturers are represented on the Italian market. Then there is the Enoteca, where you can sit and order different cheeses, small dishes and wines by the glass, the Casa Slow Food, various workshops, a piazza with food trucks and the great Piazza del Gelato. Gelati are sold here, some of which are made from Presidi products, including real Robiola!
We first visited our suppliers and business partners such as Luigi Guffanti (whom we had already visited as soon as we arrived in Italy and whose fragrant cheese cellars we were allowed to tour), Joseph Paccard from Savoie and Neal's Yard Dairy.
We also visited Marina from Azienda Agricola Papa dei Boschi at her stand and tasted the new harvest of her wonderful roasted Piedmont hazelnuts.
We also met Manuel Maia from Portugal again, who let us try his delicious goat and sheep cheeses, the extremely charming fromagers Basco-Béarnais, whose Basque cheeses we regularly include in our program, Joe Schneider, the legendary Stichelton manufacturer, as well as at the neighboring stand, fellow cheddar makers Jamie Montgomery and his colleagues, Westcombe and Keene.
In addition to these old acquaintances, we were also allowed to taste new varieties that we were less familiar with: including the extremely interesting and very diverse gray cheese from Switzerland, an Italian sheep's cheese that is fermented not with rennet but with pig stomachs marinated in vinegar and wine, smoked sheep's cheese from Poland called Oscypek, which you eat either plain or fried with cranberries, Swiss mountain cheese with hemp seeds...
Finally, to conclude our little cheese tour, we had the honor of being invited to Cravero's Get-Together, which is traditionally hosted each time by Cravero himself and Neal's Yard Dairy on Cravero's estate with spectacular views across the valley. After a few speeches, we had the opportunity to try different British cheeses with one or more glasses of Prosecco and to exchange ideas with colleagues in front of an impressive backdrop in the Parmesan warehouse.
We have now returned full of impressions and are already looking forward to Cheese Berlin , which will take place on Sunday, November 5, 2017 in the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg. Many of our international friends will also come and of course we hope to be able to welcome as many of you as possible to our stand!
Until then, let's dream of cheese... and the fantastic Italian gelato...!
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And this is what it looks like in the Guffanti cheese cellars: