Ramblings in Italy – Region of Parma
June 15, 2009
Visit to Antica Corte Pallavicina and Dinner at Al Cavallino Bianco
by Rocco Verrigni
On the banks of the Po River
in the region of Parma, in Polesine Parmense, lies Antica Corte Pallavicina
Relais, a restored 14th century estate with historical
connections to Maestro Guiseppe Verdi and his family. Also on located
on the grounds is Al Cavallino Bianco Ristorante.
With friends from the area,
I toured the cellars and grounds of the estate. Our tour guide was Massimo
Spigaroli who along with others has restored the estate. He is also
the force behind the production of one the region’s celebrated products,
Culatello di Zibello, a cured ham made from the black
pigs “Nera Parmigiana” of the area. Walking among the thousands
of culatelli hanging in the cellars was mildly intoxicating and full
of the smell of aging. We also toured the cellars were hundreds of wheels
of Parmigiano Reggiano lie, as they go through their 2 year aging process.
Alora (then) it was up to the restaurant where we tasted the fruits of some one else’s hard labor. We started our meal with a degustione of the local cured meats and cheeses. Of course there was Culatello di Zibello (DOP), a distinctive pear-shaped ham entwined in reams of string that form a broadknit net with meat that is uniformly red and speckled with pieces of white fat between the muscle fibres, a scent that is intense and distinctive, and a taste that is sweet and delicate. The selection also included strohlghino, a salume made with the trimmings of culatello, coppa, a muscle of the pork right behind the back of the head, at the top of the shoulder, pancetta, other local salumi, and lardo. All of this went well with a local red sparkling wine, Fortana, similar to the regions most celebrated, lambrusco. I then had a Parmigiano specialty, Tortelli di Erbette, the ethereal pasta of the area, stuffed with greens, in a light butter sauce and of course, parmigiano reggiano cheese. I finished with a pistachio semi-freddo, café and nocino, the Emilia-Romagna digestivo made made from unripe green walnuts steeped in spirits.
A perfect day and evening in the region of Parma with friends. Thank you, Giacomo.