In May we visited Italy and the theme of this trip was “chilometrezero” or “Km 0” for short. This is a trend in Italy that promotes the use of entirely locally produced products, not to be confused with the movie “Km 0” or the mile markers throughout the world. See the Wikipedia entry Chilometro Zero for more on this trend.

KM02a

Tortellini Three Ways at Km0

Meat & Potatoes - Emilia Romagna Style

Meat & potatoes Italian style.

KM01a

Appetizers – Km0

In the US, we might call this farm-to-table or extreme locavore, but Km 0 seems different.

First Stop: Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio

This trip, we ate at the restaurant northeast of Reggio Emilia near the Autostrada called “Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio”.  See reviews and location here.

The directions using our iPhone map app took us within 1 Km, but not 0 Km.  We ended up on a farm road that went nowhere (thanks, Siri.)  Using our pre-iPhone skill of reading the actual signs on the road, we backtracked and followed the little white sign (clearly pointing the way in the opposite direction of what Siri said we should do) and found the place easily, except they apparently have recently renamed the restaurant, so the neon sign didn’t exactly match (it was actually a caricature of a Mexican guy advertising coffee – ??)

When we opened the car door after parking in the rear, we had a clue as to the extreme localness of the products based on the smell that made us think we had landed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, if you get my scent.  Yes, fresh, locally produced pork products are the theme here.  But there was much more to the menu on this day.

We had no reservation, and arrived about 8pm.  We had no problem getting a table way in the back, but the other two open tables quickly filled up.  The place might qualify as a “dive” in the US, but it was pleasant, friendly, and packed with locals.  The staff spoke no English, and there is no printed menu.  Instead, a chalk board gets parked next to your table, and you see the full menu of the day.  Also on the board on the wall is the list of where exactly each item on the menu came from.  We had no trouble interpreting the items with ample help from our cheerful waitress and our command of “restaurant Italian.”

The antipasti were an outstanding selection of salumi, lardo, and puffy fried bread.  In this area of Emilia, the word for the puffy fried bread is cresciontini, but we had previously found them in the Romagna area to the east just called gnocco fritto.  In any case, they were great with the meats. For the wine, we chose the local Lambrusco, which goes perfectly well with the somewhat fatty food.

The primi course consisted of three different ravioli dishes recommended by the waitress.  One vegetable stuffing, one beef stuffing, and one cheese stuffing.  All were better than what we’d had in a fancier restaurant in Bologna the previous day.

For secondi, we were a bit filled up, but dove in to maiale and manzo dishes.  The freshness of the meat and the preparation of each were simple, but really good.  We skipped dessert.

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

 

Next stop:  Fattoria Montelupa near Città di Castello east of Arezzo, north of Perugia for some fresh cheese. Yum.

The owners moved 40 water buffalo to this part of Tuscany some years ago from near Naples, where Tuscany juts its finger way northeast up into Emilia Romagna.  The buffalo seem to like it here just fine, versus the hotter climate in Campania.  The farm has accommodated the buffalo with a low spot to wallow in the cool mud.

Our host explained that the buffalo don’t like stress, and produce the best milk when free from stress.  Based on the taste and consistency of the resulting mozzarella product, we think these are pretty happy animals.  The farm is outside of town, but there is a retail store in town.  Whether it is because the cheese we tasted was made today from milk collected yesterday from a bunch of happy water buffalo, or because it is made with a different technique, the end result is a product that can’t get any better.  We were fortunate enough to also have fresh ricotta made from the whey byproduct of the mozzarella process.  The ricotta, too, was as good as it gets.  Total distance from buffalo to table – about 300 meters.

Tempting Salumi

Tempting Salumi

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

 

Next stop:  Il Ghiandaio

North of Città di Castello, a bit further east of Arezzo, but still in that little tip of Tuscany that juts up into Emilia-Romagna and Umbria, there is a tiny little store-slash-restaurant on the side of the highway. (Click here for a location map and reviews).

The proprietor of Il Ghiandaio  is a man who takes his craft very seriously and produces his own cured meats to sell in his tiny store.  The restaurant consists of a couple of tables in the yard next to the store.  The store sits behind his house, just off the Autostrada, exit Pieve Santo Stefano (Nord).

We feasted on six types of cured meats (actually, I lost count) including the one he called the “eel” because of its shape and size.  Also on the menu was the typical Tuscan crostini selection of green pesto made with celery leaves instead of basil, chopped liver, and a new one – fresh sausage, uncured, made on Monday (we were there Thursday).  It tasted like tuna tartare – really different.

The pigs are raised nearby.  Giuseppe Ferroni is the proprietor, but the pigs are raised by another farmer.  Signore Ferroni is a master at making sausage, salami, prosciutto, and anything that can be done with pork.  We highly recommend this man and his work.  Distance from curing room to table – about 50 meters.

If you take a trip through Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria, let us know if you visit these establishments!

–Jeff

Taste-Matters-logo-200

Click to Listen: Taste Matters Episode with Nancy Harmon Jenkins (#125)

We’ve just discovered the Heritage Radio Network and enjoyed listening to this superb interview with Nancy Harmon Jenkins. The interview covers many important topics — Olive Oil is covered in the first 11 minutes — including our central focus on Italian Olive Oil. The Mediterranean Diet, lifestyle, cooking with olive oil, Slow Food, and ancient grains (like farro) are included. Listen to Nancy and then visit Olio2go for Italy’s Finest Olive Oil.

SlowFood2013

Slow Food 2013 has just been released and we have a copy that is fresh off the press (just like great olive oil)!

The guide carries notations on 1131 quality olive oils from 772 notable producers in Italy.

LE CHIOCCIOLE (The Snail): best representation of the values and qualities of Slow Food.

The following abundant selections are in stock at Olio2go.com!

Emilia Romagna

Tenuta Pennita

Lazio

Colli Etruschi

Sicily

Titone

Gli Olio Slow: representing quality cultivation, sustainable practices, and good value for oils from the named region.

Lazio

Olivastro, Quattrociocchi

Grand Oli: excellence in respective category for organoleptic quality, adherence to the territory customs, and native cultivars

Campania, Madonna dell’Oliva, Raro

Emilia Romagna, Alina from La Pennita

Puglia, Torre di Mossa from DeCarlo

Sicily, Titone DOP

Toscana, Ramerino Dulcis

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano Gran Cru

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano, Frantoio Monocultivar

Toscana, Frantoio Franci, Villa Magra Gran Cru

Noted Estates

Trentino Alto-Adige, Agraria Riva del Garda

Emilia-Romagna,  Tenuta Pennita

Toscano, Fattoria Ramerino, Primus e Dulcis

Toscano, Tenuta di Capezzana

Toscano, Fonte di Foiano

Toscano, Frantoio Franci

Toscano, La Poderina Toscana

Toscano, Frescobaldi

Toscano, Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini, Poppiano, Laudemio

Toscano, Fattoria di Monti, Razzo, Monti

Umbria, Marfuga

Lazio, Americo Quattrociocchi

Lazio, Colli Etruschi

Abruzzo, La Quagliera

Campania, Madonna dell’Olivo, Raro, Itrans

Puglia, De Carlo

Sicilia, Centonze

Sicilia, Frantoi Cutrera

Sicilia, Villa Zottopera

Sicilia, Planeta

Sicilia, Titone

Sardegna, Sebastiano Fadda

For the full list of Slow Food – recognized olive oils currently in stock at Olio2go, click here.

Principe di Mascio, Rosso, and Trapetto di Caprafico DOP

Top Award Winners

Some folks choose the grocery store oil, assuming it to be extra virgin olive oil. Knowledgable consumers are skeptical, and true fans of olive oil seek award winners. With any of these selections your choices will be a long way from the grocery store shelves. These 2010 olive oils and their coveted awards represent the best olive oils in the world — and these are the top Italian selections.

We scour the olive oil awards as they are released each year (you can find links on our web site) both to identify the awards received by our current producers and to look for new oils to stock. Five major award presentations have been announced in 2011 awards (for 2010 harvest oils). The last major awards are bestowed in June, and those are the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Awards.

Slow Food – the leading authority on authentic, traditional olive oil, awards released May 2011

“Garland” –
Frantoio Franci estate, oils arriving in June

“Tre Olive” –
La Pennita, Alina, Brisighella
Ravida
Titone Biologica DOP
Frescobaldi Laudemio

“Gli Extravergini dell’Emozione” –
Trappeto di Caprafico Organic DOP
Raro, Madonna dell’Oliva
Colli Etruschi
Villa Magra Gran Cru (2009 currently available, 2010 arriving in June)
Villa Magra dei Franci (arriving in June)
Marfuga L’affiorante
Principe di Mascio DOP

International Olive Oil Awards – Zurich (award released April 2011)
Titone Biologica DOP, Golden Olive
Primo DOP Special Mention, Fruttato Intenso, also Gran Menzione in the DOP Category

Sirena d’Oro di Sorrento (awards released March 2011)
Trappeto di Caprifico, Bio, DOP – Second Place, Fruttato Medio
Titone Bio DOP, Fruttato Intenso, 1st place
Principe di Mascio DOP, 2nd place, Fruttato Medio

National Competition L’orciolo d’Oro 2011 (awards released March 2011)
Principe di Mascio DOP DOP Category, 3rd place
La Poderina Toscana Organic, DOP Category, Gran Menzione
Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Gran Menzione, Fruttato Intenso
Ravida, Gran Menzione, Fruttato Leggero
Raro Madonna dell’Oliva, 1st Place, Fruttato Intenso
Titone DOP Biologica, Special Mention, Fruttato Medio; also Organic, Gran Menzione

SOL/Vinitaly
Olio de la Marchia, Ascolana – Gran Mention, Fruttato Medio
Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Bronze, Fruttato Medio
Trappeto di Caprifico (Masciantonio), Bio, DOP – Special Mention, Fruttato Intenso
Frantoio Franci, Gran Menzione (arriving in June)
Titone DOP Biologica – Gran Menzione