Around this time last year, Lyndall and Cheryl went traveling across Europe on their Cheesy Coffs to Euro trip. We’ve sat down with Lyndall to chat about the places, cheeses and people they came across on their travels.
Firstly, the purpose of our trip was to have as many cheesy experiences as we could possibly cram in! Secondly, we’ve got an incredible insight into how big and complex the cheese industry is. Finally, we’ve met many people who are regarded as kings and queens of the cheese industry. We wanted to bring all of this experience and knowledge back to Coffs Coast and our Deli.
Also, one of the purposes of our trip was to visit the largest cheese festival in Bra. Bra is an Italian town and a home to the slow food movement festival every second year. The theme of the festival we visited was raw milk cheese. It was a celebration of the best raw milk cheeses from all around the world. We’ve basically built our trip around this festival.
The slow food movement is an international organization that promotes food originality and diversity around the world. It’s all about bringing food back to where it was.
We’ve started in London, UK. We visited one of the oldest and largest food markets in London called Borough Markets. It’s also home to world-renowned Neal’s Yards Dairy.
From there we went to Paris and Leon in France. In Paris, we visited as many old traditional fromageries as we could. We’ve visited so many fromageries, from the ones that were more than 150 years old, to the modern ones.
There are also urban cheesemakers making cheese on the streets of Paris. We visited Leon because it’s home to Academie Mons that is known worldwide for its courses in artisan cheesemaking.
Finally, we went to Italy. We visited multiple regions in Italy, such as Bolognia and Piedmont.
We even got a quick trip for some retail therapy in Milan, the fashion capital of the world. We’ve also briefly got over to Switzerland in the midst of it all.
It was really all about the cheese. We wanted to see places that we heard about so much and experience it all firsthand.
It was an incredible experience to taste cheese from all the small artisan cheesemakers in the UK, France, and Italy. We got a chance to try cheeses that have been made all around these countries. Above all, every country has something unique about their cheeses. It was a matter of picking a few of the places we wanted to visit.
I’ve had two main highlights: Georgio Cavero cheesemaking and a little village in Italy where cheeses are matured in Roman caves.
Meeting Georgio Cavero himself and experiencing his Parmigiano Regiano. Georgio Cavero is known as the King of Parmigiano Reggiano. We’ve started the morning with Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosecco combination. I mean, how could you not love something like that?
He showed us all around his house. We’ve also visited his factory. It was a lot to take in- the Cavero family and their history. This family has been maturing Parmigiano Reggiano for over 150 years. And for all this time they have been working with the same farmers. Interestingly, when they select farmers to work with, they look at the grass.
An interesting fact is that Georgio Cavero to this day gets around his home town on his bicycle.
The other highlight was visiting the old Roman caves where a pope from Italy matures cheeses. They make an outstanding drunken cheese as well. It’s a little village that is irrigated by Roman aqueducts.
The story is that this pope had heard of a breed of cows becoming extinct. There were around 30 of them left at that time. So he bought the village with the intention of bringing the industry there.
We’ve visited this village and the caves where they mature cheese to this day. Interestingly, they mature some cheeses in straw.
People have been living in this village for centuries. Farming is what they do. They do it to feed themselves so it’s this existential farming. It was incredible to experience the history and the heritage of it all. It gives me goosebumps now as I speak.
If I have to pick one it would be Bolognia. Because of its people and its pasta. Also, architecture.
Everywhere you look you’ll see tiled verandahs, old gates, and stonewalls, even cannonballs.
Not really. Everywhere we went we met friendly and warm people. People spoke English to us everywhere.
The staggering amount of beautiful buildings that are turning into rubble. Out in the fields, when we were driving through the countryside, we would see absolutely stunning buildings. I would call them almost a castles. I thought someone needs to start a renovation show there.