Slow Food presents the 12th edition of the world’s premier cheese event in Bra, Italy from September 20-23. This year’s theme: “Natural is Possible”
With more than 200 exhibitors, 50 Presidia and a dedicated cheese Market, Italy is without doubt the guest of honor at Cheese 2019. Cheese – the international event dedicated to natural cheeses produced with raw milk and without artificial enzymes in sachets, which are thus richer in biodiversity and more authentic expressions of their areas of origin –gathers cheesemakers and exhibitors from more than 30 countries.
Twenty years have passed since the presentation of the first cheese Presidium: Roccaverano goat milk cheese.
Today there are 70 Presidia dedicated to cheese in Italy, the country with the greatest number of such projects. It’s also the country where Slow Food has started a dairy revolution, to give raw milk the value it deserves and affirm the importance of biodiversity in cheesemaking. In 2019 Slow Food commits to supporting the growth of natural cheese and presents new Presidia at Italian Presidia: 20 Years of the Cheesemaking Revolution.
The products of mountain dairies, commonly known as “malga” in Italian, offer the best guarantee of naturalness in cheese: healthy animals raised on fresh grass, whose milk is worked with traditional processes.
Among the great variety of mountain cheeses present at the event will be the Historic Rebel Cheese, which is also a Slow Food Presidium. The cheesemakers who work in mountain dairies, located at altitudes between 1400 and 2000 meters, have preserved traditional practices that exalt the quality of the cheese and play a fundamental role in preserving the Alpine environment and biodiversity. There will also be the Robiola di Roccaverano, the only historic Italian goat cheese, and Montébore, made in a wedding-cake shape, whose production had stopped entirely 30 years ago when the last producer closed her business. Then, in 1999, a young man, Roberto Grattone, tracked down the last keeper of the ancient Montébore recipe and Slow Food started the Presidium to protect and promote this resurrected specialty.
Cheese 2019 will also talk about Sardinian herders and their struggle to survive the recent collapse in milk prices. In this relatively small land there are three million sheep, whose high-quality milk reflects the rich biodiversity of the island’s pastures, but this milk is predominantly sold to cooperative dairies which use it to make Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Sardo (both European PDOs). The only way forwards means going back: to small-scale raw milk cheesemaking that respects the land and delivers high-quality products that can be sold at the right price. A dedicated workshop explores the finest examples of Sardinian cheesemaking art through Slow Food Presidia, including two sheep cheeses, Shepherds’ Fiore Sardo and Osilo Pecorino, and the stretched-curd cow milk Casizolu, as well as rarities from the Ark of Taste like the Axridda cheese, which is covered in a layer of clay (or axridda, in the Sardinian language) to protect it from high temperatures.
Ancient pastoral traditions are still alive in the countryside around the the city of Rome, where unique products express a strong connection with the land. Several cheeses from the area will be available to taste, among them Roman Countryside Caciofiore, an ancestor of Pecorino Romano made by adding vegetable rennet obtained from the flowers of globe artichokes or cardoons to raw milk, and Marzolina, a goat cheese matured for months in a glass demijohn under olive oil and today made just by two producers.
Another tasting will highlight some of the finest cheeses being made by young Italian producers with Milk in their Veins, keeping their family traditions alive through sacrifice and with great passion. Another young Italian, Juri Chiotti, who has decided to return to the mountains after gaining a Michelin star, leads the workshop on Alpine Valley Goat Cheeses.
During the workshop Natural is Possible: Raw Milk Cheese Without Starters and Triple A Wines, a selection of great Italian natural raw milk cheeses will be tasted: Castel del Monte Canestrato (a Slow Food Presidium from Abruzzo), Madonie Provola (a Slow Food Presidium from Sicily), Carmasciano (an Ark of Taste product from Campania), Grappa Mountain Morlacco (a Slow Food Presidium from Veneto), and Robiola di Roccaverano.
Another workshop will be dedicated to The Forms of Whey. Whey is the liquid part of milk which separates from the curd during cheesemaking. Containing lactose, protein and mineral salts, some of it is reused to make starters and for the production of ricotta. Tastings of the Valnerina Ricotta Salata, a Slow Food Presidium, will be available. This Presidium wants to support the recovery of farmers who were seriously affected by the earthquakes that hit Central Italy in 2016 and 2017. In addition, Saras del Fen will be available for tasting. The cheese became a Presidium to support producers who belong to the Waldensian religious minority that has been living in these mountains for hundreds of years.
And also: the “King of Cheese”, aka Parmigiano Reggiano, will have its moment of glory during a dedicated workshop in which different stages of maturity will be tasted. Buffalo milk will also be explored in another workshop where buffalo mozzarella PDO, buffalo ricotta PDO, and the vintage plate of chef Vittorio Fusari (mozzarella, oysters and sea water) will be tasted in combination with some great yet relatively-undiscovered white wines from Piedmont.
And it’s not just cheese at Cheese! In fact, Slow Food will present the first two Italian Slow Food Travel territories: the Biella Mountains and the Upper Tanaro Valleys. Slow Food Travel is a territorial project that focuses on food and its production, promoting travel experiences that are consistent with the philosophy of good, clean and fair.
Moreover, since there no discussion of Italian cuisine would be complete without pizza, a team of women will animate the Pizza, Bread and Pastry Forge, a space completely dedicated to pizzaioli, pastry chefs and bakers.