Tag Archives: Slow Food

The Triumph of Italian Raw Milk Productions at Cheese 2019



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.

New Slow Food Presidium Launched in the Netherlands to Protect Traditional Boeren Leyden Cheese

unnamedLast Sunday, June 25, Slow Food Netherlands launched the Traditional Boeren Leyden Presidium during the Slow Food in the Park event, a festival held to celebrate the diversity of the Slow Food network and spread the message of good, clean and fair food, featuring free workshops, tastings and a lunch prepared by the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance.


The new Traditional Boeren Leyden Presidium promotes cheesemakers from the cheese’s historic area of origin in Southern Holland, who skim milk following natural procedures and produce 10-12 kg cheeses matured for at least 12-18 months. Boeren Leyden is one of the oldest cheeses in the Netherlands, but today only a few farms still graze their cows in the open pastures of the polders and use traditional equipment and methods to produce a high-quality cheese whose flavor is on the verge of disappearing.


The Presidium involves a group of producers and affineurs:



Until 1870, all the cheese in the Netherlands was made on small farms by the cattle breeders themselves. When, in the early 20th century, the international demand for Dutch cheese increased, small cheesemakers gradually went into crisis, unable to survive on a market demanding competitive prices and high production figures. Nowadays, just 1% of Netherlands’s cheese is made on small farms and Boeren Leyden represents just a small fraction of that percentage.


The city of Leyden, whose coat of arms is stamped on labels, hosted a popular cheese market as early as 1303 and, until two centuries ago, Boeren Leyden was the most common cheese in the country. Thanks to its high acidity, low fat and firm structure, this cow’s milk cheese was perfect for carrying on Dutch navy and merchant ships. Despite the extremely high temperature and humidity of the tropical seas, the cheese kept very well and was used to nourish ships’ crews throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and traded in the country’s overseas colonies. It was in that period that cumin was added to the curd to make the hard cheese easier to cut.


According to the traditional Boeren Leyden cheesemaking process, morning milk is left to stand all day long to allow the cream to rise to the top. Then the cream is removed and the evening milk is added. The cream that rises during the night and removed the next morning, after which the milk is heated to a temperature of 28-30°C. Rennet is added, the curd is cut into 5-10 mm fragments in the next half hour, the whey is drained and the curd is washed with water to regulate lactose and pH levels. The curd is then stirred vigorously and left to ripen, following a practice similar to that of cheddaring. The resulting curd is crumbled and, after the addition of cumin seeds, placed in molds between two layers of curd to which cumin has not been added. After the molds have been pressed for some hours, the cheeses are extracted and pushed through so-called ‘zakpers’, which give it its typical rounded shape. After being soaked for four days in brine, the rind is coated with a reddish-brown film dyed with annatto seeds.


Boeren Leyden has received PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) certification under the ‘Boeren-Leidse met sleutels’ denomination and the 10-12 kg cheeses can be made throughout the year, maturing periods varying from 30 days to 30 months.

Cheese 2017 focuses on raw milk cheeses and naturalness


Cheese 2017, the international event organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra dedicated to high-quality and artisanal dairy products, will be held in Bra (Italy) from September 15-18 2017.

The event, which celebrates its twentieth birthday this year, has gradually built an international network of cheesemakers, shepherds, cheesemongers and affineurs, the people who come together every two years here to present their products, meet the public, debate the challenges they have to face and address critical new issues in the dairy world.

The last edition of Cheese, held in 2015, saw the participation of more than 270,000 visitors, 30% of whom from overseas, and more than 300 exhibitors from 23 countries.

Cheese 2017 puts raw milk cheeses at the center of the debate. For the first time ever, this year the Italian and International Market features only cow’s, ewe’s and goat’s cheeses made with raw milk. This is a big step forward that raises the bar of quality even higher. Raw milk cheeses, in fact, epitomize an immense heritage of biodiversity—of pastures, of animal breeds, of different kinds of milk, of skills and traditions. They embody values in stark contrast with the sterilization and homogenization of mass-produced food.

What’s more, this year Cheese aims to launch a veritable raw milk movement and to plan its future actions. In many countries, raw milk is prohibited or restricted, meaning that producers aren’t free to make traditional raw milk cheeses and consumers aren’t free to choose for themselves. The battle in defense of raw milk, carried forward by Slow Food since the earliest editions of Cheese, has achieved significant results and the network of small-scale producers has spread to countries as far away as South Africa, Brazil and Argentina. However, there is still a long way to go.

Of close on 600 international Presidia, as many as 95 are dedicated to cheese. At Cheese, visitors will be able to find out more about many Slow Food Presidia, such as Raw Milk Stichelton from the UK, Mountain Pasture Sbrinz from Switzerland and Boeren Leyden Traditioneel, a new Presidium recently launched in the Netherlands.

The guest of honor this year will be the USA, where Slow Food launched its now historic American Raw Milk Cheeses Presidium.

Another of the main themes of Cheese 2017 is naturalness (hence the use or otherwise of industrial enzymes in cheese), with a dedicated area featuring not only cheese itself, but also naturally cured meats produced without the use of nitrites, nitrates and other preservatives, natural wines made with selected yeasts and without sulfites, traditional spontaneously fermented Belgian Lambic beer and sourdough bread.

Natural cheese means cheese made without industrial enzymes. Today, the majority of dairies no longer process milk by hand, wood is often banned and the milk flows from steel tube to steel tube in a perfectly sterilized environment that inhibits the growth of bacterial flora. All of which translates into a huge loss of biodiversity.

Some cheesemakers purchase ready-to-use enzymes to add to milk and start the coagulation process, their aim being to achieve a safer, more consistent product with fewer defects. The multinationals that produce and package starter cultures are making a fortune with this convenient shortcut, which eliminates flaws but standardizes taste. For years Slow Food has been encouraging cheesemakers not to use starter cultures—or, at least, to avoid buying them in—but to produce them in their own dairies (just as sourdough bread bakers and vinegar producer do), thus maintaining native bacterial flora and the sensory identity of the finished cheese.

The program for Cheese 2017 includes 35 Taste Workshops, guided tastings to allow visitors to discover the world of dairy biodiversity and more besides; Dinner Dates, opportunities to meet some of the finest Italian and international chefs and enjoy their special dishes; and conferences on issues involving animal welfare, global warming, nutrition and health.

Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance to Be Started in Iceland


The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Iceland is joining Slow Food’s large network of chefs committed to cooking and promoting products from the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Slow Food Presidia and other communities of local producers. The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance project already has hundreds of members in eighteenth countries (Albania, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, the Netherlands, Uganda, United Kingdom and Russia), making Iceland the nineteenth country to join the Alliance.

Dominique Plédel Jónsson, President of Slow Food in Reykjavik: “Iceland has been a live laboratory for a strong survival of cultural heritage in food products and preparation. At the same time gastronomy was not an issue in a country where survival was an everyday fight against natural conditions – the first generations had to be inventive since no salt was available, nor wood fire hence ovens, plants and herbs were scarcely found and not to be relied upon.

In the 20th century chefs started to connect to Europe and America and picked up traditions and technics from other countries. After going through a period of experiences with all kind of influences and starting to compete at international challenges, the chefs rediscovered their own heritage, beginning with the exceptional raw materials to be found on the island, mainly fish and lamb to start. The discovering of these local raw materials led very quickly to new recipes. For example, the safeguarding of the Icelandic Sheep, a breed on the Ark of Taste, is actually motivating chefs in different restaurants here to use lamb on their menu and promote it.”

Gísli Matthías Auðunsson, Chefs’ Alliance member at “Slippurinn” in Vestmannaeyjar, is working with the 15 products on board on Slow Food Ark of Taste, starting from classical recipes and transforming them to the taste of modern consumers. His motto is “I want to make Icelanders proud of their food traditions”.

The chefs who have joined the Alliance in Iceland so far are:

Ari Thorsteinsson, Humarhöfnin, Höfn

Gísli Matthias Audunsson, Slippurinn, Vestmannaeyjar

Hinrik Carl Ellertsen, Hverfisgata 12, Reykjavik

Hrafnkell Sigridarson, Mat Bar, Reykjavik

Leifur Kolbeinsson, Marshall Restaurant, Reykjavik

Lucas Keller, The Cookoo‘s Nest, Reykjavik

Maria Gisladottir, Nýhöfn, Höfn

Ólafur Agústsson, Kex Hostel, Reykjavik

Sveinn Kjartansson, Bordstofan Ehf, Reykjavik

Thorir Bergsson, Bergsson Mathús, Reykjavik

The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Russia is gaining more and more members across the country. At the June 10–11 event organized by the Tipografia restaurant in Gorno-Altaisk, the first Siberian chef will join the Slow Food international project, committing to cooking and promoting products from the Slow Food Ark of Taste and communities of local producers.

The Altai republic is a mountainous region located on the fringes of Central Asia, at the intersection of Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China. It is characterized by a variety of landscapes once populated mainly by nomadic peoples like Chelkans, Kumandins and Tubalars.

The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance project already has hundreds of members in eighteen countries (Albania, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, the Netherlands, Uganda, United Kingdom and Russia). In Russia 18 chefs have already joined the Alliance.

On June 10, starting from 4pm, Yulia Fominykh, a Chefs’ Alliance member from the Tipografia restaurant, will prepare a special menu recalling Siberian traditional cuisine, including dishes of horse meat cooked on an open fire.

Yulia Fominykh says: “Being at the intersection of geographic and cultural regions has influenced the gastronomic heritage of Altai. We want to study its history from ancient times to the present, in order to understand the essence of the dishes, the seasonality of the ingredients and the opportunity to interpret and adapt it to modern tastes. It is interesting that at the heart of our ancestral cuisine there was a no-waste concept.

The main idea of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance is close to me, since I am worried about the quality of food being produced in our Republic of Altai. The legislative system does not always help us in using local ingredients, and we are forced to buy products from big companies at the expense of quality. So, why not try to change the rules of the game through this international project?

The Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance shows that there are people worldwide united by one idea – the revival of cultural heritage via the preservation of traditional gastronomy and agrobiodiversity. On this occasion we will gather together and talk about the Slow Food philosophy. The purpose is to show to ourselves, our guests and a wider public that our traditional dishes are accessible and that our rich culture needs to be preserved.”

As of today, there are 63 products from Russia on the Ark of Taste. The chefs who have signed up in Russia so far are:

Alexey Kondratiev, Krepostnoi Val, Azov

Anton Abrezov, Gras x Madbaren, Saint Petersburg

Anton Kovalkov, B.E.R.E.G. District, Moscow

Dmitry Novokreshchenov, Gnezdo Pekarya, Suzdal

Dmitry Savkin, LavkaLavka cafe, Moscow

Elena Savchuk, LavkaLavka restaurant, Moscow

Igor Grishechkin, CoCoCo, Saint Petersburg

Maksim Rybakov, Pushkarskaya Sloboda, Suzdal

Mark Statsenko, Spices, Moscow

Mikhail Lukashonok, Mark i Lev – Privolye, Moscow region

Pavel Klepikov, Mark i Lev – Rublevka, Moscow region

Sergey & Ivan Berezutskiy, TWINS and Wine&Crab, Moscow

Stanislav Pesotskiy, Bjorn, Moscow

Tatyana Myakotina, Ptichiy Dvor, Suzdal

Vera Kalashnikova, Suzdalyskaya Trapeza, Suzdal

Yulia Fominikh, Tipografia, Gorno-Altaisk

Yury Kovalchuk, Ogurets, Suzdal