It’s that time of year folks! The 44th Annual Fiera del Fungo is underway. Last night was the traditional “opening” dinner at Albergo Roma. Expect a lot of food in this post!!! Of course, I’m not a food blogger/critic, so I’ll just be showing you the wonders of the night without waxing too poetic over the individual dishes!!!
Borgo Val di Taro is in the Province of Parma, and a certified producer of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (DOP). Many people understand the meaning of DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta), which essentially means that a product can only have the official name if it is totally produced in a strictly defined region. For example, Champagne can only come from grapes grown and produced in Champagne. Parmigiano Reggiano can only come milk from the defined area, and the cheese produced and aged in the Province of Parma. Borgo Val di Taro is also an IGP for it’s mushrooms. IGP stands for Indicazione Geografica Protetta, and indicates that an item derives its quality and reputation from its place of origin. It’s not as strict as DOP. For DOP, technically the entire production of the item (from milking the cows to curing the cheese, for example), must occur in the defined region. For IGP, it is the local method of processing that is certified, but in theory part of the production could occur elsewhere as long as the defining qualities of the item have been produced or derived from products in the qualifying area.
You will notice that the following menu is full of IGP indications, as the proud area makes sure you know what you are getting!
The evening started off with Aperitivo of bubbly wine, preserved mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano from our local cheese factory – both 24 month and 36 month aged.
Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, aged to 36 months, tastes buttery and full. And definitely a treat!
Then on to dinner. We had a lovely dinner, sitting next to some folks from the US who are regular visitors from the US, and who had made a special point to be in BorgoTaro for the first weekend of the festival. To start off, there was a wonderful wild rice salad with thyme, over Parmigiano Reggiano fondue.
This was followed by a creamy mushroom risotto.
The meat course was roast beef with of course our wonderful Borgotarese porcini mushrooms. Wonderfully tender and flavorful.
And finally we move to dessert. This will take a bit more description, as we had two lovely options!
Here on the left is the quinessential “Amor” (no e on the end). This is a very simple set of wafers filled with hazelnut buttercream, but has become such an iconic item that it has its OWN festival every year. The best versions are still found at Steckli, which is a pastry shop/wine bar here in Borgo Val di Taro. A related pastry shop in Pontremoli is called Antica Pasticceria Degli Svizzeri. I knew the first time I saw the shop name “Steckli” that there was a Swiss connection. It seems that two Swiss brothers moved to this area over 100 years ago and ultimately invented this wonderful little bit of sweetness. They opened two pastry shops in BorgoTaro and Pontremeli, and both of them are still in operation today, although I don’t believe anyone related to the original brothers is involved with the shops.
On the right is Latte in Piedi, or a type of Creme Caramel.
Of course, there was free flowing Lambrusco and Malvesia at the tables as well. I treat every year that we are unlikely to miss!