[AD] 24 Hours in Parma! City of Gastronomy: My account of a rather tasty 24hrs in Parma, where I not only enjoyed the architecture, but revelled in the culinary scene too, with a trip to a Parma Ham producer and numerous local restaurants.
with Parma Ham Recipes
I love Italy, and Italian food, and every time I visit this beautifully vibrant and scenic country, I always come away with sunny memories of the people, place and the food of course. And so it was a few weeks ago when I was part of a small press group who were visiting Parma, The City of Gastronomy, courtesy of Prosciutto di Parma, to see and experience first hand where this iconic and rather delectable ham originates from. After a short flight from London to Bologna, we transferred to Parma, and by 1pm, after checking in to the Grand Hotel de la Ville, we were sitting down in the hotel restaurant, Ristorante Parmigianino, enjoying Parma Ham with wine! The Grand Hotel de la Ville is within walking distance of the historic centre and heart of the city, and my room was simple but elegantly furnished. Lunch was delicious with thin slices of Parma Ham leading the culinary parade before we enjoyed a plate of swordfish pasta ending the meal with a chocolate bombe with raspberries.
Although I was only in Parma and the surrounding area for 24 hours, we were treated to a plethora of restaurant and dining experiences, as well as a guided tour of the city. After a sightseeing tour around this historic Italian Creative UNESCO City for Gastronomy, and a Parma Ham tasting event at Bistrò del Prosciutto di Parma as part of the Gastronomy Festival, it was time to eat again. Dinner was at Ristorante Angiol d’Or in the city centre, and was a delectable multi-course feast, featuring, Parma Ham! The menu started with a 30 month aged Prosciutto di Parma with Torta Fritta and Pickled Garden Vegetables, all paired with local wines. Three further courses ensued, again paired with more local wines. It was a wonderful end to our first day in Italy…..tomorrow, we would be visiting a Parma Ham producer in Langhirano, the centre of Parma Ham production, which gives its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we set of for Langhirano and the Parma Ham producer, Giancarlo Tanara. Here we had a full guided tour of the factory, from the start of the process to the end, as well as tasting some of their delicious ham. To produce Parma Ham is a lengthy and very exact process, from salting and drying, to ageing and then the final “crown” stamp of quality, it takes a minimum of 12 months up to 36 months. The hams are made with no nitrates and nitrites, no additives and preservatives (except sea salt). The drying process that Parma Ham goes through creates a ham that is very low in fat content, with many mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants and easily digestible proteins, and it is gluten and dairy free. The unique taste of Parma Ham is dependent on the traditional production process passed down from Roman times, carefully controlled by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma. Only hams that have passed the strict curing regulations approved by the EU can be awarded the stamp of the Ducal crown – a five-pointed coronet logo with PARMA in the centre which is branded onto the ham’s skin. The Ducal Crown is now a certification trademark.
It’s always fascinating to see where our food comes from, (the terroiras the French call it) and the process, and our trip around Giancarlo Tanara was a great way to see the origins of this famous Italian ham. Our day wasn’t over yet, as we still had lunch to enjoy at Trattoria Antichi Sapori. David has been the Trattoria owner since 1995. His style of cooking was strictly grounded in the typical Parma tradition that was passed on to him from the culinary school, and from his mother, Teresa. This quiet trattoria is located just a few miles outside of Parma, near the parish church of Gaione. The menu started off with plates of 24 month and 30 month ages Parma ham, served with fresh bread and salted butter. The ham was meltingly tender with that delectable honeyed taste that a good Parma Ham has. A caramelised onion tart with cream of Parmigiano-Reggiano followed……
…..and then the pasta course of two types of pasta, a ricotta and Swiss chard ravioli and a pumpkin ravioli, both with soft and silky house-made pasta. The main course that followed was roast veal stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano and rosemary potatoes, and which was beautifully made and elegantly served. As if we weren’t full already, we were then treated to freshly made zabaglione mousse and coffee, and I needed a well deserved lie down after such a lovely, long lunch! Local wines were served throughout the meal, all expertly paired with each different course.
Our short trip to Parma was nearly over, with just a two hour journey to make to catch our flight from Milan, but, the memories of this stunning UNESCO city with its historic architecture, piazzas and delicatessens, the trip to the Parma Ham producer, and all of the amazing meals we enjoyed will remain. You can of course buy Prosciutto di Parma in the UK, but with the flight time only being just over two hours, why not visit this lovely city and region? I have added a fact file below and some more recipes, as well as some of my Parma Ham recipes for you to try out. Buon appetito! Karen
Disclaimer: My tip to Parma in Italy and all of the transport, accommodation and food was free as part of a press trip. However, all views and opinions are my own and I was not asked to write a favourable review.
How to taste:
With its full-bodied flavour and silky texture, Parma Ham is a world-class specialty food. Favoured by world-class chefs, this ham enhances appetizers, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches and entrées.
Most often, paper-thin slices of Parma Ham should be served at room temperature. There is no need to remove the band of fat around each slice, which helps give the ham its balance of flavour and texture.
• For a classic antipasto, arrange three to four slices of Parma Ham on a plate, accompanied simply by Italian cheeses and bread.
• Drape Parma Ham slices around fresh figs or melon slices. Or try other fruits with complementary flavors, such as ripe pears, papaya, pineapple and kiwis. To create an elegant salad, top mixed greens with slivers of Parma Ham and curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
• Make an Italian-style panino by layering slices of Parma Ham on a crusty roll with fresh or smoked mozzarella, tomato slices and a sprinkling of olive oil. Wrap Parma Ham slices around bread sticks, lightly cooked asparagus spears or grilled shrimp. Dice or chop thick-sliced of Parma Ham to flavour pastas, rice or risotto, or vegetables such as asparagus or peas.
• Sauté finely diced Parma Ham with onions, carrots, celery and herbs to make a soffritto, or flavor base, for sauces and many other dishes. Parma Ham also makes a wonderful cooking ingredient so don’t be afraid to experiment. It adds personality to pasta and imparts a delicious flavour when wrapped around fish or chicken and cooked in the oven. It is excellent enjoyed with white wines.