Kelly the Culinarian: Parmigiano Reggiano Academy at Eataly

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Parmigiano Reggiano Academy at Eataly

Sometimes blogging opens doors to amazing experiences that I never even knew existed. I was invited to this awesome event at Eataly (like IKEA for Italian food) and eagerly counted the days until all my cheese-filled dreams came true. From the invite:

 Join us Parmigiano Reggiano Academy, an innovative sensory analysis course. Discover the differences aging makes and gain expertise in this guided cheese tasting experience.

Pair that with drinks and appetizers and someone out there knows the most direct route to my cold, cold heart. Eataly is already one of my favorite places on planet earth (if only I had more time, patience and money to enjoy all the aspects of this heavenly establishment), so I was happy to enjoy a little R&R with some of my favorite bloggers.

When I rolled in, the bar was already slinging carefully selected beverages designed to enhance and complement the delicate flavors of the cheese and appetizers we were set to sample. Being a dedicated beer geek, I took one for the team and passed on the wine in lieu of the porter. Yes, please ....

I then took a seat at the cheese academy, where skilled connoisseurs walked us through what we should look for when tasting cheese, such as smell, texture, melt-ability, crystallization and of course, flavor. It was really interesting to note all the subtle differences between 14-, 24- and 36-month aged cheese. I personally preferred the 24-month cheese, but one of the lessons I learned is that if you want to melt cheese over something hot, you're best to use older cheese to avoid that gummy nastiness in the bottom of your bowl. The second lesson from this journey in deliciousness was that Parmigiano is meant to be cut with an almond-shaped knife. Instead of chopping it into little squares, it should be broken into free-form rocks of buttery tastiness to best enjoy the complexity of the flavors. I learn something new everyday.

Then, it was onto more yummies in the form of appetizers and bites hand-crafted by the chef at Eataly to showcase the diverse flavor profiles of the cheese. I loved, loved the savory grilled figs, along with a pesto-topped grilled pear. I need to host some kind of event to use these recipes in my home. Step one: find time to clean my house enough to have a party ...

All of this learning was part of a bigger program to bring cheese education to the masses. The organization that put on #PRAcademy sent us home with kits to have our own at-home cheese tasting experience, and does the same for cheese purveyors throughout the country. This is all leading up to the Parmigiano Reggiano Night on Oct. 25. It's a movement to get people to pay attention to one another over a meal, rather than watching television and checking Twitter whilst shoveling food into their faces (guilty).

Five super famous chefs are chipping in, and if you use the Facebook app and share photos from your dinner, you'll receive a gift for your efforts. I hope it's cheese.


Losing Lindy said...

wait..a party in your house...I want in!;)

Unknown said...

I don't even know why I have a kitchen table. I guess I use it to store all my mail.