If you put together two delicacies of the Italian cuisine and one of the finest Italian chefs in the UK than you have a match made in heaven.
I have been watching all the Giorgio Locatelli’s TV programs and read several of his books as I truly like his style of cooking traditional Italian food with the emphasis on quality.
When I finally met him in real life I thought blogging was well worth the effort after all!
Gathered around a large table we had a masterclass by Giorgio who demonstrated how to slice and serve a whole San Daniele prosciutto and how to crack open a wheel of Grana Padano cheese. These are two superb Italian products from Northern Italy which carry the PDO logo (Protected Designation of Origin).
So far I had only seen how to slice prosciutto in Italy when I buy it at my local supermarket but I had no idea that there was a precise technique behind it. So who could be better qualified than a top michelin star chef to teach you how to do it!
Giorgio Locatelli is a very friendly guy who has the ability to put you at ease straightaway. It was like meeting the guy next door.. just so easy going. Many celebrities can have that air of superiority when they meet “ordinary people” but no, Giorgio is certainly not like that.
Grana Padano dates back to 1,100 years and it is a classic of the Italian cuisine. This cheese is said to have originated in a monastery a few kilometers away from Milan. It soon acquired the name of “Formaggio Grana” or grainy cheese because it has a grainy consistency which changes depending on how mature it is.
In 1951 the production of this cheese was first regulated and the cheese differentiated between Grana Lodigiano which later became “Grana Padano” and “Parmigiano Reggiano”. Now the Consortium for the protection of Grana Padano brings together all the producers, maturers and merchants.
Grana Padano’s taste changes depending on old it is. A fresh one would be about 9 to 16 months old with a mild and milky taste, when it is more than 16 months old it has a more grainy texture and it is ideal for grating.
The oldest one, known as riserva, would be at least 20 months old with a distinct grainy texture and a consistent straw colour. This is great with fruit, mustart fruits and full bodied red wines.
Giorgio quickly showed us how to crack open a wheel of cheese.. Wow I think I will need to practice on this one!
After the cheese was cut he quickly made up some rolls with pear and Grana Panano cheese wrapped in San Daniele drizzled with balsamic vinegar.. I rather liked this one.
Then we moved onto the San Daniele. So far I had only seen how to open and slice a leg of ham in supermarkets in Italy.
First you remove the layer of fat from the top and the sides until the meat is exposed and then with a sharp knife you remove the hip bone.
And I wasn’t expecting to have a go at it myself too…Steady!
Hmm.. getting better..!! But I must say it wasn’t that easy!
I recently visited one of the San Daniele factories, where you can read more about how San Daniele is produced.
Finally we were served a few delicacies including a risotto with quail, San Daniele and crunchy Grana Padano on top!
Many thanks to the Consortiums of San Daniele and Grana Padano for inviting me to this event.