On August 31, I was invited to the press conference of “A come GUSTO”, a tasty event planned for next year and aimed to promote Trentino artisanal food supply chain. Trentino Artisans’ Association counts 317 businesses: cured meats factories, breweries, pastry shops, bakeries, etc. During A (for Artisans) come Gusto, people will have the chance to see firsthand and understand what those artisans do every day in order to obtain their products.
The location was the lovely Palazzo Morenberg, former Renaissance residence and now town hall of Sarnonico, a village of the Non Valley. The valley is a beloved holiday destination both in summer and in winter, made of pristine nature, mountains, woods, lakes, castles and apple trees. I always eat Val di Non apples by the way.
A come Gusto sneak peek
We also attended a seminar entitled The artisanal choice as quality assurance and protection of the consumer of Trentino meat and cold cuts. This seminar was just an example of what they’re going to organize next year. There will be expo, meetings, workshops and formative moments to learn more about Trentino artisanal food products.
The Trentino Salumi consortium was established in 2003 to protect consumers and promote local producers. They already have some quality trademarks, like ISO22005 (guarantee about birth, breeding, and slaughter of pigs within an area) the Qualità Trentino label (quality standards) and the pgi indication (European recognition for carne salada, mortandela, speck, pancetta affumicata, and luganega).
It was particularly interesting to learn more about the production of cured meats. An important phase is surely the choice of the best raw materials (best as in good quality but also suppliers that respect certain characteristics, like sustainability, respect for animals, etc). Plus there are rules to follow during the production phase.
The Consortium is currently making efforts to go beyond those requirements. The aim is to create a certified sustainable pigmeat production chain, based on high standards of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Another goal is to reduce the carbon footprint derived from the production of speck.
I also learned more about the carne salada, salt-cured meat prepared by cuts of adult bovine. The recipe dates back to 1500. At that time, the local customs duty imposed to slaughter 1 animal out of five so people had to preserve the meat somehow. Carne salada was recently the subject of an interesting finding. The researchers found in the meat a peculiar and beneficial microbiota, capable of defending the body against pathogenic bacteria. Well, it turns out, this microbiota only was found in the meat produced in the area. This means, anyone could imitate carne salada and produce it elsewhere, but only carne salada from Trentino has these beneficial properties. Plus I also found out that this cured meat only has 100 calories per 100 g (=0,22 pounds), it is lactose-free, gluten-free and it only contains 1% fat. So it is basically the ultimate diet food.
After the press conference, we had the opportunity to taste the different artisanal food products of the area: cured meats like carne salada, mortandela (not to be confused with mortadella from Bologna, this is more similar to salami), speck, cheese, like grana trentino, organic apple juice and apple cider, craft beer, bread made with organic flour, trout.
They also gave us a package full of delicacies: beer, organic barley, pancetta affumicata, grappa di Teroldego, organic apple cider, carne salada, speck and mortandela. Thank you! 🙂
Dal Gran al Pan
We then headed towards the mill Dal Gran al Pan (meaning from Grain to Bread) in Sarnonico. They produce fresh bakery and pastry products with homemade flour, sourdough, and locally sourced ingredients.
This is an interesting story. In 2008, Giovanni and Annarosa decided to sow a field with the intent of going back to their rural origin. The aim was that of producing zero mile flours. Within 4 years they became a start-up. They chose organic farming and they grind the grains in their 2 stone mills (located in a sort of basement, clean and tidy, but rather small).
Stone grinding allows the products not to overheat, so that it maintains intact all the nutrients, preserving the wheat germ, i.e. the part which is the richest in flavor and in beneficial substances. The flour is healthy, high quality and more digestible. The flours they produce: wheat, whole wheat, spelt, whole spelt, rye, wholemeal rye, corn, hulled barley, hulled spelt. They also own a bakery, selling bread, cakes and cookies, all made with their special flours, of course.
Address: Dal Gran al Pan, Via Battisti, 15, 38011 Sarnonico TN
Villa De Varda
Then we visited Villa De Varda, a historic distillery producing high-quality spirits and grappa. The family is of noble origins. They were already vineyards owners and wine producers back in 1678. At the beginning of 1800, Michele Dolzan started the distillation activity. It is now in its 5th generation. His heir Luigi, together with his sons Michele and Mauro, is still continuing the tradition. We had the chance to learn more about the grappa production in all its phases, from the selection of barrels and the choice of the vinaccia (marc) to the various passages inside the machinery. And also to taste several grappe. My husband was delighted.
There’s also an annexed museum of grappa and wine. It displays 1.600 ancient objects: documents, photos, tools of the trade, the first produced bottles, etc.
Address: Villa De Varda, via Rotaliana 27/A 38017 Mezzolombardo (TN)
Hotel and restaurant in Trento
Later we reached Hotel America, a hotel in the center of Trento. The position of the hotel is perfect, as it is adjacent to the historic center. The room was clean and comfy. Breakfast was copious and very good, and with savoury choices, not only sweets as in an average Italian breakfast. Why this name? Because the owners relative Domenico went to America (Wyoming) when he was in his 20s. Years later he got back to Trento and opened this hotel.
After a quick shower, we headed to the restaurant Forst for dinner. Open since 1906 in the center of Trento, it offers Trentino regional dishes, like cheese and cold cuts platters, canederli (bread dumplings filled with speck, cheese or other specialties) and tortel di patate (fritters made of potato strips). A plus: the setting in traditional tyrolean style.
A come Gusto
It was a pleasant experience. As usual, I had the chance to learn new things, meet old and new friends, know better a corner of Italy. I hope to go back one day and explore more. Thanks to Associazione Artigiani Trentino, Consorzio Trentino Salumi and to my friend Giovy for inviting me.