The quality of a final product is the result of a good raw material.
This was the sentence I heard many times during the cheese based blog tour, promoted by Caseus Veneti. Caseus Veneti means Venetian Cheese in Latin. It is a regional cheeses competition come to the 14th edition in 2018. The cheese-competitor were 415. Hell yes! 😀
But it’s not only that: there are tastings, show cookings and the possibility to purchase the products. It is a real paradise for all people who love cheese and desire to taste and learn more about these exceptional local products.
All the cheeses are safe, the production is regulated, the milk comes from local barns. Animlas are respected and well-fed. That’s why every producer was proud to say that their products are good because of the good raw material. 🙂
Caseus Veneti blog tour
The tour started on Friday afternoon. I had the chance to visit 2 dairy factories in the province of Vicenza. As you know I love cheese and, as you know, I’m lactose intolerant. Damn! But no worries, I used my “magic” pills in order to overcome the weekend. 😉
Caseificio San Rocco
This is a small, artisanal cheese factory, created in 1966 as a cooperative. Think of the hard work behind the factory: the “casaro”, master cheesemaker, comes every morning at 5. While the other workers start at 6.
The members produce various kinds of cheese, using the milk of 20 barns of the area: Grana Padano dop, Collina Veneta (winner of the best cheese of Italy in 2010), Rigatino (plain and flavoured). But their main production is that of Asiago Fresco dop: 1000 wheels per week.
We saw the Asiago wheels produced that very morning, still inside white molds. After that, they are moved in metal molds. Then they have to dry for a couple of days. And finally they are moved in the aging room for about 20 gays. There, they have to gain a curved shape, that reflects the inner quality and the correct maturation of the cheese. The so called bombatura is the result of the artisanal and manual skills of the producers.
We tasted: Collina Veneta, plain, pepper and chilly Rigatino, Grana Padano and Asiago. My favourite were Collina Veneta and chilly Rigatino. They also have a shop where you can go and buy their dairy products.
Caseificio San Rocco
Open from Monday to Saturday
8.30 am – 12.30 pm and 4 pm – 7.30 pm
Closed on Wednesday afternoon.
Lattebusche in Sandrigo
First things first, Lattebusche is a cooperative: Latte in italian means milk. While Busche is the village where the original plant (founded in 1954 by 36 members) is based.
The cooperative is nowadays located in 6 production plants in the Veneto region, working only with the milk collected daily in the barns of the about 400 members. Lattebusche is among the first 10 European factories as regards the sustainability. And they’re studying new methods to increase the cows’ well-being.
The factory of Sandrigo is used for the production of Grana Padano dop, Asiago dop and Pennanera cheeses. The production capacity of the plant is 200,000 hectoliters of milk per year. They produce about 133 wheels of Grana per day.
We saw the room where the fresh wheels of Grana are formed. They stay there for 24 hours, being turned very 2-3 hours. After that, they change the mold from plastic to metal, for another 24 hours. Then they immerse for about 16 days the wheels in the Salina, a room with water and sat basins. After that, the wheels must be dried. And finally the wheels age in the aging warehouse. The aging warehouse of Lattebusche was like 10 times the San Rocco one.
Grana Padano is one of my favourite cheeses. It is made from raw, low-fat, raw cow’s milk with a high nutritional value. Used above all as a grating cheese, it can be also eaten as a table cheese, accompanied by white or red wines, or in the creation of typical dishes of Italian culinary culture.
Next to the factory there’s a “Bar Bianco” (White café, for the colour of milk). There, you can taste and buy milk, cheese, yogurt, gelato and other dairy products, all produced by Lattebusche, other than have a coffee or stop for a quick lunch with a sandwich.
Open every day from 8am to 8pm
After resting for a while at Hotel Victoria in Bassano del Grappa, we were off to dinner at the Premiata Fabbrica Pizza, a gourmet pizzeria with a view of the famous Bridge. The name of the pizzeria is “prizze winning factory pizza”, as a tribute to the Ceramics factory that once was there. On the facade, you can in fact still see the old sign.
We were a large group. They granted us the chance of tasting a slice of 8 different pizze with high quality ingredients: pizza with yellow tomato and fior di latte, pizza with mortadella, Casatella Trevigiana dop and pistacchi, pizza Culatello di Zibello and Parmigiano Reggiano 36 mesi, and so on.
Despite of the many slices I ate, I must say that the dough was very light and I had no problem digesting it. My favourite? The one with mortadella. 😉
The day after, we reached the gorgeous Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta to take part in the Caseus Veneti Event.
After participating in the prize giving ceremony, accompanied by the music of a folkloric ensemble, I attended a show cooking, I explored the halls with the cheeses on display and I took some photos of the different stands offering samples and selling cheese.
In the end, I had the honor to be part of one of the 4 critics juries. The aim of these juries was to establish the 4 best cheese among the 4 macro-categories, all composed by winners of their categories prizes.
I ended up in the “alternative cheeses” category, i.e. cheeses flavoured with pepper or chilli, blue veined cheese, cheese honed in marcs (in Veneto called imbriago, drunken), goat cheeses. In short, all the cheeses that wouldn’t fit in the classic categories. Our winner was the blue veined one. Even if I preferred the goat cheese (2nd place).
It was an interesting experience. The group was utterly pleasant. All kind and friendly people. Moreover, it was a precious occasion for me to learn many things I ignored about cheese production.
I came home extremely satisfied and with a wonderful present: 8 different pieces of cheese. I think I’ll organize a family reunion to enjoy it with my loved ones.