On the weekend we went into Bra (a smallish town about 20kms from Monforte and home to the Slow Food movement) for an International Cheese festival.
Every second year Slow Food holds an international cheese festival – called ‘Cheese’ – that takes over the centre of Bra for the weekend.
It is a pretty big deal with producers from all over Europe and a few international cheese makers (we didn’t manage to find any Australians).
Continuing Counting to Dieci’s predlication for random historical ‘facts’, the Slow Food movement started in 1986 when McDonalds planned to open its first Italian franchise near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A local journalist from Bra, Carlo Petrini, led a campaign against the franchise opening and, with others, issued a manifesto promoting the preservation of traditional and regional cuisines, sourcing locally grown, high quality, seasonal produce and defending the long lunch/dinner (vs fast food).
In a result that might be called a tie, the International Slow Food Movement now has more than 100,000 members globally (plus a University of Gastronomy) and the McDonalds franchise is one of the Company’s top 10 most profitable locations in the world.
The piazzas in the centre of Bra were crammed with big exhibitor tents and the tents were filled with rows of small, regional producers. On our count there were more than 300 stalls selling cheese or food linked to cheese plus an entire piazza devoted to small artisan breweries selling some very good beer.
The day was pretty hot and muggy (max of 30C and up to 94% humidity), and it was hotter in the tents.
You can imagine the smell of cheese was bordering on overpowering as we wandered through, tasted, ventured out for fresh air and then repeated the exercise…
The highlights of the day were Bombette (pork filled with cheese and grilled on skewers over charcoal – the kind of street food that all the guide books rave about!), a producer that had mixed Gorgonzola with Champagne with divine results, some Sicilian Ricotta Cannoli (Jo’s personal favourite) and a couple of seriously good boutique breweries (Croce de Malto – their Temporis was amazing, 32 Via dei Birra and Birriffo Torino– for those of you that might be interested).