Bra, Italy Recap
For the last couple of weeks, Brie and I were the luckiest cheesemongers in the shop because we were in Italy! We went for the cheese festival in Bra in northern Italy. Called just Cheese, the festival was established by Slow Food International, which has its headquarters in Bra. This year, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the small town to try cheeses and other artisanal food products from around the world. Brie and I went because it is kind of like a pilgrimage for those in the cheese world. The streets were lined with pointy white tents – Brie and I thought they looked like they belonged in the North Pole as elf houses – with venders calling out to the crowd to come try their cheeses. On the first day of the festival, it was sunny and 70 degrees, perfect cheese eating weather. The festival opened at 10am, and by 11am the streets were packed with well-dressed Italians, a hodgepodge of internationals, kids, and dogs. Everyone was sauntering from tent to tent, eating a bit of this and that, and exclaiming over the wide variety of tastes.
This year, the festival focused on raw milk cheeses, so Brie and I made sure to try as many young, raw milk cheeses as we could since they are not allowed in the US. While we were happy to just walk around and stare in awe at the thousands of cheeses, we also had work to do. This is cheese, though, so it’s fun work. We met with the cheesemakers, affineurs, importers, and distributers, who all play a part in bringing fabulous cheese to our shop. It is always invigorating to be around these cheese professionals and I love talking with them about their work. But, what I found especially inspiring about this event was the thousands and thousands of people wandering around the festival who are there simply because they love cheese and want to support small producers. Allora....mangiamo un po' di formaggio! Alrighty then, let's eat some cheese!
For the love of cheese and cheese lovers of the world,