Recently I attended part of the ENOTECA OPEN DAY celebration, the company’s 60th anniversary. John Portelli, is one of the proprietors and is very passionate about Italian produce food and wine in Australia. When I lived in Adelaide I used to visit the original Enoteca Sileno in Amess Street and we used to load up the car with Italian wines and goodies to take back to Adelaide.
With his usual charm and enthusiasm John conducted a presentation about Parmigiano Reggiano. While he very carefully and skilfully split open a wheel of an eight year old cheese he told his audience how it is made and the process that is required to make, store and cut this large wheel of cheese which weighed around 45 kg each. In brief, it takes 1100 litres to produce two cheese wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Each cheese is then catalogued and the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant’s number, and month and year of production are placed on a metal configuration that is buckled tight around the cheese.
Those cheeses that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind. The average Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is about 18–24 cm high and 40–45 cm in diameter. The cheese is stored and matured for one year and then tested by a professional who evaluates each cheese by tasting a sample section. The testing continues until the cheese is sold and continues throughout if it is sold to a vendor who cares and continues to look after it properly to age and cut the cheese in the best possible way.
During his demonstration John explains that in the Enoteca Sileno warehouse where his wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano are stored, to help with the maturation process, each cheese is regularly rubbed with olive oil – the extra special virgin olive that is available in the Enoteca Sileno showroom for tasting. Enoteca always uses fresh oil for tastings, so the oil that is left in the bottle after tastings is used to lubricate the cheese. Now, that it exceptionally good treatment.
This is the Parmigiano-Reggiano to eat and it was eight years old.
It so happened that the day before I was invited to a friend’s house for lunch. One friend made cheese lollipops and she used Parmesan cheese. The hostess made an excellent lasagne the traditional sort originating in Emilia Romagna made with a classic ragù, béchamel and Parmigiano Reggiano. This was the type of lasagne my mother always made on a Sunday when we invited friends to lunch.
I thought the lollipops were a very clever idea. We had them with drinks while we smelled the lasagne in the oven.
She found the recipe Parmesan and poppy seed lollipops on the BBC website. It is one of Lorraine Pascale’s from Baking Made Easy. And there is no need to use an aged Parmigiano Reggiano for the lollipops.