(From our March 2016 trip)
Look some people may say, not me, but some people……may say marrying me was the best day of Husband’s life and wow, wasn’t he lucky!!! I mean, I wouldn’t say it, I’d be embarrassed, it seems a bold yet arguably reasonable statement, and I am humble so I won’t say it – but other people might! I don’t want to argue with the masses and make people feel bad so I’ll just say this, I doubt Husband has regretted his decision or questioned what a lucky man he is for even 1 minute of the last 20 years hahahaha.
Gawddddd we are adorable aren’t we…
I won’t bore you with wedding day fairy dust tales here other than it was fabulous, we were surrounded by loving friends and family, we were looking fabulous, we got a coupla kids out of the deal and neither of the spawn *so far* has been arrested or made me a grandma before my time (although neither have made me rich and famous either but there is still time) and for the most part the marriage hasn’t completely sucked so truly what more can you hope for from 20 years of marriage? I think I’ll just focus on telling ya’ll about the 20th anniversary festivities.
Day 2 of visiting Bologna was to be the culmination of many many months of planning. In fact the whole itinerary of the trip was planned around this day. Doing this tour was highly recommended with an arm twist and threats of death from dear friends, and if we are going to do an expensive foodie trip that will apparently make all our taste bud dreams come true…..why not do it on your actual 20th Wedding Anniversary so that you spend the day eating and drinking and being merry which truly is the best way to celebrate the joining of 2 lives for a ridiculous and inhumane amount of years!!!!
So onto the tour….as I’ve mentioned, crazy highly recommended and if you read the Trip Advisor reviews, our friends were not the only ones to love their day on this tour so who am I to argue and penny pinch (this tour was not cheap). So we booked and checked and double checked there would be no glitches with the tour going ahead on that specific day. Can you imagine us planning a whole 3 week holiday around 1 day and then they cancel the tour etc. Ummmm no sirreeeee, we need to confirm the shit out of this which of course you know a crazy planner like me did. Here is the link to the tour company:- Italian Days Food Tour. It is a full day tour, which includes pick up from your hotel (which was on time, love love love), a small group on the mini bus of people from all over the world (my fave thing) and a fairly short drive to the first stop which was the Parmigiano Reggiano Factory or as they like to call it, a visit to the King of Cheese (they had me at cheese, my comfort food/guilty pleasure forever and ever amen). This is where yesterdays blog story becomes relevant……
We hop out of the mini bus, see the guide for the day and I whisper to Husbandido – “hey is that Italian Jay-z from the hotel rooftop last night”, he grunts back “yeah maybe”. (we have deep conversations because we are so in love and soul mates). Jokes aside though, it truly was Snoop “Italian” Dogg and he was indeed the fabulous Alessandro I had read so many fabulous reviews about. Of course in my mind I had imagined Alessandro to be old, round with a pooh bear kinda tummy, hearty belly laugh, a white apron and grey hair. It only took a moment to adjust to this new rapper visual with the flat cap and pocket chain. His personality was so engaging I was immersed into the day from the start….and the smell of cheese drew me forward!!!!
The Parmigiano Reggiano factory was sooooo interesting. I’m writing this months later so I can’t recall even a morsel of relevant facts and figures to save my cute self other than to say it was crazy clean * like checked into a padded cell crazy * – the staff were super friendly, except for the very serious Ruler of all the Cheese, he had a very grand title (which escapes me) and everyone bowed down to his awesomeness because essentially this dude was the King of Cheese and he was the maker or breaker of quality control and everything in between – this is something he was born to do…from the moment he shot out of the birth canal apparently. I’m not even joking here friends…..they.don’t.joke.about.Parmigiano.Reggiano.in.Bologna – legit!!!!!! I’m saying nothing about the fashion sense of these people and how they make you dress “down” to their level. It would be a cheap shot and I won’t do it…..feel free to do it on my behalf though folks!!!!
The King and Ruler of all that is CHEESE….
Then we were onto the next phase of branding and storing….
As much as we enjoyed the “making process” I think the visual highlight for me was the storage part of things…..love love loved it!!! (PS. I will again caution you to please not mock the cheese fash fest we are displaying, I feel sure even Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson couldn’t make those hats and coats look good, not that I’m saying we look exactly like those movie stars ~ but surely you can see some similarities yes???)
It was a vision of symmetry and comfort all in one hehehe. It was at this point of the morning where my rooftop story of last night truly comes into play. So Italian Kanye comes up to me and asks “have we met before, I’m sure we’ve met before?”. It would seem my beauty, which was clearly being enhanced by the glorious hair net, had not gone unnoticed on the rooftop of our hotel the night before. Husband and I had a giggle and explained where we had seen each other. Alessandro said that he indeed was being interviewed for some fabulous American blog/article/somethingsomething. I just love what a small world this big world can be sometimes.
After this tour finished up it was only around 8.30am and we headed outside to begin the first tasting and nomnomnoming of the day, to be washed down with water (pffffft, yeah no) or wine (don’t mind if I do)
Now it’s onto a Prosciutto factory…..or as I like to call it *rooms and rooms of hanging pigs legs*. Now whilst I have mentioned on the blog before I have a complicated relationship with meat – when it comes to my relationship to all things OINK things are crystal clear – everything is better with bacon is emblazoned on The Kelly Family Crest, and this extends to proscuitto….obvs!!!!! Please note:- never get between a girl and her pork or she will cut you…ok!!!!
It was so interesting learning about how they create this taste sensation and again I was swooning about the liney-uppey-ness of it all. The only thing I kinda sorta struggled with was the smell. My meat “issues” extend to the smell alot and this factory was laced with various smells that had my gag reflex on high alert. This most especially was a coin toss when I went into the big fridges to view the pork in this very early raw like state….(I am totes gagging even looking at this, ewwww)
But then you get to this part of the factory which looks like something out of the Flinstones and you expect to see Fred bouncing along with one of these legs in each hand snacking away. A visual delight indeed….
I took a few less amazing photos in this factory mainly because it’s hard to hold your nose to stop the aromas of dead meat and hold a camera but trust me the whole process of salting and drying etc is super interesting and makes for the yum-yum-yummiest of Proscuitto’s. (Disclaimer, normal people wouldn’t find the smell bothersome – but Mummazons I think we established long ago that I am not, nor will I ever be – normal!!!!
I do believe this part of the tour ended with more snacks and more wine – as ya do!!!
On to the Balsamic Vinegar porton of the day. This was an unknown for us because honestly I just had no idea that to make proper Baslamic Vinegar requires a labour of love that boggles the mind my friends – this is us – with our minds boggled….
I’m not going to even try to explain the complicated process that is involved other than to say it takes 12-25 years to make the good stuff, it involves 6 different sized barrels, ladling of 1 litre of balsamic out of the big barrel into the next one down, and so on and so forth – only once a year (like WTH, these people are psychotically patient), hours of painstaking work and love poured into each one. Truly I had no idea that the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena was such a masterpiece but I will forever be impressed with the dedication involved.
We even saw a battery of 6 barrels (see below) that dated back to 1512…..see I told you they take this situ seriously…astounding right?
Finally we were at the “stuff our faces and drink ourselves silly” porton of the day. We headed off for what they call a “light” Italian lunch at a countryside Trattoria, Bar Ristorante Bonfiglioli.
What we could not have predicted in a bazillion years was howwwwww much fooooood and howwwwww much wineeeeee there would be. I mean I think I could safely say I have never eaten so much food in my life (borderline body weight scoffing to a gold medal level tbh), and have never been treated with such warmth, love and hospitality. Alessandro and his assistant danced around the table signalling for waiters to keep bringing the most amazing food and filling glasses and the whole thing became something that food dreams, with a minor degree in gross gluttony, are made of. I can’t remember the names of the dishes but here’s some food porn my friends, don’t think too much about it, just let the drool-fest begin…
There were plates and plates and plates and plates of every single dish. I think Alessandro would’ve and could’ve only been happier if he was able to fed us all via intravenous drip (yikes, I hope I didn’t just give him an idea). I even toyed with the idea of removing some vital organs so I cram some more in. Sidebar:- there is a nasty rumour going around that I had to unbutton my pants to fit more food in. This is a scandalous accusation and I will not give such negativity the time of day.
The people on this small tour were from all over the world and very different personalities but when you come together around a table and share food and wine, it’s always a festive occasion and with such attention and care from your host – you cannot help but have a fabulous time.
The icing on the cake for us was that Alessandro had planned a special little surprise at the end to help us celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. It was unexpected and incredibly touching and it topped off what was a fabulous day. (here is me acting all cute and embarrassed and stuff, it was borderline an academy award performance I tells ya)
And here is the absolute Legend HIMSELF……ALESSANDRO and of course the Legend HERSELF…..how could you forget me!!!! This guy is not just a tour guide (and you know how I love a good tour guide). This incredible man lives and breaths what he’s talking to you about, his passion oozes out of every pore and washes over you and ultimately by the end of the day you genuinely feel like a part of his family. Now that, my friends, is a true calling indeed!!!!
I cannot imagine a better way to spend our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We learned alot, laughed alot, ate ALOTTTTT, drank alot, we celebrated alot of years of marriage and well the word of the day is clearly “alot”. We aren’t a gushy couple but we do love good food, drink and company and lots of laughs so this was perfect. I am so glad we planned our whole trip around doing this INCREDIBLE tour on this day!!!!
Here are the Trip Advisor reviews for anyone interested in doing this amazing tour:- Italian Days Food Experience. It was worth every penny.
Weather – High 14, Low 3
Highlights – everything about the day
Lowlights – dropping my brand new very expensive camera and trying not to cry and let it ruin the whole day (ultimately it turned out only the lens was broken which was the better case scenario from all the yuktastic options)
Next up we head to Venice….stay tuned my loves xoxoxoxo