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A Modena Food Tour of Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar

One of the best places to visit in Italy is Modena because of the FOOD!!! As foodies we knew we had to enjoy a Modena food tour while in Italy. While there are plenty of food tours to choose from, such as pizza in Naples, or wine tasting in Tuscany, we had our hearts set on a Modena food tour of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar! After this post, I hope you will be sold on adding a Modena food tour for your Italy itinerary. You can either go on a Modena food tour such as a food and Ferrari tour from Bologna or you can create your own tour as we did. If you are the type of travelers who enjoy an authentic and personal tour, then using this Modena food tour guide may be the better option for you. And do not worry, planning your trip will be easy because I have all the information here to help create the perfect Modena food tour.

 

Choosing Your Dairy Factory

If you want to skip out on purchasing an overpriced tour with a group of people, then look into the official site of Parmigiano Reggiano to create your own Modena Food Tour. The site lists all the cheese dairy farms and producers in Emilia Romagna. It is a very user-friendly site that breaks down everything for you, making your research easy! The list is on an interactive map and when you click on each pinpoint it brings up the name of the dairy, its hours, languages offered for the tour, a form of payment they accept, contact information and sometimes even a direct link to the site. For the direct link to find your cheese tour click here. Or contact us and Christina can help create the perfect Modena food tour for you!

 

Antica Latteria Ducale

We chose to do our Parmigiano Reggiano Tour with Di Lino of Antica Latteria Ducale and could not have been more happy with our choice. Di Lino was always quick to respond to my emails and provide us with all the information we needed to select Antica Latteria Ducale for our tour, he even helped set up our balsamic vinegar tour that they partner with.

We were instantly delighted that we chose to create our own Modena food tour when Di Lino, the owner himself, was the one to take us on our private tour. We learned that Di Lino and his family have been taking care of this dairy farm for generations and he has a true passion for what he does. The first thing we learned and that everyone should know, Parmigiano Reggiano MUST be produced in the Emilia Romagna region. Otherwise, it cannot be called Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – this is the Italian law!

Once we got the very basic knowledge down, we learned that making Parmigiano Reggiano is no small feat, it takes a lot of work and special care and knowledge. For example, we learned that the different kinds of hay the cows eat can effect the flavor of the cheese. The type of cow also has a huge effect for taste and texture, therefore Antica Latteria Ducale uses two different types of cows. Since this farm has been passed down in the family for generations, Di Lino told us how they have had trial and errors figuring out the right types of cows to have and what hay they need to eat. It is all in the details!

Our Modena food tour of Parmigiano Reggiano began in the order of steps it takes to make a wheel of cheese. The first one was a large room with copper vats, which cooks the milk that will turn into cheese. One large vat will make two large parmesan wheels, only two!

Step two is placing the cheese in a container, so it may rest and form the shape of the wheel. This takes up to three days.

The third step is placing the printing label around the cheese wheel – this is also an Italian law that must be upheld by the producers.

Once the wheel has been imprinted with the label, it is moved to the salt brine room (a salt bath). The cheese wheels are kept in the salt brine for a month, this enhances the flavor and is what creates that cheesy smell.

Learning about the process of making Parmigiano Reggiano during our Modena Food Tour

The cheese wheels are then placed in a metal mold where they are left to dry out and preserve its shape.

Once dry the cheese wheels are moved to the ripening room and kept there to mature for at least 18 months. The longer the cheese matures, the darker and more bold the cheese wheel becomes. During this time every cheese wheel must be turned every two weeks to prevent mold. Cheese masters will also test the cheese wheels by banging them with their tool to listen for the correct sound. If the cheese wheel is not perfect it gets thrown away.

Countless wheels of cheese during our Parmigiano Reggiano Modena Food Tour

At last, after careful production the delicious Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel is complete and ready to eat!

 

What better way to really learn this process and understand the difference and importance of maturing the cheese wheel, than by eating it?!!? At the end of our tour we were able to sample three different Parmgiano Reggiano cheeses – 18+ months, 22+ months and 30+ months. Our favorite was 22+ months, it had a lot of flavor and a nice texture. The young cheese was more soft and not as bold, whereas the oldest cheese was very bold and hard.

picture courtesy of: http://parmesan.com/craftmanship/aged-parmesan-cheese/

Our tour with Di Lino was more than amazing! We learned and saw so much behind the scenes. Now when we eat Parmiganno Reggiano cheese we have a finer appreciation for it. We are still looking and hoping to find Antica Latteria Ducale’s cheese in a store in the U.S.. If you are looking for a the best Modena food tour of Parmigiano Reggiano, look no further than Anitca Latteria Ducale!

Parmigiano Reggiano Modena food tour is an experience you cannot miss!

Anitca Latteria Ducale
VIA POMPOSIANA, 162 – CITTANOVA
Modena – 41100 (MO)
059 848512/848166
info@anticalatteriaducale.it
Tour: €80 per visit/group of two people
https://www.anticalatteriaducale.it

Acetaia Leonardi 

As previously stated, Antica Latteria Ducale has a partnership with Acetaia Leonardi, a balsamic vinegar producer in Modena, Italy. Their farmhouse was only ten minutes away from Anitca Latteria Ducale making it the perfect next stop on on Modena food tour.

When we saw their property we instantly fell in love. Their property has that Italian charm with their brick buildings, antique truck, vineyard and more. Our tour group was only six people and again, we loved having our intimate tour groups rather than the larger ones.

Our tour started with some education on the history of Leonardi and their balsamic vinegars. Like the parmigiano reggiano, true traditional and by law, balsamic vinegar must be produced in Modena, Italy. The typical varieties of Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes are grown in the Leonardi’s vineyards to create the juices that are the basic ingredients for the Leonardi Balsamic Vinegars. Leonardi has several different types of balsamic vinegars based on their age, type of barrel used, flavors and more. During the tour we were able to taste Leonardi’s variety of balsamic vinegars. From the vineyards, to the processing of the balsamic vinegar and even the bottling – it is all done on property and we were able to learn and see a lot of the process during the tour.

We learned that after the grapes are ripened and picked, they get crushed to obtain the juice and then boiled until half of the juice is reduced. Once the juice has been boiled properly it is poured into a barrel to finish fermenting for about 6 months. The important and tedious part is a domino effect of pouring a large barrel into the next smallest one until the very smallest barrels is filled. This process is called “a Solera” and is done once every five years. The smallest barrel that was filled with the balsamic vinegar is then ready for bottling to be sold to consumers, a.k.a. us.

Learning the process was fairly quick and fun, but the real fun was when we walked to one of the buildings and saw a room full of barrels. This is where we got our first taste of a 30 year old balsamic vinegar – it was delicious! The viscosity of the balsamic vinegar was unreal and tasted so sweet! We could have enjoyed this balsamic vinegar by the spoonfuls, no cheese or fruits needed!

The tour only got better…. we were also able to taste same age balsamic vinegars, but with different wooden barrels. It was incredible how we could taste the difference and the type of barrel used. We really enjoyed the cherry wood barrel balsamic vinegar. We were told it is great on desserts – sold! Then the tour got even better… we went to another building, which had even larger rooms full of wooden barrels that included a 100 year old barrel! We were able to taste a 100 year old balsamic vinegar – it was like candy!

The tour did not stop there, after we toured the different buildings containing all the wooden barrels of balsamic vinegar, we went to their tasting room and had a luxurious balsamic tasting. They treated us to cheese, wine and several different balsamic vinegars. We were in heaven! Did we mention that this tour cost us €6 per person- what a steal!!!! Best Modena food tour? We think so!

We ended up buying one bottle of our favorite balsamic vinegar that we had tried – a 15 year old balsamic vinegar. There was so much we wanted to buy, especially because the prices are inexpensive here than in the stores in the United States, but we had no room in our luggage. Luckily, we have already found Leonardi Balsamic Vinegars online that ship to the United States!

If you are interested in balsamic vinegar for your Modena food tour, look no further because Leonardi has it all!

Basic Tour: (20 – 35 mins) guided tour + tasting of balsamic vinegars – €5 per person
Typical Tour: (30 – 45 mins) guided tour + tasting of balsamic vinegars with parmigiano reggiano cheese and Lambrusco wine – €6 per person
Greedy Tour: (45 – 60 mins) guided tour + tasting of balsamic vinegars + buffet lunch with typical products – €12 person

Acetaia Leonardi 
Via Mazzacavallo, 62
41043 – Magreta di Formigine (MODENA)
tel 0039 059 554375
fax 0039 059 555487
info@acetaialeonardi.it
http://www.acetaialeonardi.it/ing/index.php

 

 

 

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27 COMMENTS

  • Ling Ge

    *Sigh* We pretty much just gave up all dairy just a few weeks ago…Not really regretting it but we sure can miss it. I didn’t know that balsamic vinegar could be aged in barrels too; almost like wine or scotch. I’d love to get some of that for my dressing! But dang, that looks like cheesy heaven right there.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Wow that is amazing. Good luck on that! We could not go without dairy, especially since I work in the pastry field. Yes, the process is very similar to making wine, they actually use same barrels. We had balsamic vinegar as our dressing on salad everywhere we went! It is so delicious.

  • Gwendolyn

    Oh how I wish I had known about these tours last month when I was there but we’ll probably go again in the near future so thanks for sharing!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Aww bummer!!! We hope you do get a chance to revisit. The tours are amazing! Let us know if we can be of any help in the future.

  • Amrita Sen

    An amazing food tour description. I am particularly not fond of dairy, but I would definitely like to go on a tour like this!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Thank you. You would probably enjoy the balsamic vinegar tour!

  • Jo Jo

    Wow, now THAT is so cool! Now when I go back to Italy, I have to do this tour. Thanks for sharing!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Our pleasure, we are happy to hear it inspired you!

  • Italy is definitely the place to go for a food adventure! I love it! Both tours seem so interesting but I’m not sure if I would be ready to pay 80€ for a tour. That seems a bit expensive even though the process of making cheese was probably very unique to see. Tasting vinegars must of been exciting!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      It is cheaper than what we found online for group tours and group tours are generally cheaper than private ones. It was definitely worth the money and we highly recommend the experience. Tasting the vinegars was one of our favorite parts of the entire day. We love balsamic vinegar!

  • Lovely tour indeed! Okay, I do like both and I always have them at hand in my kitchen, but I’d probably go crazy about parmigiano there! 😀 Mouth watering just by thinking about it. 😛

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Haha we were in heaven all day! Our stomachs and hearts were full with happiness!

  • Wanderlust Vegans

    It looks like you guys had some great tours. Italy is a great place to explore food wise. We went crazy for their pizza!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Omg yes, their pizza!!! Everything in Italy is delicious, you can never go wrong! 🙂

  • Elena

    I am working on my list of places to visit in Italy this September so I think I might add this place too.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      You definitely should! Please take a look at all of our Italy posts and let us know if you have any questions. We still have a lot of content to write and we would be happy to help you plan your trip to Italy.

  • Carmen Baguio

    I love “factory” tours. It really does give you a better appreciation for what you eat and drink.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      We could not agree with you more.

  • Alberto C.

    These visits look quite interesting. It’s funny, I was actually planning a quick getaway to Italy from Dublin but I’ve been there so many times that I wasn’t too sure what to explore this time. I will definitely look into doing this, there’s nothing better than Italian food so I’m sure I would enjoy this visit! 🙂

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      You would love the Emilia Romagna region. Definitely worth a visit.

  • Christina

    Hi, I was just wondering how you travelled to Antica Latteria Ducale. Did you rent a car? We are going to Modena next month and interested in visiting the dairy but we weren’t planning on renting a car.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Hi, thanks for commenting. You will love Antica Latteria Ducale and I recommend you visit Acetaia Leonardi too! We did rent a car because we traveled around Italy for 2 months. If you are coming from the city, you could probably easily rent a car for the day. Otherwise, you can always taxi – it will just add up financially and you will have to call for one in the factories. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me at oursweetadventures2016@gmail.com I am also a travel agent and have helped plan a trip like mine for clients. Or I am happy to help any further questions 🙂

  • Rebecca

    How did you get to these locations? We don’t plan on renting a car so we only have our legs and public transportation to get us around.

  • Khaled

    Hello, I see on the Antica Latteria Ducale website that they offer a “daily visit” where you go to a “sister” balsamic factory after which I assume is the one mentioned above. Is this what you did or did you book individually?

    Thanks

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      That is what we did! We booked through Antica Lattaeria but you can book both tours separately too. And Abtica Latteria made sure we finished our tour in time to get to the next one. They do not offer transportation. We had a rental car to get to both destinations. I hope this information helps!

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