Casaficio, Fasano and more cooking lessons, Day 6 at Masseria Montenapoleone

Last night I was invited to a birthday party so did not get a chance to write the latest update on my Italian cooking adventure. Maura is one half of the team behind my cooking experience the other being Angelo. You can find details of a typical itinery HERE

Maura lives on the hills above Fasano and moved over here a view years ago after she fell in love with Puglia, I can understand way. The culture, way of life, and passion for food is something I have not felt a strong as the many wonderful places I have been fortunate to visit over the years. Maura, thank you for a truly wonderful evening (or should I say morning as we finished rather late)!

Yesterday was a very interesting day. Its not very often you get the opportunity too see the inner workings of a cheese manufacturer, mostly due to hygiene and safety reasons, but as this   week its only me, Angelo had made a couple of phones calls and I had been invited to visit a local top quality provider, Caseficio Zaccaria. I did not realise this was going to be a Jamie Oliver moment.

As my friends know, I LOVE cheese! As we entered the small production area I did not know what to expect. This team of workers start at 2 a.m. and work till 4 p.m. Their products are shipped all over the world, making 20,000 cheeses per DAY!

        

First the milk is heated to 35 deg to pasteurise, then to 90 deg and rennet added. You can see in the picture on the left, the result of the 1 few stages, the curds and whey. They then go through a giant mixer which after a period of time, produces the basis for Mozarella. This is then compressed through a tube, and the whey removed. The picture on the right is two of the team hand moulding the cheese. The water is still at 90 deg !!!!!!!!!!

           
Here you can see the ‘Top Cheese’ taking the ‘block’ or Mozzarella which is then moulded into the different shapes and sizes, all by hand.


This was my Jamie Oliver moment, I had seen him on his Italian series eating cheese that had JUST been made, and I was having the same experience. First a Mozzarella, still very warm from the water it had been made it. Then a Burrata, a Mozzarella stuffed with Mozzarella & cream which was absolutely off the planet, I don’t think there is any way to try this properly in the U.K as it needs to be eaten fresh, and mine had just been made! Lastly, a Ricotta, likewise as fresh as you can get.

The ‘Top Cheese’ (sorry I could not resist that), provided details on the various processes whilst he was moulding Mozzarella as fast as a fully automated robot, it was amazing to see, at the same time he was telling everyone to keep going and hurry up.

From start to finish the process takes about an hour.

After the factory we went to Fasano old town for a tour, it was really interesting how it haad been re-built, the original size of the streets was so narrow, there was only room for 1 person, and they became very dirty as they could not be easily cleaned so decided to knock the place down and increase the size of the streets so they could be more hygienic.

Today was the day I had to say goodbye to my friend Veronica, who had been a fantastic tour guide interpreter and friend. Arrividerci ‘Hippy Chick’.

Angelo, Me and Veronica

You can find one of her songs HERE, on Monday she has a radio interview with the most important radio station in Italy, good luck Veronica. XX

We got back to the Masseria to start the next cookery lesson, Anna-Rita was waiting and had already started on a large pot of stock, and put some cherry tomatoes in the oven to bake.

The Masseria has three kitchens, the one above which was the one we were working in, another much bigger kitchen when parties of 10 are catered for, and the communial kitchen which anyone can use to prepare their own food.

Today we were going to make Ravioli stuffed with Veal, an Aubergine Ragu to go with the Ravioli and fillet of pork with pink peppercorn sauce.

Having done prepared several pasta based dishes earlier in the week, I was looking forward to this one as its done by hand, no machines or rollers, just muscle sweat and hopefully no tears.

          

We used Tipo 00 flour, 100 grams plus one medium egg per person. You have to put some serious effort in to properly combine the ingredients, and kneed for a good ten minutes to get  a soft silky pasta. You MUST cover it with a damp towel when you finish, as we found, in the heat it can start to dry out and it makes it difficult to work with. You HAVE to roll it REALLY thin, we could see the grain of the wooden board through ours, but you have to be really firm to make it happen.

A circular cutter is used to MARK the pasta, and then put a fingernail size mound of the veal mixture (Veal mince 50/50 Parmesan/Pecorino mix, grated Nutmeg, chopped Parsley, black Pepper and a pinch of Salt).

You then place a sheet of pasta over the top, gently press over the veal, and use a larger cutter to cut through the pasta, and hand seal removing all the air so they don’t burst in the pot.

We then made the Pork dish and Tiramisu, but you will need to come hear to find out how ‘mama cooks it’.

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