The first stop of my food tour was the Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy. I was like a foodie in a mission. Flying non-stop from Hong Kong to London, arrived five in the morning and then transit to Milan right away. Without any rest after the long-haul flight, I took a train and went straight to Bra, a small and quite town somewhere between Asti and Alba in the Piedmont province of Italy.
The festival was such a mega event. Several hundreds of cheese-makers from around the world swarmed to this small town to parade their dairy crafts during the weekend. There was a whole plaza dedicated to the cheeses from Italy, an atrium packed with those from the British Isles, France, and those from other parts of Europe... What can I say? I love cheese and I must have eaten more cheeses in one day than all I've ever had in my entire life.
But wait, there's way more than just stalls and stands showing cheeses. There's La Gran Sala del formaggio e l'Enoteca, a giant covered hall of where you can wash down the formaggi with some lovely Italian wine. We're talking about DOCG staff, not those table wine storing in jelly can: wines like Collio Sauvignon '04 of Ruusiz Superiore, Patriglione '97 of Cosimo Taurino, or a dessert from Alto Adige: Moscato Rosa Schweizer '03 of Franz Haas, wines that often tagged with the term 'super' in their anecdotes. The entrance fee is what? A nominal 5 euros! Molto molto bene, ain't it?
Yaaaak! Speaking of Yak, what's that furry thing? Well, that's the Darrif Cheese from our friends in Lebanon, an artisan cheese aged inside the goat skin. Taste? You'd tempted to think that something aged in such confinement tends to be rather meaty, right? Yet truth be told, it is very very mild.
What about some Geitost, the sweet caramelized 'brown' cheese from our equally sweet (or even sweeter?) Norwegian sisters? Ha, it is shaped in almost the same way as our moon cakes do. Mmm, now I know what to buy for the next Mid-Autumn Festival.
Finally, there are endless workshops about cheese (what our Italian friends called Laboratori del Gusto) and the art of it. The one I went to was a vertical tasting of 5 vintages of parmigiano reggiano, from Year 2000 all down, costing 30 euros with well-selected wines to pair with each vintage. Yummissimo!
Okay, I've talked too much. If you love cheese as much as I do, there are a whopping 85 number of pictures in my Flickr set for you to get an idea about the festival and more importantly, for your amusement. Hope you enjoy it.