This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the Emilia-Romagna region for work.  It was hosted by Whole Journeys and led by Whole Foods Market's global cheese buyer, Cathy Strange.  

My top 3 for this trip were:

  1. Traveling with Cathy Strange - She is Whole Foods Market's global cheese buyer and knows EVERYTHING about cheese.  Not just about the taste and flavor, but the people behind the scenes, who makes it, where it comes from, the terreur, the cows....like I said, everything.  I would nickname her the cheese queen.
  2. Learning how Parmesano Reggiano is made - Did you know that all our parmesano reggiano in our Whole Foods Market stores have to be aged for 24 months?   It's a crazy cool process and my favorite part was learning how the cheese has different taste profiles.  A few wheels could be processed at the same time, but where the milk comes from effects the taste of the cheese - from sweet to spicy.  We were able to taste test 5 different wheels of parmesano reggiano, which were aged at the same time, but the milk from different farms, and each wheel had a different flavor!
  3. Getting to wear a bee suit and visit a bee farm - I know I could do this in the US, but how cool is it to do it in Italy?  For me - super cool.  :)  In addition, it was my first time trying honey fresh from a honeycomb and learned how parmesano reggiano makes a great pairing with cheese!  You should try it next time!

Day 1:  Parma, Bologna

Melon gelato - my first bite in Italy.

Melon gelato - my first bite in Italy.

Trattoria Corrieri  - Our first meal after a long flight.  This is just one part of our very long meal.  

Trattoria Corrieri - Our first meal after a long flight.  This is just one part of our very long meal.  

The locals of Parma.

The locals of Parma.

First group dinner together.

First group dinner together.

Day 2:  Prosciutto 

Principe Foods  - Prosciutto

Principe Foods - Prosciutto

Our hot outfits to check out the prosciutto making facilities.

Our hot outfits to check out the prosciutto making facilities.

Prosciutto being salted.  Did you know 70% of a pig's value are from it's 2 back legs?

Prosciutto being salted.  Did you know 70% of a pig's value are from it's 2 back legs?

Learning about the curing process.

Learning about the curing process.

Culatello   is made from the back leg of the pig and then only the rear part of the leg, freed from the bone and skin

Culatello is made from the back leg of the pig and then only the rear part of the leg, freed from the bone and skin

Prosciutto tasting.

Prosciutto tasting.

Afternoon in Modena.

Afternoon in Modena.

Day 3: Modena - Balsamico Traditionale

Morning in Modena.

Morning in Modena.

Cavalli Balsamico - Balsalmico Traditionale visit.   Learn more!

Cavalli Balsamico - Balsalmico Traditionale visit.  Learn more!

The barrels in the natural room.   More details here.

The barrels in the natural room.  More details here.

The beautiful decor of the Cavalli resident.

The beautiful decor of the Cavalli resident.

I love the tree that shades the driveway of the Cavalli resident.

I love the tree that shades the driveway of the Cavalli resident.

Making panne fritto!

Making panne fritto!

Lunchtime at the Cavalli home.

Lunchtime at the Cavalli home.

Carbs carbs carbs!

Carbs carbs carbs!

My favorite dessert - balsalmic infused strawberries with vanilla gelato.  Plus my favorite photo with Giovanni Cavalli - quite a character, he wears stretchy pants!  :)

My favorite dessert - balsalmic infused strawberries with vanilla gelato.  Plus my favorite photo with Giovanni Cavalli - quite a character, he wears stretchy pants!  :)

Day 4:  Parmesano Reggiano

*Unfortunately, I couldn't bring my camera into the parmesano reggiano production facility, so these photos were with my iPhone 5c.

The facility.

The facility.

The smaller the curds, the more dry the cheese will become.

The smaller the curds, the more dry the cheese will become.

I know the cheeseman is smiling, but this job ain't easy!  Takes lots of strength.

I know the cheeseman is smiling, but this job ain't easy!  Takes lots of strength.

A brief pause to smile at my favorite Italian men.  :)

A brief pause to smile at my favorite Italian men.  :)

Only the master cheesecutter can cut the cheese!

Only the master cheesecutter can cut the cheese!

Wheels of Parmesano Reggiano being aged.  

Wheels of Parmesano Reggiano being aged.  

Cheese!

Cheese!

Day 5:  Local Honey

Me being so excited by a faulty honeycomb....

Me being so excited by a faulty honeycomb....

Group photo in the bee farm.

Group photo in the bee farm.

Fresh honeycomb with parmesano reggiano.

Fresh honeycomb with parmesano reggiano.

Truffle honey and their line of honey products.

Truffle honey and their line of honey products.

100+ year old aged balsamico.

100+ year old aged balsamico.

le Cesarine  - an association for the protection and increase of the value of typical Italian gastronomics and culinary legacy.

le Cesarine - an association for the protection and increase of the value of typical Italian gastronomics and culinary legacy.

Appetizers.

Appetizers.

Day 6:  Bologna

Left - Fountain of Neptune.  Right -  Basilica di San Petronio is the city's largest church and construction started over 600 years ago.

Left - Fountain of Neptune.  Right - Basilica di San Petronio is the city's largest church and construction started over 600 years ago.

Locals of Bologna.

Locals of Bologna.

More locals.

More locals.

The food of Bologna.

The food of Bologna.

Meringues!

Meringues!

Tortellini - what the region of Emilia-Romagna is famous for!

Tortellini - what the region of Emilia-Romagna is famous for!

The streets of Bologna.

The streets of Bologna.

Climbed 498 steps up the Tower of Aisnelli to see this beautiful view.

Climbed 498 steps up the Tower of Aisnelli to see this beautiful view.

Street lines of Bologna.

Street lines of Bologna.

Bologna from a different perspective.

Bologna from a different perspective.

Gelato stop.

Gelato stop.

Il Sole - 

Il Sole - 

Day 7:  Off to Germany!

Bologna Train Station.  Off to Germany -  click here to see photos from my German adventure.

Bologna Train Station.  Off to Germany - click here to see photos from my German adventure.