In Italy, cheese isn’t just something you eat. It represents where you are from, the history, culture and traditions of your region. It is the country with the highest variety of cheeses in the world, with over 2500 traditional varieties, among which are more than 300 cheeses with protected designation of origin.
From a touristic point of view, Italy is a wonderful place to visit at all times, but if you are a real cheese lover, Bra in Piemonte is the place to be on the third weekend of September every two years!
This Cheese Festival is organised by Slow Food, “a global, grassroots organisation, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.”, says Carlo Petrini who founded the organisation in Italy in 1986.
The whole cheese world is gathering in Bra every 2 years, celebrating raw milk and artisanship. Singing the praises of ancient traditions and a multitude of different cultures, as well as honouring the world's sense of place. Terroirs!
Bra is all of a sudden the heart of the cheese world, and on top of being able to taste a myriad of different and fabulous cheeses, you are also very likely to bump into their makers, other cheesemakers, cheese retailers, distributors and cheese affineurs.
You will be able to discover and taste cheeses that you didn't even know existed. If you are organised, you might even manage to take part in exciting and very educational masterclasses. One year, I found myself sitting amongst a few others with cheeses paired with whiskeys and a cigar in hand!!
This year, I spent lots of time with the Mons Team and we planned some exciting events for next year as well as identified new cheese that should excite you as much as it excites us!
I met with Spanish, French, Swiss and Italian producers. My head is spinning with new ideas and my tastebuds are still tingling with excitement.
For us, finding new cheeses is always a source of tremendous joy and excitement. Waiting to see them back in Australia is a game you need to play with patience... which I unfortunately don't have much of!?
But do not despair. New cheeses are making their way Down Under as we speak... So plan your next trip to Italy and stay tuned for your next tasting opportunity!