Local products

Two worlds interweave in Franciacorta’s culinary traditions: the farming tradition with its inland area meats and cheeses made in the area’s dairies and pasture lands and the fishing traditions of nearby Lake Iseo. 

Cold cuts

La Ret or Magiola is traditionally made in and around the town of Capriolo. It is a salame made of pure pork thigh, minced up with the point of a knife and mixed with sage, rosemary, garlic, spices and white Franciacorta wine and stuffed into natural pig bladder or stomach. It is a large salame which is believed to have once been used on specific occasions such as weddings, births and baptisms or used during summer work in the fields which was also an occasion for celebration. As Italian families got smaller the La Ret tradition almost died out before recently being rediscovered by local butchers.
The raw material used to make La Ret comes from pigs bred within a radius of 30 kilometres from Capriolo town. When it is made La Ret weighs 4 to 14 kg. The smaller sizes are sold at least five months later and the largest ones have to wait at least two years.

Lard traditionally made in Franciacorta.
It is salami to be sliced up and eaten as it is or used to cook with. The raw material used for it is heavy pork shoulder lard
and it is made from the fatty meat on the shoulder of mature pigs fed appropriately. After cutting it is left to rest in Sarnico stone or wood containers in brine with lots of Curtefranca DOC white wine, salt, spices and herbs for days before being hung up to dry. It is seasoned for a minimum of four months and up to one year. Its flavour is a balanced combination of sweet and savoury.

In the houses of Cure, Masse and Senzano on Monte Isola on Lake Iseo, a very few connoisseurs still painstakingly make this local salami with scrupulous respect for the rituals passed down from generation to generation unchanged. The salami is obtained from a mixture of pork meat only, together with spices and crushed garlic and then left to rest in wine. It is then stuffed into natural intestine and tied up by hand with just two pieces of thread. After 5-6 days the salami is smoked for one night in juniper wood smoke and then left to rest in a cellar. Seasoning lasts around one month. Tradition dictates that it should be stored covered with fat (suet) in a cool, dry place. It is used in cold cuts.
It is dark coloured, weighs 500-800 grams and is 5-8 cm in diameter. Generally soft as a result of its brief seasoning, its dark colour is the outcome of both the mixture of ingredients and its smoking. Its flavour is characteristic, smoky, sweet and spicy and completely different from other salamis, with meat aromas present but the spice mix and smoking predominating. Around 10,000 kg are made on the island every year.

Curiosity
Montisola, in the centre of Lake Iseo with its 5 square km of land area and 600 metres altitude, is the largest inhabited lake island in Europe.

Soppressata bresciana is pork salami made both fresh and seasoned. It is made with mixed pork meat including cheek and fillet diced and other parts of the pig minced, together with wine, garlic, salt and spices. It is stuffed into natural intestine and weighs 1-1.5 kg. Seasoning can be short (up to 30 days) or long (6-15 months). Soppressata bresciana has a characteristic flavour resembling that of salami but less sophisticated. When cut it is medium in texture with meat and lard distinct and a consistency ranging from soft to hard. The coppa, capocollo or loin cuts are in the centre.
It is made for eating cured and sliced or for cooking.

Cheeses

Meaning ‘little pieces’, in local dialect, fatulì is a very unusual, rare goat’s cheese made in the dairies of the Saviore valley, with production amounting to just a few 10s of thousands of kg per year.
Fatulì is made in the summer exclusively from raw whole milk from Bionda dell’Adamello goats, a breed which has been saved from extinction and now numbers 4000 in the Saviore valley. It is smoked with juniper twigs and berries and matured for 30 days to 6 months. Fatulì is circular and flat on the top and bottom. It is small (10-15 cm in diameter, 4-6 cm high and weighs 300-500 grams). The rind colour varies by smoking length and the cheese is straw yellow in colour with an elastic consistency and has virtually no holes. The predominant aromas are from smoking and in the mouth it is herbs and dried fruit and nuts which prevail against a sourish background. Fatulì is eaten as it is or grated, when it is sufficiently aged, to add flavour to pasta, rice and other dishes.
Curiosity: the Adamello Nature Park, Comunità Montana Valle Camonica and Slow Food made a protected product of Fatulì della Val Saviore to increase its visibility and protect the Bionda dell’Adamello goat breed in the knowledge that the valley’s economy is based primarily on cheesemaking and pasture activities.

Meaning ‘little pieces’, in local dialect, fatulì is a very unusual, rare goat’s cheese made in the dairies of the Saviore valley, with production amounting to just a few 10s of thousands of kg per year.
Fatulì is made in the summer exclusively from raw whole milk from Bionda dell’Adamello goats, a breed which has been saved from extinction and now numbers 4000 in the Saviore valley. It is smoked with juniper twigs and berries and matured for 30 days to 6 months. Fatulì is circular and flat on the top and bottom. It is small (10-15 cm in diameter, 4-6 cm high and weighs 300-500 grams). The rind colour varies by smoking length and the cheese is straw yellow in colour with an elastic consistency and has virtually no holes. The predominant aromas are from smoking and in the mouth it is herbs and dried fruit and nuts which prevail against a sourish background. Fatulì is eaten as it is or grated, when it is sufficiently aged, to add flavour to pasta, rice and other dishes.
Curiosity: the Adamello Nature Park, Comunità Montana Valle Camonica and Slow Food made a protected product of Fatulì della Val Saviore to increase its visibility and protect the Bionda dell’Adamello goat breed in the knowledge that the valley’s economy is based primarily on cheesemaking and pasture activities.

Of Celtic origin, the word ‘silter’ means the place cheese is aged, in caves (shilter), frequently carved out of stone and complete with brick ceilings and walls. Silter cheese, a Brescia valley speciality, is at its best aged. It is made year round and thus both during the pasture period and in the winter, in the Camonica and Brescia’s Sebino valleys, always with raw milk mostly from Bruno Alpino breed cows and some Pezzate Rosse and Grigio Alpine cows. The cows are taken to pasture in the appropriate season and kept in sheds in the winter (fed with fodder and a small amount of cereals and legumes).

DOP Silter is made from the milk of cows pastured both on high pastures and in the valleys. It is made from more than one milking and the milk is naturally skimmed when the cream floats to the surface, with the latter being made into butter. The milk is then poured into tanks or simply basins and, at least 8 hours later, heated with veal rennet and milk or whey starter. The resulting mass is then broken up into rice size pieces, cooked, left to rest under whey and then put into moulds. Salted by hand or in brine, these great Silter cheeses weighing 10-16 kilos and 34-40 cm in diameter are aged on wooden shelves in pasture caves or cool places in the valleys, always on wooden planks. At least 100 days later, during which time they are regularly rubbed with linseed oil, Silter is branded. But like all semi-fat hard cheeses it is aged at length for much more than 100 days.

Quartirolo Lombardo is a soft table cheese made with cow’s milk. It is a protected origin product (DOP) whose fame is bound up with a character and birth certificate which make it unique and original. White, soft and chalky in consistency it tastes delicious and its history is interwoven with the seasons and farming customs of a very specific part of Lombardy.
It is square shaped, measuring 18-22 cm in width and 4-8 cm high and it weighs 1.5-3.5 kg. It is aged from 5 to 30 days or more.

Seafood

The Lake Iseo traditional dried sardine is a very unusual Presidio Slow Food product. In actual fact it isn’t really a sardine (a sea fish) but a shad, Alosa agone, syn. Alosa fallax lacustris), a deep water non-migratory fish which is present in all Alpine lakes. It shares its shape with the better known sea fish.
With fishing stocks dropping, over recent years shad from other lakes have also been used, with traditional drying methods retained. The Presidio is thus designed to ‘promote the ancient drying and conservation technique and local production, thus differentiating it from other techniques’.
Shad is fished year round, with the exception of the reproduction period from 15 May to 15 June, but the drying technique is used exclusively for shad fished and naturally air dried from November to March.
Fishermen leave at sunset in small boats – 7 metres long – locally called naec and typically tapered in shape and drop their nets (sardenere) at least 200 metres from the shore, anchoring them to floats and hoisting them up at dawn. The fish is immediately gutted, rinsed in running water and left in salt for at least 48 hours, after which it is washed and left to dry in a shady, well-ventilated place on racks made of wood with stainless steel nails for 30-40 days. The sardines are then put into circular stainless steel containers and pressed for around 4 days to drain off the fat. They are then covered with oil where they remain for at least four months and then cleaned and seasoned in smaller containers for a further 12 months in olive oil.
This conservation method has been honed over the centuries by Lake Iseo fishermen for long term sardine conservation, as these were fished in large quantities at certain times of year. Oral tradition has it that this technique dates back at least one thousand years to when Iseo’s fish market fishermen had to hand over a specific quantity of dried fish to Monastero di Santa Giulia in Brescia every year.

Alborelle or Áole
Also called àole de müra, Alborelle in brine are small lake fish with elongated bodies, green-blue backs, silver sides and white bellies. They vary in size from 5 to 7 cm.
Production is essentially seasonal because it depends on alborelle fishing.

Coregone
A freshwater fish found in northern Italy, coregone eat plankton, molluscs and larvae and can grow to 60 cm in length. They reproduce in December and January and are fished with scoop nets of various sorts at medium depths.

Pike
Present in freshwater in north-central Italy, these are solitary fish which feed off weaker fish and can grow to 20 kg in weight and 170 cm in length. They spawn in February, March and April. They are fished with keepnets, scoop nets and a type of net locally called ‘tencaro’.

Char
Found in freshwater lakes these feed off molluscs, small worms and larvae. They can weigh as much as 2 kg and grow to 50 cm long. They spawn in December and January and are fished with scoop nets. This prince of Lake Iseo has unfortunately now almost completely died out.

Rudd
Present in waters with plenty of vegetation this fish lives in shoals and primarily feeds off larvae and shoots. It grows to 30-40 cm. It spawns in May and is fished with scoop and ‘tencaro’ nets.

Wels catfish
Present for some years now in Lake Iseo this is a large predatory fish which can grow to 3 metres in length and feeds off native species. For this reason professional fishermen fish it every year to protect other species. In recent years its culinary potential has also been explored and its large amounts of flesh have been used to make various tasty recipes.

Tench
Once present in larger quantities in Lake Iseo, tench has a stocky body covered with small scales and large fleshy fins. It has a greenish back and is a paler, yellowish colour on its belly. Its fins are greenish-brown. A famous dish is roast tench with polenta, a classic Clusane d’Iseo dish.

Oil

Laghi Lombardi DOP extra virgin olive oil and Sebino geographical designation of origin

The Laghi Lombardi Protected Designation of Origin is the preserve of extra virgin olive oils made in the areas of lakes Sebino and Como.
The Sebino geographical designation of origin is the preserve of oils made from at least 40% Leccino cultivar olives and no more than 60% of cultivars Frantoio, Casaliva, Pendolino and Sbresa. No more than 20% of other varieties can be used.
The production zone of the olives used for the Laghi Lombardi extra virgin olive oil with a Sebino geographical designation of origin comprises 24 town councils in Brescia province and 24 towns in Bergamo province, all around Lake Iseo.
Olive farming has ancient origins in Lombardy and is certainly pre-Roman, as is testified to by a great many historical documents and the unearthing of ancient olive presses. It developed on the shores of the Alpine foothill lakes with their fertile moraine origin soils and a climate well-suited to the farming of this Mediterranean plant.
In 1997 it obtained the PDO designation from the European Union and a consortium was set up to safeguard and promote the Laghi Lombardi PDO Protected Designation of Origin extra virgin olive oil with the two Sebino and Lario additional geographical origin designations as well.
The olives are picked from the trees within the first week of January and made into oil within three days. The resulting oil is classified by experts as follows: greenish yellow in colour, light fruity aroma, fruity flavour sometimes mildly bitter and spicy, suitable for all sorts of dishes.
The lightness and delicacy of these oils makes them ideal for a range of dishes: starters, lake fish, meat carpaccios and bresaola, cheese and vegetables, on salads, pasta and soups and even for the making of some desserts.

Grappas and Spirits

Franciacorta consigns Pinot and Chardonnay grape-pomace to distilleries with aromas encompassing all the traditions and know-how of this truly internationally unique area. Classic grappas and those flavoured with berries, seeds and honey are highly valued. Grappa is distilled directly from grape pomace. Pomace is made up of grape skins separated from the must and wine. Those resulting from soft pressing are packed with moisture and stored in silos or closed spaces until fermentation is complete are the best. The best distillation is slow and delicate and uses traditional stills in which the vapour raises through the spongy mass of the pomace to extract the least volatile part and suffuse the vapours with its aromatic substances. The results of distillation are then aged in precious wood barrels which give the grappa their aromas by releasing tannins into it. Ageing itself is not indispensable for young, bold and aggressive spirits. Naturally the nobler and more complex grappas have aromas and flavours deriving from wood, the time the grappa spends in barrels and the climatic conditions in which it evolves.

Grappa Franciacorta DOC

This is the result of historic and rigorous distillation of pomace obtained from the winemaking of grapes harvested carefully in Franciacorta vineyards. It is a multi-purpose grappa recommended after a meal but also to make caffe corretto whose quality and aromas it enhances.

Aromatic grappa: Multi-variety
Pomace: Grapes harvested in in Franciacorta (Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Merlot, Barbera, Pinot Nero, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco).
Flavours: Soft and velvety.
Aroma: Combination of aromas characteristic of white (mildly aromatic) grapes and red grapes (red fruits and mild spices).
Serving temperature: 18-20° C.

Distillati e Liquori

Various spirits and liqueurs are made from high mountain herbs such as the traditional Genepy, an infusion of Arthaemisia glacialis, a precious plant which grows amidst the rocks of the Tonale and Adamello glaciers.

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