Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cumiana Celebrates, "Olio é Olive"

Piedmont Italy is known for it's fine wines and oh so delicious cuisine and if most people are familiar with this region that is what first comes to mind when contemplating what this region is famous for. What you don't usually think of is olive oil. Well, at least I don't, knowing that we are on the upper reaches of the olive growing zone. It came as a pleasant surprise a couple of years back to discover that olive production is starting to come back to this area. We were visiting the Castello di Razzano winery, over in neighboring Monferrato  not so long ago and were pleasantly surprised to find that they had just put in about 150 olive trees to replace some of their vineyard that they deemed better suited to olives. I was fascinated to learn that Piedmont use to produce a fair amount of olive oil, but the weather changed and people changed over to grapes from olives as they felt the weather was more conducive to wine production. Now we find as temperatures have increased the olive trees are going back in. 
What a pleasant surprise to find that the lovely little town of Cumiana our neighbor just outside of our valley and hugging the base of the mountains, began a festival a couple of years ago celebrating the local olive oil revival. This is one revival I can get more than a little excited about attending.
Cumiana
Even on a chilly autumn Sunday, there was plenty to see, taste and buy and we weren't alone in our exploration of the festa. In fact I got so carried away with all of the interesting things to check out aside from the wonderful variety of olive oils, that I forgot to even photograph any of the oil tasting tables. Silly me. 
But we did end up with a great selection of olive oils representing several areas of Italy and with quite . All of the oils we selected were from small producers, organic, cold and some stone pressed. Our selections reflect the varied personalities and flavor profiles of Piedmont, Liguria and Apuglia. We're looking forward to enjoying them over the winter.
Local Pinerolo producer Mimosa, were busy pressing oil all day long.

We enjoyed seeing our friends from Pinasca represented with their wonderful bakery goods. 
 Stefano was doing a brisk business, while papa Angelo was home making all the products to keep the stall well stocked.  I worked for Angelo a few years back when we first arrived and we were getting the B&B on it's feet. I learned a lot about local specialties and of the differences of baking in Europe. It was an enlightening experience and one I wished to have had many years ago when I was starting out as a baker. Little baker's tips and tricks for big scale production. Happily, I love my small scale baking these days. Simply satisfying when I can make it to my tastes and interest.

Liguria was well represented with their light and flavorful olive oils. This man was making fresh pesto to  sample and bring home for later consumption.

 Lots of varieties of cheeses to choose from also.

 Naturally, there was plenty of wine to sample, like from our friends in Frossasco, Dora Vini, who just recently won an award for their wine. It wouldn't be a festa without some vino and delicious vino at that!

 And always a welcome touch to any festival is a bit of music, provided by this young man on his Ghironda or more commonly known to Americans as the hurdy gurdy.
This festival serves as a wonderful warm up for this years Salone del Gusto that begins this week October 21-25. You can read about some of the previous festivals here  and here.

Here's a teaser of Ghironda music in the Occitania style.
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