Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review: Kwai 2 (Basingstoke)





Date of visit: 15 December 2012


This was our third visit to Kwai 2 and once again they did not disappoint.  They are a Thai restaurant tucked away in the area of Lychpit in Basingstoke.  If it was not for my Mum-in-law seeing an advertisement they had in the Chineham chat, we would never have discovered them and what a loss that would have been to our family who loves Thai food. All three times we have gone at lunch time on a Saturday and they have been very quite, why I don't know.  From the outside you would not even know that they existed, if it was not for a tatty old banner hanging from the building.  The building itself is lovely an old barn. Whether you are looking for an intimate dinner for two, a venue for your department to meet and then dine, or a selection of Thai Light Bites with a glass of crisp white wine, a warm welcome awaits you at Kwai 2.  With three separate dining areas, ample free car parking and a spacious bar they are able to accommodate you.  Their décor is not Thai at all, maybe the odd ornament or two, but who cares when the food is great and the service good.  Their menu covers all tastes and is easy to understand.

To start with we ordered two of their Mixed Starters for two at £12.95 each.  There were four of us, just to clear things up.  A selection of mixed starters which includes chicken satay, vegetable spring rolls, prawn tempura, prawns on bread and fish cakes.  Sorry to say we were all too hungry and just climbed in, so sadly no photograph, but take my word for it, it was delicious. I did manage to take a photo of the dipping sauces.



We washed the starters down with a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio at £15.80.  I have never tried Colp di Fortuna before, it is an Italian wine and we truly remarkable.  One of the best Pinot Grigio' I have ever tasted.




For my mains I had Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nutsw (Phad Med Mamung Himmapan at £7.50 with steamed rice at R3.00.  Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, onion, mushrooms and roasted chillies.  This was truly scrumptious is the only was I can describe it.  One of the best Thai meals I have had.  




David and Danielle decided to share a started for their mains and had the Aromatic Duck (Ped Hor) at £8.95 along with a Coconut rice at £3.25 and a Egg Fried rice at £3.25.  

A special oriental snack or appetizer, marinated duck stewed in herbs, accompanied by hoi-sin sauce, steamed pancakes, cucumber and spring onions.  From the silence at their side of the table, I gather they were enjoying it.  







My Mum-in-Law had their Steamed Seabass at £10.95.  Steamed fillet of fish with lemon grass in three flavours special sauce.  She said that it was one of the best dishes she had had in a long time.  I must say she is fanatical about Thai food and would have it for breakfast, lunch and supper if she could.




Overall Experience

Kwai 2 is a hidden gem in Basingstoke and a definite must if you love Thai food.  The presentation of the food is spectacular and the taste even better.  The staff are never in your face and there when you need them.  With one dessert, a bottle of wine, cokes and Jasmine tea the total bill for four of us came to £103.60.  Our third visit will not be our last.

Great Binfields Road, Lychpit, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8TG

Tel: 01256 476828


Kwai 2 on Urbanspoon

Rating Guide

5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire



Monday, 17 December 2012

Trade Show: Northern Restaurant & Bar 2013



HOSPITALITY SHOW IS NORTH'S BIGGEST EVER



The North’s leading hospitality trade show, Northern Restaurant & Bar, will return to Manchester Central from 5 to 6 March 2013 and will be 20% larger than last year, with almost 6,000 visitors expected over two days.
With top chefs including Simon Rogan and Aldo Zilli headlining the Chef Live theatre, and tie-ups with leading Manchester operators, Almost Famous Burgers and The Port St Beer House, this year’s Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB) will host an additional 50 exhibitor stands bringing the total number of food, drink and catering suppliers at this, the twelfth NRB, to 200.
The hospitality showcase will welcome exhibitors and trade-only visitors including restaurateurs, hoteliers, publicans, chefs, deli owners and bartenders from across the north of England, and acts as a hub for a number of satellite events including hosting major launches for Hotel Future, the national training academy, and industry charities Hospitality Action and Action Against Hunger.
As well as being a hotspot for hospitality networking and inspiration, NRB will also stage cookery demonstrations from well-known industry stars plus tutored beer and wine tastings, cocktail demonstrations and fine food displays. Welcoming emerging artisan producers alongside premium brands, the show will give visitors an opportunity to explore everything from the latest microbrewery craft ales, award winning meats, cheeses and wines through to epos systems and the finest tableware.
The NRB Top 50
Organisers of this year’s event will also be announcing the second annual NRB Top 50 line-up. The list, which will be chosen by a panel of judges from Holden Media and the Russell Partnership, will honour 50 individuals from influential operators in the north of England. New for 2013 will be three special achievement winners which will be announced live on the first day of the show. Those selected will be chosen based on their successes, achievements and their impact on the northern hospitality industry.
Show highlights
The popular Chef Live cookery theatre will return to NRB this year hosting big name chefs including Simon Rogan of l’Enclume and Roganic; Aldo Zilli of San Carlo Cicchetti; Aiden Byrne of Manchester House; Steven Doherty of Lakeland Cafe and Dave Mooney of the Lord Binning and the Old Sessions House.
The show’s Fine Food Village will be dedicated to local and regional producers of the highest quality and, in partnership with Game to Eat, will feature a special section promoting wild British game meat. Game to Eat will be giving butchery technique demonstrations and there will be an appearance by a UK BBQ champion.
For bartenders looking to learn new skills and discover new drinks, the Liquor Theatre will be a must-see. Curated by Dave Marsland, the Drinks Enthusiast, visitors will have the chance to watch demonstrations and competitions, and sample the latest spirit brands in the adjacent Spirit Room. Manchester’s Socio Rehab will be adding a touch of magic with a little help from their friends, Almost Famous Burgers.
From Belgian beers to Japanese wine, the Grape & Grain theatre will host tutored tastings of wines and beers from around the world. This will also house ‘Port Street Beer House presents Meet The Brewer' sessions, in which the brains behind the award-winning bar will showcase some of their favourite craft beers.
Northern Restaurant & Bar’s managing director, Thom Hetherington, said: “Last year’s NRB was a tremendous success and it has enabled us to grow the 2013 show by 20 per cent. Our stellar line-up of chefs and drinks experts will provide visitors with an inspiring programme of events which will marry perfectly with our brilliant suppliers and producers, creating what we hope will be our best show yet.
“The North has impressive industry credentials to support such a show with 42 per cent1 of all hospitality establishments based here and a £14 billion2 turnover meaning NRB is, for thousands in the business, a must-see event for networking, sourcing and inspiration.”
For further information about exhibiting at or visiting NRB 2013, go to www.northernrestaurantandbar.co.uk or follow on  Facebook www.facebook.com/nrbmanchester and Twitter @nrbmanchester 



Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dinning Out Etiquette


Dinning Out Etiquette


Even though they are working and you're not, it doesn't mean anything goes when it comes to restaurant staff. Etiquette and manners still apply and the relationship between the restaurant and the patron goes both ways.
When it comes down to it, the vast majority of restaurant owners and employees are hardworking people that do their best to ensure that you have an enjoyable dining experience. Their job depends on it, after all. But little things, like making eye contact or talking on your mobile / cell phone, can make all the difference to the staff.

Respect the staff and the staff will respect you

Almost everyone I know has either worked in a restaurant at some point or is close to someone who has. While restaurant staff does serve you your food, there is a big difference between a server and a servant. Respecting the staff is not only the right thing to do, but when they feel respected and appreciated, it almost always leads to better service. Long gone are the divisions between the classes of people that work in restaurants versus those who dine in them. Common courtesies like looking your server or busser in the eye and saying "please" and "thank you" should not be overlooked.

One thing that does annoy me is when the waiter tends to think they are better than you if for example you can’t pronounce some fancy dish, we are all equal here, I just came out to have a nice evening not to be judged.

Ask for recommendations

Chances are waiters have tried most of what is offered on the menu. They see the food being made, served and enjoyed on a daily basis and probably have a pretty good idea of what are the best menu items. Ask what they personally like to eat and why it is their favourite. If you feel like your waiter is just suggesting the most expensive thing on the menu to increase their tip, ask them to tell you why they prefer the fillet over the meatloaf. You don't have to go with their first suggestion, but at the very least, you will have more information to take into account when making your decision.
  
Be ready to order

If you tell your waiter you're ready to order, be ready. There isn't much that is more frustrating for a waiter to have to stand at your table while you are contemplating the pasta versus the steak for 10 minutes. Unless you have specific questions, tell the waiter you would like a few more minutes to decide. If it's a busy night, they probably have a dozen other things they could be doing, and standing idly for a few minutes can really set them back.

Tell the manager how your experience was

Many restaurant managers only get requested to come to a table when there is a complaint. A big part of a manager's job is to ensure customer satisfaction and deal with any issues that arise, but it is also nice and greatly appreciated, to hear positive feedback as well. If you had a particularly helpful waiter, tell them. Or, better yet, tell their manager. Restaurant work often feels like an under appreciated job, so a seemingly small compliment can make a huge difference. 

Don’t you find that whenever the manager or waiter comes to your table you tend to have a mouth full of food? Coincidence…? I like being asked if I've had a good evening or if my food was okay but not every 10 minutes, I will find you if something is wrong.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in the UK in the way it is in the United States or Canada. All staff in the UK, must by law, be paid at least minimum wage (£6.08/hour as of 2012, unless aged under 21), whether or not they receive tips. Therefore, unlike in much of North America, the need and culture for tipping is much less.
Cafes and coffee shops
In a cafe, you may receive waitress service to bring your tea, coffee, sausages, or whatever you have ordered to the table. In these establishments tipping is not usual. If you feel the service has been especially pleasant you can leave a pound or your change in appreciation.
In coffee shops, such as Starbucks, there may be a tip jar on the counter, but very few customers offer tips.
In casual cafeterias, where you collect your food and place it on a tray, commonly found in tourist attractions, you wouldn't really tip, as you have basically served yourself.

Restaurants

 

In casual restaurants, where you pay for your order at a counter, but food is brought to your table, tipping is uncommon.
In restaurants where you place your order with your waiter/waitress and receive food, and your bill, at your table, it is usual to tip around 10%. The expectation does vary from place to place - in fine dining restaurants where you receive personal service, a tip would always be expected (while never compulsory, it would be considered rude unless there was a problem with the service), whereas in the most casual of restaurants tipping is not universal.
If you have been unhappy with the service, you really shouldn't feel like you have leave a tip. 
In some restaurants, a service charge may be added to the bill, typically 10% or 12.5%. This should be noted on the menu, sometimes only for larger groups. If it is not, it would be appropriate to object, to ask that it be removed. If you are otherwise unhappy with the service, you should also request that it be removed, explaining your unhappiness.
In any case where a service charge is added, or the menu notes 'service included', you really don’t have to add any further tip, you’ll soon be out of pocket if you did. Beware that in some cases a service charge may appear on your bill, and if you pay by credit card the machine may then ask if you want to add a tip. Check your bill to see if a service charge has been added before paying, and if it has, be sure not to add any more on at the machine.
Do tip on the full bill:  Even if you're using a Groupon, gift card or other discount, you should still tip on the full amount of food and drinks ordered and served.


Don’t switch tables without asking the host

Figuring out what parties are going where is often like a game of Tetris. On a busy night, if a table or two gets moved around, the entire arrangement could crumble, leading to chaos for staff and customers alike. If you are unhappy with the table you are seated at, speak up right away. Tell the host why you would prefer a different table and allow him or her the time to look into switching your table.


Don’t overstay your welcome

When you're paying to dine out, you should certainly stay as long as it takes to leisurely enjoy your meal and beverages. But if you've finished dessert an hour ago and the only things left on your table are water glasses and a bill, don't camp out all night. Most restaurants need to turn tables at least a couple of times in a night in order to make a profit, and it can seriously hurt them when a few tables linger well past a reasonable time frame. Not being able to turn those tables can easily make the difference between a good night and a bad night.  It's never fun to be the table that had a reservation but is not able to be seated because of lingering tables.

Don’t talk on your mobile / cell phone

We've all sent a quick text here or there when dining at a restaurant, but full out conversations on your mobile / cell phone are universally against restaurant etiquette. It is extremely rude to those who are trying to serve you and is annoying for fellow customers. If you must make or receive a phone call, step outside the restaurant and keep it brief.


Don’t send back a bottle because you don't like it

The purpose of tasting a bottle of wine is not to let you decide if you like it. It is to let you discern if the bottle is oxidized or has anything wrong with it. If you're unfamiliar with most of the wine on the list, or if you want to branch out and try something new, ask to speak with the sommelier or beverage manager. Tell them what you are looking for in a wine and let them offer a suggestion before you have them open a bottle that you don't know much about. If their suggestion is nothing like what they described, then it is OK to let them know. If you chose the wine on your own and there is nothing wrong with it, then you should stick with it.

No-show for a reservation

If you've made a reservation, the restaurant is holding one of their tables specifically for you. If you're not going to make it, be sure to call the restaurant to let them know -- and give them as much notice as possible. Restaurants often turn away patrons when they have empty tables because they are saving them for those who made a reservation. There is not much that is more frustrating for a restaurant manager -- or the service staff -- than an empty table that didn't need to be.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Do's And Don’ts Of Food Snobbery


The Do's And Don’ts of Food Snobbery

                                                   

Foodies, food-lovers, epicures, culinarians, overly enthusiastic omnivores… whatever you want to call them, they all have one thing in common: an extreme passion and appreciation for food. Whether it’s cooking food, eating food, or simply discussing food, they get lost in the multi-sensory experience and start speaking in tongues that are usually indecipherable to others. If you are one of these people (like myself), you know how often you straddle that line between adorable food-geek and pretentious food-snob. I slipped over to the dark side a week or so ago when I caught myself uttering the phrase “I am SO into heirloom tomatoes right now…” and then proceeded to give a recipe for my heirloom tomato, feta, bacon and watermelon salad without being prompted to. Even though my recipe might be delicious, I immediately thought to myself “wow, I sound like an ass.”
Here’s the thing most of us food-people don’t realize: nobody cares. Unless the subject in question is a food-person too (or a non-food person with a potluck to go to), no one wants to hear about the flavor profiles of the “sinfully decadent” soufflé you made or the ideal cacao percentage to use for baking. We assume that since it’s food and it’s something we all partake in every day, that it’s ok to wax on and on about… wax beans. Well, it’s not. It’s the same as a computer-geek talking to you about the new operating system for the iPhone when all you know about the iPhone is that it has Angry Birds and Words with Friends. Most people just eat to live, and we live to eat; significant difference, for sure, but there has to be a way the two worlds can coexist peaceably without pretension.
We always see food blogs and magazines teaching us how to pronounce things correctly and how to expertly pair wines with cheeses and that’s all well and good… but what about us? Shouldn't there be some guidelines to keep us humble and in the adorable food-geek zone? I give you: The Do’s and Don’ts of Food Snobbery.
NEVER correct pronunciations unless it’s absolutely necessary. If Italians can get away with dropping vowels, you can let your friends pick them up. “Moozarell” and “Mozzarella” mean the same thing to waiters. I promise.

DO take it upon yourself to be the designated cook/ host when your friends or family are having a party. You know you love to cook, they know you love to cook, and hey, you’re good at it! So why not let everyone else take a break while you put those foodie talents to good use? And if you can’t cook everything, at the very least you should make ONE dish. Everyone will enjoy themselves, and no one will suffer food poisoning from Aunt Gail’s chicken masala again.

DON’T push your friends into trying foods outside of their comfort zone. It’s fine to ask and give some reasons why they should — go ahead, foodie, give your pitch! If they still don’t budge, give up. Not everyone is going to enjoy quinoa-crusted, deep fried oysters on the half shell with a creamy pisco pepper and garlic sauce. Those are to die for, by the way. Sorry couldn't help myself. #foodsnobproblems

AVOID over-explaining the taste of something. This isn't Top Chef. If someone asks you how your salmon/steak/chicken was, say, “it’s okay… a little overcooked but not bad.” DON’T say, “underwhelming. I expected more of this place. I mean, is it SO hard to pan-sear a steak in a cast iron skillet and finish it off in the oven to a nice medium rare? The juices have hardly been retained. They must have not let it rest long enough. Way to ruin a perfectly good piece of meat. Do two Michelin stars mean the meat tastes like tires? Ugh. OH you know who makes a GREAT steak? That little hole in the wall place on West… something… do you know what I’m talking about? No? Well whatever. Yeah. THEIR steak is ahhhmaaazzzinnggg.” Food. Snob.

DON’T pan a place simply because everyone else loves it and you want to be different. People often think this makes them seem like they have a more refined palate than the masses. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but generally speaking, this doesn't make you sound knowledgeable; it makes you sound like an ass. “Shake Shack? Please. It’s garbage. I've had better burgers in gas stations.” No you haven’t and you know it. Shut up.

REMAIN open for advice and food discussion. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a 15-minute conversation about kitchen gadgets, if the other person is willingly continuing it. Some people are closet food-geeks, and this is the perfect opportunity to bond with co-workers or that cute guy/ girl in the office. “Oh, you need help selecting a cheese grater, you say? Well, I happen to have to go to Sur La Table anyway to buy a new microplane. Why don’t we go together? And perhaps grab some artisan cheese samples and wine afterward?” Foodie dates rule.

ALWAYS steer clear of high prices when giving restaurant recommendations to friends. Unless the friend specifically said “money is not an object,” most people don’t want to pay £28 for five pieces of butternut squash ravioli lightly sautéed in sage butter. No matter how good it might be. As my mom so delicately put it, “unless there’s money inside the ravioli, that’s f$%&ing insane.”



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Restaurant Rights - Bad Service / Food, what can you do?


Restaurant Rights

Bad service/food, what can you do?


Whether it's Claridges, Pizza Express or Burger King with a voucher, you've got rights when eating in a restaurant.
So whether your question's can you get free tap water? Is the service charge a must?  How to split the bill?  Or what if the food isn’t up to scratch?... this quick Q&A should help.

What rights do you have in restaurants?


A restaurant is a service-based industry and, just like with banks, mobile phone giants or airlines, there are laws that dictate the level of service you can expect. The prime protection comes from the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This demands that any service provided in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (common law in Scotland has similar effect), should be carried out with …

Reasonable care & skill, within a reasonable time & at a reasonable cost

You may think this sounds a bit woolly, and indeed it is. The key term is "reasonable" and this is open to definition. The easy way to think about it is 'if you asked a sensible, fair-minded friend, would they agree it wasn't reasonable?'. Ultimately, if you can't agree with the restaurant, the final arbiter is the court. Yet specific rules have grown up for various circumstances.


Restaurant Rights Q&A

I made a booking but turned up to find I'd been double-booked. This ruined my night out, what can I do?
If you booked a table at a restaurant you created a binding contract.  If the meal is cancelled by the restaurant you can claim a reasonable sum to cover the cost of travelling and possibly for any disappointment or inconvenience eg, if the meal was for a special occasion.
If you pre-paid for the food, you are entitled to this money back too.
To claim, you have to write to the restaurant and ask them to refund your travel cost and your loss of enjoyment (if you think this applies). You should explain you're willing to take the matter further and consider legal action. If you do not get the response you hoped for you should file a claim with the small claims court. Yet if you book a table and don't turn up or bother to let them know, you've made a contract so the restaurant could, in theory, sue you for compensation. This rarely happens in practice though.

The food wasn't hot enough or tasted off, and I was ill later that night. Can I get my money back?
All food should be of satisfactory quality, including being at the right temperature when it's served. If it isn't, you can claim a full or partial refund depending on the problem. Although it can be hard to prove the meal that's caused your illness.
When food is poorly cooked, eg you tuck into a chicken breast to find it pink and semi-frozen, then complain immediately. Food must also be prepared with reasonable care and skill. It's one thing to allow food to stand and go cold, but another not to cook it! You should always bring up the issue within the restaurant and ask it to replace the dish.
If you're struck down with a tummy bug after a meal and can prove it's the restaurant's fault (which can be difficult), you can ask for compensation. You're entitled to claim for the cost of the dish, any pain or suffering, loss of earnings if you were off work and any other expenses incurred as a direct result of the food poisoning.
If this approach doesn't work you can file a personal injury claim of up to £1,000 with the small claims court. Be aware that the restaurant is only liable to pay individual dishes that were unsatisfactory.

What if I didn't get ill, but the food simply wasn't up to scratch?
It's totally legal to refuse to pay because you believe the food was not of satisfactory quality. You should explain the reasons to the restaurant and leave your name and address. However, many restaurants can become angry at this and may pressure you into paying. If this is the case you should write on the back of the bill that you are "paying under protest".
You should also report the establishment and incident to your local environmental health service, as this may pose a health risk and be a criminal offence under the Food Safety Act if the food is unfit for human consumption.
Great meal, but rotten service. I hated paying an extra 10 per cent but felt that it wasn't fair not to. Could I have refused to?
You could. The quicker restaurants stop being rewarded for poor service, the better. Even if the restaurant includes the service charge on the bill, you do NOT have to pay it – it is purely voluntary. So if you've had shocking poor service, or don't believe the amount set is appropriate you can reduce it or not pay it at all. If the service charge's already absorbed within the food cost, you are still legally entitled to deduct a reasonable amount (eg, 10%) if the service was not as expected
If they cause a fuss and say you have to pay, leaving you feeling forced into it, then pay 'under protest' and dispute the cost later to ensure you are protected against any action.
I'm sick of paying for expensive bottled water. Can I always get a glass of tap water for free?
Surprisingly the answer is no. Restaurants don't have to provide tap water to the public and if they do they can charge for it. However it is illegal for them to pretend it's bottled water. Luckily most restaurants don't have a problem giving tap water nowadays and the Consumer Council of Water is trying to promote this everywhere, so the problem should be rare.  New licensing conditions that came into effect in April 2010 mean pubs, clubs and bars are obliged to provide free water where reasonably available. Unfortunately, this doesn't include restaurants.
Should there always be a toilet in a restaurant?
All restaurants should provide toilets for their staff, and wherever possible for customers as well, especially if they have more than 15 seats. Premises that are open after 11pm or have a drinks licence must have toilets though.
What's the fairest way to split the bill?
If you're out with friends, this is a perennial argument, and there is no specific law to cover it. The two most common methods are either splitting it equally- which can result in unfairness especially to those who order less – or everyone going through the bill for their items, which can take an age and lead to arguments about who had what. One other option is Martin's 'easy honour' system, here's an extract of the explanation from his Money Diet book.

"At the end of the meal, everyone should contribute what they think they owe, including the tip. Most people get it roughly right, but of course when you total up you'll almost always be short; it's human nature.
"So divide the shortfall by the number of people - lets say there's £50 difference and 10 friends, everybody then puts in an extra £5. It may not be completely accurate, but it's a quick and easy way for people to pay near enough what they should. It helps you budget, without losing friends or looking too mean."
Where can I find out more on my consumer shopping rights?
For more info on your statutory shopping rights see the main Consumer Rights guide. Plus to find out how to protect yourself in advance and be aware of criminal actions by companies see the Consumer Protection guide.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Product Review : Prosciutto di San Daniel and Formaggio Grana Padano

THERE ARE TREASURS OTHER THAN GOLD AND SILVER THAT CARRY A HALLMARK


The authentic taste of Prosciutto di San Daniele and Formaggio Grana Padano can be traced back to traditional Italian recipes handed down from generation to generation and to meticulous quality control


PROSCIUTTO DI SAN DANIELE

The location of Friuli in the Northern Italian Province of Udine, where cold northern winds from the Alps and warm breezes from the Adriatic Sea meet, is the home of the air-cured Prosciutto di San Daniele.

In a tradition that can be traced back to ancient times, only pigs from ten Italian regions are used for the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele, being carefully selected by pedigree and weight.

The thighs are carefully chosen, and the meat salted by hand with coarse salt.  It is pressed giving it its elongated violin shape with the weight of the prosciutto's.  After resting for three months the prosciutto is washed, brushed off and left to dry.




This is when the micro-climate of San Daniele comes into play, with the breezes from the Adriatic Sea travelling up along the rivers and mixing with the cold Alpine mountain air in creating a fairly dry climate with gentle winds ideal for ageing meat.  It then takes 13 months of this meticulous air-curing before the prosciutto is finally considered worthy of being controlled and then branded with the San Daniele mark.

Only now Prosciutto di San Daniele will be allowed to take its place in some of the finest food halls and discerning high street outlets in the world.  Its creamy texture and sweet taste making it a delicious antipasto, a succulent companion to fruit, or even fresh spring vegetable.


Take a look at these two websites:  http://www.prosciuttosandaniele.it   and 
http://vimeo.com/49224969



FORMAGGIO GRANA PADANO


Nearly 1000 years ago, the Cistercian monks from the fertile Po Valley, in Northern Italy, developed an original recipe to use the excess milk produced in the area.  It is thought to have been first made in the Abbey of Chiarvalle in 1135.  Due to the grainy structure, so different from all other cheeses, it was given the name "GRANA".

Today the production method has hardly changed.

Strict dairy farming practices, including a special cattle diet, results in a milk of unique flavour and nutritional value.  Only raw semi-skimmed milk from the Grana Padano production area can be used.  After natural separation of the cream, the milk is poured into traditional copper vats and then processed: a natural whey started, deriving from the previous day cheese-making, is added along with pure calf rennet.  Once the coagulation has occurred, the curd is chopped into small grains by the aid of a manual instrument called "spino", Heating to 53ºC follows and then, after a resting period of around an hour, the twin fresh wheels of cheese are collected, wrapped in linen cloths and placed into moulds.  Finally, before the ageing process begins, the wheels are soaked in brine for around 23 days.


The ageing process lasts for a minimum of 9 to over 24 months.  At 9 months, each wheel is carefully tested for appearance, aroma and texture.  This important step is carried out exclusively by the impartial expertise of the Consorzio Tutela Grana Padana (Protection Consortium) technicians.  Only the best wheels receive the fire-branded logo officially grading them "GRANA PADANO" PDO Cheese.

Rich in nutrients and very digestible, it is an excellent and healthy choice for the whole family. Grana Padano possesses unique nutritional features such as quality proteins, vitamins, minerals, salts and especially calcium.


The website for Grana Padano: http://www.granapadano.com


PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN

Both Prociutto di San Daniele and Formaggio Grana Padano bear the PDO (Protected Designationof Origin) status awarded to them by the European Union.

When you see the PDO logo on the packaging you can be sure the production, processing and preparation of the food you are buying, has been certified and is of the highest quality.  Do, don't just take my word for the authenticity of Prosciutto di San Daniele and FormaggionGrana Padano, look for the PDO logo, and enjoy some of the finest food Italy can produce.





Source: Fine Food Digest http://www.finefoodworld.co.uk/