Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, wines from Burgundy and Douro and a beautiful glass of Port to finish the feast off. These are a few of Great British Chefs blogger Chris Osburn favourite things. When he was asked if he would like to attend a ‘Discover the Origin’ luncheon featuring those favourite things, he wiped the drool from his lips and responded ‘yes, please’. Discover what happened ……
Photography & blog post by Chris Osburn
The Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, wines from Burgundy and Douro and Port are a mere five examples of Europe’s 1,873 Protected Designation of Origin products – five PDO products that have been bundled together in a pretty impressive Italo-Franco-Portuguese alliance to raise awareness through a new ‘Discover the Origin’ campaign.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the EU’s PDO ‘scheme’ is designed to ‘protect the heritage, character and reputation of precious food and drink; ensuring that imitation and often inferior products can’t be reproduced under the same product names, as the PDO status proves authenticity, guarantees origin and production methods’. Okay, totally nutty Brussels bureaucrat speak there, but the concept behind it is important.
I mean, wouldn’t you prefer the real deal Parma ham cured with no additives (just salt) and in a traditional manner over one of those off-the-shelf so called prosciutto manufactured in some inhuman meat factory located who knows where? And even if you did just want the cheap slice of inferior ham to get you by when slapping together a budget lunch sarnie, would it really be fair that the non-Parma product shared the same distinct name as that artisanal yummy stuff?
Parma ham should be from Parma and made to certain specifications. Otherwise, it’s just Parma-like or Parma-style. Same goes for Parmigiano-Reggiano, Burgundy, Douro and Port. Fair enough.
I’ve known about the PDO thing for some time. I look for it every once in awhile when shopping. Proper Mozzarella di Bufala Campanais one item which I adore. When I see the PDO logo on a package of mozzarella, I reckon it’s going to be a quality treat. I haven’t been proved wrong yet. And when I have purchased a non-PDO buffalo mozzarella the results have been variable. So when I was asked if I would like to attend a ‘Discover the Origin’ luncheon featuring PDO products, I wiped the drool from my lips and responded ‘yes, please’.
Appropriately enough, the lunch was held at Rules, London’s oldest restaurant and one known for adhering to tradition. I’m trying not to gloat, but indeed it was a very good lunch. Rabbit salad with parsnips, Parma Ham crisps and hazelnut dressing? Oh yeah. Belted Galloway beef and mushroom steak pie with buttered greens and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese mash potato? Well, kinda stodgy but wow. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheesecake with blackberry compote? Delightful!
Hurray for the solids but what about the liquids? Cheer worthy quaffs a la Burgundy and Douro included a sparkling Cremant de Bougogne, NV, Cave de Lugny (Burgundy) to kick the occasion off with satisfyingly crisp bubbles. The rabbit was served with white wine: a glass of Marsannay, 2009, Louis Jadot (Burgundy) and one of Quinta de la Rosa 2010 (Douro). Both minerally, both exquisite. Reds to accompany the steak pie were a dry Pommar 1er Cru, Epenots, Red, 2008, Domaine Parent (Burgundy) and a deep purple and punchy Quinta do Crasto Reserva, 2009 (Douro). A rich and appreciated Fonseca Vintage Port 1985 followed alongside the cheesecake.
Of the five products under the Discover the Origin banner, I reckon Douro wines are the least recognised here in Britain. Douro wines are made from the same grapes as Port and have experienced a renaissance in recent years. Both of these Portuguese pleasers represent exceptional value for money too, compared to the three other Discover delicacies and generally compared to other European wines.
Anyway, you don’t have to be a guest blogger for a foodie website to enjoy a sip of something from Douro or to indulge in the full on Discover the Origin treatment. Discover the Origin reps will be showcasing their products at a number of events around the UK including the following:
Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival, 6-7 April
London Foodies Festival, 5-7 May
Taste of Edinburgh, 6-8 July
Bristol Foodies Festival, 13-15 July
Oxford Foodies Festival, 25-27 August
York Food & Drink Festival, 21-23 September
What are some of your favourite foods & drinks from Italy, France & Portugal? Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page