… Into the Jars
Maurizio and Luisa also run their own little production plant, the “laboratorio,” a small but technically well-equipped facility. This is the place where the peppers are processed, harvest-fresh. First the chile pods are sorted by hand, rinsed, and dried. Next they’re pureed and mixed with other ingredients, including a little lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil (don’t ask where they find those extra virgins). Preparation and filling is done the traditional Italian way—by hand. The next step includes a bit of high-tech, though: Pasteurization is done at vacuum pressure, allowing for low temperatures (65°-70° C), thus shortening the required cooking time. This in turn means improved preservation of natural vitamins, colors, and flavors. No artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives are used.
Fresh fruit, produce, jams, jellies, and pickled goodies from their own manufacturing are offered by the couples’ retail store in Bardi, La Bottega di Ca’ d’Alfieri. The store was designed to resemble a kitchen from the early 1900s, and it is decorated with rustic furniture and baskets made by local artisans filled with products from their fields. Bardi is located about 40 miles from Parma.
Not only the locals are keeping this interesting little shop busy; tourists are taking regional goodies home from here. Above, Pepperworld’s Renate is visiting and shopping, next to Maurizio. For historical reasons, many British visitors frequent Bardi. Many of them you’ll meet at “Café Centrale“, the bar/cafe just across the street form the Ca’ d’Alfieri store. When visiting, be sure to sit down at the cafe, sip an espresso and/or a Ramazotti, and watch the slow-paced street life…very relaxing. Then order some of the cafe’s specialties: a plate with mixed antipasti made by Ca’ d’Alfieri, or the breaded and fried porcini mushrooms. Just 100 feet up the street, don’t miss the incredible ice cream parlor. Boy, the Italians know how to make ice cream.
There are various tourist attractions in Bardi. The most prominent is Castello di Bardi, with roots going back to the eighth century. Be sure to bring sturdy shoes, as you will climb miles of stairs while exploring spots inside the fortress. Those who make it to the top of the castle’s tower will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view.
Descending to the basement, the castle’s torture chamber will give you the creeps. Check out the comfy nail chair, and that cage probably didn’t mean spending quality time at the castle either. The chamber is located right next to the kitchen. I imagined the cook looking around the corner, telling people “just hang in there!” It also made me think of my fish-shaped basket for easily flipping fish on the grill…
By the way, every year on October 31, Bardi Castle hosts a Halloween event—can Halloween get any spookier?! (I might go there next time and scare the chile out of some kids.)
Here’s a hint for castle lovers: there’s a whole bunch of castles in the area, and it’s worthwhile to take a tour and see them all—see http://www.parmaitaly.com/bardik.html