In March, Cambridge welcomed master cheesemaker Biagio Staiano for a fun and hands-on Mozzarella Class at Signorelli’s Deli. The event was made possible by Francesco Amato of online Italian food shop Agrumia who collaborated with Alex Signorelli to bring Biagio’s ‘art of making mozzarella’ to a group of 30 enthusiasts of Italian cheese.
Biagio showed us how to make the famous mozzarella from his family’s well-respected cheese factory in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, Caseificio Staiano. It was such a privilege to draw on its 100-year history of artisan methods and taste the ingredients local to the ‘Milky Mountains’ (Monti Lattari) along the coast.
We enjoyed a welcome drink (a requisite Aperol Spritz for me) and our gregarious host Alex introduced Biagio and his lovely wife Karolina, who was the interpreter.
Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
On 14 May 2016, Cambridge Eat Up! (exclamation mark intended) held its first ever Pot Luck Lunch, a fringe event for Eat Cambridge. The lovely and talented Karen Harvey had the foresight to create the Cambridge Eat Up! group on Facebook (you can read about its origins in her blog post here) and it has grown organically since then. It’s become a great virtual “meeting point” for food enthusiasts of all types (not just bloggers) to share good foodie news and plan get-togethers.
Photo by Karen Harvey
Photo by Lisa Durbin
So when Eat Cambridge organiser Heidi White thought the group would be ideal for a fringe event, Karen and I jumped at the chance to create something. In the spirit of Cambridge Eat Up!, we wanted to hold an event that reflected foodies coming together, sharing and supporting each other. The result was a Pot Luck Lunch where everyone would bring a dish and we would gather around a table in an informal setting to enjoy each other’s company and good food/drink. We planned this back in December and the next thing we knew, the application was submitted, the entry fee paid (courtesy of Paulo at P A Safety Management Limited) and my home was confirmed as the location. Everyone jumped at the chance to be included and the places filled up very quickly, as soon as the Eat Cambridge programme was released. I even increased the numbers from 15 to 20 but there was still a long waiting list. However, this indicated that the pot luck format appealed to a great number of people, so the group is discussing hosting more of them.
Burwash Manor in Barton, Cambridge was the place for lovers of food and drink over Valentine’s weekend, 13 and 14 February 2016. Love Food, the annual fabulous festival of food, was hosted by Burwash Food Hall, which includes The Larder and Leech & Sons Master Butchers. It was a great way to showcase local independent producers, some of which were already firm favourites, but I also discovered new ones too. It was good to meet the people behind the products they are so dedicated to making. These independent producers really put their heart and soul into their food or drink products and it shows. The proof is in the taste!
I celebrated all weekend and enjoyed tastings and demonstrations by The Larder’s suppliers. They were held in The Secret Garden marquee, a lovely space with lots of room to explore the various stalls.
On 20 June, Mauro Boero of Olioitalia held an olive oil tasting at Balzano’s in Cambridge. Olioitalia is the importer of high quality extra virgin olive oils from Calabria, Italy. Mauro was raised on his family’s olive grove in Italy so he knows all about olive oil and its health benefits. It’s high in vitamin E, loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats and helps prevent cardio-vascular problems.
Olioitalia, based in Cambridge, is the importer of Pata organic infused extra virgin olive oils in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The infused olive oils are produced and bottled by Pata with the extra virgin olive oil from their olive grove in Calabria. The olives are of the Ottobratica variety.