Through their ‘Adopt a Pecora (sheep)’ Scheme, not only do you get to enjoy naming a sheep (we’ve named ours Baa-Baa), to imagine grazing high in the wild Abruzzo Apennine mountains whilst you sit in your office, but in addition you will receive the finest organic Abruzzo cheeses and salami by UPS in time for Christmas ready to share with your family.
Being that Christmas is the time of the year when we think of others, especially when the world seems on course for an economic meltdown this scheme has an added poignancy. Through adopting a sheep you will be helping to sustain a rural Italian community and the traditions that have been passed on generation by generation. Your adoption helps to keep a shepherd in employment as he steers your sheep away from the local bears and wolves with the help of his dogs, as well as a team of award-winning cheese makers who charitably share their skills worldwide, even braving the hazards of Afghanistan.
We first visited Porta dei Parchi, this organic Abruzzo Agriturismo just outside Sulmona, back in September and made the decision that adopting Baa-Baa would be the best Christmas present to share with our family in England allowing us to give them a flavour of Abruzzo and the delicacies that we take for granted. Today the 8kg of cheese, salami (obviously not Baa-Baa) and merino socks arrived safely packed alongside water-resistant icepacks ready for us to divide and send out to our families. The cheeses we received:
This forgotten cheese of yesteryear has been revived by the Porti dei Parchi cheese-making team and has already won more than one award. Originally made by the local thieves & brigands who hid out in the caves of the Sagittario valley, the cheese is oiled and then preserved in organic bran and sealed in a goatskin for 10 months where the sweetness of the bran gives the raw sheeps’ milk a punch but delicacy at the same time without any of the saltiness that can be associated with Pecorino. It is good with fruit, a perfect breakfast cheese or with some thin shavings in a salad.
Ricotta Stagionata al fumo di ginero [Juniper Smoked Ricotta Cheese]
This is our favourite as it comes plain, or flavoured with peperoncino, cumin, chives or onions. Mildly salty and yet sweet, velvety and yet creamy this is a taste sensation that you will never forget or believe achievable from a ricotta cheese. For those that would like to know how it’s made, the cheese is firstly salted which hardens it, after which it is cold smoked for a few nights. A must for any cheese lover.
Made from ewes milk this is one of the best pecorino cheese around for its lack of saltiness that is so rich that you are left contemplating which herbs the sheep had grazed on as you try and work out its flavours, fantastic with just bruschetta (toast) and a little bit of fig or peach jam.
Have you ever had a cheese that is mellow whilst being zingy at the same time? This is an outstanding cheese that will provide you with this pleasure. It is a young pecorino that is characterized as being the only cheese in the world made with pig rennet. The cheese has a straw-like colour with a moist texture with a taste that is reminiscent of taking a walk after it has rained – oh to be a sheep in the Apennines.
Salamelle di Tratturo [salami of the Mountain Track/Paths]
This is a beautifully seasoned salami made from a mixture of selected cuts of lean mutton combined with an itsy amount of lard encased in natural skins and cold smoked over oak and juniper wood. (For those that love cumin you can buy a variation on Salamelle di tratturo with extra cumin added).
Salamelle Rinascimentali [Renaissance Salami]
This is our favourite and has all the delicious flavours of Abruzzo! It’s a tasty, traditional salami of L’Aquila in which each family has generally its own recipe that is passed on generation to generation. The Porta dei Parchi recipe includes organic pigs liver, honey, orange peel and native to Abruzzo ‘Most Cotto’ (saba vinegar) for those who have never heard of this before, it’s a rich concentrated syrup that is made from reduced pressed grape juice and pulp.
Salame Schiacciato Tipo Aquilano [Flat Salami]
This is a delicate rectangular shaped salami that is made from organic lean cuts of pork, skimmed unpasteurised milk, salt & pepper which is set in a press. It’s an incredibly delicate salami that we love for both its taste (incredibly moreish be careful!) and that it’s just so unfatty.
It is just €190 to Adopt a Sheep Abruzzo style and receive all these glorious cheeses, salami and socks to share with friends – click here or visit the website.