Can there a better way to enjoy warm Italian hospitality and good Italian coffee than under sunny blue skies on the shores of Lake Como?
Arriving in this part of the Lombardy region I travelled across the plains of northern Italy where risotto rice is grown and went via Milan to reach Como. There is a fresh food market operating here three times per week, which was a delight to visit.
The market is partitioned into two sections, one for local producers and the second for stall holders selling produce from other areas of Italy. This latter section was not a lot different from say the Queen Vic market in Melbourne – a number of fruit vendors, deli stores, butchers and fishmongers selling good produce.
One eye catching display here was a butcher selling a side of baby capra (or goat), which included half the head, neck and everything else extending to the back end. In response to demand from our Malabar Farm adventure guests we have been considering making some of our lambs available for sale, either as whole or as a side – may have to now consider offering the head as well, as an optional extra!!
The smaller section for local producers was a treat to visit. There were about 12 farmers who had brought their produce for sale, with stalls along each side of the hall, generally offering a range of goats’ cheeses and some cured meats. The first couple I "met" farmed goats just out of Como and were offering homemade yoghurt, ricotta, some hard cheese and some salami. They smiled politely when I said I was a producer from Australia, but had no idea what cattle and sheep were, until I pulled out my best moo moo, and baa baa – worked a treat and they laughed.
When I asked in my best Italian whether the salami came from their goats also, the husband replied with an excellent oink oink, and she gestured with her fingers to suggest they also have 3 pigs. Upon leaving I asked for a photo, and they quickly stood upright and posed with most serious faces behind their produce.
Another stall holder I met was from high mountain country, west of Como. When I introduced myself as Australian, he was delighted and immediately sliced some salami for me to enjoy. His English was also non-
He was a big man with a big heart. He took the time to give me an explanation about a few of his products matched with tastings. However, by this stage our interpreter had moved on and unfortunately, I really had no idea what those explanations were. Suffice to say lunch was organised – the salami was lovely although the fat content appeared to be higher than usual (visually at least) and the cheeses (both hard) had a delightful creaminess.
Saturday morning’s market was much busier than our previous visit on the Thursday. In fact it was busy all round town as the 70000 inhabitants of Como were out and about. After a wet overcast winter they were enjoying their first bit of sunshine for sometime. As lunchtime approached I noticed a number of locals, shopping almost completed, calling into a local winestore to catch up over a glass of wine and pick a bottle to take home for dinner (or maybe lunch). What a wonderful idea!
It was a pretty little enotica (wine bar) offering light luncheons also. The menu included a "Piatto Quatro Formaggi" and "Braesola Dolce Chianina". So lunch was a tasting plate of 4 cheeses, a camembert from Normandy, France, some Roquefort blue cheese, a local soft Goats cheese and some Bitto -