Each day on one of Marmo’s Tours is something new and exciting. I’ve been on four of them now, and rarely does she repeat her itinerary. This day’s itinerary: Factories. A family owned Mozzarella factory in the morning and a Limoncello factory in the afternoon; both of them located in Piano di Sorrento which is just a short van ride from our stay at the Excelsior.
Nevermind that I’ve already had some fresh mozzarella for breakfast, I’m ready for more. After all, mercy, is for the weak. Culinary food tours? Not so much. And yes, I said breakfast. The Excelsior’s breakfast scene is an irresistible morning spread of meats, cheeses, fruits and pastries (which I’ll elaborate on later) which would, each morning, render me slightly more vulnerable than Hurley’s inventory visit to the hatch’s pantry.
Our guide through the Caseificio Michelangelo Mozzarella factory is an upbeat young woman named Sara. Sara is also a daughter within factory’s family ownership so her knowledge, and pride, concerning the cheese making process is very apparent.
Perhaps the best aspect of the tour is its authenticity. We actually witness them make the mozzarella: from manhandling gigantic slabs of mozz, to hand braiding strands of their finished fior di latte – it’s as real as it is awesome. But even the hardest working Italians aren’t immune to engaging in some occasional showmanship.
They even give each of us a turn braiding the mozzarella. Check out my apron and hat (which, surely, will become part of my summertime, basketball hustling uniform a la Sidney Dean):
And after witnessing (and participating in) the expert craftmanship of the mozzarella makers within the factory, Sara leads us out of the factory and into small party/banquet room of sorts, where she has arranged a small plate of various cheeses for all of us to enjoy.
All of the above pictured cheeses were indeed homemade. Although we simply kept referring to it as “the mozzarella factory,” Caseificio Michelangelo produces some other fine formaggio such as smoked mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and my personal favorite of the tasting, caciotta – which is that cupcake wrapped crown of cloud-like glory in the center of the dish. Consistency wise, it was halfway between the mozzarella and the ricotta – neither too mushy nor too stiff, and supplying a delightful creamy flavor. Sara tops off the group with some wine. Top to bottom, Caseificio Michelangelo was a wonderful experience. I would definitely recommend it.
And in traditional Amalfi Coast fashion, after we ate, it was time for some limoncello. The group heads to the Piemme limconello factory, also in Piano di Sorrento. Here, we received a tour of the factory as well as an explanation as to how the liquor made. Side note – this has to be the greatest smelling factory on the planet; the sweet lurkings of limoncello filling your nostrils at every turn.
Essentially, it was explained to us that they take the alcohol from grapes, and infuse it with the skin of homegrown lemons. The lemon skins soak in huge metal containers for about 4 days until it is ready for bottled production.
In addition to making their own limoncello, Piemme also makes their own baba cake with rum or limoncello. Here is how it goes down. First, they cook the individual cakes:
Then, they place the cakes into a glass jar:
They then screw the jar into some high powered limoncello dispensing device, upon which limencello is injected into the jar at a forceful pace. This next step brings some well deserved “oohs” and “aahs” from the group.
And then, we eat and drink it all: the limoncello, the baba, it’s all (very) good. Another successful voyage on Marmo’s Italian Excursions of Excellence.