This past weekend was the 3rd year that Italy and the Consortium and the city of San Daniele held its Aria Di Festa San Daniele. A short 45-minute drive from Aviano brought me to the city of all things ham and prosciutto. It almost did not happen as the day began with heavy rains, thunderstorms and a dreary outlook for a day intended to be spent outside. I stuck to my guns and went forward with my plans I had set for a solid month in advance to come see what this famous ham was all about. If you missed it I feel bad for you, really I do! But, this may be the next best thing and for those of you local or anywhere within a drive, bus or train ride away, you can still come and do most of what I did any time of year so all is not lost. So, let’s get to it!
I was not sure whether to put this blog post here on AvianoFoodie or on my other personal blog of travels throughout Italy and all of Europe as this was both food and wine exploration and sampling but also travel, culture and adventure just the same. However, after looking back at all the pictures I took, the intent of going, the things I learned and saw, it pretty well was 90% food-based overall and also fits the bill of being a food event within the FVG region that all past reviews have been kept to.
Arriving at 1230 with rain still coming down but not hard, I got a parking spot within 15 minutes walk of the town center and festival hub. I was just minutes walk from my first factory tour at Prolongo Prosciutiffico.
Here, 3rd generation family member and owner, Arianna, gave me 45-minute tour (in English) of the full process of how they make SD ham what it is. I wont go into detail as it wont come close to what really happened. I suggest you go and bring the family and take a tour for yourself and enjoy the samples of prosecco and ham at the end.
The formal sit down tasting area just outside the shop begged a further sampling of the good stuff so of course, I got a bit more for just 10 EUR.
After a coffee break, a 1.5 hour guided walking tour, and then meeting up with 2 other couples from the base, I hit another factory tour just a few minutes walk from the first. La Casa Del Prosciutto was up next. The oldest production facility in SD since 1906 now on its 4th generation of family members running the business in the same building it began. Our tour was only 25 minutes but we had a bigger group as well (for English speakers only) we also stayed after for a full meal as we had not eaten much up to this point and were starving.
All this food plus bread basket and coperto (cover) and a liter of house wine + 3 medium beers was 86 EUR and it fed all 5 of us easy! Worth every penny if you ask me. I also found my 4th local cheese here in Italy I can eat in a good amount with 0 digestive aftermath! The cheese slivers shown in the cheese plate above is called Mantasio cheese and it naturally has 0 lactose! That now leaves me with parma, fontina, pecorino and mantasio cheeses I can eat to my heart’s content!
All said and done I learned a lot, tasted much and enjoyed myself thoroughly. And what’s better than a day full of sampling what is said by many to be the best cuts of ham in the world? Bringing some home for days and weeks to come of course!
I got an 800g block (26oz) of prosciutto crudo (raw) from each factory for 25 EUR each which when you consider this kind of ham is ALWAYS to be eaten in traditional paper-thin slices at just 60-90g servings at a sitting. You savor prosciutto, not devour it! One ham leg also has 3 regions to cut from with ever so slightly different flavor profiles pending the cut made. The 3 regions are: the shin, the tip and the flake. You can ask any butcher/producer or server at a prosciutteria for the cut you desire. You typically get a mix of all 3 if not asked for otherwise. I opted for the flake as I was told its the leanest cut, the most aromatic cut but does lack some of the saltiness and sweetness of the other 2 regions. So it depends on what you like most but in the end, all 3 regions are A-mazing!
Before I leave you all with drooling mouths, oogling eyes and racing to Google to learn more of what you thought you knew about ham and prosciutto, let me fast track that process for you. You likely have the same questions I did before I came to Italy in general and certainly before coming to SD for this festival. The links below will not only answer those burning questions but also leave you an informed consumer of all kinds of ham, let alone the famous San Daniele Prosciutto!
Oh, and in case you want more, much more, as is way more than just a 45-minute tour and a tasting then I have what you need right here. How about a half day guided factory tour, local vineyard tour, wine tasting, and a sit-down lunch at a top tier osteria of San Daniele? I got you covered. Check out the new Friulando Food & Wine Experience: A trip through the 5 senses plus 1.
Q&A For the Interested Foodie:
- What’s the difference in prosciutto and other thin sliced ham cuts like bacon?
- Is all Italian Prosciutto the same?
- Specific Production Regulations
- Why is San Daniele prosciutto so unique?
- Its prosciutto healthy compared to other forms of ham?