Discovering “Old Europe”: 8 new study trips for UNISG students

The University of Gastronomic Sciences study trips are proceeding without respite.
This time round Europe was the destination for eight groups of students. From March 11-18, they visited, respectively, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece (visited by two groups, one of which went to Crete). Portugal, the Czech Republic and  Spain.

The trip to Austria began with a meeting with Slow Food Youth Vienna Potluck on the subject of “Pollenzo–Vienna”. Over the next few days, the attention of students was captured by typical Austrian produce: they discovered traditional Viennese confectionery at Demel K.U.K. Hofzuckerbäcker, attended a workshop at Herwig Gasser, enjoyed the bread at the artisan Gragger bakery, found out more about pit cabbage, a Slow Food presidium product typical of Vienna and tasted pumpkin seed oil at Ölmühle Höfler in Kaindord. They also visited Labonca Bio-Hof, the company that produces Zotter chocolate, and the Naschmakt, Kutschermarkt and Karmelitanermarker food markets.
During the trip, the students also visited the Weimar Cafè to discover the Vienna cafè tradition, a UNESCO heritage of humanity, the  Slow Food presidium Gemischter Satz wineshop, the Jurtschitsch wineshop, the wine museum at Langenlois in the Kamptal region and the organic Gereigger farm.
Finally, a dinner with Slow Food cooks at Irenes Cattering on Monday March 12 provided an opportunity to present the “Slow Food Cooks” project, while another at the Gallbrunner  restaurant gave students a chance to discover Stryian cuisine.

On their arrival in Croatia the students took up accommodation at the Kezelei eco-agritourist farm. Here they visited the farm itself, tasted its wines and attended a presentation of traditional regional cooking. This was followed by a cookery workshop in which they saw Kotlovina, a fiery local pork and sausage stew, the being made.
Over the next few days, the students were welcomed as guests at the Degrassi winery, owned by the extra virgin olive oil producer Agrofin, and the Roxanich farm, where they were treated to a wine tasting and a dinner. They also visited the Agrolaguna farm and the Coronica winery.
During their stay, the students also had the chance to set off at half past five in the morning to take part in a fishing trip with the fishermen of Novigrad.
On Unije, the group attended a lecture on sustainable development on the island delivered by Robert Nikolic, leader of the Unije Slow Food convivial. Here too they were able to go out with the local fisherman. In the course of a tour of the island, the students were also treated to a presentation of natural resources, such as the Istrian Arbit  cattle breed, olive groves and pathways.
On the island of Pag, they visited an oil producer and enjoyed a tasting dinner with the local Slow Food convivium. The following day they visited the local salt museum and saw how the production process works.

The trip to Germany also included a packed schedule of visits to agrifood companies: for example, to the Van Volxem winery in Wiltingen/Oberemmel, the Müller Karl estate in Kanzern, with a tasting of spumante and local ham,   the Steillagenzentrum winery near Bernkastel-Kues, where students were treated to a tasting. Particularly important was the visit to the world famous J. J. Prüm winery. In Ürzig, Johannes Schmitz’s Robenhof estate laid on a demonstration of hillside winegrowing techniques. Last but not least, the group visited the Römerhof and Leitzgen estates and took part in a tasting at the latter.
There was no lack of other activities. Accompanied by  the enologist-historian Matthias Porten, the students and their tutors visited Trier, where they heard an interesting talk on local winegrowing. The following day, the students moved on to Cochem, where they visited the historic mustard mill.  There followed a meeting with Rolf Haxel, president of the Moselle winegrowers, and a lecture on the terracing of the local vineyards, supplemented by an in loco demonstration by technician F. J. Treis.
On the last day of the trip, the group took a walk through the steepest vineyard in Europe.

On arrival in Greece the UNISG group visited the Kyr-Yianni winery, then took part in a tasting. They then went on to meet a beekeeper, after which they travelled to Thessaloniki, where over the following days they visited the historic Bodoni bakery, famous for its bouyatsa, a custard pastry, other producers in the center of town, and a bakery where they make koulouri, a circular bread with sesame seeds. They also visited a number of koulouri and salep pastry vendors. In Thessaloniki, for the first time in the history of the UNISG study trips, students visited a producer of dolmadakia, stuffed vine leaves. After this interesting experience, they attended a lecture on archaeology by Professor Soultana of the Aristotelis University.
The day of Wednesday March 14 was given over to a tour of various parts of the Calcidica peninsula. In Ammouliani, the students met the local fishermen and went out with them in the bay of Monte. They then visited Karagianni, a goat’s cheese producer, and the Claudia Papagianni wine cellar. The tour ended with a cookery workshop at the   Bakatsianos restaurant.
The following day the group visited a fisherman on Lake  Vegoritida who gave them a lecture on catching river prawns. They then moved on to the Ktima Alpha winery.
On the Friday the students were guests at the Modiano central market, the largest in the city, where they spoke to  souvlaki and gyros kebab sellers. Finally, they made a tour of the Vergina archaeological site, where they saw the tombs of the kings of Macedonia, and visited a number of popular  food canteens (the most famous on nighttime excursion, which began at 10 o’clock pm).

The other group that visited Greece spent their time on the island of Crete. The schedule was as packed as usual to give students the opportunity to have as fallen idea as possible of the various realities that combine to give the island its uniqueness.
On the Monday the students visited the Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC), which played an important part in their trip.  Here they were given an introduction to the OAC’s work by E. Larentzakis and took part in an iconography workshop with V. Meichaneitsidis and K. Stefanak. During their stay, they also heard lectures on Cretan savory pies, typical cakes, island herbs, fish and the traditional diet.  They also visited OAC’s EuroMediterranean Youth Centre in Nopigia.
The schedule also envisaged a number of trips within the trip. At Rodopou, for example, students met Georgakakis, a honey and rakomelo producer, while in Drakona they were welcomed to a family farm whose proprietors they interviewed for the “Granaries of Memory” project. Other interviews were organized at the ancient village of Milia and the Psillakis family business in Zymvragou.
On the Tuesday the students visited the  Ellenaki Argivo in Vouves, where they saw one of the oldest olive trees in the world and toured the local museum. They also attended a cookery lesson featuring traditional dishes such as pies, tarts and moussaka.
Over the following days, the students visited the Museum of Cretan Flora, the botanical gardens (where they received a lesson on cooking with wild herbs), the Elaiourgio Museum,with its display of old oil presses (where they tasted olive oil-baed products), the Chrysopigi Monastery with its organic cultivations, the Harma and Syrili brewery, the Manousakis family winery in Vatolakos and the Biolea family business in Astrikas.
On the Saturday, finally, they visited the Papagiannakis family dairy in Pervolakia and the Stavrianoudakis livestock farm and dairy in Xerosterni.

The students on the trip to Porto in Portugal attended a number of  lectures. At the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto they learned about the Douro region, viticulture, evaluation, vinification and aging methods, Port and Douro’s AOC wines. The group then visited the institute’s laboratories and tasting room, where they heard about various aspects of local wine production (control and certification, denominations of origin and geographical indications, legal status, the principle of territoriality and other restrictions, Portuguese wine organizations, the private and public spheres and the Douro wine and Port market).
Particularly interesting was the tour of the wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. In the following days the students embarked on a number of visits: more specifically, to the community of Pereiros, the Quevado winery, the shepherds who breed the indigenous Churra de terra quente sheep, the cheesemakers of Terrincho, the Maritime Museum of Ilhavo,  a company which dries and freezes codfish, a historical  exhibition of cod fishing boats, the traditional Mercado do Bolhão and the old part of the city.

On Monday March 12, the students who travelled to the  Czech Republic attended a lecture on the country’s cooking, traditions and agricultural produce with the students at the University of Hospitality Management in Prague. They then visited a traditional butcher’s shop, where they tasted some cured meats, and the “Toulcv Dvr” Centre, which promotes sustainable food production and food education.
On the following days the students toured the city of Prague, visiting a farmers’ market with local market organizers and producers, who described the characteristics of the products on sale. From Wednesday 14 to Thursday 15, they visited a dairy producing goat’s milk and cheese in  Sosuvka and the Mendel University, where they were treated to a presentation of organic production in the Czech Republic and an analysis of the food industry from the Communist period to the present day. On the same days, in the Slovacko area of southeast Moravia the group visited the old orchards of service trees, typical locally, and traditional sheep folds. After the visit, the group saw a pig being slaughtered using local methods and partook of a traditional lunch of the various parts of the pig. The women of the Kozojídskými Kuchakami association then conducted an interactive cookery lesson on Moravian cakes.
During their visit to the regional museum in the castle of  Mikulov, the students followed a presentation of viticulture in the area. This was followed by an excursion through the vineyards and visits to local wine producers.
On the last day, Saturday, they visited a fish farm in the Pohoelice area and enjoyed a lunch of local fish.

Spain was also a destination for a UNISG study trip. On the Monday, on the Gran Via in Madrid, students met the local Slow Food leader, Juan Bureo, after which they visited the campus of the University of Alcalá and the“Rey Juan Carlos I” botanical gardens, where they met the director of the organic garden, Dr Rosendo Elvira. The latter gave a brief talk about projects developed with students, such as “The Organic Garden”, “Communication to society of climate change and its consequences” and “Box growing and other domestic growing systems”. On the same morning they visited: the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, where the principal, Dr Rosa Vicente, gave a brief lecture on rural development and its environmental impact in the autonomous community of Madrid; Vega Carabaña, a producer of fruit, vegetables and excellent olive oil; the Cachopo farm, which produces organic fruit, vegetables and preserves. The following days were packed with events.
The students visited Colmenareña and Bionda de El Molar sheep farms (both native breeds on the verge of extinction), the La Paz market and Los Mostenses, the historic market that became a favorite haunt for gourmets. The students subsequently visited the Bodegas Ricardo Benito winery in Navalcarner and the La Cabezuela dairy farm, which produces goat’s milk cheese and other produce, and met a goat breeder in Guadarrama.
At Arenas de San Pedro, the group received a talk on the  specific characteristics of the Tiétar valley and the Province of  Avila, after which they toured the town itself.
On Thursday 15, students took a nature walk among the cherry, fig and chestnut orchards typical of the area, El Hornillo and El Arenal in particular, visited Cuevas del Valle to admire the popular architecture, Roman roads and grottoes of the area (accompanied by Santos Jimenez), met the president of the San Pedro Bautista cooperative in San Esteban del Valle and visited the La Moraleda oil company’s olive press.
On the Friday the group met members of the Avileña Negra  cattle breeders’ association, who delivered a brief lecture on the characteristics and history of the breed. This was followed by a visit to the Finca Dehesa de la Serna livestock farm, accompanied by the owner, Beatriz Sierra, a member of Slow Food.
The last meetings of the trip were with the director of the Candeleda goat breeding cooperative and the heads of an associate dairy and a breeder.
The trip came to a memorable end on Saturday 17 when members of Slow Food Gredos Tiétar laid on a special lunch  for the group at the Posada El Canchal.