Finding out about the world of food through travel is one of the distinctive features of study at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Once again this year study trips have been organized round Europe and its wealth and diversity of food and wine.
Albania, Denmark, France (the Auvergne and the Châteauneuf du Pape region in Provence), The Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain and Hungary were the nine destinations chosen for the more than 60 students currently attending the second year of the three-year undergraduate degree program.
The students themselves come from Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Romania, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Uruguay and Venezuela — internationalism being a leitmotiv of the University of Gastronomic Sciences since its inception.
In Albania they visited breathtakingly beautiful uncontaminated areas in the company of local experts familiar with rural and mountain communities.
In Scutari on the first day of the trip they were given a presentation of activities in the field of rural development and cooperation by Mark Rrupa, one of the coordinators of the Albania Terra Madre Communities, and Spartak Sokoli, a local NGO worker, after which they proceeded to visit the city market. In the evening they dined at the Mrizi i Zanave restaurant in Fishte, the first in Albania and the Balkans to follow the Slow Food philosophy with an emphasis on the use of local produce. After dinner they met chef and owner Altin Prenga.
The group then moved on to Lepushe, accompanied by the young cook Bledar Kola, a pupil of the great Renè Rezhepi, chef at Noma in Copenhagen.
In Lepushe the students met Gjystina Grishaj, coordinator of the Local Producers’ Community. They stayed with families in the country town and were thus able to make firsthand acquaintance with the locals. Meetings were organized with farmers to find out more about the potato and corn supply chain. Further meetings followed with shepherds in the high altitude mountain pastures of Kelmendi to study dairy produce and wild herbs.
The following day was devoted to an excursion to the village of Kalce (which can only reached on foot or by donkey) to interview and have lunch with the few remaining inhabitants. Kalce is famous for its production of raki, a local spirit, and lamb and mutton.
At the end of the week the students moved on to Theth, where they stayed on a holiday farm and met Pavlin Polia, a local tourist operator, and local producers. They were then accompanied on a hike in the mountains by Polia himself.
The group bound for Denmark visited Copenhagen to find out more about Scandinavian cuisine, which is currently gaining huge international recognition.
The trip began with a lunch at the Clausen Fisk restaurant, specialized in smoked fish. This was followed by a lecture by Professor Anna Marie Fisker.
On the second day the students observed oyster gathering and processing at Venø Oysters in Limfjorden, then met an organic mussel producer in Villerslev.
In the afternoon they went out to pick and study wild herbs at the Thy National Park, after which they had dinner at the Svinkløv Badehotel. They were then given a lecture on “Food+Design”.
The following day was dedicated to the sea and fishing with a stopover at the fish auction in the port of Hirtshals and a visit to Læsø Fiskeindustri in Skagen.
At the end of the morning the party had lunch in the port of Skagen.
The afternoon was devoted to cereals. Among other things, the students observed the grinding of flour from old grain varieties at the Aurion mill in Hjørring.
They then visited the typical Aabybro Dairy and the Oceanarium in Nordsøen before being treated to a traditional dinner with sandwiches filled with various crustaceans.
The study trip then proceeded with a lecture on Nordic cuisine past and present, followed by a workshop on fish takeaways organized by the University di Aalborg and a test lunch of the products featured.
In the evening a farewell diner was organized in Nordsøen with Katrine Klinken and chef Mikael Christensen.
The party then returned to Copenhagen to enjoy a true Nordic lunch with local vinegar. In the afternoon they attended a presentation of an urban farming at the University of Copenhagen, after which they dined at Nose2Tail.
Thursday was a great day during which students enjoyed the unforgettable experience of visiting the Food Lab and kitchen of the ultra-famous, award-winning Noma restaurant.
At the end of the morning they toured the city of Copenhagen and enjoyed a lunch of Danish hot dogs, a typical local street food, in a Pølsevogn.
In the evening, the party dined at the famous Christiania community, then ventured out on a Copenhagen beer walk.
The last day was devoted to urban bees and gardens, a visit to the traditional “La Glace” formation, a tour of school gardens, and a workshop on the typical Danish open sandwich, smorrebod, which was served at dinner that evening.
The trip to the land of volcanoes, the French region of the Auvergne, envisaged a packed program. Students arrived directly in the gîte of Moments Nature in Salers, where they dined and met their guide and escort for the rest of the trip, Jacques Gillieron of the Slow Food Volcan’iac convivium.
The following day the students set out to discover, farms, pastures and dairies: accompanied by the livestock breeding expert Hervé Laurent and the representative of the PDO Auvergne cheese consortium Benjamin Piccoli, they visited the Laitière de St Bonnet dairy, which produces the Slow Food presidium Salers cheese, then La Cave à Salers”, where Salers and other Auvergne PDO cheeses are aged.
After lunch at the Le Monzola restaurant in St. Bonnet, the students moved on to the mountain dairy of Guy Chambon, a Salers producer.
In the evening they left for St. Flour where the next morning they visited the Coopeérative de la Planèze, a Cantal dairy. Here they saw a typical refining tunnel. In the afternoon they visited the Brum’ company in Bournoncle-St-Pierre, a producer of edible essential oils, before setting out for Chaise-Dieu to visit the abbey of Saint Robert, which houses the famous medieval fresco “La Danse Macabre”. Later they travelled to the Geb’Nout center, a project for biodiversity protection and food education. The following morning breakfast at the center included home-baked bread made with old wheat varieties. It was followed by a series of lectures on mountain agriculture and the production of the prized Fourme de Valcivière cheese and a visit to a cottage dairy in the mountains.
The party then visited the Ana’Chronique cookery school/nutrition center in Marat before leaving for Sermentizon in the so-called “Tuscany of the Auvergne”. Here the students attended a lecture on local cooking at the Domaine de la Siarre restaurant with chef Jean-Marc Poucher, dining later on food cooked by the students.
The next day the students travelled to Thiers, a town famous for its knives. Here they visited a knife factory and each had the chance to make a traditional to bring knife home as a souvenir. They then moved on to the capital of the Auvergne and its rich gastronomy Clermont-Ferrand, where they had lunch at the Le Poivre d’Âne restaurant. The meal was followed by visits to the Gauthier butcher’s shop for a lecture on fin gras du Mezenc, a local meat specialty, and the cheese affineur Olivier Nivesse.
They then toured the regional nature park of the volcanoes of the Auvergne, where they also enjoyed a snack of farmhouse produce with Jean Valère and the staff of the CIVAM regional association for rural development. Afterwards they went trekking to the top of one of the volcanoes.
In the afternoon they returned to Clermont-Ferrand to meet the enoogist Sonia Lopez Calleja, who took them to an organic vineyard growing old grape varieties.
On the Saturday the group left for Aulhat-St-Privat where it visited the “Château de Péchot” organic farm, which produces preserves, honey and cakes and biscuits. Lunch consisted of dishes made with the farm’s produce.
In the afternoon the students took part in an event organized by the Slow Food ApériSlow, where they presented the courses and activities of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. In the evening they dined at the Le Clair Mont brasserie.
On the last day they travelled to Lyon to meet none other than the chef Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex of the Auberge de l’Ile, a restaurant with two Michelin stars.
Another group also travelled to France to the Châteauneuf du Pape region of Provence. This “land of lavender and wine” welcomed students with a lunch at a bistro in Limans. This was followed by the presentation of the “Bistrot de Pays” project and network. The students then visited the organic lavender producer Guillaume Chabot at the Moulin Bonaventure and travelled on to Montlaux. The following day they met a Sisteron PGI Label Rouge sheep breeder and a small PGU spelt grower before enjoying lunch at the colorful and famous market in Forcalquier. In the afternoon they visited the Université des Senteurs et Saveur and found out more about local produce at the Bastide de l’Adrech in Manosque. Here, after hearing talks on AOC extra virgin olive oil and local cooking, they had dinner.
The following day the students set out for La Ferme Pourcine, where Joel Corbon lectured them on Banon, a cheese matured in chestnut leaves. They then visited a goat farm and tasted the cheese.
The next morning the group travelled to Cucuron, in the heart of the Luberon, for a cooking demonstration and lunch with Eric Sapet at his La Petite Maison restaurant. In the afternoon it moved on to Laguiole, in the Aveyron, a town famous for knives and for the cheese of the same name. In the morning it visited first the Forge de Laguiole knife company, then the Cooperative Jeune Montagne, where Christian Miquel explained Laguiole cheese production. The students had lunch with André Valadier, founder of the JM Cooperative and visited an Aubrac cattle farm. They then interviewed Michel and Sebastien Bras.
The following day, the party left for the wine region of Châteauneuf du Pape, where they met the producer Michel Blanc, their local guide.
Blanc introduced the students to the wines of the South Rhone at La Maison des Vignerons with a tasting of the most representative reds, rosés and whites.
The first stop on the trip to The Netherlands was Amsterdam. Cycling round the capital the students sampled ethnic cuisines and had lunch at the Tahi restaurant Bird. They then toured the Albert Cuypmarkt and met the promoters of the Dutch Cooks’ Alliance and Youth Food Movement at the Merkelbach restaurant.
Later in the afternoon attended two workshops: one conducted by Geert Burem, chef at the Merkelbach, the other conducted by an Italian chef from the Cooks’ Alliance on foreign cooking in The Netherlands.
The next day the group visited the Amsterdam Food Center, the “House of Taste”, the point of sale of the Dutch Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance, and the A. van Wees Distilleerderij De Ooievaar distillery. Dinner was organized at the Sama Sebo Indian restaurant.
The students then met Tim van Tartwijk, a young agrifood entrepreneur and chef Gilbert Bosmans, who presented the Celia project for natural production with respect for the environment. After a question and answer session, they embarked on an excursion to the nearby national park, after which they enjoyed lunch and a tasting of local beers.
The following morning the group travelled to a neighboring harbor for a fishing trip before being treated to a lunch of the renowned local lobsters.
The students then travelled into Belgium to visit to taste traditional “moules et frites” at the historic Cantillon brasserie in Brussels.
For the first time a group of UNISG students made a study trip to Poland.
The students arrived in Warsaw where they had lunch and attended a talk on Polish gastronomy by Prof. Tadeusz at the Lotos restaurant. They then met members of the Slow Food Youth Movement and made a tour of Warsaw and its pubs.
The following day they were guided round the Hala Mirowska market by Grzegorz Lapanowski, a well-known young chef who then gave them a pre-prandial talk at his gastronomy school.
In the afternoon the party left Warsaw for Krakow and dined at a kosher restaurant in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter.
On the Tuesday the students visited Niepolomice, where they were given the chance to bake bread and biscuits. In the afternoon they visited the salt mines of Wieliczka, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the CK Browar microbrewery where they had dinner. This was followed by a tour of the Wawel, Krakow’s castle.
The following morning, Wednesday June 20, the party enjoyed breakfast at Consonni, la typical local eatery, then visited Stary Kleparz, Krakow’s main food market before setting off for Nowa Wies Szlachecka, where the students saw typical kiełbasa lisiecka sausage being made.
They then went up into the mountains to find out about the production of the original spindle-shaped Slow Food presidium cheese oscypek and bryndza. In Bartnik they tasted honey, hydromel and other typical honey-based produce, while in Bacowka they attended a workshop on pierogi, traditional stuffed bread dumplings.
The students then visited the typical village of Zakopane and concluded their trip in Bacowka.
In Spain, a group of students visited Madrid, its surrounds and part of the neighboring region of Avila and Toledo. On their arrival in the capital they were taken for a tour by former UNISG Master student Guido Miragoli .
The following day the group left for the “Gran Via” to meet Slow Food Madrid convivium leader Juan Bureo. They then went on to visit the Finca El Regajal winery in Aranjuez to meet producers, accompanied by the Michelin-star chef Fernandez Cerro of the Casa Jose restaurant. After lunch they visited the Gonsalbez Orti winery in Pozuele del Rey. In the evening they returned to Madrid for dinner at the Hogar Vasco taberna.
The next day the students visited the famous market of Anton Martin, the San Onofre bakery, the La Santiguesa cake shop for a brief lesson on the Madrid confectionery tradition and the market of San Miguel.
They then set out for Arenas de San Pedro, in the Avila region. Here they had the chance to meet the goat breeders of Guadarrama and the La Cabezuela farm in Fresnedillas de la Oliva, which produces goat’s cheeses and other dairy produce. In Arenas de San Pedro they also heard a talk about the local area, the Tiétar Valley and the province of Ávila.
The following day the students visited Javier Jara Garcia’s farm, El Hornillo de Gredos, where they enjoyed a stroll through the typical cherry, fig and chestnut orchards. Of special interest was the chance to discover the so-called dehesa ecosystem, formed by vast woods of beech and cork trees in which aromatic herbs such as thyme and rosemary grow in abundance. This habitat offers animals rich and balanced nutrition and constitutes one of the best preserved ecosystems in Europe.
The party then moved on to Navalmorales, in the province of Toledo, to visit the Labranza Toledana wine press and attend a lesson by José Pérez González on Umbría Oretana organic extra virgin olive oil. In the evening the students returned to Arenas de San Pedro.
The following day they visited the Calzada Romana, Puerto del Pico, the Alberche Valley, the Colmenar pig farm, specialized in the Avileña Negra Iberica breed, and the Alberche Valley wine cooperative in El Barranco. In the afternoon they moved on to San Martin de Valdeiglesias, near Madrid, to meet the wine grower and enologist, Daniel Ramos who gave a talk on the Garnachas di Gredos grape variety. They then visited the Val del Alberche dairy to taste matchings of its cheeses with the local wine.
The program was just as packed the following day. The students first travelled to Poyales del Hoyo, near Avila, to visit the local bee and honey museum, then returned to Arenas de San Pedro to take part in the Earth Market organized by the local Slow Food convivium. After returning to Madrid, they returned to Italy.
The UNISG group bound for the United Kingdom was based in Dunsford, in Devon. The trip began with a full British breakfast at Dart’s Farm. The party then visited Exeter University to meet students involved in Slow Food and its University Garden program. Lunch was served at the nearby Piper’s Farm and was followed by a talk on the Red Ruby cattle breed. In the afternoon, in true British fashion, they stopped off in Honiston for a cream tea and toast. In the evening they visited and dined at the Otter Brewery.
The party then moved from Devon to Somerset to visit the Westcombe Dairy and find out about the production and maturing of the Slow Food Presidium Cheddar. The afternoon was given over to a visit to the traditional Somerset Distillery and a tasting of different varieties of apple brandy.
The students spent the next day at the Schumacher College in Totnes, where they met the chef Julia Ponsonby, author of the book Gaia’s Kitchen, to speak of the role of food in a program on holistic sciences, follow a cooking demonstration by her, then lunch together. After which they met Hal Gilmore, a representative of the Transition Town movement of which Totnes is part, for a talk on “transition towns” and find out more about related projects.
The next day they were taken to Brixham to visit the fish market there and breakfast at the Fisherman’s Mission, after which they enjoyed a stroll through the Sharpam estate and a tasting of its cheeses and a visit to the Riverford organic farm where they enjoyed a lunch prepared by Rob the chef.
This British study trip allotted a large amount of time to local agriculture, with visits to the Lori Leich berry farm specialized in native varieties, including a traditional cream tea and a tour of the fields, a tasting of Brimblecombes Cider and dinner at the home of Fred Dudbridge, of Slow Food Devon.
On the last day the group visited the Shillingford organic farm and enjoyed a lunch of typical local pasties at the historic Bridge Inn, beer tasting included. In the afternoon they visited Quickes, a Cheddar and Double Gloucester producer, and the vineyards of the Pebblebed winery. The trip came to an end with dinner at the Route 2 restaurant with members of the Slow Food Devon convivium and discussion of the “Bike Ride to Turin” project.
Another part of students travelled to Hungary, a land of ancient gastronomic tradition and interesting agrifood products. After landing in Budapest, they travelled to Kerekegyhaza, where they met the local Slow Food leader Olga Rendek, who gave them a talk on the region and its distinctive features.
The next day the students already had “their fingers in the pie” at a fascinating workshop on strudel. This was followed by a lunch of dishes made with local produce — as well as the strudel made by the students themselves!
In the afternoon the party had the chance to enjoy a coach ride to the Kiskunsag National Park, where they heard a talk on the local flora and fauna. They then went on to visit an old fishermen’s cottage after stopping off at various local producers.
The following day the students left for Eger to visit and taste the wines of the Thummerer cellar, after which they heard a talk on Hungarian cheese by expert Eva Thummerer. They then set off for Abaujszanto, where they visited the Oremus winery, took part in a pastry-making workshop and visited a distillery.
The next day was also partly dedicated to wine, with visits to the Hetszölö and Penditi cellars guided by the local Slow Food leader Marta Wille-Baumkauff. The students then visited the famous “Goat Lady” and attended a workshop on gulyas.
Back in Budapest the students learned everything there is to know about Hungary’s rich tradition of confectionery with Slow Food leader Adrienn Toth, and visited the city’s fantastic old central market, an international acclaimed historical treasure. Before returning to Italy they also saw the city and its sights.