The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

5:22 AM

Parmigiano Reggiano - Cracking Battle!

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

The Big Crack - 
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cracking Battle
Huntington Beach, CA Whole Foods Market

We recently visited our local Whole Foods market for a very special event being held in Whole Foods stores nationwide, and internationally.  Whole Foods is a specialty market that specializes in health food, organics, international food, and sustainable food.  
During this event, hundreds of stores cut into wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese all at the same time, attempting to beat world record cheese-cracking times.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a special cheese that is created only in the Parma region of Italy.  It is a hard cheese that is encased in wax and aged for a minimum of one year.  Some wheels, such as the ones shown here, are aged for two or even three years.  These are called Parmigiano-Reggiano Vecchio (old) and Stravecchio (really old).

This cheese has a distinct, nutty  and buttery flavor, and a unique texture that works well crumbled or shredded, and is great for a variety of dishes, including pasta dishes and sauces.  While many Americans are familiar with cheese sold as "Parmesan" in the States, there is really no comparison between this and real Parmigiano-Reggiano.  For more information on this cheese, check out this post.

Parmigiano-Reggiano comes in large wheels that can weight upwards of eighty pounds.  To be cut into slices that are suitable for sale, the cheese monger must "crack" the cheese, continuing to break it into smaller pieces using a set of specialty cheese tools. 
For this event, two cheese masters faced off in a battle to see who could crack the cheese the fastest!  The battle consisted of three parts: cracking the cheese in half, cracking one half into two quarters, and cutting one quarter into pieces suitable for sale. 
While this store did not beat any world records, both gentlemen managed to break down their wheels with impressive speed, and finally, the store manager, Pat, came out victorious.

I have purchased this cheese many times, and when it comes to Parmesan, there really is no substitute.  While this may be more expensive than cheaper imitation Parmesan cheeses, the expense is more than worth it, and you will not regret your purchase. 
It was great fun seeing entire wheels broken down, and this is an event that I will not soon forget.  Thanks to the wonderful people at Whole Foods for putting on this show for us, and for continuing to offer a great selection of healthy, environmentally-friendly foods at fair prices. 
If only they could have given us one of those half-wheels...

In the end, Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the greatest cheeses ever invented, and that is saying quite a bit, coming from a long-time lover of cheese. 
If you have never tried Parmesan in its true form, get up, run to your local specialty foods market or cheese monger, and pick up a piece today.  I guarantee you will not regret it!

Whole Foods Market
7881 Edinger Ave Suite 150
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Also check out this store on Facebook

Posted by Adam (Truffle Shuffle)
Pictures by Grely (Sugar and Spice)

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