New recipes

A Regional Italian Food Journey to Expo Milano 2015

A Regional Italian Food Journey to Expo Milano 2015


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Highly anticipated around the world, this year’s Expo Milano 2015 is most certainly one of the largest food events in history. Centered on themes of sustainability and feeding the worlds’s growing population in the future, this world’s fair hopes to bring new technologies and ideas about food to the forefront of the world’s attention. Participating countries have also used Expo 2015 as an opportunity to promote tourism, educate the rest of the world about their national heritage, and, of course, show off some of the best food their country has to offer.

As one might imagine, with 145 countries, numerous food producers, restaurants, companies, and food organizations participating in the event, it’s easy for a single group to get lost in the sheer size of it all. Well aware of this issue, one organization, Chefs of Emilia-Romagna Culinary Association (also known as Chef To Chef) decided to think way outside the box when preparing their contribution for the Expo. Rather than purchasing an expensive space and building a restaurant or display at the Expo, the association instead decided to organize a culinary journey through the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy that would culminate at the Expo.

Massimo Spigaroli, executive chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Antica Corte Pallavicina Relais in Italy and the President of Chef to Chef, told The Daily Meal, “It would be silly to take space in the Expo and start cooking among millions of people. It was much better and [more] intelligent to organize something along the route [to the expo] with small stops.”

The planned culinary journey consisted of three routes that visitors could follow, which ended up covering a great deal of the Emilia-Romagna region. Along each route were a number of stops where one could taste local food prepared by esteemed chefs, listen to culinary talks, discover local ingredients and producers, and even see live cooking demonstrations. All three routes began in Rimini in August and then went their separate ways for over a month of travel.

The first route was ‘by sea’. Two ships, the Principessa and the Stradivari, each with room for about 100 passengers, traveled the Adriatic Sea and along the Po River. Both ships docked at several harbors along the way, all located in the Emilia-Romagna region. Each stop along the sea routes featured a gourmet meal prepared by various chefs from the Chef to Chef association.

The second route was by land, and followed Via Emilia, an ancient Roman road running from Rimini on the Adriatic coast, to Piacenza. The route along the Via Emilia featured a number of stops in the major cities that the road runs through, including the best-known Bologna, Modena, and Parma. Those following the Via Emilia were treated to samples served from food trucks, wine-tasting events, and live talks on topics such like well-being.

The third route of the journey followed Alta Via dei Parchi, a mountain trail. Visitors were able to hike the entire trail through the mountains and attend all events or stop in for a single event along the way. Chef to Chef members, local inhabitants of villages in the Apennines, and the Slow Food Emilia-Romagna organization participated in the events along the trail. Visitors had opportunities to taste local produce, learn about local food traditions, and more.

Chef to Chef made a point to emphasize local ingredients and food styles from each of the areas visited along the three routes. The Emilia-Romagna region’s crown jewels of food, Parmigiano-Reggiano; traditionally produced balsamic vinegar; and the cured meats of Parma such as coppa, salami, and pancetta; were certainly well represented at the events. However, the association also sought to highlight lesser-known products that are still true to the Emilia-Romagna region. “It was one of my main tasks to discover very important products not sustained by the consortium, to be discovered by the regular person,” Chef Spigaroli said.

For example, one chef who participated in the project, Chef Andrea Incerti Vezzani, of Ristorante Cà Matilde, was tasked with reinterpreting a traditional local dish and transforming it into a modern food truck item that could be served in the main squares of the cities along the route. He worked with rabbit, an ingredient commonly used in Reggio Emilia, the region the chef is from. The creative chef ended up serving a rabbit hotdog topped with an onion and traditional balsamic vinegar marmalade, mustard, and aromatic herbs. Chef Incerti Vezzani told The DailyMeal that initially local residents were “a bit scared, but also quite curious, and excited” to try a dish so outside of their normal repertoire.

A gala for about 200 people involved in the event and VIPs took place on September 21st at Casa degli Atellani e Vigna di Leonardo, a home and vineyard once owned and maintained by Leonardo da Vinci himself. A stunning location to hold a party, the vineyard was a gift from Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan to da Vinci in 1498.

Over the centuries, the original grape vines that Da Vinci had cultivated had died out. However, recently the University of Agricultural Sciences in Milan was able to bring back the original grapes that Da Vinci grew from a preserved sample. The house itself was also recently restored. The grand opening of the restored house and vineyard was timed to coincide with Expo 2015 and the Chef to Chef Gala. Also notable about the location is that the Last Supper, one of da Vinci’s most famed paintings, is housed in the nearby Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

From Rimini to the final gala, the Chef to Chef journey has been lauded as a huge success both by participants and visitors. Chef Spigaroli was extremely pleased with how the event turned out, saying that the journey was “something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Without the Expo I might not have realized my dream!” The chef has already begun planning for a similar event next year, as he feels Emilia-Romagna still has so much in its rich food traditions to offer the world. “Under each bell tower there is a different flavor,” he said. “We’re just waiting for people to arrive!”


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


EXPO Milano and Italy Bask in the Glow of Good Food

The World Exposition in Milan recently opened in Italy with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Its admirable goal is "to guarantee healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium."

Featuring pavilions from 140 countries, EXPO Milano expects to welcome more than a million visitors through October. I was one of them: I recently traveled to Italy, and had a delicious opportunity to explore this historic World's Fair devoted to sustainable food production, and to tour a few of the amazing regions of Italy.


The Tree of Life is the heart of EXPO Milano and the Italian Pavilion.

The Tree of Life

The EXPO Milano grounds are stunning, a platform for world-renowned architects to showcase their talents and for chefs to share food from across the globe.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the EXPO. It is based on Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, which depicts the co-existence of humans with the stars and the "primeval life force that gave rise to the universe."

Located adjacent to the Italian Pavilion, it is a striking metal and wood sculpture that integrates with spectacular lighting, fountains, music, and multi-media effects. It also connects to the adjacent ponds and canals, trees, nursery plants, and of course, the food and wine of Italy.


The United Kingdom Pavilion centers on Wolfgang Buttress' representation of a beehive and the importance of bees to the web of life.

Pollinators and the Food Chain

The United Kingdom pavilion is one of the most visually stunning pavilions. Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, it included a metallic honeycomb-like structure that symbolizes the roles of bees at the center of our food chain.

The exhibit is designed to usher visitors through the life of a honeybee as it travels through an orchard of traditional British apple trees and a wildflower meadow with sorrel, buttercups, and other natives to the UK. The threats of pollinator decline and colony collapse play an important role in the educational experience.

Guests are treated to an ethereal soundtrack: "Representing a unique dialogue between human and honey bee . . . Vibration sensors within a real bee hive measure the energy of the bee colony, converting it to digital signals which trigger harmonious pre-recorded sounds at particular thresholds."


Author/activist Vandana Shiva plants okra, melon, and calabash seeds at the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Restoring Fertility to the Soil with Organics

The Biodiversity Park and Organic Pavilion maintains the theme of the Fair and is one of its significant components. The Park -- designed to simulate a trip across the Italian peninsula and its vast biodiversity --includes plants such as myrtle, olive, rosemary, mint, lemon, artichokes, rhubarb, sage, and fennel.

Vandana Shiva, a farmer and prominent Good Food activist from India, stated at the exhibit opening, "Organic agriculture practices are the first step in restoring fertility to the soil." Accordingly, the Organic Pavilion includes a representation of food production systems that are "ecological, secure and sustainable" and contains products across all food categories, including produce, meat, dairy, grains, beans, and more.


Pavilion USA includes a vertical farm with plants harvested daily for use in the onsite café.

James Beard Foundation and American Food 2.0

American Food 2.0 is a multi-level building designed by architect James Biber in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and the U.S. State Department. A key component of the Pavilion is the Great American Foodscape, described as "a journey through America's food culture, past and present fun, delicious and surprising."

The pavilion, in a nod to one of the major innovations in growing, includes a nearly 10,000 square foot vertical farm producing 42 varieties of vegetables, grains, and herbs.

Noting that the vertical farm is organized on the grid system, as American farming historically has been since Thomas Jefferson crafted the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the exhibit's display states that it "also suggests some of the most sustainable land-use strategies such as intercropping, multi-cropping, companion planting, and contour planting. Many of these sustainable agriculture strategies take into account the importance of geography and local conditions."

An Italian Good Food Adventure

Our trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency and included an eclectic delegation of American food leaders: chefs, a farmer's market director, wine merchants, farmers, and others, exploring the joys of Italian food in the country's northern regions.


The Milan Duomo is one of the world's largest and greatest Gothic buildings.

Milan, the starting point, is Italy's second largest city and its center of fashion, industry, and finance. It also has a world-class cultural scene and is rich with history: The refectory of the Santa Maria della Grazie church houses Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. The Milan Cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the world's largest Gothic structures.

Next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest and most visually stunning shopping malls. The glass-covered 19th century arcade is home to high-end retailers and restaurants. During EXPO Milano, the Galleria features a pop-up restaurant operated by the James Beard Foundation with dinners by leading chefs including Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai.

Da Giacomo, a favorite restaurant in Milan, featured traditional local fare such as branzino, porcini mushroom risotto, squid ink pasta with anchovy, fried zucchini flowers, and cannoli.


Marcel van Ooyen (left) is executive director of Grow NYC (operator of Greenmarkets, the largest farmers market network in the U.S.). Paul Hardej (right) is a vertical farming pioneer who co-founded Chicago's Farmed Here. They are seen visiting Pasticceria Barbero in Alba.

Our tour took us to the Piedmont region, home base of the Italian Slow Food movement and center for sustainable food and wine. It included a visit to Beppino Ocelli, who produces Langa and Alpe cheese from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep that spend their lives in Alpine pastures. It is some of the finest cheese (and butter) I ever tasted, reflective of the region's unique terroir (and in some cases combined with local Barolo wines and truffles).

The day continued at Pasticceria Barbero in Alba, a converted soda fountain from 1881. It boasts one of Italy's top chocolatiers, featuring a specialty of dark chocolate and toasted local hazelnuts.

A visit to Erba Luna winery allowed us to taste a selection of organic wines including Barolo, Nebbiola, and Barbera. The Oberta Brothers converted the vineyard to organic in 1985 and operate it along with a delightful bed & breakfast (known as agriturismo.)

Wine explorations continued at the 13th Century Castle Grinzane Cavour, a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum. One of the finest food days I have experienced culminated at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Trattoria della Posta, operated by the founder's great-grandson. Located in hills and vineyards on the outskirts of Alba, it features regional ingredients such as rabbit, truffles, pasta, cheese, and Piedmont wines and grappa.


The casks at Meran Burggräfler, a regional wine cooperative in the South Tyrol region of northeast Italy.

Balzano

Our next day began in Balzano in the northeastern corner of Italy. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the dramatic Dolomite Mountains, Balzano has experienced Italian, Austrian, and German rule at different stages, and it has a delightful mixed heritage and food culture.

Lunch was at PUR Suditrol, a gourmet store featuring all local (and many organic) foods of the South Tyrol region. A visit to the Pfitscher Speck and Sausage facility provided delicious insights into the area's traditional pork production and smoking methods.

At Meran Burggräfler we experienced award-winning wines from a regional cooperative of farmers. Dinner in the town center of Balzano was at Wirtshaus Vögele, which dates to 1277 it featured local organic ingredients and some of the best potato fritters ever.


Vernazza is the loveliest of the five coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

There's no place better to conclude an Italian Good Food adventure than Cinque Terre. A rugged portion of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it consists of five charming villages that make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towns are primarily accessible by train, boat, and trail, with little automobile access.

I was guided on hikes between the villages by Nelly Scapparone, a manager of the National Park and native of Monterosso, the largest of the five towns. The walking tour highlighted the traditional use of terraces to grow grapes, olives, lemons, hazelnuts, cherries, and lush gardens that provide residents with an abundance of regional food and wines.

Dinner at L'Ancora della Tortuga included Ligurian pesto, three different styles of anchovies, and two whole fish caught locally earlier in the day and roasted on a slab of sea salt. It was a fitting end to a spectacular trip, and I am grateful for all who made it special!


The terraces of Cinque produce a vast array of foods sold locally and abroad.

Photographs of EXPO Milano courtesy of EXPO Milano. Other photographs by Jim Slama.

Jim Slama is president of FamilyFarmed, a Chicago-based non-profit, and is the founder of the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Good Food Festival & Conference.


Watch the video: EXPO MILAN 2015 Part II pavilions and EXPO by night (May 2022).