Sunday, May 13

Going Hog-Wild in Urbino, Supporting Local Pig Farmers

Urbino, a city renowned for its art, is also full of pigs!
 I was recently invited to breakfast at the organic farm of Carlo & Gigia at Cal Bianchino outside Urbino on a spectacularly sunny day with my friends Paola & Antonio from Gelateria Maki. We were greeted by a herd of geese marching past as we enjoyed the lovely meal prepared by Gigia & Carolina, including of course their mouthwatering home-cured charcuterie. 

They are locally famous for their passion of breeding cinta senese pigs. With over 75 pigs, 14 cows & a whole gaggle of fowl from peacocks to hens & roosters, geese & more, there is always work to do. The farm offers modest accommodations, work for WWOOFers (World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers - exchanging room & board for work), serve lunch & dinner by request as well as sell an array of cured meats, lardo, strutto & more.

just a week old

The tour of the reserve was a great chance to catch up with friends as well as do a bit of research and get a whole lot of inspiration! We are planning on building a pig stall next to the orto to begin raising pigs ourselves! I grilled Carlo & Carolina on how to raise pigs - the best stall to build, what they eat (everything), the conditions of the land (trees are a must, so is a mud pit). They are surprisingly clean animals & incredibly friendly. I am so excited, we'll purchase our piglets from this idyllic farm & these proud farmers!!

Carlo & Gigia are getting ready for a big adventure to America for the first time! They will be visiting farms across the country & tasting the different ways pork is prepared from Vermont to South Carolina & finishing in Iowa where Carlo will be the guest Chef, preparing a slow roasted pig on a spit - his specialty! (While we were visiting he was very concerned on how to get his self-designed spit roaster to America.) Their trip will be filmed & made into a road trip / foodie documentary Scattered Seeds exploring the cross-culture sustainable food movement & the farmers like Carlo & Gigia behind it. (I can't wait to see it!!)

curing meat: prosciutto on the left, guanciale (pig's cheek) on the right
Just before it was time to go back to our farm & get to work, Carlo took me into his meat "laboratory" - that's where the magic happens! He proudly presented his bistecca, dried sausages, prosciutto & more. It was driving me crazy it all looked so delicious. You can special order their cured meats made with pigs raised, slaughtered & butchered on all their farm in the most humane way with true passion for quality.

Thank you for the lovely day Carlo, Gigia & Carolina for your heart-warming hospitality!! Paola is right, you are really one of the 'hidden jewels of this province!'

If you are near Urbino it's worth a visit: 
Azienda Agricola Cal Bianchino
Carlo & Gigia
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