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Adventures by Disney Mediterranean Magic: The Pizza Farm

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster takes us with her on her summer vacation, European travel – Disney style. This was a three-part trip which included two Adventures by Disney packages (Barcelona Escape and Mediterranean Magic), plus a Mediterranean cruise on the Disney Magic, all sandwiched together. Her trip of a lifetime included culture, relaxation, breathtaking scenery, and of course, plenty of food.

Welcome sign.

I went to a pizza farm this summer.

Well, we weren’t exactly picking pizza off trees during my Mediterranean Magic Adventures by Disney trip last month, but we did the next best thing — making pizza at a family-run farm that grew all the components of our meal right there on site.

For those of you unfamiliar with Adventures by Disney, this is an arm of the company which offers high-end group tours of locales in Europe, Asia, South American, Central America, North America, and Africa. There’s no Mickey Mouse stuff on your Adventure, just world-class service provided by Disney-trained guides who give you unprecedented access to activities and attractions. The pizza farm experience is included in the 2012 Central Italy Family Vacation tour. If you’re looking for a taste of what to expect on that trip, read on.

Snacks at the Pizza Farm.

Visiting The Pizza Farm

The pizza farm visit occurred on day five of our trip. We had spent the previous few days on a mad dash through the cultural sights of Florence and Rome in 90+ degree weather. Those experiences were incredible, but by the time we got to Naples on day five, we were ready to take things a bit slower. Disney knew just what was needed, so we spent a relaxing morning at the Agriturismo La Galatea farm outside of Naples.

The bulk of our visit took place in a breezy open-air pavilion set with snacks and a casual dining area.

Open air dining area.

Tables set for communal dining.

A small statue of the Virgin Mary watches over the dining area.

Appetizers and Relaxation
As we settled in, we were offered some simple snacks: toasted bread brushed with olive oil and herbs, thinly-sliced salami, and olives. We immediately learned that the olives were grown right there on the farm, the olive oil was pressed from these olives, the herbs were grown there, the bread was baked there, and even the salami came from pigs raised right there. Everything was delicious, and obviously, things couldn’t have been fresher.

Close-up of the house-made salami.

The Junior Adventurers (children) relaxed in a small play area while the adults finished their snacks and enjoyed a small glass of house-made wine.

Olive Oil and Cheese-Making
Following the snack, we were treated to a brief explanation of traditional and modern methods of pressing olive oil. The talk was given to us by our hostess and the proprietor of the farm, Mary Lou. (Though she has an English-sounding name, her heritage and accent are decidedly Italian.)

The farm's original olive oil pressing equipment.

Mary Lou shows us the type of filter the farm uses to press oil today.

We then got a lesson in making two types of cheese. Farm worker Jean-Baptiste showed us how they combine fresh milk (from the farm’s own cows) with rennet, and then strain it for 10 to 15 minutes to form a soft cheese called caciotta. The semi-solid cheese is sprinkled with salt and served right away.

The center bowl is filled with gently heated milk and rennet. Strainers for caciotta are the small white baskets on the plate.

After straining, you get cheese.

Strainers for caciotta.

We then learned about mozzarella making. Here we started with the same ingredients, fresh milk and rennet, but the mixture is drained over cheesecloth for 10-15 hours rather than 10-15 minutes, so the product is much firmer.

Jean-Bapstite showed us how to dunk solid dry mozzarella into boiling water to make it creamier and more elastic. He shaped pieces into balls and braids and then gave us each our own piece to shape as we wanted.

Dry mozzarella is placed into boiling water.

It then becomes soft and pliable.

Even more elastic.

My daughter Charlie made a cheese braid.

Click on the link below for a video of the entire mozzarella-making process. I apologize for the herky-jerky phone video quality of this, but it does help you get a better idea of what the experience was like. I still can’t get over how Jean-Baptiste dunked his hand directly into boiling hot water.

Touring the Pizza Farm
After we made cheese, we had a brief tour of some of the working aspects of the farm. These chickens produce eggs used on the farm.

Chickens used for eggs.

Grapes and peaches grow above the Chicken Coop.

Grapes and Peaches.

Cows for meat and milk are kept in the same barn. The milk cows are named, but the meat cows are not.

A friendly milk cow.

I do not read Italian, but these were instructions on behavior in the cow barn.

Instructions.

Here are some beautiful, freshly-picked tomatoes ready for sorting and cleaning.

Tomatoes ready for sorting

More tomatoes.

Time to Make the Pizza!
After some thorough hand-washing, we went inside to make lunch: pizza! The pizza making room was set up for us to work some magic.

Pizza-making room. The white on the bottom left table is flour.

Of course, I had to take a quick photo tour of the pizza making room so that you could get the full atmospheric feel of the place!

Display on the pizza-room shelving.

The pizza oven is heated to approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit!

Pizza Oven

We were given a lesson on how to treat the dough. I did too much pulling and not enough pushing of the dough and had to start over.

Pulling the Dough

Then we tossed the dough. I think my technique could use a little work. :-)

Tossing the Pizza Dough

I should note that two members of the Adventure group had medical issues with gluten consumption. They informed our AbD guides about this in advance and the farm was able to provide them with gluten-free dough for their pizzas and a clean area for pizza assembly.

After we shaped our pizza dough, we then moved on to topping station where we added sauce made from tomatoes grown on the farm and cheese made on site (but not the cheese we made, that wasn’t ready to eat yet).

Adding the sauce.

When our toppings were completed, Jean-Baptiste placed our pies into the oven for only four minutes each. The intense heat means that cooking times were short.

Behold the finished product. They made it themselves!

We had a wonderful time eating our creations (quite delicious if I do say so myself). And then Mary Lou brought us homemade profiteroles (cream puffs) with lemon icing. And yes, the cream and icing were made with milk and lemons grown at the farm.

Profiteroles.

Our final taste that afternoon was house-made limoncello. Absolutely delightful and refreshing.

Limoncello.

Shopping the Farm
Our meal was over, but there was one more component of the tour — shopping! Mary Lou led those of us who wanted to check out the goodies downstairs into a teeny tiny shop where they sell products made on the farm, primarily jams and liqueurs.

House-made jams and marmalades.

Clear liqueurs.

Cream liqueurs (think kahlua).

Shopping bag.

I purchased orange marmalade and fig jam as well as limoncello (how could I not) and orange and blueberry liqueurs.

I have to confess that my bottle of blueberry liqueur is now gone. I thought I would have a taste at home, think it was strange, then give it to my mother (a connoisseur of odd foods), but it was absolutely wonderful. I can’t quite figure out how I’m going to get back to Italy to get more, but I’m working on it.

Ciao!

More AbD posts to come from Erin’s recent trip! Have you been on an Adventures by Disney trip, or would you like to go? Let us know in the comments section below!

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12 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    I would love to do ABD but at this point it’s a little out of my budget. Maybe once that DVC is paid off! ;-) In all seriousness, I could maybe see doing ABD once I have a kid and I’m unwilling to do more of the “roughing it” style trips my husband and I do now.

  2. Erin says:

    Beth, we used DVC points to pay for some of the AbD trip. It’s a great combination!

  3. Touring a family-owned pizza farm? Now there’s the Disney difference! Sounds like an amazing trip.

    Those profiteroles look a lot like biscuits and gravy, how were they? And how did the Limoncello compare to what you were served aboard the ship at Palo (I assume you did go to Palo)?

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  4. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for mentioning the gluten free part! I have celiac’s and was reading this thinking it looked like fun, but that I would only be able to eat the salami and olives. Then I got to the part about two people in your group who were gluten free. It’s so nice to know that they were accommodated. Disney is so great about food allergies in the parks and resorts, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was…pleasantly so. :)

  5. Erin says:

    Chrissy – There was another member of our group who just didn’t eat pizza and she was provided with a beautiful Caprese salad. (I didn’t get a photo, sorry.) While they can’t have as much control as they do in the parks, Disney does try to accommodate guests with food issues as much as possible on the AbD trips.

  6. Erin says:

    Darcie – I did eat at Palo (just about to write that up for a future post), but we didn’t have the limoncello there. The profiteroles were more biscuity than I’m used to, but they were quite delish.

  7. Crystal says:

    Wow, that sounds like So much fun! AbD really sounds like a special experience.
    Thank you for sharing!

  8. @Erin,
    I was thinking of that digestivo thing they give you at Palo, but come to think of it that’s not straight limoncello, is it? Looking forward to reading about the foodie portion of your big adventure!

  9. JoAnn says:

    “Have you been on an Adventures by Disney trip, or would you like to go?” – I haven’t gone on one but I would like to take this tour. I was so hoping you finished the day with limoncello. I first tried limoncello in Italy in 2004. Now, I always have a bottle in my freezer.

  10. Amanda says:

    OMG that looks like such an amazing experience! I love that everything is fresh.

  11. George says:

    This looks enchanting. Maybe by de-mystifying tomatoes kids will learn to like them. I know so many adults with otherwise sophisticated palates who still won’t eat raw tomatoes. What’s up with that?

  12. Roxie says:

    Just returned from Med Cruise on the Magic with ABD add on. I would absolutely advise anyone against making this overpriced investment. Although the day at the farm was enjoyable for the most part, ABD completely failed to live up to their promise of allowing someone with food allergies to partake in the experience. Although they promised me I would have Gluten Free pizza to enjoy while everyone else ate the pizzas they just made, I had none. When the guides realized they had completely dropped the ball on this, they managed to round up a plate with some cheese and a few very tiny slices of grilled vegetables for my lunch. This sort of ruined the fun day we had experienced thus far.

    Additionally, I am not sure how you got the pictures above without so many people in them. Our group was 44 guests plus our 2 Disney “guides” which served only as people counters to make sure we got on and off the bus successfully. The local guide on this day Ileana was very good. The prior 3 days of excursions were nothing more than what we could have purchased through Port Adventures for a fraction of the cost. They were simply walking tours with basically nothing special or “Disney” about them. Half of the time we had no idea what the local guide was talking about because the group was so large we had to wear “whisperers” to hear the commentary and could not see what the guide was pointing to. I was very disappointed.

    To go on further, the pictures that are included on our excursion – well, we have not gotten access to see them yet and the cruise ended 10 days ago. There was no photographer with us. The “guides” simply used their own personal cheap cameras or sometimes iPhones to take pictures of our family that anyone else in the group could have taken for us with our own camera and we would have the pictures now. I would never recommend this to anyone.

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