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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Grapes and peaches grow above the Chicken Coop.
Cows for meat and milk are kept in the same barn. The milk cows are named, but the meat cows are not.
I do not read Italian, but these were instructions on behavior in the cow barn.
Here are some beautiful, freshly-picked tomatoes ready for sorting and cleaning.
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.
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!
The pizza oven is heated to approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit!
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.
Then we tossed the dough. I think my technique could use a little work.
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).
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.
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.
Our final taste that afternoon was house-made limoncello. Absolutely delightful and refreshing.
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.
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.
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!