THE BLOG
06/23/2016 03:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Say "Cheese!" | Parmigiano Reggiano and South Florida Bloggers Event at The Biltmore's Culinary Academy

On May 26, 2016, the South Florida Bloggers had the privilege to attend a cooking class at the iconic Biltmore Hotel's Culinary Academy to prepare and indulge in several dishes composed with Parmigiano Reggiano as well as to expand our knowledge about this diverse cheese from Italy. For instance, did you know that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only true Parmesan cheese because it is the only cheese made in the Parma province of Italy? This astounding cheese has been around for 900 years and has about 300 producers. There's also the fact that it contains only 3 simple ingredients; raw cow's milk, rennet and sea salt. Plus, the health benefits are fantastic. It is lactose free, rich in high quality with no additives whatsoever and an easily digestible protein. A simple 1oz. piece of Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese will supply you with 20% of your daily requirement for protein. Oh, and here's an added bonus: it's naturally low carb.

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Our hostess from Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano USA Promotions and Marketing, the lovely Danielle Caponio Bolla and her witty husband, Federico "Fede" Bolla, greeted us upon arrival with some refreshing bubbles and an array of nibbles to nosh on while assisting with registration. We also met the previous US ambassador of Parmigiano-Reggiano USA, Nancy Radke, who enlightened us with some wonderful stories about this diverse cheese.

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The Biltmore's Culinary Academy is a full functioning restaurant-style kitchen with several stations and can accommodate up to 24 attendees. We were all given aprons and after an engaging introduction from our hosts, The Biltmore's Executive Chef, David Hackett instructed us to divide into 6 groups of 4 people and gave each group a recipe assignment. All ingredients were supplied and each of the recipes involved Parmigiano Reggiano. You are going to be amazed at the dishes we created.

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The team of Mei Jorge of @blameitonmei. Juliana Posada and Catalina Duncan of @tinseldot and Diana Rodriguez of @dmrodriguez22 were assigned the Parmigiano Reggiano & Cilantro Gnocchi with Key Lime Butter Sauce which would be served inside a giant Parmigiano Reggiano wheel. Insanely delicious and the presentation was superb.

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The ingredients for the gnocchi included baked and smashed Idaho potatoes, ricotta cheese, grated parmigiano reggiano, extra-virgin olive oil cilantro leaves (which would be pureed in a blender with the ricotta cheese), all-purpose flour to use and for dusting, semolina flour for dusting and kosher salt. The ingredients for the Cilantro/Key Lime Butter sauce included the juice of key limes, minced garlic and shallots salt, ground pepper, Worcestershire sauce, unsalted butter and finely chopped, fresh cilantro. The finished product was beyond amazing.

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The team of Sabrina Valdivieso of @sabrinaclementine, Nety Del of @thefashionableesq, Natalia Lilly of @iamnatalialilly and Maria Angelica Fassrainer of @nailsandpalettes were assigned the Parmigiano Reggiano Crusted Sea Scallops with Cumin Corn Salsa, which were truly scrumptious.

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The ingredients for this dish included jumbo sea scallops, mayonnaise, grated parmigiano reggiano, cayenne pepper, fresh lemon juice and crushed whole wheat crackers. For the corn salsa, the following ingredients were used: corn, poblano peppers, red bell peppers, red onions, red tomatoes, green olives, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

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The next team consisting of Nancy Radke, Erika Villalobos of @essentiallyerika, Gabrielle Pelicci and Lisa Lotts of @garlicandzest were assigned one of my very favorite dishes; the Iberico Ham, Phyllo, Parmigiano Reggiano Asparagus Fingers. These were delicious and they included asparagus, freshly ground pepper, Iberico ham, phyllo dough, unsalted melted butter and grated parmigiano reggiano.

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My team, which included our delightful host Danielle, Amber Love Bond of @amber__love, myself and Fede, Danielle's husband, prepared the Parmigiano Reggiano Potato Flan served with Chorizo, Wild Mushroom and Tomato Ragu.

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At first, I wondered if we were making a dessert because flan to me is a sweet treat but this was certainly not sweet. It was made with Idaho potatoes, grated parmigiano reggiano, whole butter, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper and placed in an aluminum ramekin very similar to the ones used for flan desserts.

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For the chorizo, wild mushroom and tomato ragu, we sliced and diced Button, Oyster and Portobello mushrooms, fresh Mexican chorizo, tomatoes, onions, flour, chicken stock, salt and pepper. The last step was involved the grated fontina cheese and heavy whipping cream which melted together and ultimately wisped over the potato flan and ragu. Absolutely delectable.

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The 5th team included Alejandro Fertitta of @munchmiami, Claudia Serrano and Ricardo Arbona of @knockonfoodrc and Laura Sgroi of @laura.sgroi were assigned the Parmigiano Reggiano Taco Shells with Cuban Picadillo. Can you believe that the taco shells were 100% parmigiano reggiano cheese? They were outstanding.

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The picadillo was made with ground beef, oregano, cumin, garlic, white onion, green pepper, beef stock, tomato sauce, potatoes, pitted green olives, olive oil, salt and pepper and when the tacos were assembled, shaved parmesan and diced tomatoes were added as a topping. Extremely flavorful.

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The final team consisted of Paola Mendez, who is the President of the South Florida Bloggers and also of @coralgableslove, Francesca Belluomini of @chicfbdotcom, Jazmin Rojas of @jazzyblog and Jose Resendez of @thejoseresendez. They were assigned the delightful Spicy Chocolate Dipped Assorted Fruit with Dusted Parmigiano Reggiano and Coconut Dust which was exquisite. They used fresh strawberries, cantaloupes, pineapples and grapes and assembled them into skewers. For the chocolate fondue and toasted coconut flakes, they used semisweet chocolate, ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper which they placed into a fondue pot and then put the coconut flakes in the oven for browning and toasting and then mixed with the and grated parmigiano reggiano. Afterwards, the fruit skewers were dipped into the chocolate fondue and dredged in the coconut and cheese mixture.

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What an amazing experience and evening! An abundance of thanks to Parmigiano Reggiano®, The Biltmore Hotel's Culinary Academy and South Florida Bloggers.

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For more information about Parmigiano Reggiano®, please visit: http://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/

For information about The Biltmore's Culinary Academy, please visit: http://www.biltmorehotel.com/bca/

Photos by Stacy Moya and Ray Santana Photography.