La Cascinassa – down on the farm

This is the final post inspired by our recent visit to Italy back in June. I know, I can really squeeze the material out of one visit, right? So we went to the Gelato Artigianale Festival in Agugliano, but also took the opportunity to visit some other places – meeting wonderful gelatieri, and experiencing beautiful wines at La Campore. And just up the road from that vineyard, there is a farm. A very beautiful farm. You may remember that we actually met the farmer for the first time in Turin last September and so we couldn’t miss the chance to go and see it for ourselves.

It’s just a smidge on the picturesque side

La Cascinassa is absolutely beautiful, nestled like seemingly everything in Piedmont in a cosy valley in view of the majestic Alps. The incredible brother and sister team are dedicated to responsible, sustainable farming and use every opportunity to make fantastic produce and capitalise on the natural resources of their area – using the natural cycles of the land and their animals to create wonderful results.

You may be reading this thinking, “this post is just an excuse for her to post a gratuitous number of animal pictures isn’t it?” And of course you’d be right. We watched these majestic white cows being fed, meeting the milking herd, the new calves and even the shed of beautiful, muscular bulls. They all have their own role to play on the farm and special feed mixes are created using foraged fodder and carefully balanced feeds depending on the requirements of each cow. All of them have their own name, written on their ear tag. I fell in love with them all, naturally.

Can this just be my job? Feeding lovely forage to lovely placid cows?

The Razza Piemontese is notable for it’s grey white colouring in adulthood and a particular gene which causes them to grow more muscle producing the celebrated meat which makes the famous Carne Cruda dish, a delicious and simple raw plate which gets its unsurpassed flavour and texture from these very special cows because of their unparalleled lean to fat ration. They are also prized for their milk which makes fantastic cheese.

As well as the cows, we met chickens, goats and pigs, all of which I got up close and personal with. The goats are milked again to produce superb cheese and all of La Cascinassa’s cheeses are notable for the different lengths of aging applied which allow you to compare the fresh product to one that is several months old.

They do exquisite catering using the produce of the farm and after our tour we viewed the newly refurbished classroom and hire space used for events and teaching children about where their food comes from. It’s something that we have to some degree in this country, of course the wonderful Gorse Hill City Farm is just down the road from where I write, but it felt like this was something very special indeed, a real nose-to-tail approach with a focus on sustainability and respect for natural processes. It was also my first close encounter with a Harlequin Peacock – an absolutely beautiful specimen who decided to display near-continuously for us and who made an extremely odd, loud and downright hilarious noise.

Our gracious hosts then treated to a sample of their meats and cheeses, all washed down with a robust locally made apple juice which was refreshing and most welcome after an afternoon in the sun. Beautiful sharp fresh cheeses contrasted with the more earthy, strong flavoured aged cheese and this was matched incredibly with fresh grissini and absolutely awe inspiring preserved meats – all made from farm stock.

It was a real privilege to visit La Cascinassa, to see their passion and commitment to their animals and their land and to see the real dedication which leads to these building blocks being made into some of the most simple, delicious food I have had the joy to sample in recent times. A thousand thanks to them for taking so much time to give us an insight into their enviable, but extremely dedicated world.

Better than the Oscar’s selfie any day of the week


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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