New York Marathon Weekend: Italians & Italian Cuisine Dominate Scene

I love the ING New York City Marathon. It’s one of my absolute favorite weekends in New York and I always make a point to watch people run and to cheer them on. No, I’m not a marathon runner unfortunately. It is a goal though and maybe one day I can walk a marathon. I have ankle problems but I look on with glee and admiration at those who complete that grueling challenge. I always start the day in Harlem and then try to watch some of the final in Central Park.

Another thing I love about the Marathon is that the city is filled with Italiians that day and everywhere I go, I hear that beautiful language that I love so well. In fact, the ING Marathon is also sponsored by a very important group of Italians, The Consorzio Tutela di Grana Padano, that delicious cheese that has long been a part of my life and diet. This year, for the second time, you can taste free Grana Padano at a number of retail outlets including Alta Cucina.

Grana Padano was first started by Monks in the Po Valley in Northern Italy in 1135. The Consorzio was formed in 1954 and today counts among its members 200 producers of this fabulous cheese. Grana Padano is a PDO product of a Protected Designation of Origin Cheese since 1996. It was the first PDO awarded to an Italian product. Grana Padano is a favorite of many Marathon runners because of its nutritional benefits which include more protein than beef or beans, its low calorie count (for a cheese of course) and high level of calcium. Traditionally, Grana is aged anywhere from 9 to 24 months.

Today, another Italian association is in town hosting a lovely event with the exceptional Fred Plotkin, journalist and author extraordinaire. I’m working on this event with Fred and am happy to be able to spend so much time in his company.

Casa Italia Atletica is an organization which supports Italian athletes where ever they are challenging themselves. They do this by hosting initiatives at sporting events as well as collateral activities. The idea is quite simple but at the same time profound, “L’Italia che corre” or the Italy that runs. This also refers to the Italy that works. Many people when they think of Italy think of Art, cuisine, wine, beaches, mountains, and lakes but not so many realize the extent to which sports, not just soccer, dominant Italian life. Casa Italia Atletica has decided to link great sporting events with the promotion of great Italian food and wines from areas that are less well known. Today during a seminar wine and food from the region of Molise, Fruili Venezia Giulia, Valle D’Aosta, Campania and the provinces of Ascoli Piceno and Reggio Calabria will be showcased. It promises to be an exciting afternoon.

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