Parmesan Cheese Lands at Oxford

The Spring Exhibition at The Ashmolean in Oxford, Britain’s first museum, is to feature the King of Cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano!

The story of the Westmorland, an armed merchant ship sailing from Livorno to London in January 1779, is one of colourful 18th-century personalities and modern detective work.  Consigned to the ship, by a cast of characters that included artists, aristocrats and dealers, was a precious cargo of art and antiquities, books, and luxury goods such as 32 wheels of Parmesan cheese! Captured by two French warships on 7th January 1779 and declared a ‘prize of war’, the Westmorland and the goods on board were acquired by King Carlos III of Spain who presented many of the works of art to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. Other items were eventually scattered across Spanish museums; one painting ended up as far away as St Petersburg.  Reconstructed with archival discoveries and research in Spanish collections, The English Prize presents 140 objects including paintings, drawings, sculptures, books and maps from the fateful voyage, in a vivid recreation of the Grand Tour and the high seas.

Exhibition Events
Private Exhibition Viewings

16th May
A private press viewing will take place on 16th May, 10am – 2pm. Journalists and members of the food industry from both Oxford and London are invited to a private viewing of the English Prize Exhibition, followed by a delicious lunch with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
A private viewing will be held on the evening of 16th May for academics and the art and historical communities, the event will also feature presentations from the Yale and Ashmolean Curators. The day will finish with a gala dinner featuring Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, held in the sculpture gallery for museum sponsors, academics and corporate guests.

17th May
The museum’s corporate members and the Oxford delicatessens will be invited to attend a private viewing of the English Prize Exhibition, followed by a breakfast with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The exhibition will then open its doors to the public.

18th May
The Museum will hold a late night event for 1-2,000 guests. The evening will allow guests to tour the museum and listen to live music. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese will also be offered to guests as a complementary aperitivo.

The Ashmolean Dining Room celebrates the taste of Parmigiano Reggiano
Museum visitors can enjoy the new summer menu at the Ashmolean dining room, which launches on the 17th May. The new menu will feature two special Parmesan dishes including a starter of Parma Ham, cantalope melon, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan, and a main salad of asparagus with Parmesan, baby spinach, hard boiled eggs & truffle oil.
Open: Tues - Sun 10–6pm, Thursday and Friday evenings until 9.30am (Until September)

A Taste of the Grand Tour
27th June, 6.30–8pm
Visit the Ashmolean Dining Room to enjoy matching Italian wines with the world famous luxury products of northern Italy – Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma Ham.
£20/£18 concessions, booking essential

Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, known as ‘Parmesan’, is one of the world’s oldest and richest cheeses - still produced today as it was nine centuries ago.  Totally natural - it’s the only cheese that has such an extensive maturation which improves the nutrition, aroma and taste.  The use of raw milk and the richness of natural ingredients make this cheese a unique and superior product - It takes 16 litres of milk to produce one kilogram of cheese!  The minimum maturation time for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is 12 months, but only when it reaches approximately 24 months of age, is it at its best.  As well as having fantastic nutritional qualities, it’s easy to digest and is high in calcium. 

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. PDOs are defined and protected by European Union law in order to defend the reputation of regional foods. This mark ensures that Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can only be produced in designated areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and Mantua to the east of the Po River.