Posts Tagged ‘Salumi Artisan Cured Meats’

Baccalone: Tasty Salted Pig Parts

Posted 12 Feb 2011 — by S.E.
Category Food Alert Trends, Travel

Salumi

It’s close to noon time and I am running late. A light but steady delicious San Francisco rain is drizzling as I make my way down Market Street through the center of the city. My first visit here was in 1985 and it was raining that day too and each time it rains in this city I am reminded of that first wonderful trip. We made the run from Lake Tahoe in a beat up Chevy Caprice, landed in San Francisco for a series of eating experiences and, later that night, pushed south to Santa Cruz and slept in the car near the beach stomachs full and sated. I ate my way through the city for the first time then, the experience new and electric, and I plan to do it again this time. The sweet San Francisco rain comforts me and gives me life as the Ferry Building comes into view.

Chris Cosentino and Aaron Sanchez

At present, I have less than an hour to get to Chris Cosentino’s Baccalone to try some “Tasty Salted Pig Parts”. As you know from prior blog entries, I really, really love tasty salted pig parts and I love that there’s a retro garde manger movement taking hold in America. Baccalone is a manifestation of this movement as are some of the other examples I have written about like Cochon Butcher in New Orleans and il Mondo Vecchio in Denver. John Kowalski author of the new and outstanding “The Art of Charcuterie” has given further momentum to the movement and provides one of the best explanations of the production of dry, semi-dry, and fermented sausages. That a book of this quality has just been released in 2011 is further evidence of my prediction of the expansion of the art.

As these thoughts cross my mind my mouth starts to water. I have less than an hour before I have to return to the conference I am attending so I pick up the pace while traversing The Embarcadero to the Ferry building marketplace. The Ferry Building is a destination resort for food lovers. You can always tell whether you are in a city dedicated to good food by the types of markets and foodstuffs sold and this building and its farmers market is the center of gravity in San Francisco. Although the Ferry Building is packed with world class restaurants and food boutiques, what attracts me the most is that it is home to CUESA, the “Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture” and a food with integrity philosophy that more communities should mirror.  Three days per week the building comes to life as the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, a market full of certified farmers selling local farmstead products, attracts food lovers from across the city.

Salumi

Inside the building, there are multiple shops and food retailers that follow a less stringent set of standards but still carry a tremendous food ethic. Baccalone is one of those shops and as I enter the building, it comes into view directly across the hall to the right of the main entrance. With a large arched storefront leading to a retail space that includes a three door curing cabinet (for those tasty pig parts), chilled case with vacuum packaged terrines, sausages, and pates, and a large display of dry cured sausages wrapped in brown paper, Baccalone has a artisan feel to it. I approach the curing cabinets and peer in. There are nearly a dozen varieties of salumi hanging at 70% humidity and several are dusted white in full bacterial bloom. I take notice of a beautiful batch of Nduja spreadable salami on display and I start to crave a taste. Another case is loaded with tasty little links of Capacollo.

Salumi

To the right of the curing case there’s a large display of additional charcuterie including vacuum packed slabs of pate de Campagna and silky white chunks of Lardo. One of my favorites on display in the case is Cosentino’s Ciccioli terrine. He prepares this classic garlic and rosemary flavored terrine by braising pig parts with skin and fat and pressing them into a mold. The package on display in the store clearly shows layers of pork skin and fat bound in braised meat with natural gelatin. Next to the Ciccioli there’s a fresh Coppa di Testa head cheese and a beautiful Sanguinaccio pork blood sausage. I have to restrain myself from loading up my basket.

Retro Garde Manger

Curious about the dry cured and fermented products on display I pick out a package of Orange and Wild Fennel Salame and a Salame Pepato; dry cured salami with pepper. At the counter I also grab one of Cosentino’s famous mixed salumi cones and devour it while paying for the rest of the items I have picked out.  Time is running out now so I head for the exit smiling with delight. It was a good visit even though it was short. The staff at Baccalone was friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate. The product on display was fantastic and I plan to cut into the two Salame when I get back to my room tonight.

Salumi

Mixed Saumi Cone: A daily snack!

  

 Salumi

  Orange and Wild Fennel Salame: One per package, firm, lighly sweet, mild salt and very mild orange and fennel notes.

 

 

 Salame Pepato: One per package, beautiful fermentation, great deep pork flavor with hints of pepper and spice.

 BOCCALONE SALUMERIA
Ferry Building Marketplace
Shop 21
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 433-6500

Salumi: Il Mondo Vecchio and Others

Posted 10 Nov 2010 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining, Food Alert Trends

Momentum has been building around a salumi and charcuterie craze since last September when Mario Batali strung over 100 individual salume above his buffet station during Emeril’s Carnivale Du Vin event at the Venetian Hotel in Vegas.  Batali decorated his station with all types of dry cured sausages and brought along three brand new commercial slicing machines so he could quickly and expertly cut the product to order as guests lined up to sample. Members of Batali’s staff handed out fresh cut samples of several varieties of salumi while Mario worked the crowd in his bright orange Croc’s and orange shorts, white bib apron tied around his waist. Armandino Batali, father of Mario and principal salumist at Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle, was the source of many of the salumi on display and Mario was proud to be slicing and handing out the goods.

Since that time I have traveled around the country and noticed more and more salumi on menus and, in some cases, chefs dry curing and aging salumi themselves. During a recent trip to St. Louis I dined at the Sidney Street Cafe and sampled the fine salumi that chef Kevin Nashan prepares and cures on site. After a wonderful multi-course meal at the café, Chef Nashan invited me down into the basement to see his curing room. He had six varieties of salumi (approximately 20 lbs worth) hanging in a climate controlled custom built vault, dehumidifier cranking away in earnest. Nashan offers a mixed salumi plate as an appetizer with house cured cabbage and fresh pretzel bread. His salumi is excellent and Nashan displays tremendous depth and talent in an old-school way as he works his kitchen making nearly everything from scratch.

Sidney St. Cafe Salumi Appetizer

Last weekend I noticed another phenomenon; construction of the first free-standing charcuterie shop I have seen in years while visiting Santa Cruz, California. Although pressed for time, I pulled into the chalky dirt parking lot of the Swift Street Courtyard to take a quick glance at the tasting rooms for Bonny Doon vineyard and discovered el Salchichero Handcrafted Charcuterie right there in the marketplace. El Salchichero, its name ablaze over the entry on a big red sign with white lettering,  is the inspiration of chef Chris LaVeque. He got his start selling charcuterie at the Santa Cruz Community Farmer’s Market out of a pop-up booth while serving as Sous Chef at Bonny Doons Cellar Door Café. El Salchichero wasn’t open yet when I passed through but the shop was nearing completion and it was perfectly located right next to an artisan bakery and Boony Doon’s tasting room. I can just imagine customers grabbing a nice baguette at the bakery, a fine glass of Syrah from Bonny Doon and a slab of pate from el Salchichero as an afternoon snack. That LaVeque is inspired enough by charcuterie to open up a dedicated shop left me smiling as I took off to the south, late for a meeting. If he had been open I would have never made my meeting! Best wishes Chris.

 Il Mondo Vecchio. My favorite salumi in the U.S., hands down, is that of Mark DeNittis of Il Mondo Vecchio in Denver, Colorado. DeNittis got his start by tinkering with various approaches to dry curing while teaching meat cutting at Johnson & Wales University. Denver has a perfect dry climate for dry curing and Denittis’ kitchen at Johnson & Wales was well suited for testing small batches of salumi and for creative experimentation. Early on in his experimentation DeNittis, a Massachusetts native, discovered a knack for producing high quality, all natural products and it was then that the seed was planted for commercializing his work via Il Mondo Vecchio. In short order, DeNittis secured a facility, a USDA inspector, a source for incredible fresh pork and a couple of partners and Il Mondo Vecchio was born. Since then, the company has grown considerably producing more than a half dozen products that are available online at their retail partner mondofood.com. Five of my favorites

Il Mondo Vecchio Pork Pancetta

Denittis achieves a perfect balance with this cure and the pork retains a beautiful shade of pink with nothing more than pork, salt, and spices. His cure creates a firm yet pearly white fat cap with deep pork flavors with notes of fresh hay and spice. As this Pancetta renders it releases a concentrated pork aroma and wonderful creamy rendered fat.

 

Il Mondo Vecchio Calabrese Soppresate

This Soppresate is made from pork shoulder with additional pork fat, sea salt, paprika, garlic, and spices. It has a balanced nose with notes of paprika and garlic up front. Of all the Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi I enjoy, this one is my favorite due to its spicy, porky, salty, garlicy flavor. The texture is best when sliced medium thin (1/16 of an inch) and served at room temperature.  

 

Il Mondo Vecchio Saucisse Sec

The Saucisse Sec is DeNittis’ workhorse salumi. It is firm, fully cured and rich in flavor. Ingredients include Pork shoulder, pork fat, sea salt and spices. I serve this side by side with the Soppresate as a milder counterpoint to the Soppresate’s spicy flavor.

 

Il Mondo Vecchio Salume Vino e Pepper Nero

 The Vino e Pepper Nero is classic DeNittis. It consists of Pork shoulder, pork fat, red wine, sea salt, spices, and garlic and has deep notes of black pepper. In his early days, DeNittis often created unique salume like this one. The red wine helps create a deep color, firm texture and mild acidity that, paired with the spice and salt, provides a complexity unlike the other salumi I have sampled.

 

Il Mondo Vecchio Del Oro Beef Bresaola

Denittis gave me a sample of this Beef Bresaola. As he handed it to me he hesitated letting it go for a second, as though he wanted to keep it for himself, and it was right then that I knew it would be delicious. He also uses red wine in this item along with sea salt and spices but to a different effect. Although firm to the touch, this Bresaola shaves thin, has a nice firm outerl layer with fine marbeling on the interior and melts in your mouth.

For more than a decade I feared that salumi and charcuterie were a dying art. More than one culinary school revised their curricula, eliminating garde manger and charcuterie from the curriculum. Over the past five years, contrary to popular belief, the art of salumi and charcuterie making has been expanding and I predict that an artisan salumi and charcuterie movement will take hold in the U.S. Il Mondo Vecchio is a great example.