Monday, September 28, 2009

Treasures of the Table Series: THE ART OF THE SALUMI

Last night was the first in the "TREASURES OF THE TABLE" series hosted by SPEAK LANGUAGE CENTER.  We had the extraordinary talent  of Mr. Chris Mattera, of Belmont Street Butchery, Richmond presenting the total lowdown on salumi.  We're voting that Chris needs his own Food Network show! Bello!! Not only were we able to taste Coppa, lardo (Lardo di Colonnata), Mortadella, Prosciutto, Rigatino (a cousin of Pancetta), Salame and Spalla, but he told us passionate tales of how he would produce these products, both in a small town in Tuscany, as well as in his shop in Richmond.

We started with a  small appetizer of Rigatino over Chicken Liver Crostini. Paired with di Leonardo "Toh!" da UVE ($11.99) from the town of Manzano in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one of the most north-eastern regions of Italy. This "Toh" is 100% Friulano, a fuller bodied grape than the Pinot Grigios.   A crostino is a small piece of dried toast with a topping, that can range to a small dab of pesto, fish and herbs, or in this case Rigatino (similar to our bacon) on a chicken liver pate.  In my cooking school in Florence, we made beautiful crostini (plural) each day with crusts from the day before, added fresh herbs with a little protein, and that usually got our day off to a powerful start!

Mortadella was my favorite.  It is very finely textured cooked sausage, almost fragile to taste, but spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and mace and studded with cubes of creamy white pork backfat (Lardo), finished with peppercorns and pistachios.  Typically it was made in a mortar....Mortadella, sometimes known as the great-grandfather of Bologna (or Baloney).
The Bresaola was gentle tasting, but firm consistency, and paired well with the Colsanto (Rosso Umbria 2004 @ $10.99!!  For many of us, the Lardo was a bit hard to 'swallow', literally.  Salt-cured pork fatback...not to be taken in large quantities...but apparently quite often served on toast in the morning....Okay...probably not on my toast...but.the Italian Lardo is cured in caves up in Northern Tuscany, near a very good friends' home in the small farming  village of Luscignano - right in view of the Carraras.

  A visit in itself, to see the humongous caves with the huge slabs of marble, brought down by massive trucks on a small winding road...not for the faint of heart, but just the same an incredible area to explore, hike, ski.  If you're interested, a great website for home rentals in a very unspoiled area of Toscana is listed below. The first time I sat on their terrace drinking prosecco, I thought the marble was snow - it is quite a majestic sight.

We also enjoyed tasting an amazing value Lambrusco.  Emilia Romagna is home, of course to Parma and Modena (you figure this out..), so their rich frizzante Lambrusco can hold up to a variety of fairly serious salumi, prosciutti and cheeses. At $6.99, Canina Social di Gonzaga Lambrusco - very nicely priced.

One of my favorites wines for the evening, rivalling Patricia Kluges' SP Rose @ $28.00 was the Rocche Costamagna Rosao Ose Vino da Tavola 2008 @ 9.99,  perfectly paired with the sweet (La Chinata) Paprika Coppa (a smaller capicola).

  Christina Ball, the owner/director of SPEAK Language Center  has moved into roomy quarters in the Glass Building in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia to provide her language students a beautiful setting  - which definitely doesn't hurt the learning!  Attendance has flourished!  But, what makes SPEAK so exceptional is Christina.  More about Ms. Ball in another post! But in the sharing,  she also invites her students and guests to attend cultural  venues -usually on the weekends. This allows students  of all languages to come together, for a bit of a social, a bit of a chat, (in the language of your choice since almost all of the instructors attend) and always a bit of an innovative wine-pairing with Robert Harlee of MARKET STREET WINESHOP & GROCERY, also in Charlottesville.  Cannot wait for the next Treasure from Christina, pictured far left....I hear it goes with the La Chinata Paprika from Spain....Manchego? Spero di si!

Contact Robert, the owner of the Market Street Wineshop to order any of the wines at  Other links from this article:

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