Garfagnana: My Tuscany part II

The Garfagnana and Media Valle del Serchio (Middle Valley of the Serchio River) is my home and the base for many of Sapori e Saperi’s tours. If you’ve been here with me, you might remember that the Serchio is the third longest river in Tuscany. Wild, rugged mountains ascend on both sides of its valley, their rocky ledges bearing stone villages and cultivated terraces.

(Although something is wrong with the sound, the pictures say it all.)

It seems improbable that so many riches lie hidden in my Garfagnana. It’s the legendary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I feel fortunate to have landed here by chance. The people are full of pride and determination to carry forward their traditions. They hope you’ll come share their Tuscany with them.

(Note: Farro IGP della Garfagnana is Triticum dicoccum or emmer in English, not spelt which is Triticum spelta. Emmer is an ancestor of spelt. I was finding emmer on Neolithic sites in Italy when I was an archaeologist on the Early History of Agriculture Project at Cambridge University.)

Posted in beans, BEEF, BEER, BREAD, cheese, CHESTNUTS, fagioli, FARM, GARFAGNANA, LANDSCAPE, latte, milk, POLENTA, PORK, RICOTTA, Salumi, sheep, SOUP, TRADITION, Tuscany | Leave a comment

Signs of the times in California

Just back from my annual visit to family and friends in Los Angeles, Costa Mesa and Santa Barbara. It was a foodie time. Not least because my sister Gai Klass, before she retired, was top caterer in LA (according to me and the Zagat Guide); my 3-year-old great-nephews are following in the family tradition; my friends in Costa Mesa came on my Advanced Salumi Course last year and are ace picklers, aficionados of Mexican cuisine and blossoming norcini (curers of pork); my friend in Santa Barbara is a private chef (who did a personalised tour with me several years ago); and the rest are great cooks and lovers of good food.

I report the latest trends.

Armies of pigs have invaded delis, restaurants and antique shops. Everywhere I went pork, from ears to ribs to tails, was on the menu.

Local pork butchered on-site and fermented food served picnic-style at outdoor tables

Local pork butchered on-site and fermented food served picnic-style at outdoor tables in Solvang

Bacon & Brine artwork

Bacon & Brine artwork

Emperor for a day

Emperor for a day at a deli near Solvang

Piggy banks at Angels Antiques, Carpinteria

Piggy banks at Angels Antiques, Carpinteria

Wild boar bowl at Angel Antiques, Carpenteria

Wild boar bowl at Angel Antiques, Carpenteria

As expected wine held sway even in the loos in the Santa Ynez Valley, best known for its Pinot Noir.

If only opticians were so creative

If only opticians were so creative

But craft beer was running a close second (as it does now in Italy)…

Old West saloons surely were never as good as this.

Old West saloons surely were never as good as this.

…and came first on Main St, Venice (CA)

Must tell them about Garfagnana 100% farro beer (wheat).

Must tell them about Garfagnana 100% farro beer (wheat).

 

What a long marriage!

Requires documentation

…and in Carpinteria.

How did I get on the wrong side of the tracks from this tap house?

How did I get on the wrong side of the tracks from this brewery tap house?

Sardinians on Main St, Santa Monica, produce one of Italy’s best exports.

American vehicles queue up for artisan gelato (saffron and hazelnut were a surprisingly good pairing).

American vehicles queue up for artisan gelato (saffron and hazelnut were a surprisingly good pairing).

And everyone was getting on the buy local and gluten-free band-wagons.

But does it taste good?

But does it taste good?

In case you’re in the area, I’m sure they’d all love to see you:

Bacon & Brine, Solvang
http://www.baconandbrine.com/

Angels Antiques, 4846 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria,

DolceNero, 2400 Main Street, Santa Monica
http://www.dolcenerogelato.com/

For a dinner that was so good that I forgot to take a photo:
Barbareño, 205 W Cañon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara
http://barbareno.com/

PS The next generation gets a head start in the kitchen.

Grand-nephew Charlie bakes muffins with nana.

Grand-nephew Charlie bakes muffins with nana Gai.

 

Posted in BAKING, BEER, COOKING, GELATO, PORK, Salumi | 4 Comments

Grassetti: Pork Scratchings of the Garfagnana

Participants on the Advanced Salumi Course work with three norcini (specialist pork butchers) in three different parts of Tuscany. Recipes and methods change every 20 km, depending on regional variations and family traditions. If people stay for the extension workshop, they experience a fourth point of view with another family. They learn to make authentic Tuscan salami, prosciutto, and several other air-dried and cooked pork products. One of the lesser known of these are ciccioli, or grassetti as they’re called in the Garfagnana.

Grassetti (not cornflakes)

Grassetti are the crispy residue of producing lard, much used in the past for frying and baking, especially in mountainous areas at altitudes where olive trees are less well adapted than the pig. The process entails cutting pork back fat (without the skin) into cubes…

Ismaele Turri cuts up a whole pig's worth of fat (note soppressata in background)

…and rendering it over a low heat until the pieces are brown.

You need a large pot.

At first Ismaele stirs frequently.

Not ready yet

Perfectly done when they're a good bronze colour

Then the pieces of hot fat are put in a press to squeeze out as much liquid fat as possible.

Ismaele's father's homemade press

The much reduced pork fat is ladled in with a perforated spoon.

A wooden plug is fitted on top...

...and screwed into place.

The salumi class watches with fascination.

The resulting pork chips are salted and drained on absorbent paper.

Ismaele separates the flakes of crispy fat. Careful, they're hot!

Grassetti on carta gialla, absorbent yellow paper

They’re more addictive than salted peanuts, and chefs who attend the course realise immediately their potential as bar snacks.

Lard packaged for sale at Ismaele's farm shop at Agriturismo Venturo

Gina Piazza (whose husband Kirby Piazza took most of the photos in last week’s blog ‘Like the Seasons: the Life of a Cheesemaker’) came on the course in March and sent me this report in early June:

We had a press made by a welder friend and from 2 pounds of back fat we came up with a handful of ciccioli—but they’re amazing and I did it just as Ismaele makes it. I have 12 pounds of fat on order so maybe next batch will yield at least a few pounds. Now I have tons of rendered fat! 

Brava Gina! They look just like the ones you made on the course.

The Advanced Salumi Courses for winter 2014–15 are almost full with one place left on the November course and three places on the February course. For more details of the course see: http://www.sapori-e-saperi.com/component/content/article/13-courses-with-artisans/109-advanced-salumi-course

Posted in BUTCHER, GARFAGNANA, PORK, Salumi | 3 Comments

A Gold for Soppressata

Last week I wrote about getting to know my clients before they even arrive. Often our friendship continues after they leave. There’s the chef from Santa Barbara who came on a private tour in 2009. I visit her and her husband, and now their young daughter, every time I go to see my sister in Los Angeles. When I send a newsletter, it’s such a pleasure when previous clients reply filling me in on what they’ve been up to. And of course some people return for more tours and courses.

Then there are the triumphs of participants on my courses. Stuart Busby, development chef for Laverstoke Park in Hampshire, England, came on the Advanced Salumi Course in February.

Stuart was a natural at tying Italian sausages

Laverstoke Park is an organic-biodynamic farm based on the principle that our health depends on the food we eat. Stuart went straight back and, using their farm pork, made the soppressata (a type of head cheese) he had learned from Ismaele Turri on the course. I heard from him shortly afterwards:

‘I entered two products into the Charcuterie section of The Great Hampshire Sausage & Pie Competition last week. We were awarded a gold for the soppressata and the judges’ comments were “only one soppressata fan on the panel but he said it was faultless”! We also entered Organic Beef Biltong which won a gold award and also best overall Charcuterie product for Hampshire 2014.’

Stuart's faultless soppressata (photo: Jon Reynolds)

I phoned Ismaele excitedly who said he was very happy for Stuart. I expect he was also proud to have had such an able student.

Ismaele weighs salt and spices for his soppressata

Soppressata is made from boiled pig’s head, and sometimes the offal is added too. It means something like ‘pressed from above’. After the hand-chopped meat is stuffed into a casing, weights are put on top and it’s left to cool overnight.

Ismaele's flattened soppressata the morning after (with biroldo on the left)

Stuart himself added: ‘Great things can still be produced from the humble pig’s head with a little spice and a lot of love!’

Posted in BUTCHER, Salumi | 2 Comments

Clients are Friends

By Gina Piazza and Heather Jarman

One of the great pleasures of organising tours and courses is getting to know my clients. Often this happens during the initial phases of communication, even if people are booking a Small Group Tour or one of our Courses with Artisans for which the dates and programme are already fixed. People ask questions, I reply and we get to know each other. A wonderful example of this is the emails between Gina and me as she and her husband from California were preparing to come on the Advanced Salumi Course which is taking place right now.

Gina in the plaid shirt with the salumi class of March 2014

ME (during the previous course): The course is going well. We had a good day yesterday. But one man on this course is having problems understanding because he has never done any butchering and doesn’t know pig anatomy. This reminded me of you telling me that you didn’t have any butchering experience. I think you will get more out of the course if you at least do some reading up on the internet and maybe look at some diagrams of pig anatomy.

GINA: I did help butcher a half hog just a few weeks ago!! I completely dissected the head and then helped saw it in half for roasting. I deboned the shoulder, cut rib chops, and trussed up a shoulder roast stuffed with garlic and herbs- it was fantastic!!

After the course we bought an entire hog head and I made pig head pozole- I’ll send pics later but it took 2 days to complete and it was delicious! Had some friends over and made a party of it-

Kirby and pig

See you in a few weeks! YAY!

Ps…Is it raining a lot?

ME: I’d never heard of pozole. Looked it up on the internet and got an ‘authentic’ recipe for pork shoulder and saying it takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Yours sounds much more authentic! Would love to see the photos.

We’ve just had three whole days of sun!!

GINA: We had to split the head in fourths to get it into 2 pots-

Pot-sized pieces

Boiled it with herbs for 3.5 hours…

How about a bigger pot?

…soaked hominy overnight then cooked all 2.5 pounds of it (dried white corn) for 3.5 hours, cut up 5 pounds of pork shoulder and boiled for 2 hours, then took 3 types of dried chilis and garlic charred them on an iron skillet, de-seed the chilis and soak the skins in hot water for 30 minutes. Blend garlic, chilis and chili water in a blender to make a paste that seasons the soup base. So you see, if I bought canned hominy, that would save time but taste horrible. I boiled and shredded the head one day…

Chopping the meat

…and make everything else the next- the broth from the head is amazing!! We put some aside to add to both a ramen and a Cannellini bean soup- delicious.

THE POZOLE!

ME: Amazing!!! Your description and photos would be perfect as a guest blog on my blog.

GINA: Let’s do it! AND, tonight I’m casing 20 pounds of farce for Sbriciolona salami to dry cure for 4 months- I’ll document that too. We’ve made Cotechino, Gaunciale, and Cacciatorini as well.

ME: Great!! You’ll be able to teach the course by the time you arrive!

GINA: The day began with lots of rain so it was a perfect time make salami! We didn’t even change from our pajamas! I prepared 20 pounds of pork leg and hog casing the night before, then proceeded to turn the casing inside out with the awesome trick of running the water through.

Turning casing inside out

I ground the pork to stuff into the 20 feet of hog casing for our final product of fifteen, 1 yard each Sbriciolona salami, that will air cure first for 4 days in the shed, then for four months in a temp and humidity controlled stripped out refrigerator.

Filling the casing

Sbriciolona (finocchiona) ready for drying and curing

My husband, Kirby, also prepared 20 pounds of pork leg to make Cacciatori and spicy Italian sausage. I won’t bore you with the details of how we got to this point because in truth, our kitchen is small and tempers are short…..but, I’m still married and we poured a BIG glass of wine and toasted- to our salamis, that hopefully won’t crash down from the ceiling!

THREE WEEKS LATER

When Gina and Kirby arrived on the course we hugged and kissed on both cheeks like old friends! She’s excelling on the course.

Gina's first salami on the course approved by norcino Massimo Bacci

I’m eager to follow Gina and Kirby’s progress after the course, and I hope to visit them when I visit my sister in California.

 

 

Posted in BUTCHER, Salumi | 4 Comments

Salumi Course in Tuscany

If your lifelong dream has been to stuff a pig in a sack, your moment has arrived. French charcuterie, Italian salumi, Spanish jamón and English cured meats are all the rage. Not only are gourmet hams and salamis hogging (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the cold counters at fashionable delicatessens and stylish online shops, but every farmers’ market boasts a stall or more selling artisan salami made from rare breed pork. Want to learn to butcher a pig, salt a pancetta? Just type ‘charcuterie course’ into Google and you get 2,360,000 results for courses from Dorset to Down Under by way of Denver.

Grace learns to make sausages with Ismaele Turri

If you’re a butcher, chef or pig breeder wanting to make Italian salumi, your choice is more limited. Even though when you enter ‘salumi course’, you get 237,000 results, not many are designed for professionals. But the top four are and they’re us: the Saperi e Saperi Advanced Salumi Course. Everyone who comes tells me our course is unique: it’s aimed at food professionals; it takes place in Tuscany; it lasts for four days, short enough for a small-scale pig breeder to get away and long enough to cover the subject in depth; the price is moderate—you don’t have to sell the farm or the restaurant to come.

Yorkshire butcher David Lishman massages salami

Ismaele shows chefs from British Columbia how to prepare a prosciutto

In my opinion, what makes the greatest difference is that we’re in Italy. ‘We’ is course leader Giancarlo Russo, native Tuscan, and course organiser me, adoptive Tuscan.

Giancarlo explains in excellent English (his wife is American)

Occasionally I'm needed to clarify

We know there’s no such thing as ‘Italian’ salumi, nor even ‘Tuscan’ salumi. Move 20 km and you find different styles and practices. We know if we use only one norcino to teach the course, participants will get a totally skewed idea of how salumi is made. They’ll think there are rigid rules, because each norcino is sure his method is best. Giancarlo is consultant to Slow Food on meat and contributor to the book Salumi d’Italia. He knows the vast range of salumi in Italy and that there’s no hope of covering all of it. What to do? We base the course in northwestern Tuscany and use three norcini more than 20 km apart. In his theoretical sessions Giancarlo covers some practices in other parts of Italy.

Mondiola, circular salami made only in the Garfagnana

We’ve chosen our norcini carefully. All of them are at least third generation butchers, having learned from grandparents and parents. They are true artisans. They are aiming at excellence, not a uniform product.

Each salami is different

They use the best maiale pesante (heavy pig of more than 155 kg) they can get, always Italian.

Some really big pig carcases

They don’t use starters, sugar or milk powder. They use a small quantity of potassium nitrate (E252), never nitrites. They dry their salami either naturally or in a drying cupboard and mature their products in a natural cellar.

A perfect natural cellar for curing salumi

They reveal all their secrets except the exact mix of spices, which is a family recipe.

Massimo Bacci writes his recipe to make sure we've got it right

You’re encouraged to take photos and videos. They want you to go home and make good salumi. Otherwise, they’d be wasting their time.

Cameras to the ready

Our first norcino is Massimo Bacci from Versilia, the northern coastal plain of Tuscany. Massimo is a consummate salumi maker and a natural teacher. He’s clear and patient; he explains and demonstrates and allows you to tie a salami as many times as you need to get it right.

Massimo ties a salami slowly

Drew Howard, sausage maker in Beijing, practises

Geoffrey Couper, culinary educator in British Columbia, gets the thumbs up

Massimo explains the stages in drying and maturing, and he produces the best lardo I’ve ever tasted, using the same marble basins as in Colonnata, higher up the mountain from him.

Massimo's lardo

A very old marble lardo box

His 83-year-old dad pops in from the adjoining shop every 20 minutes to make sure his 60-year-old son is giving us the correct instructions. Their mortadella nostrale (a salami, not cooked like mortadella di Bologna) always comes first or second in the all-Italy artisan salami competition.

Massimo's award-winning salami

From Versilia we speed down the autostrada to San Miniato, a town along the Arno River between Florence and Pisa, where we visit Maurizio and Simone Castaldi, two brothers who learned their art from their father and uncle. We first came to them so we could include the fennel-flavoured salami finocchiona in the course. The finocchiona zone lies between Florence and Arezzo, south of our other two norcini.

Maurizio and two types of finocchiona

Ingredients for finocchiona

During our first visit, we discovered that their strongest suit is the production of prosciutto, and we now include an in-depth study of prosciutto from salting to air drying.

Prosciutto heaven

Yorkshire butcher Carl Slingsby observes the correct way to slice a prosciutto

Now we head to our third norcino at Venturo farm in the Garfagnana, the mountainous area north of Lucca.

View from Venturo as we arrive

We’re just over the Apennines from Parma and Modena in the Po Plain, so many of the products are the same. Ismaele Turri learned from his father, as well as working in a neighbour’s butcher shop from the age of 14. He’s a farmer and pig breeder. He slaughters two of his largest pigs in honour of our course.

Not their turn yet—they have to be a lot heavier

Participants are guided from the butchering of the pig to all the various typical salumi of the Garfagnana: prosciutto toscano, coppa, guanciale, pancetta, salami, cotechino, soppressata, biroldo (blood sausage) and a few other surprises. Since we allow no more than seven people on the course, there’s lots of time for hands-on practice.

Ismaele lays out the various parts of the pig ready to be worked

Maya Tavor from Tel Aviv learns to stuff a natural casing

Everyone ties salamis with Ismaele's help

If you stay for the extension workshop on the Tuesday after the course, you watch a production run at the Rocchi family salumifico near Lucca. Their efficiency is a sight to behold.

Gino demonstrates making salumetti to Irish butchers & American chef

Large diameter Tuscan salami requires special skills to get it right

The Rocchi's make soppressata in an antique hemp cloth

Some light relief

At the end of the course we ask for feedback, which Giancarlo and I use to improve the course to meet the needs of future food professionals. Even experienced butchers who already make salami tell us they learn a lot on the course. Last year a couple who came on our first course got their salami accepted by Harrods. We’re proud to be the launchpad for such successes.

The class of January 2014

Posted in BUTCHER, COOKING, Salumi, Tuscany | 2 Comments

Moments of Glory

Three times every winter we organise an Advanced Salumi Course. During the course participants learn the theory of Italian salumi from Giancarlo Russo, Slow Food consultant, and work alongside Italian artisan norcini (pork butchers) making sausages, salami and other traditional cured pork products. Here are some proud moments from our course that ended yesterday.

Crowe holds up his salamis

TJ Crowe, Irish pig breeder, slaughterer and butcher at Crowe Meats, with his salami

Home with salami

Rachael Home, English wild boar rearer at Home Forestry, with her salami

Wilson with salami

Tim Wilson, English chef at the Groucho Club, London, and his salami

McCarthy fills salami

Tim McCarthy, Irish butcher of McCarthy's of Kanturk, filling salami casing

Ferguson and sausages

Fingal Ferguson, Irish pig breeder and smoker at Gubbeen Smokehouse, with his sausages

Kingsford and sausages

Brian Kingsford, American chef at Bacaro Restaurant, and his sausages

Home with sausages

Rachael again, this time with a handful of sausages

Turri with mondiola

Our maestro Ismaele Turri holding a mondiola, salami typical of the Garfagnana

Posted in BUTCHER, Salumi, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Soppressata like granddad made

If you take the optional extension to our Advanced Salumi Course, we take you to the Rocchi’s Salumificio for another take on sausages, salami, soppressata and biroldo. Could there be yet another method? Yes! Gino Rocchi still uses his grandfather’s way of making soppressata — head cheese or brawn in English. He, his father and his uncle boil pigs’ heads, tongues and skin until they’re falling off the skulls. The meat falls apart by itself, but they slice the tongues and skin by hand. After seasoning it, they roll it up in a hemp cloth handwoven by Gino’s grandmother more than 70 years ago. The tying requires an ensemble of all three men with a rhythm you could dance to. Try it!

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/53213482[/vimeo]

Then they dip it in the liquid the heads were boiled in and hang it up to drip. By the afternoon it’s ready for the fridge and in the morning — yummm!

Posted in BUTCHER, Salumi | 6 Comments

From Pig to Salumi

I spent from last Thursday to Sunday elbow deep in pork: whole pig, half pig, shoulder of pig, belly of pig, leg of pig, trotters, back fat and heads of pig. It was the fourth Advanced Salumi Course that I’ve organised for professional pig breeders, chefs and butchers, as well as keen amateurs. I never realised how many closet salami makers there are out there.

Lots of pig

Thursday afternoon we begin with a 3-hour introduction to salumi, the Italian word that describes the whole exquisite array of pink, red and white cured pork that adorns the counters of Italian delicatessens. This theoretical session is given by Giancarlo Russo, co-author of the Slow Food guide Salumi d’Italia and consultant on meat to Slow Food Italy. He designed the course for me and helped me find the norcini, specialist pork butchers, who teach the hands-on sessions.

Giancarlo Russo designed and leads the Advanced Salumi Course

Giancarlo Russo, course leader

Thursday evening we have the best meal of the course at Gabriella Lazzarini’s home. She loves to cook seafood dishes and buys her fish from family fishing boats at the pier in Viareggio, near Camaiore where we stay the first night at the beautiful Villa Lombardi. This time she has prepared four antipasti including an unbelievably delicious stewed squid on creamy polenta. The first course is homemade pasta with a red mullet sauce followed by two second courses, of which one is the typical frittura viareggina, fried mixed poor-man’s fish. Since it was live and jumping at 8.00 am that morning, each fish has its own intense flavour. We barely have room for the fresh winter fruit salad with wild blueberries preserved in alcohol, but we manage to stuff it in nevertheless.

Wriggling prawns

Friday morning we head to Massimo Bacci’s butcher shop and salumi laboratory in Montignoso. Massimo clearly loves sharing his craft with other people. He starts by teaching us which cuts of pork go into sausages and which into salami.

Four different cuts of pork for sausages

He shows us how he grinds the meat; he shares his secret spice recipe with us and shows us how he infuses wine with garlic to add to the ground pork.

Massimo Bacci's spice recipe for sausages

Infusing wine with crushed garlic while students take notes

We learn how to massage the meat and everyone gets a chance to try it. Like kneading bread, it takes practice to get the right movement of palms and fingers and to make sure all the meat gets to the right stickiness ready for stuffing into sausage or salami casings.

The correct massaging technique

Occasionally Massimo’s 81-year-old father pokes his head through the door in a lull between customers and corrects his 60-year-old son in something he’s demonstrating.

Filling the casings is called insaccati in Italian, literally putting meat into sacks. A sign I found in the middle of the countryside gives the creative translation ‘bagged of pig’.

A sign worth reading for its picturesque English

Tying sausages the Italian way is a challenge. So as not to make a fool of myself, I usually watch and help Giancarlo interpret (none of the norcini speak English), but this time I had a go and didn’t do too badly. Everyone falls in love with the natural hemp string used, and my carry-on allowance on Ryanair is often used up taking it back to England to post to former students.

Massimo demonstrates the sausage-tying technique

The next nearly insurmountable challenge is tying salami. It has to be tight enough to press any remaining air out of the salami while not cutting the casing. Massimo has an elegant way of doing it, and under his patient tutelage everyone finally produces their own adequate example.

Pete wonders whether his joints are the same as Massimo's

This one's easier!

How did you say I'm supposed to twist the string?

I think I'm getting the hang of it

Can this be right?

Pull harder

Not bad, it just needed one more tie

Proud father

Now we see the salami drying cupboard. Massimo uses a programmable one because he doesn’t have the ideal natural conditions to achieve 100% good results. After about 7–10 days in the cupboard, he moves the salami to a partially underground room with some ventilation. He can control the temperature and humidity, but rarely has to. Now the salami is left to mature for a minimum of two months for the small ones and a lot longer for the larger ones. It’s not an exact science, and Massimo pinches the salami to determine whether it’s firm enough yet.

Salami maturing

Eying his maturing salami, I imagine Massimo feels like I do when I’ve made a batch of marmalade and I gaze at the rows of gleaming jars.

We still have more to learn from Massimo. He shows us how he hangs small cocktail sausages for 5–7 days for a wine bar that serves them raw as an antipasto. In fact, in Tuscany we all eat raw sausage, usually spread on crusty country bread. Pigs don’t have trichinosis in Italy, so it’s perfectly safe, but the idea doesn’t appeal to English and American participants. Bravely they taste a tiny bit and as soon as they find out how good it is, they always come back for more.

Massimo’s other product is lardo, cured pork back fat. Massimo lives just below the marble quarries of Colonnata, renowned for its lardo, and he too packs his slabs of fat seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs into marble ‘coffins’. One is dated 1896.

Old marble basin, but maybe not 'BC'?

I read that when Mario Batali started making and serving lardo in New York, his waiters asked him what they should tell customers when they asked what it was. They were sure no one would order it if they said it was pork fat. Batali told them to say it was ‘white prosciutto’, and it seems to have worked. I ask people whether they eat butter on bread; a fine slice of lardo is no more fat than that and tastes just as good.

Delicate slices of lardo

By now it’s lunch time and we get to taste all Massimo’s salumi. The bread is a traditional sourdough made only at Vinca in the Lunigiana. Since Massimo is a wine connoisseur even the wine is special and different for each course.

Lunch (note the raw sausages)

We buy some salumi and reluctantly tear ourselves away to get to our afternoon session with Fabio Nutini, a subject for another blog.

Posted in BUTCHER, Salumi | 4 Comments