You Say Salami, I Say Salumi…

| November 12, 2012 | 1 Comment

I don’t know if there is a better meal for me than a bottle of wine, a loaf of crusty bread, a wedge of aged cheese, and a log of beautiful sustainably-produced salumi (aka charcuterie, if you prefer the Francais). Properly made and aged, good dry-aged cured meats are a wonderful thing indeed – not too salty, no nitrites or nitrates, and containing all of those good things that come from fermentation.  Last weekend my friend Stacy and I enjoyed such a yummy meal in the forest with Poppy, her popup camper. We substituted champagne for wine and took a great hike with a new puppy at Golden Gate Park—wish you could’ve joined us. Maybe next time?

In any case, noshing on Creminelli’s sopressata that day really got me thinking about expanding my cured meat universe to other providers who have good ethics around the ingredients they use, their worldview around sustainability, and the pigs they make their products from. Here are five that I love. Most have either a mail order business or can be obtained by a really great cheese shop/deli:

Creminelli Fine Meats

In making their gorgeous handcrafted salumi—salami, prosciutto, coppa—Creminelli’s uses all natural and organic ingredients, using heritage meats that are humanely produced without antibiotics (and using local animals when possible).  Their sopressata, with its great garlic-and-red-wine character, is really amazing.  And although this part doesn’t fall into the “sustainable” category, their salame tartufo is studded with black summer truffles from northern Italy. Outrageous.

Salumeria Biellese

For those in or near New York, Salumeria Biellese will be—or should be—a familiar name. The descendents of the Buzzio family (and partners) have been making fresh sausages and salumi since 1925.  This socially responsible company sources its ingredients from local farms and from suppliers with whom they have a long history.  Their products span an impressive range, from the house-cured slices used to create a hero sandwich Details magazine included among ’22 Sandwiches That Will Change Your Life’ to the guanciale (cured pork jowl) they reportedly create for chef Mario Batali. Denverites can get a fix at The Truffle Cheese Shop or on the craveworthy pepperoni pizza at Lucky Pie.

La Quercia

Making some of the best prosciutto you will ever put in your mouth, La Quercia sources its raw material, pork, within 200 miles of its “prosciuttificio” (how’s that for a trivia question?)  and focuses on heirloom breeds and sustainable producers who treat their animals and their land responsibly.  They also use organic spices whenever possible, use sea salt from the United States, and have a company ethic to make their operations and activities more sustainable and decrease their carbon footprint at every opportunity.

Olli Salumeria

This Virginia-based gem’s pork is humanely pasture-raised, the pigs fed all-vegetarian feeds (antibiotic-free and never fed animal by-products). They are so fond of their “farmer partners” that they gave them their own page on the company web site. Olli is the salumeria that hooked me on Speck, a cured meat that Bon Appetit described as “… prosciutto that took a trip to Northern Italy, spent a few hours in a smokehouse, and got dusted with pepper.” And yes, it is like crack for the foodie. They offer a range of dry-cured salame as well as a great lineup of other cured meats and Italian-style cooking fats such as Pancetta and Lardo.

…and a sad obituary (as opposed to all of those happy obituaries, I know, I know):

Il Mondo Vecchio

Oh, how excited we were to have Il Mondo Vecchio in our Denver community! Making a heartbreakingly delicious pepperoni as well as amazing bresaola, coppa, guanciale….right in our own backyard. Imagine my misery when, after years of perfect USDA inspections, the agency decided to make IMV adhere to sausage plant standards, forcing them to “…either change (their) methods to a process that has been validated by the USDA such as fermenting (cooking the product) or adding nitrites, nitrates, acids or copious amounts of salt, all resulting in what IMV believes to be an inferior product … or stop production,” according to the company’s announcement. If you’re reading this before the end of November 2012, you might still be able to get in on their Friday afternoon loading dock sale. Check the FB page.



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Category: Food, Local, Restaurant Reviews, Sustainable, Uncategorized

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  1. Roger says:

    Love me some cured meats! Thanks for this.

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