1. The salumi we tried were:
Boccalone BrownSugar&Fennel Salame (www.boccalone.com) $18.00
Creminelli Sopressata (www.creminelli.com) $45.00
Creminelli Tartufo w/ BlackTruffle Salame
Creminelli Felino (Secret blend w/ Pepper&Nutmeg) Salame
Batali/SalumiCuredMeats Salumi (Ginger) Salame (www.salumicuredmeats.com) $60
Batali/SalumiCuredMeats Finocchiona (Cracked Fennel, Black Pepper, Curry) Salame
DonaJuana Cantimpalo Dry Cured Sausage $6.50
LaQuercia Iowa Proscuitto Speck Americano (smoked)
Proscuitto di Parma
Embutidos Fermin S.L. Jamon Iberico de Bellota Acorn-Fed (Reserva: Aged 24 months) $57/4 oz.
Redondo Iglesias Dry Cured Serrano Ham $18/8 oz
Fra'Mani Salame Gentile $10.50
TomHill Nduja (Salame Gentile/RidgeVnyds Olive Oil/Hot Pimenton)
The Boccalone is made in SanFrancisco/Oakland. The Creminelli comes from an artisinal maker up in Seattle; a bit on the expensive side. The Batali is from Marilyn&Armindino Batali (Mario's parents) up in Seattle. Most of their production goes to their restaurant and it is seldom available for sale, but I managed to score the SalamiDuo. The DonaJuana is classic Spanish salamis at SpanishTable made out in SanPedro Calif. LaQuercia is proscuitto made up in Iowa and regarded by many as the best USofA rendition of proscuitto. The Iberico and Serrano hams came from SpanishTable. The Iberico comes from pigs fed on chestnuts and has a distinct nutty character; frightfully expensive.
Nduja is an unusual/spreadible Calabrian salame. It is made by taking the leftover pig parts that nobody wants (stomach/liver/kidney/lungs/heart/brain/eyeballs/gonads/etc), giving it a huge hit of Calabrian hot pepper and made into a salame. Since it has no muscle tissue, it's soft & spreadable. The only authentic one I've had is the Boccalone, and it is soooo friggin' hot it takes your head off and distracts from the fact you're eating fermented/preserved balls, eye or otherwise. I make a pseudo-Nduja by taking Fra'Mani Salame, pureeing it coarsely in a Cuisinart, adding good olive oil, and a shot of Spanish Pimenton. Comes out pretty good and you don't gotta eat any balls. I think. Paul?
Of the hams, I liked the plain Italian proscuitto; it almost tastes buttery in character. The LaQuercia was pretty close behind. The Iberico was clearly not worth the huge tarrif.
Of the salumi, the Batali was my easy favorite; something I had already established in my mind. There are other salamis out there that I like even better. Chad, at Dopo and Adesso on upper PiedmontSt in Oakland, makes the best salamis I've had. When you bite into them, the fat chunks are like eating flecks of butter. Alas, since his is not a federal-approved facility, you can only get them at their restaurants. The Feds are very effective in protecting this great Nation from highly-lethal pig parts and terrorist nuclear devices (so-far, anyway); maybe not so good from fertilizer-driven explosives and oil spills on our beaches. Adesso is a terrific place to eat and usually has some 20 different salumis on the menu. I also very much like he salumi that is made by FattedCalf up in Napa. That's all on the pig parts, folks.
2. I was first turned onto off-dry/fizzy Italian wines w/ charcuterie at Oliveto, where PaulBertolli first started making his own charcuterie. He has since left Oliveto to start his Fra'Mani operation. I had ordered the charcuterie plate and the Somm, w/ whom I was visiting, suggested a glass of this wine to go along with it: OliverMcCrum's Barbolini Lambrusco di Gasparossa. I gave him this cock-eyed look as if to say "you gotta be kiddin'". No, try it, he urged. He was, of course, right. That began a long love affair w/ Lambrusco to accompany charcuterie.
3. Brachetto: I first experienced Brachetto in the mid-'70's, when DarrellCorti brought in a bunch of
Scarpa wines. His Brachetto was made as a dry/still wine; one of the few people that makes that kind of expression of Brachetto. It was only later that I encountered the off-dry/fizzy versions of Brachetto. And far later that I started connecting it to pig parts.
This assemblage of Brachetti (thank you, LA) was probably the largest such collection of wines ever assembled in the USofA. It was an interesting assemblage, spanning a wide range of ages, from an '08 back to an '03. There was some assertions that to truly have good Brachetto, you have to drink them very young...as in the '08 or '09; that the fade very fast. I could agree w/ that up to a point. If you're having Brachetto w/ pig parts and insist it be off-dry and fizzy, then I would be in complete agreement. However, I found most of these older Brachetti very interesting wines. They claim that Brachettos don't age is patently false. They had, for the most part, lost most of their fizz. They were not particularly good w/ the pig parts. But, on their own, they were very/very interesting. They had much the same ethereal/ floral fragrance and slight pungent/tarry character that you get in an aged Piedmontese Nebbiolo. But w/o the fierce tannins. I found the older Brachetti far more interesting and less soda-poppy than the young ones.
Brachetto is a variety, like Freisa, Marzemino, and Tazzalenghe; that should be much more widely
planted in Calif (let the marketing department worry about moving the stuff). It has the beautiful
floral/lilacs/violets/cherry blossom fragrance to it that I really like. And seems to age, like Zinfandel, pretty well. In fact, this great Nation would be a much better place if all the Cabernet in the NapaVlly were grafted over to Brachetto. IMHO.
After the Brachetti and pig parts, we had a little Dolci. I brought a Flourless Chocolate Cake w/ a Chocolate Chipotle Ganache. It seemed to be well received. The secret cake ingredient was Sweet Bacon Shards, something I make often for salad croutons. You take bacon (one of the 5 basic food groups) and oven-bake it. In this case, I coated it w/ brown sugar, maple syrup, and chipotle powder. It comes out very crisp and is easily crumbled into shards. Great stuff. With the cake, we had:
1. Pellegrino Franco Passione Rossa Vino Aromatizzato alla China DOC: Vino Butttafuoco OltropoPavese (16%) NV: Very dark color w/ some bricking; intense herbal/quinine/medicinal very complex smokey/barky/earthy/pungent rather grapey/licorice/RCCola nose; rather sweet quite bitter very herbal/medicinal/barky very grapey/licorice/RCCola complex flavor w/ ample tannins; very long rather sweet barky/medicinal/herbal quite grapey/licorice pretty bitter finish; lots of very interesting things in this & very herbal/complex but not everyone's cup of tea. $45.00
2. Giovanni Allegrini DOC: Recioto della Valpolicella (13%) 1993: Dark color w/ slight bricking; strong grapey/ripe bit tarry/licorice/pungent/smokey rather spicy/licorice/root beer some complex nose; rather sweet soft intense grapey/licorice/ripe bit alcoholic/porty rather tannic smokey/pungent flavor; very long intense/grapey/ripe/licorice bit hot/porty sweet finish w/ ample tannins; showing some secondary developmet/complexity but still loads of primary/grapey fruit; lovely Recioto w/o the overripe/raisened/ late harvesty character some have; still going strong and will go another 10 yrs at least. Howard's wine.
And another wee BloodyPulpit:
1. BaroloChinato: The Pellegrino is an example of a genre most well-known as Barolo Chinato. I had my first Chinato from DarrellCorti back in the mid-'70's and sorta liked it...sorta. It's a very strange wine and certainly not to everyone's taste. I thought it might be potent enough to stand up to the cake. It was... but didn't provide a particularly good match to the cake and vice-verso.
BaroloChinato is usually made from old Barolo stocks, sweetened w/ plain/ole cane sugar syrup, and then flavored with quinine and other aromatic herbs. It's mostly classically used as a digestif and not at its best accompaning a dessert. It's most classic characteristic is an aromatic/medicinal nose and a very strong bitterness. There certainly must be some disease against which Chinato is the recommended drug of choice. This Pellegrino, from the OltrepoPavese region, is one of the better examples I've had because of its complex aromatics. One person was getting genetian out of it..outside my range of experience. Interesting if a bit strange beverage.