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September 01, 2009

Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy


View Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

A few weeks ago, I invited friends to my apartment for an evening of salumi and wine. Sounds lovely, right? Immediately upon picking up my pencil to write a grocery list, though, I experienced slight panic. Salumi is such a broad term--what, exactly, do I serve?

Cesare Casella is the man to answer that question. In partnership with Italian cured meat producer Parmacotto, he opened Salumeria Rosi, a salumeria con cucina, or a store selling cured meats with a tiny restaurant attached, on New York City's Upper West Side. Since I planned to do a kind of regional salumi tour (on a plate, in my apartment), here's what Casella recommended:

* Porchetta from Tuscany: "A cooked salumi, the flavor is like bacon without the fattiness. Traditionally a street food served in Tuscany, this is made with pork belly and loin, which is marinated in salt, pepper, and rosemary, and slowly braised for 12 hours."

* Parmella Mortadella from Bologna: "Finely ground, cooked pork sausage, considered a staple in Bologna. Rose-colored and dotted with cubes of fat, it has a light flavor. Comes with or without pistachios."

* Prosciutto Crudo from San Daniele: "Salt-cured, aged ham from San Daniele del Friuli, located in northeastern Italy. Generally darker and sweeter than its rival from down south in Parma."

* Guanciale from Abruzzo: "Cured pork jowl. This cheeky salume has a rich, slightly spicy pork flavor. Considered a key to successful pasta alla carbonana or all'amatriciana."

* Bresaola from Valtellina: "This air-dried, salted beef is deep ruby red, with a nice gamy flavor. It's often found sliced paper thin, topped with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper."

And if I had wanted a tour of the best salumerias in Italy--not in my apartment--Casella had suggestions there, too. Click on the map above for his favorites.

Further reading:
* The secret of Emilia-Romagna? It's got the best food you'll ever eat.
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

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