« Holiday Gift Guide, Part One | Main | New Review: Ginza »

Salumi Arrives in Birmingham

When we visited Bottega recently, we were intrigued by the new L-shaped salumi bar in the front window. Cured meats from all over the world are sliced paper thin before your eyes with the new "Ferrari-red" stainless steel, manual Berkel Prosciutto Slicer. A nightly-line up of offerings is found on the chalkboard above the bar. However, we did not notice it until midway through our meal so put it on the "to-do" list for another day.

But we didn't have to go back to Bottega to experience Salumi. In fact, we didn't know that's what we were doing when we were at Bettola recently and chose two meats for our antipasto plate. Turns out salumi (not a misprint of salami) is Italian for the whole family of salted, cured cuts of meat or sausages made primarily (but not exclusively) from pork. Salami is just one type of salumi, but it also includes meats such as coppa (spicy cured pork shoulder), soppressata (spicy dried pork sausage) and bresaola (air dried beef).

Then over the weekend we discovered GianMarco's has added house-made salumi to its offerings. This time, although we didn't really notice the small menu until after we'd had salad and pasta and were trying to decide on an entree, the descriptions of the meat made it impossible for us not to try it. (And besides, our waitress noted, we could just have a sample and get the rest packaged up to take home.) There was soppressata, coppa, mortadello, bresaola. A few more unusual offerings caught our eye: Porchetta di Tronchetto (whole Alabama roast pig stuffed with garlic, rosemary and thyme, chilled and sliced thin); Cacciatorini (wild boar hunter's sausage); and in-house cured duck prosciutto.

The pig was lean and flavorful, with the rosemary perhaps dominating a bit. The wild boar sausage was a bit like a salami, but with a more assertive meaty flavor thanks to the boar. We're not prosciutto fans, but we do love duck and the duck prosciutto was amazing. The saltiness and slight sweetness of the curing process enhanced the rich flavor of the duck. The pig did not fare as well leftover, drying out a bit, but the others held very well and we had to battle our 6-year-old for the leftovers.

For more on Salumi, read this 2005 article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

And if after all this you're really into salumi, check out the new book Salumi: Savory Recipes and Serving Ideas for Salame, Proscuitto, and More

Posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 09:40AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in , , | Comments3 Comments

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

Very interesting! I love that Gianmarco's has an Alabama twist on Italian meats! I'll have to try some Salumi next time I'm at Bettola or Gianmarcos.

December 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug R

I love Salami. Cured meats are a way to add a strong flavor to Italian foods without having to overload a dish with meat.

In Italy many dishes have the essence of a meat supplied through a cured meats. I love their use of Boar, Veal, or other Game. They really don't use beef as much as you think.

Before refrigeration there were cured meats. Glad to see it come back.

Indeed, Foodimentary, many Americans don't know that what they think of as "Italian" food (including much of what's served at GianMarco's) is really Italian-American food, and it tends to use a great deal more meat, especially beef, than traditional Italian food.

Why? Here's what Wikipedia says: Some say it's because of the greater availability and higher quality of American meat (particularly beef), while others believe it to be a product of nutritional theories promulgated by early 20th-century social workers to ease integration of Italian immigrants into American society. Beef consumption has also been symbolic of many Italian-Americans' new found prosperity in America.

December 10, 2008 | Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>