Get In the Spirit of Salumi

Posted January 24, 2014

While we get our pigs from the best farmers around the country, we visit with these guys, and trust them.  We’re also pretty excited about our Salami Sets that feature Everona cheeses.  They make their delicious products sort of how we make our salumi – by taking the time to let the finest ingredients do their work.  And like our meats, they are using methods that go back generations.  This is also a great time of year for pork.  Farmers traditionally butcher in the colder months, because generations ago they didn’t have access to refrigeration.  While we have that luxury now, the practice has remained.

We also like to suggest delicious beverages that complement a good Olli Salame or slice of prosciutto.  Something like a crisp glass of wine or refreshing beer.  But let’s talk a bit more about tradition…

While our founder and salumiere, Oliviero Colmignoli, is not from Virginia, he chose  Virginia for our home.  Another notable Virginian had strong ties to the land and was a bit of an artisan himself:  Our first President, George Washington.  Washington’s long-time home was Mount Vernon, located on the banks of the Potomac River, just a stone’s throw from the capitol city that bears Washington’s name.  Mount Vernon was also a working farm, which was how Washington made a living after being a general and President of the United States.

Using water flowing from the Potomac, Washington built a grist mill and sold flour to folks around the region.  In 1797, he hired James Anderson, a fiery Scott, to help him run the plantation.  Anderson looked around and said, “You know what this place needs, laddie?  A proper distillery.”  Two years later, the Mount Vernon distillery produced 11,000 gallons of pure, clean, Virginia whiskey.  Washington’s whiskey became the most profitable of Mount Vernon’s enterprises.

And what does this have to do with cured meats?

People’s habits and tastes change.  Sales of “light” beers are dropping and more fans of the suds are migrating to craft brews.  While many still enjoy a generic jug or box wine, smaller vineyards and bottlers are exploding in popularity.  Spirits and liquors are still very popular, but that segment has also changed.  While brands like Bacardi and Smirnoff long ruled the sales charts, there has been a movement toward smaller, craft brands.

Notice a trend?

The segment of the spirit market that has grown the most over the past few years has been craft and artisanal whiskies and bourbons.  A great example of that is George Washington Straight Rye Whiskey.  It’s made in small batches, and isn’t available all the time, but when you can get it, it comes from right there at Mount Vernon.  While our techniques go back 160 years, the ones at Washington’s estate go back over 200.

You know what warms us up on a cold winter day during prime pig season?  A few fingers of smoky rye whiskey and some thinly sliced Berkshire Prosciutto made from pigs raised by Jude Becker at Becker Lane Farms.  It’s a nice leg of organic pig, rubbed with sea salt, and cured for 16 months.  The combination of flavors makes us feel like we were there for the birth of our country.

Did we mention that Washington was sort of famous for his pigs?  They were huge and quite flavorful.  He fed them grains and malt left over from the distillery.

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