Ah, the dog days of summer. August in Virginia is always a quiet time, as it heats up and the average daily temperature is boiling like the sun with a humidity of 1000%. Things seem to slow down a bit. We don’t ask why chickens cross roads around here, because the chickens are too hot and bothered to actually do it. With the dog days of summer, however, comes the promise of fall around the corner, and a plentiful bounty of wonderful produce. Many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy will actually be around well into the fall.
All that being said, many of the markets that we frequent feature local and organic produce, and with us just having unveiled a line of organic salami, we thought that we’d take a look at some pairings that would allow you to enjoy a delicious cured meat, sip a refreshing beverage, and enjoy some healthy fruits.
Our first organic salami is our Norcino. In medieval times, the word “Norcino” meant someone coming from Norcia, dead-center in the heart of Italy. The area became famous for churning out fantastic butchers who were so skilled in the art of breaking down a pig that their services were frequently called for in ancient Rome for surgery. True story. Our Norcino stays true to its classic roots, with a mild profile and just a hint of salt and white pepper. This way you get to really taste the pork, which is the true star.
To enhance the taste of your Norcino, try a glass of Soave. This is a mild white wine, and you’ll get hints of fruit. A good one is Fasoli Gino Borgoletto. It’s from North Eastern Italy, and their vineyard has been organic since 1980. They use natural manure to fertilize, natural predators to chase down pests, and hand-pick their grapes. The Norcino and Fasoli Gino go nicely with a slice of Parmigiano Reggiano, a hard cheese with a fruity and nutty flavor. Another factoid for you: there is a law in Italy that says you can only call your cheese “Parmigiano Reggiano” if it comes from one of five specific regions. Another interesting aside – the master cheese monger knows it’s ready by the sound. He carefully taps the wheel of cheese with a hammer.
To close out this mini-feast, slice up some fresh peaches. The slight acidity will balance the cheese, and perfectly mimic the flavor of the wine. Many prefer their peaches chilled, but at room temperature you really get the most out of the juiciness and flavor of the fruit.
Next on the menu is our Hot Chorizo. This is flavored with a spicy paprika, which is actually good on a hot day. Paprika is made from dried peppers, and the compound that gives it a kick, capsaicin, makes your body want to sweat. This helps you to cool down. Seriously. To wash this down, we recommend an IPA. This stands for “India Pale Ale,” and is a slightly hoppy English beer. There’s a brewery in California called Butte Creek and they make one that has that hoppiness, with a bit of wheat flavor and a creamy finish. This helps tone down the spiciness of the Hot Chorizo. It’s also an organic beer.
The paprika we use in our Hot Chorizo salami is Spanish in origin, so we like to keep things simple, and pair ours with a Manchego cheese. It’s originally from the La Mancha region of Spain, and has a creamy taste with a bit of tang. It’s made with sheep’s milk, so you can certainly understand where it gets that piquancy. To close this one out, we like something with a high water content. This time of year offers a host of choices, and they’re all melon. This is a great time to get a watermelon, a honeydew or crenshaw, or even a simple cantaloupe. These fruits are mostly water, and will leave your mouth feeling fresh and clean. Refreshing and delicious.
Our last lesson of the day will be our Molisana. It gets its name from the Molise region of Italy, and ours is as close to the Italian salami as you can get here in the States. Like the Norcino, it is simply the finest organic pork available, a bit of cracked black peppercorn, and some garlic. The garlic is the main flavor, but not so much that you can’t taste the quality pork. To balance this salami, we like an aged Asiago cheese. To be authentic, this cheese must come from the Italian town of Asaigo, but there are several domestic producers of quality Asiago. The cheese is similar to Parmesan, but with a bit more bitterness.
A wine from this same region is the Dissegna Cabernet Franc. It’s from Veneto, Italy, and is a red with a really smooth body. It’s also organic. Like many reds, it has a hint of currant, so a perfect finisher for this would be a fruit very much in season right now in Virginia: the blackberry. If you’re driving a country road in our state right now and see a mess of briars, slow down. For one, it’s a country road and you’ll want to enjoy that, and also those briars are quite likely blackberries. They’re a favorite of Virginia’s black bears, make a great cobbler, and pair wonderfully with our Molisana.
So do yourself a favor: Head to one of the markets that carry our products and look for our new line of organic salami. Order a Three-Pack online and try to pick a favorite (and good luck with that). While you’re shopping, grab some organic cheeses, a refreshing organic beverage, and then head to the produce aisle or hit your local farmer’s market. You’ll want to take advantage of the fresh and delicious harvest that late summer brings. Then pack up your snacks and head outside. You’ll need a sweater soon.