Wednesday 22 January 2014

An Italian Feast

Following our trip to Vallebona, the Italian-deli-in-a-warehouse of South London, we all piled home to whip up a big feast. Generally, I can't recommend that place enough - the difference between what you get there and what you get in the supermarket is like... Well, it's another world - like eating wholly and completely different food, albeit with the names you know and love.

Here we have a variety of fun, starting from the top of the picture and working down: Salame Finocchiona Toscana (with fennel seeds – they also have a delicious picante version, well worth a try); Bresaola (cured, tender beef); Speck (a smoked, cured ham that starts its life wrapped in juniper and garlic – very alpine, which is hardly surprising given that it's cured in the very north of Italy, up in the mountains); Venison Prosciutto (beautifully gamey, lightly smoked Bambi); and Lonza (smoked pork loin). Full marks, this stuff was epic.

We also sampled a little spicy sausage that started out like any other salumi and grew in intensity and flavour as eaten.
Nor did we hold back on the cheese. Starting at the top right and working clockwise, we had: Testun al Barolo (a cow's milk cheese aged in wine barrels and then wrapped in the lees (the crushed grape must) from making wine); Gorgonzola Dulce DOP (a young gorgonzola that's still fresh, gloopy and creamy – like a beautiful half way house between a blue and a stinky cheese); Taleggio DOP (another alpine product, and a beautiful, if quite well known, stinky soft cheese); and Robiola Tre Latti (a cheese made from a gorgeous combination of cow's, sheep's and goat's milks – soft and creamy on the outside, soft and crumbly on the inside).
The cheese - especially the Barolo - ought really to be eaten with Mosto d'Uva - a Sardinian ultra-concentrated grape juice that, like pickle with cheddar or membrillo with manchego, adds a beautiful fruitiness that cannot be equalled.
Nor could we resist the sweets. Seriously, how could anyone? Hard, brittle torrone nougat and panforte (an Italian desert from Tuscany of honey, spices, dried fruits and nuts pressed into a cake).

Also on offer were sunblushed morello cherries cased in rich, dark, bitter chocolate that were just phenomenal. No other words to describe them.
- GrubsterBoy -

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