Our man in the field, Terry Nak, cast his net wide into the culinary ocean. What he pulled on board was a duo of rare salmon & tuna sashmi with chipolte ailoi & yuzu soy reduction, respectively.
Seared foie gras, Japanese eggplant, enoki mushrooms & miso glaze.
Last of the “first” courses, but certainly not least, was a recipe our president Elaine had her eye on for a while. Seared slice of foie gras with roasted Japanese eggplant, taro crisps, & enoki mushrooms; bathed in a miso glaze.
With the ball being hit out of the park with each successive course prepared, our two scheduled main courses had a lot to live up to…
The next leg of our Paganelli Salumi tour took us through their spaces dedicated to fermenting, curing, & drying… The aromas coming from the rooms were unbelievably delicious; heavy with intoxicating aromas of spice, salted pork & fermentation.
The speed at which the gentleman worked was mesmerizing.
The above coppa were then rolled in pepper spice blend and stacked, waiting on a trip to the brine pails. Just one of many points that makes Paganelli`s Salumi stand head and shoulders above the other domestically produced charcuterie on the market, is the fact they import their own Slow Food certified sea salt to cure their meats, to as closely follow the original processes as possible.
Netting, ready to catch some Gentile.
In one of the many chambers in Paganelli`s 3500 square foot facility, they hang rack after rack of their Gentile, Umbro & Cacciatore sausages; first to ferment, and once ready, further along the line to cure & dry.
Cacciatore, hanging in the fermentation room.
After several weeks of carefully monitoring and care, the sausages are ready to be cut and packaged.
Finished salami gentile, after curing & drying.
The last step before seeing the light of day; a protective vacuum sealed sleeve.
Packaged salami Gentile, ready for customers.
There are more than a few surprises hiding in the various rooms of Paganelli`s Salumi; and the below photo is one. We were already huge fans of their flat pancetta`s so we were delighted to see the first batch of the rolled variety. It is ideal for starting a carbonara or an antipasto platter.
Rolled pancetta, ready to debut.
If there is one form of cured meat that really gets this folks that have spent time in kitchens excited, it`s not really meat… it`s fat! This cured & dried lardo is pale ivory in colour, rich and supple as butter, and a beautiful thing to behold. I cannot wait to drape it over a roast, or render some down to start a ragu.
The bin says it all.
The final drying room at Paganelli`s was the most exciting to see. In it, one can start to appreciate the entirety of what these masters are accomplishing. With a great deal of both skill and patience, they guide this wide array of delicious and traditionally prepared meats to the beautiful forms we see at our warehouse.
Coppa, pancetta, proscuitto, lardo, guanciale… The gang is all here.
If there was a place to end this post, it is here… Hiding in the back of the drying room, were two, MASSIVE bone in proscuitto drying. Unfortunately, these beauties probably won`t done for almost a year.
I am considering buying naming rights for these two masterpieces…
A huge thanks is in order to Paganelli`s Salumi, for taking us behind the scenes to see how they work their magic.
Recently we had the great fortune of receiving an invite to visit one of our favourite local suppliers, Paganelli’s Salumi, at their production facility in Toronto.
Pigs not only fear this colour… but also the FONT.
We’ll start our tour on the raw side, then work through the full production, curing and aging process… Ending with delicious & beautiful meats, cured in this wonderful city we call home.
Some of the tools of the trade.
Gabriele Paganelli has appreciated and known the appeal of handmade, locally produced salumi since he was a boy in Italy. After many successful years in the restaurant world of Toronto, Mr Paganelli recently embarked on this venture that could bring his time-honoured style of gastronomy to a wider audience with the start Paganelli`s Salumi.
Cart full of trimmed local pork shoulder and neck, about to begin it`s journey towards being coppa.
Coppa is a whole muscle meat based salumi created primarily using cuts from the shoulder and neck of the hog. The name coppa is Italian for nape, a diminutive of capo ~for all the Soprano`s fans~(head) and collo (neck).
I have spent a lot of time and in restaurants and butcher shops, but I have never seen anyone tie this fast in my life.
The trimmed meat is then expertly lined and tied together, before being rolled in a peppercorn spice rub and prepped curing.
Gorgeous pork legs ready for a good, long saline bath…. maybe with some candles.
So, I have it on good authority that Pagelli’s will have a prosciutto ready for market in 2014… hopefully it won’t take longer, because these legs were MASSIVE.
Pork bellies waiting on some salt, spice & time.
The above pork bellies are waiting on their respective salt & spice rubs… Around half will be spiced & cured in a more savoury northern Italian tradition (a flavour profile often seen in rolled pancetta), and the other will take on the fiery profile of the hot chili flakes they are coated with.
Temperature, humidity, & time… Charcuterie this good takes a lot of patience.
The above instrument gives Gabriele a good deal of the information he need when crafting salumi. However, all it told me was that it was time to move to the rooms where there was finished product… waiting to be tasted….
Gabriele Paganelli of Paganelli Salumi & Elaine Atlin, LFBR President… Both accustom to refrigerated spaces
Next, we’ll travel through the spaces & rooms at Paganelli’s Salumi dedicated to fermenting, aging & drying. And yes, it is awesome there.
The second seminar in our ongoing Taste Talks series focused on Quebec artisan cheeses, and we were very lucky to have expert Lise Morissette from Plaisirs Gourmet lead our two sessions.
Lise greeting attendees from Oudekirk & Taylor of Guelph and from The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.
We were lucky enough to have nine of the best Quebec cheeses available here in Ontario. Differing somewhat in style from our European seminar, all were treated to wonderful anecdotes and personal stories of the creation of many of these cheeses. Plaisirs Gourmets have been on the forefront of the Quebec artisan cheese movement for many years, and were actually instrumental in helping to create some of the cheeses we enjoy today.
Big, beautiful Petits-Vieux… note the visibly delicious curd structure!
A new arrival to our warehouse was the Petits-Vieux from Fromagerie Medard. A firm, brushed rind cheese that has a nose heavy with mineral notes and engaging mustiness, a hallmark of actually being aged in a stone cellar. With a texture reminiscent of the large traditional cheese of the Auvergne region in France, Cantal, its flavour is like a fine, mildy piquant cheddar blended with cultured butter.
While both of the below blue cheeses; Rassembleu & Fleuron, hail from the Laurentides north of Montreal, the pale ivory Tomme des Demoiselles in the back has a slightly longer journey to your table. Made from the milk of a single herd of vache Canadienne in the Madeleine Islands by Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent, this cheese would require a five hour ferry, and then a twenty-ish hour drive to Quebec City…. Fortunately, it arrives by boat and gets to skip the whole Nova Scotia-New Brunswick-Gaspe Peninsula road trip we would have to endure.
Three more ready to be presented… Fleuron, Rassembleu, & Tommes des Demoiselles.
I would be quite remiss not to discuss Fleuron, the simply wonderful blue pictured above. I have a special place in my heart, as it is my favourite Quebec blue cheese. Using their own certified organic milk, it is one of only four cheeses made by the Alary family at Les Fromageries de la Table Ronde. Soft, creamy, and with subtle blue veining, Fleuron has a complexity not often rivaled. It has a grassy bitterness similar to that of the highest quality Spanish olive oils, and a salinity that reminds one of the ocean… so one could easily be forgiven for wanting to melt a wedge into a bowl of new crop baby potatoes…and then having a long nap.
The plates of our labours.
The full list of cheeses from the tasting plate above are as follows: Rang des Iles, 14 Arpents, Belle-Mere, Petits-Vieux, Tomme des Demoiselles, Menestrel, Zacharie Cloutier, Rassembleu, & Fleuron. As a nice treat to end the tasting, we were all given a healthy chunk of Riopelle d’Isle, the venerable stalwart of Quebec artisan cheese.
Lise getting into high gear, describing the cheese making process of 14 Arpents & Rang des Iles.
The milk for the cheeses of Fromagerie Medard that Lise is passionately describing in the above photo come from the family farm that has been in the possession of the Medard family for five generations, since 1881. As the story goes, they acquired the 100 acres for farming from a grant from the Quebec government, giving land to families with 12 living children… TWELVE!
From left: Petit-Vieux, Belle-Mere, Rang des Iles, & 14 Arpents
Another Taste Talk in the books… I have it on good authority that the next few will feature some of our some of favourite meats… so check back for details soon!
Over the past couple of weeks we have been hosting cheese focused seminars at LFBR HQ, the beginning of our larger series; Taste Talks. Our aim is to empower our customers with knowledge to pass on to theirs… and possibly eat a whole bunch of delicious cheese while we are at it!
We were extremely lucky to have two incredibly knowledgeable and passionate professionals from cheese importer Dependances lead our inaugural session. Maxime and Lucie took us under their proverbial wing and flew us all over Europe with some of the best cheeses we have ever tasted (Truffe de Champroy, we’re looking in YOUR direction).
Maxime and Lucie from Dependances taking on a grand European cheese adventure… with some layovers in California and New England…
Below are three amazing European cheeses, representing a variety of styles and milks. From the top down are: Challerhocker, a firm cow milk Swiss knockout; Corsu Vecchio, crumbling and piquant sheep milk tomme style from the island of Corisca; and finally, the aforementioned Truffe de Champroy. Words are not enough to begin to describe this cheese. Studded with brightly intense French truffles (think pepper, garlic & lemon notes, not the traditional mushroomy profile from Italian truffles), it is a large wheel of firm but yielding cow milk cheese. It may look like a simple gouda, but you have never had a cheese this complex, engaging and so thoroughly satisfying.
Encore une fois: Challerhocker, Corsu Vecchio, and Truffe de Champroy… everyone’s new cheese crush.
Another standout destination on the whirlwind tour Maxime and Lucie took us on was The Cellars at Jasper Hill, on of Americas’ premier cheese makers and affineurs. Just one of the beautiful cheeses they make is called Harbison, and you will be very pleased to meet it when you have the chance. Somewhat in the style of decadent Mont D’Or from France, Harbison is made from Ayrshire milk, wrapped in the inner cambium bark layer from Vermont spruce and is then aged for 6-8 weeks. It is creamy, supple and full of big, rich flavours… One of which reminded me of grainy dijon mustard… I don`t know how, but it sure works.
Spruce bark-wrapped Harbison…. and a camera, some pens & a smartphone…. Thisis a post-modern blog…
We continually feel extremely fortunate that we are able to work in an industry where events and experiences like this are relatively common. We are also very committed to try and bring these experiences to our equally dedicated customers and friends. Stay tuned for more updates on new Taste Talks in the pipeline, and a recap of this weeks Quebec artisan cheese session!
In closing, the below photo pretty accurately depicts our feelings after two sessions totaling four hours with Maxime and Lucie:
My unabashedly demolished European cheese plate (I actually managed to have two)