Bresaola originates in Valtellina, a valley in the Alps of northern Italy's Lombardia region. The word comes from the diminutive of Italian dialectal bresada, meaning to braise. Bresaola is air-dried salted beef eye of round that has been aged about 2-3 months until it becomes hard and a dark red, almost purple color. It is lean, has a sweet, musty smell and is tender.
It hails from the food rich town of Bologna, aptly nicknamed "la grassa" meaning fat. Among the many pork sausage products made in this region it is this one that is the most celebrated. Mortadella has been made for at least five hundred years but may have origins in Roman times. Mortadella di Bologna starts with finely ground pork. The ground meat is mixed with a blend of salt, white pepper, peppercorns, coriander, anise, pieces of pistachio and wine. The mixture is then stuffed into a beef or pork casing and cooked according to weight. After cooking mortadella is left to cool to stabilize it. Its smell is unmistakable and slightly spicy; its taste is full and well-balanced.
Prosciutto di Parma
Prosciutto di Parma marks one of the high points of the Italian culinary tradition. Renowned and appreciated throughout the world, the history and traditions of Prosciutto di Parma go far back in time to more than 2,000 years ago. The special environmental, ecological and climatic conditions of the area of production provide the key to how this culinary delight originated. The first step in the making of an inimitable Prosciutto di Parma consists in the careful selection of prime-grade raw material, namely the hog. The meat must then be treated and seasoned using traditional methods carried out in a strictly delimited area of production within the province of Parma. The ham is aged for at least 10-12 months. Just one single ingredient, salt, may be used in the treatment of the meat. This is why Prosciutto di Parma is an absolutely natural product that manages to be delicious, easily digestible and nutritional all at once.
A delicately flavored dry cured ham, originating in Italy and made from the meat of the hindquarters of the hog. Brine cured and then pressed into a hard and dense meat, prosciutto cotto is a cooked form of prosciutto as it is boiled prior to use. Prosciutto cotto is an excellent meat, thinly sliced for use as deli sandwich meat or as a nice complement to a main dish.
Felino, a small village on the hills of Parma, enjoys a great fame among gourmets. Salame Felino is obtained from the working of precious flavored trimmings' pork and minced to obtain a coarse grain product that is put into a casing known as "gentle" to gives it its typical shape. Then it is placed to mature for several weeks to obtain the right consistence. Salame Felino is appreciated for its sweet and fragrant taste, its soft consistence and its delicate flavor.
Speck is a very special salt-and-cold-smoke cured ham from Alto Adige. It is a remarkable fusion of the much sharper smoked meats of middle Europe and the sensuous salt-cured, air dried prosciutti of northern Italy. Producers (about 27 scattered throughout the Sdtyrol) procure their hams from locally raised pigs at the end of the fall, and salt cure them with coarse sea salt and a mixture of herbs; the mixture varies from producer to producer, and the producers keep their formulas secret, passing them on only to the heirs who will continue the family business. After three weeks of curing the hams are smoked using cool smoke (not above 20 C, or 68 F) from non-resinous woods, and subsequently air cured for several more months, during which time local molds add nuance and complexity to the flavor of the hams. By comparison with prosciutto the lean meat part of speck is a darker, richer red tending towards black ruby. In terms of texture and flavor, speck is a bit firmer than Parma or San Daniele, and has pleasing smoky notes that mingle with the savory pork flavor one finds in prosciutto.