(photo: speck, salame Calabrese, and lomo)
Any time a new salumi company decides to open shop in the United States it’s cause for celebration. And If the same company decides it’s going to raise it’s own heritage hogs in an antibiotic-free (and soon to be organic and nitrate free) open pasture environment, then the salumi company should be praised.
The Virginia based Olli Salumeria Americana
is, indeed, the laudable salumeria founded by Oliviero Colmignolli. Oliviero is a 4th generation Italian salumiere (fancy Italian talk for salame maker) who’s privy to his family’s 160 year old recipes (Olli is no start up company).
Olli produces both whole muscle and salame products in brand new facilities. The whole muscle cuts include:
- Lomo (loin cut)
- Speck (ham which is smoked with black pepper)
- Coppa (the shoulder or neck cut, but Olli’s version comes from “cellar-trimmed butt”)
- Pancetta (the belly cut) -did not sample
- Guanciale (the jowl cut) - did not sample
- Lardo (the fat cap of the loin) - did not sample
And are all hand trimmed, utilize natural casings, and slow cured at low temps. The salame products include:
- Salame Calabrese (made with cayenne pepper and paprika)
- Salame Molisana (made with garlic and black pepper)
- Salame Napoli (made with a blend of various spices)
- Salame Norcino (made with white pepper)
The entire Scordo family recently sampled both the Olli whole muscle and salame offerings and what follows are our wholly unscientific observations based on both our experience making salumi in Calabria (small scale family production) and also sampling countless offerings both in the United States and Italy.
(photo: salame Calabrese before slicing)
The Olli product is nicely packaged in individually vacuum sealed plastic bags (the salame was whole and uncut while the whole muscle products were cut for us in sample sizes). All of the product was sliced fresh and eaten immediately thereafter (the product was stored in a cool basement.
Whole Muscle Cuts
Our reaction to the whole muscle product was positive across the board. The sweet coppa or cappicolo was nicely marbled (leaning on the fatty side) and had a nice balance of salt and spice. The meat itself was of high quality and still young (that is to say, it flaked easily after cutting). We were expecting a bit more richness to the coppa and that deep meaty flavor that’s associated with the shoulder and neck of the pig The lomo because it’s made from the loin (a less fatty cut) was the least flavorful of the whole muscle cuts and had a high salt content almost obscuring the natural flavor of the high quality meat. The speck, however, was the star of the whole muscle offering and had tremendous flavor and was expertly crafted. The fat portion of the speck had an almost lardo texture and mouth feel. The quantity of smoke in the cut was perfect.
(photo: speck before slicing)
(photo: speck after slicing)
(photo: coppa before slicing)
(photo: lomo prior to slicing)
On the salame side, which to Olli’s credit is still a new side of the business (we received one of the first batches), the product still needs a bit of work. All of the salames had very little individual character and depth of flavor compared to competitors like Creminelli and the Columbus Artisan line
and most of our family members had a hard time differenting between the four types of offerings mentioned above. The meat and casing were of high quality and there’s no doubt that with a little tinkering with the spice components and the aging process Olli will turn out a stellar salame product as well.
Overall, Olli Salumeria Americana is creating a true artisan product in the tradition of the best salumi makers in Italy and this is mind blowing considering the history of pork in Italy.
(photo: salame Calabrese sliced)