What's Fabulous: Fra'Mani Salami
Made by Curemaster Paul Bertolli
Paul Bertolli -- the former chef of Chez Panisse -- today is a "curemaster" and producer of exceptional salami, mortadella, and other cured meats. Fra'Mani -- which is short for fratelli mani, Italian for "brothers hands" -- was launched in March 2006 and has since set a new standard for artisanal pork products. Fra'Mani's mission statement says it best:
"Our mission is crafting salumi in the finest Italian pastoral traditions, using the highest-quality, all-natural pork.
"Our pork comes from family farmers committed to the well-being of their animals and their land. The hogs are never given antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, growth-promoting agents or meat by-products. They eat only the finest grains and natural feed. This old-fashioned way to raise hogs produces pork of outstanding quality, which is the essential ingredient in all Fra' Mani salumi."
These salamis are made from Berkshire pork, which are from heritage breeds of hogs. They are mold-ripened and aged and shipped to specialty markets across the country, including several in New York City. Here the Bertolli salamis can usually be found at all the Fairway markets, plus Grab, Bierkraft, Staubitz, and Blue Apron Foods in Brooklyn, and in Manhattan at DiPalo's, Agata & Valentina, and Grace's Marketplace.
In addition to the luscious mortadella, here are the most popular dry salamis they produce:
- Nostrano: The name means "our own." This one is flavored with sea salt, cracked black pepper, garlic, white wine, this is probably the most popular.
- Toscano: A deep burgundy color, flavored with garlic and wine and salty.
- Soppresata: The largest dry salami they make, it has a rosy color and flavored with clove.
- Salametto: At two-inches in diameter, this is the smallest of the salami, with a coarse texture and flavored with garlic.
- Gentile: Flavored with sea salt, cracked black pepper and white wine and with a pronounced pork flavor.
Best quality, artisan-made foods are usually more expensive than the machine-made stuff and Fra'Mani salamis are no exception. Cost is about $20 to $30 per pound at most stores. But a quarter of a pound will make a memorable addition to an antipasto platter or a simple bruschetta appetizer. Once you taste these salamis, you may be vulnerable to an expensive new food habit.