This past Tuesday, Karen and I had the privilege of assisting artisan chef Paul Bertolli. I was particularly enthusiastic about meeting Bertolli as I have followed his career from his position as chef first at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse, to Oakland’s Oliveto. I’ve long-owned his book, Cooking by Hand, which is one that I read as much for the beautifully written instructional text as for the many beloved recipes.
Bertolli left the kitchen proper several years ago to pursue one of his passions, the art of handcrafting salumi, and subsequently launched his own company, Fra’Mani Handcrafted Salumi , two years ago. Based out of Berkeley CA, Bertolli is crafting some of the finest salumi imaginable, and all from natural, pristine ingredients. A local imported foods distributor, (EuroUSA), hosted an event showcasing their finest products, and as Fra’Mani was recently picked up by Euro, Bertolli was in town featuring a vast display of his toothsome wares.
Karen and I became well-acquainted with the product line quickly, learning the differences between salami Toscano and salami Nostrano, and from the sizable amount of action we entertained, I do believe the Fra’Mani table was the hottest ticket of the day. I’m hoping to see some of these products available on local shelves and plates around the Cleveland area soon.
When work was done, the three of us had an opportunity to sit down and relax with some friendly conversation. We picked Paul’s brain about the art of salumi making, where he stripped the process down to its purest essence by describing it as “The art of moving around air and water”. After thoughtfully chewing on a piece of the rich and deeply flavored prize-winning Salumi Gentile, all I can say is it was the finest, most savoury bite of air and water I’ve ever tasted.
That luscious, buttery pear was just picked yesterday at Mini Milkers Farm.