April Wine & Swine

THE WINE

Centorame S. Michele

The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (dark pink/light red) wine included in the Wine & Swine box is made by Lamberto Vannucci, a second-generation organic farmer from Casole in Atri, a little village way up in the beautiful snow-capped Apennines. On the surface Lamberto is calm, but don’t be fooled: the man is all energy. He’s a formidable long-distance cyclist, and a meticulous farmer who uses solar panels dotted along his hillside to power the whole winery. And he makes incredible beer! And his son is a child tv star in Italy! It’s wild. Lamberto’s dad planted the Montepulciano vines Centorame uses for Cerasuolo fifty years ago. The old man still putters around the farm, mutely observing our tastings, lurking, smiling. Vannucci’s dark-pink rosato is perfect for spring, and salty ham. Its dense red fruit flavor and mildly smoky aromas won’t be bullied by country ham, or pushed around by spicy tomato-based sauces. Imported by Piedmont Wine Imports.

THE SWINE

Lady Edison Extra Fancy Country Ham

The name says it all! While it’s definitely Extra Fancy it’s still Country Ham, not Prosciutto, not Jamon Serrano or Iberico. We start with the hind legs from NC hogs raised on pasture without the use of antibiotics or hormones by Animal Welfare Approved farmers who raise a 3-way heritage cross of Berkshire, Chester White, and Duroc. They are then cured and aged for 12-18 months right here in the great state of North Carolina. This ham brings the funk!

Lady Edison Pancetta

Pancetta can be thought of as Italy’s version of bacon. It is pork belly...dry-cured, unsmoked and dry-aged. Commonly the raw, salted belly is rolled up and tied into a tube before it is hung to cure and age but ours is aged flat for 45 days to allow for even drying. Without the added smokiness found in bacon, pancetta is all about the pork allowing the creamy fat and dark red meat from our pasture-raised, heritage hogs to really sing. It is most often used to add seasoning to sauces and salads but can be crisped up for sandwiches just like bacon. Jays recipe exemplifies quintessential pancetta cookery. Try dicing up any leftover scraps, crisping them up in a pan and adding some porky crunch to a simple green salad.

THE EXTRAS

Paolo Petrilli Tomato

Drive down the Adriatic coast and a few hours south from Casole and you’ll reach Paolo Petrilli’s farm, an oasis of organic tomato and wheat growing in the center of “the breadbasket of Italy,” northern Puglia. Paolo was the first certified-organic farmer in the region. His family have farmed near Lucera for over a century. Petrilli jarred tomatoes are used by five of Italy’s 10 Michelin 3-star restaurants. Paolo is a famous tomato farmer (at least in his home country) which is quite a thing to be. Why so good? I went there at tomato harvest to find out. It’s like a dream of farming. Teams of locals harvest ripe tomatoes into small baskets, carefully blanch them and pack jars with basil, by hand. It’s a little facility, maybe 3,000 square ft, with at most two dozen workers. Nobody in agribusiness makes food like this, and it shows. The pomidori are unbelievably fresh, they taste like no other shelf-stable tomato you’ll buy. Imported by Piedmont Wine Imports.

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