Published on July 11th, 2013 | by Linda Catalano
The land of the wild boar.
Linda Catalano unearths a salami fortress in the heart of Tuscany’s wine country called Castello di Verazzano.
Published on July 10th 2013 | by Linda Catalano
As we approach Castello di Verazzano there is an audible gasp from my companions. The castle, set on a Tuscan hillside in the famous Chianti wine making region, is stunning. Before heading there I knew that the castle was famous for its Chianti, Chianti Classico Riserva and Vino Santo wines that are made on site and aged in ancient cellars that date back to the XVIth century. What I didn’t know was that the place is also famous for its wild boar salumi.
It’s difficult to think of cured meats without thinking of pork, and whilst the thought of prosciutto or salami may conjure up images of famous breeds of pigs like the Nero Romagnolo, wild boar is a side to the picture that people rarely see. If I had a better understanding of Latin I would have known that origin of the word Verrazzano comes from a mix of two Latin words, “verres” meaning wild boar and “zona” meaning land. In the area surrounding Castello di Verazzano wild boar are plentiful and as a result they have been used in salumi making in the region for centuries.
Lunch at Castello di Verazzano is prepared based on a “zero kilometre food” principal. Everything I am about to eat is grown and prepared on the premises. Whilst my friends are looking forward to the main part of lunch it is the antipasto featuring the wild boar cold cuts that I’m most excited about. In addition to its famous wines and wild boar salami, the estate also produces olive oil, honey, grappa and balsamic vinegar.
Before lunch we are taken on a tour of the cellars which are filled with rows and rows of wooden wine barrels and the Chianti making process is explained to us. It is in the owner’s private cellar that the salami and prosciutto is hanging and I take a moment to appreciate the place in which wild boar salumi has been cured for centuries.
Once we come out of the cellars the wine tasting begins and the antipasto is served. There is Pecorino and Caprino cheese with melon but it is the salami which I head straight for. First up I wrap my lips around the Finocchiona Salami di Chingiale, it’s flavoured with fennel seeds and very typical of the Tuscan region. Next is the Cacciatorini di Chingiale, made from the shoulder meat of the wild boar followed by the Capocollo di Chignale made from the head and neck of the beast. It Is all delicious. Then from the corner of my eye I spy the Lardo. It is ivory in colour, creamy in texture and thinly sliced to perfection. Produced from the back fat of the bore and cured with rosemary, it is the bee’s knees quite frankly. The selection of Castello di Verazzano red wines is the perfect accompaniment.
The main part of the lunch is yet to begin however I am already satisfied. As I work through the 6 course meal, each matched with wine, I am reminded of how simple and delicious Italian food is. I vow to hold onto the core principal of cooking simply with produce that is local and in season and live by the “zero kilometre food” philosophy.
If you would like to find out more about Castello di Verrazzano and plan your own trip there visit: www.verrazzano.com/en/