It’s a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Hot, but it is only 11am and the communal picnic table that sits in the middle of the Heritage Foods warehouse is quickly filling up with charcuterie. This augurs well for a good day at work.
Antonio from ‘Nduja Artisans in Chicago is in town for a whirlwind restaurant tour with Emily, our Director of Wholesale to drum up some business for his most excellent line of cured meats. But the first stop is Heritage and why not? Antonio uses literally over two tons (4000+ lbs!) of Heritage pork every month to make his treats. While most of corporate America is staring at spreadsheets or tossing marketing jargon at each other, the men and women of Heritage are getting ready to taste some of the best salumi ever to come out of a city famous for being the hog butcher to the world.
The beef charcuterie — the bresaola and the salumi di manzo (both made from waygu beef) — are instant faves, but the battery of pork treats always wins the day here at Heritage.
Culatello, what Anthony calls “the king of salami,” is supremely fatty with a sweet funk that could be cause for addiction. “It’s so awesome because we’re cutting it from the heart of the prosciutto,” Antonio explains, “it’s boneless, skinless, and tied up to look like a tear drop – all from heritage pork.”
Mortadella made from Berkshire pigs and gorgeous pistachio is so creamy it would melt on warm toast. The Calabrese, aka hot soppressata, is pure dynamite. Pancetta is cured for two weeks and aged another fourteen. The jowls are purely decadent, as they should be. The finocchiona makes one Heritage staffer cry, so poetic is the blend of fennel pollen and chianti.
“Most of the speck in Italy is a little too smoky and dry,” Antonio says, matter-of-factly, as we graze across the table. His, made from Duroc and Berkshire pork, with rosemary, juniper, a little garlic, and red wine, is smoked three times but holds its sweetness. It’s just a little bit salty.
Hot coppa and chorizo are up next, with Antonio admiring his own work: “Damn good for an Italian guy making a Spanish style sausage! The pimentón we use is amazing…and we learned about it from Jose Andres.”
And finally, the cremosa tartufata – a paté of spreadable salumi with truffles. Very sexy for 11am, it really needs to be paired with bone dry, cold champagne, but it is still almost an hour before cocktail time…