FOOD + DRINKS, RESTAURANTS
written by Kim Vallee
I had a special lunch twelve days ago. Hivron and her husband Paolo Macchi received me for a tasting of their products at a local restaurant in Old Montreal. While talking to Hivron during the lunch, I discovered that we have several things in common. We both studied interior design for one thing.
Macchi imports and distributes the highest quality of Citterio’s prosciutto crudo (raw ham). They carry Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Culatello. I invited my foodie friend Nathalie Rivard to share this experience.
The Citterio’s prosciutto crudo are all natural. They are made without additives. The curing masters created them with ham, salt, air and time. Another main difference with these prosciutto is the sweet taste of the fat. These premium prosciutto are miles away from the taste of the pre-packaged prosciutto.
We savored 5 famous types of Italian and local (meaning made in the USA) prosciutto crudo. We were able to taste each prosciutto “nature”. Plus, DNA’s chef Derek Dammann made us as a delightful appetizer dish for each type. They each have their own personality.
I enjoyed the food combination that Derek Dammann served us. Derek had been Chef de Cuisine at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London, England. You know how I love Jamie Oliver. He takes great pride in serving sustainably grown and harvested produce, meats and seafood because food tastes better when its ingredients are the product of thoughtful stewardship. He was the right chef to serve us this prosciutto.
I particularly enjoyed the plate where he mixed prosciutto with a very light mustard vinaigrette. A appetizer recipe that you can do at home is to drizzle aged balsamic topped with shaves of Parmesan Reggiano. The mix of salt and sweet is delicious. Another tasty combination was to serve prosciutto with dates.
Macchi imported directly from Italy as much as possible. It makes a difference. The pigs used in the United States are smaller than the pigs used in Italy. The Italian prosciutto is ham from a very rare bread of pigs that are bred in north-central Italy. How you cure the meat is also important. You get the best results with time. It generally produces a prosciutto that is more tender.
Look for these qualities when buying fresh prosciutto:
- Color should be lighter rather than darker, a light to medium pink. If it’s burgundy, don’t buy it!
- Fat colour should be white and not yellow. A fresh prosciutto should be sweet and not salty
- Ask to taste a slice before buying prosciutto
- Outside fat should not exceed 1/2-3/4 of an inch. Every animal is different. If it is more than 3/4 of an inch, they should trim the excess fat for you.
The Swedish-born Hivron writes a blog for Macchi where you can find recipes and food information.