Salumi, one of the great achievements of the Italian kitchen, is now available in the Hudson Valley at La Salumina in Hurleyville.
Owners, Eleanor Friedman and Gianpiero Pepe, first crossed paths while working in Siena, Italy. Eleanor, a New York native, had an apprenticeship as a butcher and norcino (salumi producer) when she met Gianpiero, who hailed from Southern Italy and ran a local restaurant. Combining their passion for food, they came to New York to embark on their dream of opening a small Italo-Tuscan-style salumeria. From there, La Salumina was born.
There’s a lot of talk about salumi these days. It is not to be confused with salami. Salumi is the Italian word for charcuterie. Think sausage, pancetta, capocollo, salame, prosciutto, cotechino and many other raw, cured and cooked meats.
La Salumina blends the best of two worlds with Italo-Tuscan style salumi and the ideal growing practices of the Hudson Valley’s pasture-raised pig farmers. Being a small, independent specialty store is part of what makes them special. This allows them to hyper-concentrate their attention on the details of salumi production, down to the specific pig breeds, seasonality of the pigs and what they graze on in the pasture. Every detail matters when it comes to producing their salumi, even where they source their spices.
Eleanor and Gianpero are committed to offering the best possible salumi. That means great taste with a respect for environmental impact. They work closely with local farmers who add back to the land as opposed to taking away it. The pig farmers that La Salumina works with practice pasture rotation, which allows the earth to regenerate and thrive for a completely sustainable environment. Likewise, Eleanor and Gianpiero are committed to producing as little waste as possible to help the environment by utilizing the whole animal. Some of my favorite ways they use the whole animal while using the cuts that are less familiar is their coppa di testa (headcheese), pate rustico, and lardo.
Terroir is a word that comes to mind when describing La Salumina. Each salumi has a lot code to showcase which farm’s pigs went into making it. Currently, they work with Kinderhook Farm, Climbing Tree Farm and Gibson Farm. The lot codes provide traceability and transparency to ensure you’re getting the authentic taste of the Hudson Valley, bolstered by La Salumina’s centuries-old norcino (salumi producer) techniques.
Their salumi is even more special since it is truly seasonal. The activity level and diet of the pigs play a huge role in the flavor of each salumi. Think of it this way. Most people eat hearty meals during the winter and lighter fare in the summer. As seasonal diet habits change, it is easy to pack on winter weight and worry about your ‘summer body’ later. Ergo, the meat from the pigs takes on a slightly different flavor throughout the year based on the climate and what they’re eating. These seasonal differences in flavor are something to celebrate.
La Salumina offers a wide array of pork salumi. I won’t try to pick a favorite because they are all so damn good. I’ve featured their rigatino, which is Tuscan-style pancetta coated in black pepper, in my Cast Iron Roasted Cabbage Salad with Confit Potatoes, Apples & Warm Rigatino Dressing recipe. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
Sure, you can find salumi in nearly every corner of the modern world along with delicious charcuterie. But I think you would be hard pressed to find salumi of this caliber and made with this much attention to detail elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, or even the United States. La Salumina has a taste that is “of the Hudson Valley” in every bite.