SALUMI TEARS: Cathy Pavlos, chef-owner of LUCCA in Irvine,  made some visiting Italian chefs cry. After they enjoyed a platter of glorious salumi, she told them it was American-made.

They didn’t believe her.  She brought out the proof.  Two of them wept.

Salt-curing and air-drying meats and sausages is a centuries-old artisanal tradition in Italy.

But …

American artisanal salumi have reached perfection over the last several years (salumi is Italian for cold cuts, what the French call “charcuterie”). Prosciutto and speck made by Herb Eckhouse at La Quercia in Iowa; salamis from Paul Bertoli at Fra’Mani in Berkeley; salamis from Armandino Batali at Salumi in Seattle; and culatello from Salumeria Biellese in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

And Cathy Pavlos knows how to show them off to their best advantage.

She accompanies her salumi platters with roasted “brulee’d” tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, cipolline in a classic Italian sweet-sour sauce, assorted olives and coarse mustard.
To read the story, hear about her predictions and recollections and get her recipes
(including her irresistible Prosciutto-Wrapped Strawberries)click here
Halved strawberries drizzled with honey and grilled – then filled with  slivers of dried figs and smidgens of mascarpone…. then blankets of prosciutto.  Molto bene.
And, I love the sugar-cured Sicilian olives!