Friday, June 29, 2012

Pane and Prosciutto - Irpinia with Chef Francesco Spagnuolo

Rocco Plati and Francesco Spagnuolo
I pulled into Radici Resort late Wednesday morning knowing good and well that Morabianca Ristorante was closed for the day.  But I wasn't concerned. Actually, it was perfect. Perfect because I had an appointment with Chef Francesco Spagnuolo.  I wanted to learn a bit about the prodotti tipici in the area and Francesco invited me to tag along with himself and Morabianca's Maitre D Rocco Plati on a shopping trip Irpinia style.

Off to Venticano, about a 10 minute drive away.  Destination?  Ciarcia....a prosciutto lovers heaven on earth.

 I assumed this was just a large delicatessen, but as the doors opened, and the aroma of aged ham hit my nostrils, I knew I was in for something extraordinary.  3 floors of extraordinary and Nicola Ciarcia who gave us a tour of the facilities starting with the bottom floor.

Spagnuolo and Ciarcia
From where the pork enters, to where it exits, and every point in between.  And though this facility has only been around since 2002 and is stocked with the lastest technology and conviniences.  The family has been producing prosciutto since 1930.  Tradition meets technology...

On the main floor, there is even a tasting room where clients can taste all kinds of specialties.  We tried the culatello irpino, Italian pork thighs.

But prosciutto wasn't the only thing available here.  Irpinia supports its own. Wine, cheeses, pastas from all over Irpinia and Campania are also on sale.

For our prosciutto and cheese, we needed some bread...and Francesco makes his from scratch.  Time for flour shopping.   Off to Bonito, 10 minutes away to La Porta, a flour mill that still grounds grain the old fashioned way.  There we met Sabatino who gave us a quick tour of the facilities...
Sabatino with Plati

What impressed me the most about this particular shopping trip was that I spent the afternoon with Irpinia's youth.  Professionals who love what they do, love their traditions, and love their culture.  In a society who is always looking to move ahead, it is refreshing to find those who are proud of their past.

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