Driving along Pole Green Road, Victoria and I were a bit concerned – How could the home of the most authentic, buzz-worthy salumi in the US be out here among the office complexes and strip malls? But there it was, suite H, with a modest but beautiful sign welcoming us inside…
There we met Ross Violi; a former coworker of Victoria’s, the director of sales and marketing for OS, and an affable expert on the company’s offerings. A few more people joined us, including a group from The Boot in Ghent (Norfolk,) who are featuring Olli’s hot coppa and speck on their menu already.
We got to see the room of spices and experience the expectedly heady smell of pepper and garlic that filled the cool air therein. After that we were herded down to the curing rooms, or as I like to call them ‘salami closets,’ vast, temperature controlled wracks of salami in the curing phase.
The process of making salami is one that intrigues me – but not in the I-want-to-make-it way that, say, sourdough bread or bitters do. Rather, after learning what makes Olli Salumeria special, I am content to let them do the salumerizing for me indefinitely.
Olli Salumeria uses recipes that have been nurtured over 160 years by the family tradition of their Italian Salumiere, Olli Colmignoli. Olli, who is a fourth-generation salumiere, began “experimenting with American hogs” and decided to start making salumi in the states. Colmignoli is a virtuoso of salami, absolutely knowledgeable in every phase of the process from raising the pigs to packaging the final product.
And speaking of the pigs, this company is dedicated to pairing with sustainable family farms that raise hormone-free, pasture-raised, heritage-breed pigs. Those are exactly the adjectives I look for in my pigs as well!
Even in salami, the taste of a happy pig is apparent. Co-owner, Chip Vosmik, shared with us an image of one of their family farms – a lovely, pastoral picture of green grass and the smell of clean air – a sharp contrast to the ever present factory farm.
The spread we enjoyed post-tour was as savory and flavorful as it was thirst-inspiring. Fortunately, they provided us with a glass of wine, the very same kind of wine they use in their salami – a sharp, dry Sangiovese. If there had been cheese, I might still be there hanging out. An occasional nibble of Billy Bread readied our palate for bite after bite.
As I mentioned on the work blog, the Calabrese was my stand-out favorite, flavored with paprika and cayenne, giving it a distinct burst of spice, almost like a pepperoni but way, way, WAY better. I was also quite smitten with the Napoli, a subtly applewood-smoked salami that leaves an impression without being too ‘loud.’
I really enjoyed my time with Olli Salumeria and can’t wait to start including their products in Pizza Kits and on menus. Plus, I’m primed and ready to be an Olli Salami cheerleader – I’ll slap those adorable stickers on anything that doesn’t move ’cause I love a brand I can stand behind, and their logo is adorbs! I never would’ve imagined I could’ve gotten so excited over salami, but I’ve gone bonkers for the stuff. And thanks to Ross, we even got to take home a souvenir…
If you’re interested in more info on Olli Salumeria, check them out on the facebook, where you’ll find some gorgeous photograpy and relevant updates (their website is still in progress,) and while you’re tooling around on the internet, check out the Mangalitsa, a curly-haired mythical-looking Hungrian heritage-breed hog that Vosmik describes as, ‘the new it pig.’