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  1. I have to agree that a top culatello is probably the ultimate, let's say the beluga of cured pork products and I count myself fortunate to have experienced it. However, on the ham front, I still think Spain beats Italy easily. Please remember that serrano ham is not a particularly high-quality product. The stuff to take seriously includes the words iberico, preferably pata negra, and, ideally for the best, bellota - denoting that the special breed pig has been fed on acorns. I have had good Italian Parma hams and also from Tuscany and from Sauris. But none of them equal the best Spanish hams I have eaten in terms of depth of flavour and melting texture. When it comes to salame-type sausages, the comparison is more difficult. Italy usually beats in the salame category where red pepper is not involved (salchichon in Spain), which is not to say that there may not be exceptional Spanish ones. The south of Italy has a surprising number of spicy, peppery salame, some of which are great, but not as great as the best chorizo in my view. I don't believe in hierarchies of supremacy - I can't imagine anything more pointless and boring. However it is fun to compare what Italy and Spain have to offer in this sphere. I'm sure the two countries are linked via their pork products in a similar way that parts of Italy have been linked historically with Spain over the centuries. Just think of the Majorcan sobrasada and ciausculo from the Marche. Both soft, spreading sausages (made in heaven). But the Majorcan full of paprika and a finer texture, the Marche sausage quite coarse with no red pepper but plenty of garlic if I remember rightly (a couple of years since I've had it, although I've seen it at Borough). v
  2. He better do a little more research. As fine as these products are in Spain and France - Italy is the king of this category producing a staggering variety of products. Pigs live a dangerous life in Italy. Craig - careful what you say. I've heard serious Italian food experts admit that the best ham comes from Spain . And I feel they are right. I would say that Italy and Spain are up there together. v
  3. Yes, I agree, and I did try to push him in that direction, but without success... I think he was originally focussed on Corsica and Spain and hadn't thought too much about Italy. v
  4. Nick - very interesting about critical factors. How do you deal with risotto in the restaurant situation? i.e. having it ready, not making the customer wait etc.. v
  5. Kiku - thank you! Why did I not see this before. I have an ambivalent relationship with risotto anyway, but one of the things that has always troubled me is the difficulty in cooking the rice all the way through. Now I get it. For this reason I've never understood all the warnings you get in books about not overcooking risotto - I've never achieved it. Cavallini goes to the top of my 'books to acquire' list. v
  6. Looked raw to me - whole, in the vacuum pack in the glass display case at the opposite end from the chickens v
  7. Alheiras - a good version is probably one of my favourite sausages on earth - soft, crunchy where it has exploded (best not to deep-fry but saute gently and let the skin explode so the filling leaks out), with unexpected bits of different meats inside. A joy. As for Chinese restaurants - the Macao connection means that if you are lucky they can be better than the rest of Continental Europe.
  8. In terms of regions, he says Piemonte & Tuscany. I think he's into any opportunity that may offer itself to learn about making a quality product. A preference for prosciutto and salame rather than fresh-cured stuff. His only experience is making biltong - not very appropriate! v p.s. He just came in my office and gave me a load of Poilane bread - I like this guy!
  9. Then why did they quote me £40 a kilo the Saturday before . Didn't buy 'cos I remembered Jon mentioning £28 before. v
  10. I have been recommended the sushi place (Sushi Hiro?) opposite Ealing Common tube, as having a good quality/price ratio, although have never had the courage to visit. v
  11. (also posted on the Spanish forum) A colleague at work has just revealed his ambition to set up his own business in his home country producing cured meats - sausages, hams etc. (Yes, things are looking up on the culinary front at work). He has already set up a learning session in Corsica and is now looking for somewhere in Italy where he can acquire knowledge, like a small producer. I have the odd contact in Italy that may be able to help him, but wonder if any of the e-gullet residents of Italy can help. I have no doubts as to his drive and ability to succeed, just sad that his business will be on the other side of the world. Any pointers? v
  12. Speaking as a kimchi neophyte here: does daikon kimchi always stink? v
  13. Does ANY regional cooking travel well? Isn't that the point of its regionality? v
  14. I definitely would've in my more youthful days. But how come it's long on me AND you? v
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