Craving Creminelli

One of the items from Liz Thorpe's cheese-tasting class that I didn't mention earlier this week was the soppressata that some of you may have noticed sitting in the background.

That soppressata was from Creminelli Fine Meats, an artisan meat producer based in Utah, where a third-generation Italian named Cristiano Creminelli is crafting some of the finest sausages in the nation. According to Thorpe, the young Cristiano moved to Salt Lake City because the microclimate there most closely matched that of his home in the Piedmont region of Italy. There, Cristiano's father -- Umberto Creminelli -- had been operating the family business, Salumificio di Vigliano, near the small town of Biella since taking it over from the family patriarch, Cristiano's grandfather, Ugo.

Salumificio di Vigliano -- which is still in operation -- has been turning out traditional Italian cured meats like Coppa Nostrana, Soppressa Veneta e Muletta and the area's specialty, Salametto Casalingo, since 1906. In June 2007, Cristiano decided to take that 100 years of experience and export it -- and himself -- to America.

As we ate and thoroughly enjoyed the few coins of Creminelli's soppressata that were scattered on our plate, I made a mental note to myself to track the stuff down for future purchasing. It was incredibly strong, its inherent rich meatiness matched by a huge punch of garlic. I found out later that it was due to hand-crushing the garlic and then dissolving it overnight in a generous portion of wine before adding it to the sausage right before stuffing.

I hadn't even had a full 24 hours to contemplate the sopressata and where I'd get my next fix before my boyfriend surprised me with a full link of Creminelli's casalingo. He'd picked it up on sale at Whole Foods for $8.99 (it's regularly $10.99), without my having even told him about the stuff previously. I was pleasantly shocked at the coincidence; it was harmonic convergence of the sweetest kind.

We sliced off some rings of the casalingo that night with a bit of manchego, some Drunken Goat and a goat Gouda that he'd also picked up at Whole Foods. The casalingo was far milder than the sopressata, with only a bit of salt and pepper perking up the naturally sweet pork inside the mold-dusted white casing (which needs to be removed prior to eating, obviously).

I called Whole Foods the next day and found out that they stock four Creminelli products in all: casalingo, picante, barolo and tartufo. The spicy picante goes for $14.99 while the complex barolo and the black truffle-studded tartufo go for $15.99. But I recommend running in and picking up a simple link of the casalingo while it's still on sale and enjoying it with a bottle of Barolo, a wine from the same region of Italy.

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