Finnochiona Salumi Pizza
Sweet. Tangy vinegar. Red Wine. Pepper (big pepper!). Sweet salt (sweet sweet salt!). Fennel.
What am I talking about? I am writing this while savoring a Finnochiona Salami from Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle. I mean this: it is performing a circus act with my taste buds! To my palate this salumi reveals a balanced explosion of sweetness that starts with a juicy red wine richness and then reveals a sweet vinegar taste, that is then met with strong, and welcome, intense pepper notes. As I begin to wonder about it, that is the moment the salt shows it’s sweet (really) presence! You’re enjoying all of these flavors and wondering where the salt is – it’s a salami! That’s when it comes sweet sweet salt! Finally, you can sense — almost more through the aromas — the fennel seeds — aka finnocchio.
My son was just up in Seattle and he followed through with my recommendation to visit Salumi Artisan Meats for lunch. It didn’t take too much convincing. When he was a little boy we spent hours watching Mario Batali’s “Molto Mario” show together. He used to ask me if there was any way I could get the two of us to be guests on the show. As we watched each episode he kept coming up with new angles to get Mario to take us. I eventually had to tell him that the show was in syndication and was no longer being filmed.
Mario’s cooking has always been on Owen’s radar. We would watch the shows and declare that’s what we’re having for dinner, and then I would set out to try to reproduce it for us all at home. I also have food-teased Owen over the years while traveling to New York for work as in: Text — Hey Owen guess where I’m at? Mario Batali’s restaurant – LUPA! Owen is almost 18 now and is working on building the case that I owe him a road trip to NY on an eating adventure to make up for all of the food taunting! The trip is long overdue for sure….
It didn’t take much to talk him into punching up an Uber to make his way across to Salumi Artisan to visit Mario Batali’s family salumeria. I told him to get the sample platter of cooked meats as well as a platter of the cured meats. Owen and his friend ended up getting the last sandwich of the day but, kindly enough, he didn’t food-tease me with texts of his conquest!
I asked him to taste some of the salamis and pick his favorite to bring home. He and his friend agreed the Finnochiona Salumi was the one, and they had instructions for me; or, rather a request for me to make them some pizza with this salami: “We’re gonna-make-a-pizz!”
– Classic Neopolitan Dough. *Recipe Link
– Peter’s Hand Crushed Tomato Sauce w/Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes *Recipe Link
– Fresh Mozzarella
– Finnochiona salumi — thinly sliced/shaved and, or torn into smaller pieces
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Lightly dressed Arugula (see below)*
– Fresno Chilies thinly sliced (*Optional)
Just as this salumi is balanced with flavors, we want this pizza to be about the balance between the ingredients. It’s all about the salumi on this pizza, but there are some killer ingredients that are also part of this. The simple sauce that I made with Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes is amazing and can be done even simpler by just using the tomatoes themselves with nothing else. Try to use just enough fresh mozzarella so that you taste that milky creaminess, but not make this pizza all about the cheese. Place just enough salumi — and then a little more — around the pizza to your appease your taste imagination. Drizzle with olive oil and, then, into the oven this goes.
When it comes out of the oven place some of the lightly dressed arugula over the top and, alternatively, add some thinly sliced chilies for a little pop. *The arugula is dressed with olive oil and sea salt. I would also try a hint of a good vinegar, as well, as an option.
This was delicious. The warm crust sets the base note and I think the first thing you notice biting into this pizza is the sauce, which is really just the tomatoes, and it is just a beautiful flavor. It’s a balanced sweetness is how I would describe it. Then you may feel the milky creaminess of the soft warm mozzarella rolling across the roof of your mouth. Next comes the salumi flavor – now a little crispy perhaps where the edges are super thin which makes the salt come, followed by the richness of the pork with the deeper wine notes, and then, POP, comes the pepper! The relatively cool arugula that tops the pizza is first felt on the roof of the mouth as you take the bite, but not until you are chewing the whole bite do you then get the peppery herbiness of the arugula. It may not come at you with every bite in that order, or in each bite, but this pizza is a great example of what makes the Finnochiona salumi so good – it’s a balanced dance between so many good flavors that it becomes something more cohesive – the whole is more than its individual parts.
*Owen’s friend Jake couldn’t make it over for this, but Owen was happy to eat a double share of the pizza.
Pizza Quest Info
Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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