Last week I was introduced to a number of new and blissful food and wine experiences. I was invited by Charcutier Richard Bosman to taste his guanciale, a traditional Italian cured meat made from pork cheek. We lunched at Scusi, for me a new Italian restaurant in Newlands, Cape Town where Andrea Volpe, a tall good looking Italian [more like a mamber of Parliament than a chef] is turning out some truly great authentic Italian grub. Piet Swanepoel of Groenland Wines was there with a variety of his products, but I was blown away by his Landskap Chenin Blanc 2013, made from 30 year old Chenin Blanc vines and selling for a very even handed less than R30 a bottle.
He served us several courses each using one of Richard’s sublime charcuterie products using the guanciale in its best known dish, spaghetti alla carbonara. “No cream”, he kept saying as he prepared the dish before us. The guanciale had been rendered down into crisp little nuggets of bacony pork cheek and turned gently with egg yolks and parmigiana. Richard told us that the fat is wonderful for roasting potatoes. You can see form the illustration that there is a high fat content in the meat.
I talked to Richard in an interview first published in Crush!, a food and wine digital magazine.
Before you started your company in 2009, what were you doing?
I owned a delicatessen in Hermanus for 5 years.
Did you have a defining moment when you knew that making quality cured meats was what you wanted to do?
Not exactly, it was more of a gradual process but I do recall quite clearly tasting my first prosciutto after waiting impatiently for months and months and thinking to myself “wow, that’s actually pretty good, even I would eat that”
You use free-range pork, grown as naturally as possible. Can you taste the difference between your pork and commercially raised pork?
Absolutely, you can see the difference in the colour immediately and the flavour and texture is superior. The pasture reared pigs have a very active life and as a result the muscle takes a lot longer to develop. This improves the flavour and overall quality of the meat.
Where do you get your recipes from? Are some of your products you have developed your own?
I had a lot of help getting started from an old friend, Walter Haller. He taught me the basics regarding the curing process. After that it was a case of trial and error, reading, surfing the web and letting the imagination run wild. I keep the hams fairly plain and simple, using traditional flavours such as cloves, nutmeg, garlic, pepper and red wine and use the salamis to try out more creative products. I have a batch made with hazel nuts that should be ready in about a month and this week I am going to try making a salami with porcini mushrooms.
Do you try to be as natural as possible in your production methods?
Definitely, everything is done by hand and we try to do as little as possible to the meat. All our casings are natural and we don’t use any products to speed up the curing process. The result of this is that it takes a lot longer until the product is ready but the end result is much better.
What’s your best seller product?
It’s a tie between the prosciutto and the coppa. They are both cured in the same way but the prosciutto is made from the leg and the coppa is made from the neck. The flavour of the coppa is sweeter and the texture is softer than the prosciutto which has a stronger, saltier, more robust flavour.
Least Favourite Food?
Motto for life?
Don’t end up having regrets about what you didn’t do!
Being allowed to choose the menu on my birthday. My mother is a fabulous cook and always made everything from scratch. I have 2 brothers and a sister and we were always allowed to choose the menu for dinner on our birthday. Family favourites included roast beef, sweet and sour chicken, chicken kiev and 9 times out of ten it was chocolate mousse for dessert.
Up at 6:15, shower. First Americano at 6:30. Arrive at work at 7:30 for Admin, emails, sort out customer orders, eat chia seed fruit smoothie. 9:30 Prepare for production run, co-ordinate slicing orders, 2nd Americano, process salamis/hams. 13:00 Prepare invoices and pick stock for orders. 15:00 Deliver orders. 17:00 3rd Americano18:30. Prepare and eat supper. 21:30 in bed with a good book.
The delight on someone’s face when they taste my products and their expectation is exceeded.
Fried eggs sunny side up, crispy pancetta and toasted ciabatta.
Favourite Cooking Tool?
Most definitely my knife. I have a small obsession with cooking knives and have about 20 of them ranging from forged, ceramic, wooden handled, serrated, boning etc. I’m sure I still need one more though, so I keep looking at knives every time I pass a cook’s shop.
Always in the Fridge at home?
Chilli, parmesan, pesto, lardons, chorizo, frozen clams, smoked salmon trout, home made labneh, sun dried tomatoes.
Most Underrated Wine?
Porcupine Ridge Syrah Viognier
Favourite piece of Art?
Porsche F301 chef’s knife
Pilates twice a week, surf whenever there is a north-west wind, running.
Key Wardrobe Item?
My Diesel jeans
Talent you want?
To be able to play lead guitar
Bees in your bonnet?
People should know where their food comes from. If you are going to eat meat then make sure you eat meat from an animal that has been reared properly and has led a happy life. Be prepared to pay a bit extra, eat it less often but at least eat it in good conscience and acknowledge that it comes from an animal and not a polystyrene factory.
Dire Straits Alchemy
Fictional Character with whom you most identify?
Alan Shore from Boston Legal
Lying on the couch, watching a movie, eating chocolate, all at the same time, during the day.
Craziest Booze Purchase?
I bought a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label soon after it was released. I paid about R400 for it in 1995. I couldn’t afford to drink it for about 10 years but once it was opened it seemed to evaporate really quickly. I wish I had kept it as I could have traded it in for a small family sedan today.
Tell me of 6 people you would like to sit down with and eat a meal of your products.
Hugh Laurie, James Spader, Elizabeth Gilbert, Bill Bryson, Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Knopfler with their respective partners. [Michael: “Hey, I said 6 people not 12!”]
How do we contact you?
Richard Bosman’s Quality Cured Meats
Tel: 083 277 3494