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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Taste The Love

Do you remember those 80's Reeses Peanut Butter Cups ads, good reader?

They would set an unlikely stage – at the opera, or playing Intellvision – for someone to accidentally “stick their chocolate” into a peer's “peanut butter.” The results were far more wholesome than the imagery suggests: culinary miscegenation proved less sexual innuendo than flavorful eureka; and the collision of parts always yielded a titillating whole, a candy bar that dared ride “up the down escalator” en route to gastronomic ecstasy.

Or something like that.

Regardless, mixing two different types of delicious seems like Sound Flavor Policy. Particularly if said types include bacon and ham. As fate would have it, this is precisely the hook of our latest Ham Of The Month: a wonderful “double dip” flavor explosion sold by the fine folks at Di Palo's. And it goes by the name of porchetta.
You Dropped Your Bacon On My Ham!

Before I get annoying emails correcting my choice of words, let me remind you that this is not the rolled, roasted suckling pig sold from the backs of trucks throughout Central Italy. It's still a big log of hog, but it's 100% ham – and at $12.99/lb., it's one of the Best Cold Cut Deals In Town.
Stack that on your bread and eat it

Imported from the Lago di Garda (halfway between Milan and Venice), Di Palo's porchetta is a pork loin wrapped in pancetta with rosemary and peppercorns. Slice it thin, and bask in the wonder: smoky and salty interior, sweet and creamy fat, herb and pepper aroma. The effect is nothing short of arousing, a cornucopia of flavors best savored over a bit of hearty Italian bread.
Sal DiPalo – like his brother Lou (top pic) – are masters of the slice

I first had it on recommendation of Sal Di Palo, one of the third generation of co-owners at this Grand Street institution. In a city besotted with neophyte yuppie foodie boutiques and self-satisfied go-green psuedo-organic haunts, Di Palo's is somewhat of a rarity these days: a real-deal respite where each customer is welcomed like a guest at an overflowing table. Hospitality and generosity (with their time and samples both) are the guiding principles. Which is how I came across their porchetta. Lingering at the counter and talking meat with Sal, he cut me off a slice. One bite and I was sold (1/2 pound to be precise), and eager to spread the gospel of this unique, memorable ham.
Dropping flavor since 1925

So run down and buy some. And while you're there, give thanks that the Di Palo's have been going at their own gloriously deliberate pace since 1925. This is a family in the know, and everything about their small, stuffed storefront exudes confidence and easy-going charm. Take the inevitably long time you will spend on line to peruse a selection of goods from throughout Italy (most from farmers and producers they know personally), and look forward to that moment when your number is called and porchetta is nigh at hand. Which is to say, Di Palo's is less a “specialty store” than an experience to savor; especially if you dive in ham-first. Can't you just taste the love?

Di Palo Fine Foods
200 Grand Street (at Mott Street)
Little Italy/Chinatown, Manhattan
(212) 226-1033
Open daily from 9 - 6:30 (4pm on Sundays)



Anonymous caterchick said...

I love that place! Lou is a fountain of Italian food knowledge and everything there is super fresh and priced right!

A tip to help ease the pain that is the 20+ minute line... Pop over to Saigon Bahn Mi on Elizabeth Street and eat one outside while you're waiting for your number to come up at Di Paolo's
Double pork goodness!

4:37 PM  
Blogger J. Slab said...

i couldn't agree more

great idea about the banh mi pop-in, that never even occurred to me. i like how you think

3:01 PM  

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