This past weekend, Herb Eckhouse, the owner of La Quercia took time out of his vacation to visit Pizzeria Basta and slice proscuitto for Denver and Boulder chefs. Imagine my excitement when I walked into Basta to find Kyle from the Kitchen, Max from Squeaky Bean, Steve from Oak, Theo from Pinyon, wine reps, cheese reps and Chef Kelly Whitaker himself. Herb was sticking around that night to slice proscuitto for dinner service as well.
Herb sliced up his Green Label proscuitto, lardo and coppa. “Consistency is the key,” he said, “consistent breeding and feeding of the pigs produces a better quality product.” The pigs used to make Green Label are never fed antibiotics, they are never confined and no nitrates/nitrites are used in making this fabulous meat.
La Quercia looks at making proscuitto like making wine. The farms the pigs come from are like a vineyard. The pigs are the varietals. We tasted proscuitto made from Berkshire pigs. The flavor was strong, much stronger than the Italian proscuitto I was accustomed to – like the San Daniele we served at Frasca. It was delicious. High quality artisan dry cured meat is like high quality artisanal wine. There are few, highly selected ingredients; they are attentively prepared for conservation, and aging brings out the highest expression and differences of the ingredients’ inherent qualities.
This is what I love about Pizzeria Basta. It’s not just a place to go and get a pie; it’s Chef Kelly Whitakers’s culinary vision. From the drip coffee he serves to being the first chef in Boulder to write a HACCP plan to hosting artisanal proscuitto makers, Kelly is one of most passionate chefs I have met. This Tuesday we are hosting the Culinary Connectors Supper Club at Basta. I hope you can join us.
Pizzeria Basta – 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. 303-997-8775. Hours: Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday & Sunday 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
To sign up for the Culinary Connectors Supper Club, please click here.