For the perfect mix of sweet, salty, and creamy, look to the top-quality cold cuts and cheeses of Emilia-Romagna. You’ll enjoy a lot of flavor with little fuss.
A winning antipasto platter must include the “King of Salumi”, Prosciutto di Parma, and just one taste will convince you that you are experiencing something distinctive. Made in Emilia-Romagna since ancient Roman times, Prosciutto di Parma has a long history of excellence and represents the essence of simplicity. The name “prosciutto” is from the Latin for “dried” and it’s made with just two ingredients: Italian pigs and sea salt.
To the salumi platter add other renowned cold cuts of Emilia-Romagna: Cultatello di Zibello, Salame Felino and Prosciutto di Modena. Set them out on a large wooden cutting board along with a mix of soft and aged cheeses.
Essential to include is Parmigiano Reggiano, perhaps the most famous Italian cheese in the world, itself made with just three ingredients: milk, salt and rennet. It’s fair to say there’s a fourth ingredient too: patience.
Parmigiano Reggiano must be aged a minimum of 12 months, and frequently longer. Try a tasting platter consisting solely of Parmigiano, serving 12, 24 and 36 month aged versions to compare.
For a special treat, set out bottles of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale of Modena and Reggio Emilia to drizzle on the aged cheeses. This dense, deeply flavorful, and naturally sweet condiment is made from boiled down grape must. Originating from a combination of local varietals such as Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano and Albana grapes, balsamico moves through periods of years from barrel to barrel made with aromatic woods like juniper, chestnut, mulberry and cherry. Invite your guests to taste it from a tiny ceramic spoon to appreciate the resulting complex flavors and aromas.
Emilia-Romagna has a superb wine heritage, including 21 DOC and 9 IGT wines. The area produces the most wines in Italy, after the Veneto, so there are lots of fabulous wines to serve with each course.
For the antipasto I always serve Pignoletto, a sparkling white from the Bologna province, and welcome substitute for Prosecco.