Preserving the Flavors of Piedmont
Paolo Anselmino and Noemi Lora’s shop is hidden in plain sight, a low-slung red stucco structure next to a bank on a stretch of the strada statale (state road) between Alba and Bra, in Piedmont. Inside is a treasure trove of sweet and savory preserves; long tables stacked with jars in meticulous rows: antipasto Piemontese, a mixed vegetable pickle in tomato sauce; bite-size cherry peppers stuffed with tuna; marinated anchovy fillets; truffle cream; fruit mustards; nuts in honey and more. Each jar is positioned in such a way that its colorful, carefully packed contents are at work here.
Passion in what drove Anselmino and wife Lora to quit their jobs a decade ago and acquire I Frutti della mia Langa (The Fruit of My Langa), the small food production company, from its original owner. It was a radical change; Anselmino had a successful niche career building sterile rooms for technology and pharmaceutical companies, and Lora, an avid bowler, was co-owner and maager of a bowling arcade.
“We were a little reckless”, says Anselmino. He and Lora make all of their products-48 intotal-by hand with the help of one assistant, using only in-season ingredients from the surrounding Langhe and Roero hills. Everything is processed in the small but spotless stainless-steel kitchen at one end of the shop.
The room is efficiently equipped, with a large food processor for slicing and chopping, a range, and a vat pasteurizer. There is no refrigerator. Everything they preserve, much of wich comes from Lora’s brother’s farm, goes straight from the field to the jar. Anselmino estimates that he and Lora fill close to 50.000 jars each year. Most of what they make is sold right in the shop, to long-tourists meandering around the hills of Barolo and Barbaresco in summer or during the fall grape harvest, or headed to the annual white truffle festival in Alba in October.
Preserving starts in May and goes full tilt through summer, winding down after the holidays ( a busy time for gift baskets). One morning when we meet, Lora and assistant Marta Tosa are in the kitchen, up to their elbows in 40 kilos (88 pounds) of torpedo shaped red onions, which they are peeling by hand. They will be chopped in the large processor, then marinated overnight in wine, sugar, brandy, and spices. The following day, golden raisins will be added and the mixture cooked down to a thick jam, enough to fill 400 small jars. The jam in popular, and once it sells there will be no more until next years.
It’s the same with all of the foods they preserve. “We only do it all locally”, says Lora. “We could buy Spanish or Dutch produce, but then we would be like everyone else.”