When Colonnata Lard becomes millesimè

_MG_6573The product which is well known all over the world as ‘Lardo di Colonnata’ is about to become millesimè. This is the project elaborated by the expert butcher of Colonnata Marco Santucci, which involves the maturation of lardo, always carried out in marble basins, but up to 18 months (today this process requires 6 months of seasoning in order to obtain the Protected Geographical Indication - IGP), for getting a product characterized by unique flavour and, above all, lightness.

Marco Santucci runs the homonymous ‘Centro Carni, a leading company in the production of IGP lardo. Santucci comes from a family of butchers, among the most famous ones of Carrara, who since 1955 has produced sausages, mortadella and cotechino. Then, thanks to his owner’s passionate work, the company entered the distribution of IGP lardo. In 2006, the artisan workshop was inaugurated at Colonnata, world centre for lard production. Over the years, the company has achieved important goals, and the production and distribution of bacon lard increases exponentially, boasting sales abroad, too. IGP bacon lard of Colonnata by Santucci has received many acknowledgements, including, in 2013, the XXIV Prize ‘Dino Villani’ by the ‘Accademia della Cucina Italiana’ “for the excellent artisan product”.

Products by Centro Carni Santucci Marco

Products by Centro Carni Santucci Marco

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If you were to define Colonnata lard to a foreign consumer who has never tasted it, how would you describe it?

IGP Colonnata lard is not simply a fat for cooking, as someone might think. Our micro-climate, environment, white marble basins of ‘gullies’ enhance this product, promoting it to the situation of a true salami which can be tasted and matched with countless recipes, or eaten with plain bread.

Millesimè lard is achieving great interest and curiosity in the world of gastronomy and among titled chefs.How was this idea born?

The idea was born from the search for a superior quality product, prepared with excellent raw materials, personally selected by me.

At what stage is the project and what share of the market do you plan to address your product?

Our product is oriented to a high-level public and target, who knows and appreciates a food rich in organoleptic properties, and especially to both cuisines and chefs who are able to make the best out of it. The large-scale distribution is left out. As a matter of fact, this project is reserved to a catering line, and the distribution will be selected.

In addition to the differences concerning flavour and maturation, which are the main differences between an IGP ‘standard’ lard and the millesimè one?

Its further prolonged ripening gives added features to this product: our millesimè lard stands out thanks to its softness and delicacy. These qualities can be appreciated by anyone. The aromas of brine penetrate, leaving an important, very pleasant trace.

As for export, in which foreign markets Colonnata lard is more required?

Italy is certainly the most important market, and Italian cuisine already has many recipes for which lard is the key ingredient. Such markets as the French one, too, are very important for such products as millesimè, because the refined French cuisine is able to enhance its taste and simplicity. At the same time, northern markets would be able to appreciate our product.

Tell us your story as butcher: how was this passion born?

In 1955, my father opened his butcher shop. Many years of experience in both wholesale and retail trade, as well as a perfect knowledge of such raw materials as beef and pork, were handed on to me by him. In 1981 I opened my own butcher shop, where we process pork meats, too, and in 2007 a laboratory in via Alberto Maffiori, at Colonnata, in which we realize a traditional product of our land, trying to enhance its history and features. Our ‘Larderia’ has won many acknowledgements and is more and more appreciated by people and experts in the gastronomic field.

Colonnata, lard, food and wine tourism…

Colonnata is a small village peopled by engaged workers, accustomed to labours related to the extraction of the famous Carrara marble in the nearby quarries, and lard was born as a suitable food for feeding and giving energy to our miners. This product has two important qualities which made it a so important food: it is rich in calories and can be stored for a long time. Almost by accident, it was discovered that if lard is seasoned in brine, it acquires important organoleptic properties, too. Now lard is no longer a simple food which goes with bread, but becomes a leading character in traditional dishes as well as in the finest cuisines. I think that it is very important for people to discover or rediscover such a product, rich in history and tradition. I believe that Colonnata should attract in more possible ways the highest number of visitors, in order to allow appreciating both tradition and simplicity that characterize this product.

The summer festival of Colonnata lard, what is its future?

The festival is a really important opportunity to allow knowing in the whole world a unique, excellent and special product. However, I believe that it is not exploited at its best and it seems that it cannot really enhance our tradition. Such an exceptional product as our one must be the star of the party, everything must be centred on this product, and every activity must consider lard as a key element.

How does Marco Santucci prefer to eat lard?

The IGP Colonnata lard is good in every way, but if I had to choose one recipe in particular, I believe that the combination ‘sea-mounts’ of grilled prawns and IGP lard are a perfect match, which can be tasted as an appetizer or a substantial second course.


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