Food Adventures in Kogarah - Pino's
Pino's Dolce Vita & Fine Foods
45 President Ave
Kogarah NSW 2217
Ph : (02) 9587 4818
After my light lunch at Sugarloaf Patisserie a few doors down, it was time to head to the other reason for my presence in Kogarah; a visit (finally), to Pino's Dolce Vita.
Seventh-generation smallgoods artisan Pino Tomini Foresti and his family have an altar to meat and salumi fans. Suppliers to many top Sydney chefs as well as the general public, they produce dozens of sausage varieties and some two dozen types of cured meats such as salami, pancetta, coppa, proscuitto and even lardo. You can also find a selection of Italian deli goodies and cheeses, but it is the pig that reigns supreme.
I am not one of those folks who gets overwhelmed by choice - the more the merrier, say I! However, on this day it just all became too much, as I wanted half the shop, but realised that this was going to be impossible both from the point of view of my fridge, and my pocket.
In the end I decided to just get two things. In narrowing it down to two I had difficulties, but eventually settled on the following.....
Item one of two was the proscuitto.
I decided to go for something that I love, a classic, and something that Pino's is renowned for.
Unfortunately, there are no prices visible on the cured meats, so I had no idea that this cost $89.99/kg! I admit to having a minor heart blip when my tally was given to me (I got two dozen slices of the proscuitto, to share), but when I ate it (crudo), I realised that it was worth it. The aroma, taste and texture were just sensational, and every bite savoured. If I could afford it, I could see myself wanting to eat this regularly.
My second purchase was a form of proscuitto that I had never eaten before, and which I vaguely recalled as being something not only quite special, but also difficult to find in Sydney - culatello.
The word "culatello" means "little backside", and refers to the fact that it is made from the the rear part of the leg, freed from the bone and skin. Called the "heart of the proscuitto", it not only uses a different part of the beast, but is also handled differently. The large side of the leg is removed away from the bone and skin. Seasoned with pepper, pressed garlic and lightly salted, the meat is then stuffed into a pig's bladder, tied to give it a pear-like shape, and hung 8-12 months to cure. It may also be cured with wine.
The best known culatello is Culatello di Zibello, which is produced in and around the town of Zibello; Culatello di Zibello has been granted Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) status.
I didn't know some of these finer details under after I had eaten it and wanted to know more. All that I knew when I purchased it was that it was similar to proscuitto, but made from a different part of the animal.
It was very different to proscuitto tastewise and texture wise. I think that I should have left it out for a bit longer to reach a proper room temperature, as I have a suspicion that this would have altered the experience and taste.
As it was, I enjoyed it a lot, but for reasons which I can't really articulate, and that are nothing to do with taste, of the two meats, I am probably likely to buy the proscuitto again ahead of the culatello. However, in spite of this I would definitely recommend that if you visit Pino's, buy a few slices of the latter to try, and tell me what you think! I realise that it's not quite jamón ibérico de bellota, but it's pretty darn good.
If for you, Kogarah seems like a distant place to travel as a food destination, then I can assure you that visits to Pino's and Sugarloaf should be reason enough for you to head there, and there's a pretty good fruit and vegetable place across the road as well!