The Real Italy: Lardo

Lardo. Poor man's prosciutto. Modern chef-in-the-know's darling. If you've never had it, it's easy to describe (cured fat tasting of garlic and rosemary) and difficult to imagine. It's completely tender. Lardo, sliced super-thin, melts in your mouth but melts even faster on hot crusty bread. A sophisticated, spiced, Italian version of bread and butter.

A new friend took us, out of the kindness of his heart, up windy Tuscan roads to Colonnata. We saw lardo being made in the traditional manner. Not in some industrial, stainless steel vat....

...but in a cool basement on the foothills of a Tuscan village. Ugh. Disgustingly romantic, I know. Fat curing in a deeply scented cellar steps away from a cobblestoned Tuscan village.  And Colonatta's situation near/in the larger city of Carrara, known for its incredible peaks of marble, mean that the tomb-shaped curing bins are made of cool, porous Italian marble. And it means that we ended our afternoon in the farmed marble mountains. We tiptoed quiet around the puddles formed by water, which drips slowly through the marble. It was surreal to walk through a cave that felt more like a centuries-old church.

Here's to old rocks, new friends and fat.