Have you ever had a transcendental experience with pork? Well, last weekend at the La Quercia // Magnolia prosciutto and beer tasting at 18 Reasons, Tala and I did. We had the good fortune of sitting in a room, sampling 6 fine cured prosciutto products from La Quercia (pronounced La Kwair-cha), out of Norwalk, Iowa paired with 5 great beers from local favorite Magnolia Brewery.
Herb and Kathy Eckhouse started La Quercia after spending several years living in Parma, Italy, and being inspired by the delicious food products from the area. Coming from Iowa, they felt confident that the resources and farmers there could offer them the exceptional raw material (great pork) they needed to make out of this world prosciutto. Turns out, they were right.
We tasted 6 products from La Quercia, including two of their acorn fed or finished prosciuttos. One of these was hand shaved by Herb on the spot. This pork was flavorful and complex, with a distinct nutty overtone. It had luscious fat and tender meat – Tala’s favorite for sure.
The one I loved the most, though, was the Speck – smoked prosciutto. It’s much more delicate than American bacon, which also smoked pork. The fibers were short, the smoke flavor was slight and understated, and the meat was delicious. This could be because it was paired with my favorite Magnolia beer, the Cole Porter. The subtle smoke in the meat, combined with the malty nuttiness of the beer was a match made in heaven for me.
In a product as simple as this – as Herb and Kathy said, they only have 2 ingredients, salt and pork – the quality of the ingredients really matters. La Quercia’s relationships with their farmers are critical here; where they are involved in many aspects of the husbandry, rearing, and finishing of the pigs that eventually become La Quercia’s cornerstone products.
I can’t recommend this prosciutto enough – everything was delicious and tender, delicate and versatile. It’s readily available in our area, at places like Whole Foods, Bi-Rite, and Berkeley Bowl, and they have a diverse line of products including salame, guanciale, and lardo. Make sure you pick some up for your next party, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Special thanks to Joe Ruvel from Beer at Joe’s, who invited us to cover this great event at 18 Reasons. What a great time!