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Columbus All Natural Uncured Peppered Salame

July 5, 2011
What it is: A peppered natural salame made with 100 percent hand-trimmed pork
How it comes: 8-ounce shelf-stable salame (needs to be refrigerated after opening)
Where it is: At supermarkets and at the BiteoftheBest.com shop
Who it's for: Salame lovers
Suggested retail price: $8.99 to $9.99
Nutrition notes: 80 calories, 2 grams saturated fat (of 5 grams total), 440 milligrams sodium and 7 grams protein in an ounce
Category: The Pantry

bonnie Bonnie: My first salami memory is of Grandpa Max making me a salami sandwich, spread with a spicy mustard (no yellow stuff for us) on corn bread. I’m not talking about the southern cornbread, but the thick chewy incredibly crusted sour rye bread from the Bronx. (The name stems from the use of cornmeal as a coating.)

My siblings and I fought so much over who’d get the ends of the bread that Grandpa Max finally started bringing two loaves so each of the four of us had our own end to nibble as he made those thick sandwiches. Indigestion? Yup, my first salami recollection is of a stomach ache.

Columbus’ salumi is not the salami of my youth. Salumi is a general term for cured meats that are salt-cured and fermented, but not necessarily encased. Think prosciutto and pancetta. Salami is dry-cured, fermented and encased.

Columbus’ natural line includes five uncured salame (that’s how they spell it): Cajun, Herb, Italian Dry, Sopressata and, my favorite, Pepper. All of Columbus’s salames are made with no artificial ingredients or preservatives (They use celery powder, which naturally contains nitrates to preserve it, as we explained in our review of Nueske’s bacon.)

Columbus says they’re all made from 100 percent hand-trimmed pork — vegetarian hogs raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. I like that. And I like the flavor of the peppery uncured one best. It’s mildly spiced with sherry red wine and is rolled in freshly cracked peppercorns.

Serve it with hard or soft cheeses, tasty bread or crackers, fruit, nuts, and either red or white wines. Seriously, it’s that versatile. Just keep it refrigerated and use it within seven to 10 days after opening.

Bryan (2)Bryan: Bonnie emailed me recently to tell me that she had this great line of salami products she wanted us to try so we could write about it. In hearing the name I didn’t think twice, but hilariously realized — once a package arrived at my door — that it was the same salami brand I’ve been buying for a while now.

Let me explain. I live within walking distance of a few supermarkets, but literally live on top of a Trader Joe’s store. This makes certain shopping decisions very simple when I’m lazy. I simply walk downstairs and am subject to the (limited) selection at hand. As some of you who shop at TJ’s might know, their product selection is not very wide, with most options being the store brand. If you’re looking for something a bit “specialty,” you’re likely looking somewhere else. But then again there are some gems, and Columbus Salame is certainly one of them. (P.S. – I love TJ’s, they just don’t have that many things.)

I first discovered Columbus Salame when I went to grab some snacks for some friends who were gathering at my house for drinks. As I had nothing on hand, a selection of cheeses and meats was my goal as I entered the market. After picking up some brie and cheddar, Columbus Salame seemed to be the salami du jour at TJ’s, with no other options available. I grabbed it and crossed my fingers. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I’ve continued to buy Columbus products ever since, and am additionally glad that they seem to survive TJ’s ever changing offerings (I wouldn’t want to have to drive to get it). Their pre-sliced salami makes a great salty addition to any turkey sandwich, and is generally in my deli drawer at all times.

When it really comes to flavor, though, you’ve got to get the whole salami. The Pepper Salame was our pick of the litter, but there are a number of classic flavors to try (Cajun, Calabrese Fiore, Chorizo, Genoa, Habanero, Herb, Italian Dry, Sopressata, Toscano and more). Pick your own favorite and let us know which one and why.

Columbus Salumeria’s quality dates back to their founding in San Francisco in 1917. The company began with newly arrived Italian immigrants who brought their own authentic recipes and salumi-making mastery to the California shores. Columbus continues in their traditions and is now one of the most respected artisan producers of fine foods in the country. Next time you’re in a bind and at TJ’s, or feel like going out of your way, Columbus is very worth a try.

eric...Eric: When the package of Columbus Salame arrived in my hands at work, my first instinct was to refrigerate the product. I work directly in the main kitchen of a resort hotel, so there is plenty of fridge space. But in order to fit the salame in my department’s fridge, I had to unpack the box — a (delicious) mistake on my behalf, and a benefit to my fellow associates.

Like a bloodhound, the first person to approach was our in-house butcher. a man who prides himself on making his own salami. He dabbles with bison, elk, venison and anything that comes across his butcher block, so needless to say, he was interested in tasting a “competitors” product. Like a surgeon, he opened the package of peppered salame, sliced it thin, and handed out pieces to the culinary department in a blind-tasting effort to enlighten them about an “inferior” product. Meanwhile, I simply sat back and watched the plan backfire on him as, one by one, each member of the culinary team congratulated the butcher on an incredibly well-made salami. “Delicious pepper flavor.” “Beautiful balance of seasoning.” Watching his jaw drop was the highlight of my day. Defeated, he approached me and under his breath asked me if he could take a salame home for his wife to try; absolutely!

3 Comments on “Columbus All Natural Uncured Peppered Salame”

  1. uncle sam Says:

    never try

  2. aviva Says:

    Hey uncle sam –why never try ?

  3. unclesam Says:

    longway fom maker 2 here

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