Since opening Fino in Fondo last fall, Carmen Peirano, chef/owner of Nick’s Italian Cafe, has had a lot on her plate — mostly Italian cuisine and handcrafted salami. We asked her about Fino in Fondo, the salumeria she opened last fall with her husband, Eric Ferguson, in McMinnville.
Let’s get this one out of the way. Why is it called a salumeria?
It’s a place in which we make and sell salumi. Salami refers to ground, fermented and dried sausages, and salumi is the umbrella term also including meats from our whole muscle lineup, including prosciutto, guanciale, pancetta and the like.
How does Fino in Fondo compliment Nick’s?
Although Fino in Fondo got its start years before we took over Nick’s, it spent a couple of years there taking shape. We tested and tweaked recipes until it was time to move into our current facility. Since Fino has released product, the meats have made their way back to Nick’s, and the menu feels whole once again.
How does it work for you to run two businesses?
Thankfully the two businesses are close by each other.
Can you describe a typical day at the salumeria?
Typically, days at the salumeria are rather structured and somewhat meditative in comparison to a kitchen. All of our salami is handcrafted and, therefore, takes a great deal of work. Everything that leaves our facility was ground, cased and tied by hand. That, coupled with the constant monitoring by the USDA, makes for a rather strict environment. Getting used to working in a cold room also takes a bit of time. Sliding back into the kitchen is a bit treacherous if you become too used to everything you work with being cold!
Do you have a favorite salami?
I still love all the different flavors eaten simply with crusty bread and good olive oil.
How do you explain Oregon’s obsession with charcuterie?
Oregon is a bountiful area populated with dedicated chefs, farmers, winemakers and food makers of all types. Charcuterie is just a natural part of everything that is going on here. We have the wines, and soon we will have the cheeses and meats that are specific to our region. I can’t imagine a trip to Italy without tasting food and wines from a specific region. I hope that a trip to Oregon feels the same way.
Editor’s Note: For a delicious getaway idea to Oregon’s wine country including a stop at Nick’s Italian Cafe, check out McMinnville for Two.