Richard Carlsson’s interest in salami, cured hams, pancetta and bacon developed during his travels across mainland Europe, where he spent much of his time living on farms where the fine art of charcuterie was practiced, as a result, he learnt the ways of this great culinary art.
“The conditions,” Richard notes, “were very similar to those on my own farm, Pampoenfontein, which is situated outside Porterville, in the heart of the Groot Winterhoek mountains.”
And so, he decided to start his own business back in South Africa. He created his first meat products from humble beginnings − with just a hand meat grinder and sausage maker on the kitchen table. The business grew and grew and, now, Richard not only sells directly to a devoted following at various markets around the Mother City, he also supplies some of the top wine estates and restaurants in the Western Cape with a choice selection of beautifully cured, salted and smoked meats.
“We do not only pride ourselves on producing top-quality meat: the magic happens in our curing room where our gourmet products hang, sometimes for over a year, in a carefully controlled environment,” explains Richard.
Today, Cape Mountain Charcuterie boasts a range of cured meats that include everything from home-grown boerewors and biltong to authentically produced Italian sausage, jagdwurst, pastrami and Spanish chistorra. One of his most popular products is a magnificent loin of free-range pork, salt-cured for 10 days and then smoked for a further 24 hours – an undeniable favourite for picnic baskets or the summer lunch table.
The environment in which these meats are produced, undoubtedly, plays a role in their taste and quality. Carlsson’s beloved pigs and cattle range free among the fragrant fynbos on his thousand-acre Porterville farm, and Cape Mountain Charcuterie prides itself on the fact that its products contain no artificial additives or brine-injected solutions. “Our meats are also entirely gluten and sugar free,” he adds.
Of course, as any farmer knows, an operation that sets the bar in its field does not come without its share of challenges along the way: “From having to increase our pig-farming capacity, to simple logistics and quality management; from packaging to finding staff – it has been a huge learning curve,” admits Richard. He credits the business’s success to his team of dedicated curing-room, kitchen, packaging and quality-control staff. His ever-present right-hand man, manager Sadic Desai, brings to the business two decades’ worth of experience in blue-chip corporate consulting.
“Our meats are aimed at a discerning customer, one who appreciates life’s finer pleasures (but without the high price tags that normally accompany them!),” says Richard. “In a production sense, charcuterie is the ultimate ‘slow food’ and, as such, it deserves to be savoured at a leisurely pace in a relaxed environment, and preferably in the company of good friends.”
Look out for Cape Mountain Charcuterie’s superb-quality prosciutto, salami, bacon and pancetta, plus many other perfectly cured meats, at Decorex Cape Town, which takes place from 24 – 27 April 2015 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Decorex Cape Town always boasts a delicious variety of eats and snacks to eat at the exhibition as well as to take home. For more information, visit decorex.co.za or capemountainfood.co.za.