Castelpoto and its famous red sausages
Here in the Caudina valley, and actually as far as Naples and Sicily, the little mountain village of Castelpoto is famous for its red sausages and cured meats. Salsiccia, ‘nduja, capo collo. From the house of Simona’s parents it’s just across the valley, close enough as the crow flies to hear the children playing football in the evening, but a half an hour journey down to the trickling river that cuts through these hills and up the other side’s steep and winding single track road. It’s definitely not the easiest place to reach, but it’s worth it for the sausages.
In the main village there is Fattoria Muccio. Carmine & xxx have had this butchers for 40 years and have been awarded various accolades including the slow food presidium. The pork comes from their own farm, free range castelnero pigs who eat a diet of acorns. The unique ingredient here is the native papauli pepper. Small and red it looks like a Scotch Bonnet but without the heat. It’s cultivated exclusively here in Castelpoto, dried in the sun, ground and mixed through the meat giving the most wonderful colour and seasoning. Carmine is quiet. He has the hands of a giant and large kindly eyes black as night that fix on yours without respite. I don’t think that life has been a walk in the park for these guys, but their meats are out of this world. There’s a reason every weekend people drive all the way from Naples up into these mountains to buy this stuff.
We drive out of the village along the top of the mountain. The landscape changes, almost lunar in its desolation. You’ll think you’re lost, that you’ve come to far, until the tight curve arrives and the impossibly rollercoaster-esque steep track down to Pierpaulo & Valentina’s farm. There’s cows and chicken and dogs and pigs and horses and Pierpaulo’s grandma on the terrace, working away sewing the Paupaulo peppers onto long strings to be hung around the farmhouse to dry. The sight of the whole farmhouse draped 360 degrees in tens of thousands of hanging peppers is a sight to behold. Pierpaulo is wonderful host. There’s always a glass or three of cold piedorosso from his vines, and a plethora curiosities from the larder. Cured tripe, spiced intestines. The wine helps.
Valentina’s papa makes great cheese so we buy a load of this too.. and everything makes its way back to our little shop in Margate.