NAVIGATING THE UPSTREAM WATERS
Upstream: ergo, going against the grain. Full steam ahead, from start to finish. You can use the visual example of the salmon swimming upstream to illustrate this point, punctiliously swimming upwards, against the river’s natural currents, in the face of great difficulties and obstacles.
CLAUDIO CERATI FOLLOWS HIS OWN WATERY PATH
Strong, daring, intrepid: ready for anything during its perilous ascent. Salmon seem to have innate similarities with Claudio Cerati, the creative Parma-born entrepreneur. Cerati has grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak, and is committed to a most unusual undertaking, considering his location and roots. Thanks to his indomitable passion for true gourmet commodities, Cerati is decidedly swimming against the grain in the very heart of the “Food Valley” of Emilia-Romagna, the land historically associated with top-notch cheese and pork products.
Curious about Italy’s connection with cured meats? Learn more from the Mamablip staff writers in the articles Italian Cured Meats Win the Day - Part 1, and Italian Cured Meats for the Win - Part 2.
Cerati became 100% devoted to creating his own company, Upstream, driven naturally by his endless passion. Following a solid 12 years of amateur experimentation, and supported in his drive by fellow gastronomes, friends, and restaurateurs, Cerati created Upstream, his much-desired company providing top-quality, small-production artisanally crafted smoked and fresh salmon products. That Upstream was born following a most rigid adherence to quality is a clear indication as well of the seamless creation process dedicated to each salmon fillet that is crafted in Upstream.
UPSTREAM CONTINUES MARKING ITS OWN PATH
In a charming deviation from tradition, Cerati would undertake his mission of smoking salmon on the Saturday before the festivity of the Immaculate Conception. Po Valley local traditions dictate the butchering of a pig on this specific day, although Cerati would devote himself to his salmon-smoking passion instead.
Cerati carried out easily over 1,000 tests and trials of his smoking procedures in order to create a balance between the smoky note of the process and the fishes’ natural aromas. Cerati remains convinced that the smoky aroma should be fragrant without any intrusive elements that could overpower the salmon’s tasty fillets. In a nutshell, Cerati carried out maniacal trials on his smoking techniques.
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WAS SALMON EVER INDIGENOUS TO ITALY?
Historically, Cerati’s smoked salmons were produced and exported from Scotland. This gourmet delicacy was punctually given as gifts to friends and clients of Cerati’s company. In Cerati’s last years as an amateur smoker, he was smoking and preparing several hundred sides of salmon - a rather labor-intensive process.
From this experience, for Cerati, it became simply a question of transforming his laborious hobby into a career path that would keep the flames of his Salmon-based passion glowing.
Upon the recommendations and insistence of supportive friends, Cerati undertook his own production process, just as his friends and supporters had long suggested.
Following his quasi-maniacal smoking trials, Certati then undertook the process of selecting his salmon. True to form, Cerati wanted to reflect a selection most suited for his project.
Following in-depth studies on all the steps necessary in the creation of a high-quality product, Cerati selected his personally-preferred combination for his marinade formula. Incorporating his own selections of sugars, salts, and aromas, Cerati also incorporated the selection of smoking woods into his production process.
SO WHERE DO THE UPSTREAM SALMON COME FROM?
During Cerati’s rigorous selection process, the idea of incorporating islands with a more “wild” semblance took form. Therefore, the decision to focus on the Faroe Islands was born, veering away from the more standard resource sites like Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and Canada.
The Faroe Islands is a Danish archipelago cobbled together from approximately twenty islands. A constituent nation of the Kingdom of Denmark from the end of WWII, the Faroe Islands’ sub-polar oceanic climate is a clear indication of the water quality surrounding this area.
THE CLEAR ITALIAN CONNECTION WITH UPSTREAM’S SALMON
Cerati has selected just this very spot to source his pure salmon. Thriving in the area’s ice-cold, clean waters, the fish feed and live daily in a completely natural method and environment. Antibiotics simply don’t feature in the breeding of these local salmon.
The salmon, once culled and prepared on-site in the Faroe Islands, are then transported to Ireland. Here, in one of world’s foremost centers of fish smokery, the Upstream salmon begin their transformation.
Following a special technique crafted by Cerati, the salmon are marinated for four alternating phases, passing between sea salt and sugar marinades, allowing the salmon to release the superfluous liquids. Following the marinade period, the salmon are then smoked on Italian beech wood.
Fascinatingly enough, the wood used during the smoking phase is not just Italian. This particular selected Beech wood comes directly from the woods clustered on the Apennine Mountains of the Parma area. This connection brings a circular approach to Cerati’s production cycle, a sort of return to his gastronomic origins. A constant reminder for Cerati of his roots and personal culinary history.
If you love the idea of a wine & food pairing of a handcrafted smoked fish with a classic drink at the heart of countless Italian aperitif specialties, an in-depth look into the world of Italian Vermouth is up your alley.
We can conclude following a Cerati philosophy: the best things are created when we focus on the multiplicity of experiences of any given product or creation.
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