About three years ago we were standing with La Quercia's Herb Eckhouse, video camera in hand, before a wall of ham— his second Acorn Edition series of acorn-fed prosciutto hams, then in the process of aging for 15 months before being sold. (You can see them, and the moment we're describing, about 13 minutes into this video.) He talked about his plans for what he called Ham Independence Day, which you could call a promotion, but it also represented his sincere desire to announce to America and American chefs that we didn't have to look to Europe for great cured hams any more— that Iowa pork raised by people like Jude Becker and cured by La Quercia was as good as any Italian prosciutto or Spanish ham in the world. Every year since, as the acorn-fed hams are released around this time of year, he's been out promoting this message, and this Thursday and Friday he'll be in Chicago, handing out slices at local faves like Publican Quality Meats and Bar Toma. Here's the schedule below.
Thursday he'll be handing out samples of La Quercia prosciutti at Publican Quality Meats from 11 to 3 p.m. That evening he'll be at Bar Toma for Prosciutto of Happiness Hour, from 6 to 9 p.m.; besides the prosciutto tasting there will be cocktails from Templeton Rye, pizza and bar bites, and wine pairings. (We find prosciutto pairs very well with all wines.) The PQM event is open to all; the Bar Toma one is $30, call Julie at 312-335-5143.
Friday there will be prosciutto tastings at the Wine Bar at Bar Toma (without Herb) and he'll be doing a full-fledged multicourse dinner at Panozzo's Italian Market at 7 p.m. Tickets are $160 and include wine pairings and La Quercia swag. Call 312-356-9966 to reserve your spot.