Forest Grill restaurant, Birmingham, Michigan and author, with Michael Ruhlman, of Charcuterie. Note the thickness of the fat, it is from a heritage breed pig, Mangalista. Brian serves his lardo with a Spanish olive oil, and before you think too much fat, the peppery oil complements the smooth creamy pork fat.
Lardo is simply cured pork back fat. It's a true expression of the French term terroir, revealing the breed of pig, its diet and where it lived. Even if you cure it with the exactly same mixture of salt, herbs and spices, it always has its own unique taste. I loved Brian's lardo, but Brian and I agreed that the best lardo we've eaten comes from Colonnata. In this tiny hill town perched in the hills above the marble quarries of Carrara, they cure lardo in rectangular marble vats, called concas. Many locals claim that it is the porous quality of the marble that is the key to the finesse of lardo di Colonnata. Others believe that it's the town's location that provides the perfect cool and humid climate for making lardo.
Perhaps they are both right or may be it is just the quality of the pork fat. If you get a chance to try lardo di Colonnata take it.