Bag a salami in SA’s ‘hidden pantry’ – guess where?

Bag a salami in SA’s ‘hidden pantry’ – guess where?

It’s always good to have a salami or two hanging around the kitchen, but right now, in the Age of Load Shedding, ‘with salami, you’re golden’, says Paul Rabinowitz. ‘By nature it’s meant to be kept out of the fridge.’ So, a fine excuse to stock up with whichever of his and father Hylton’s Col’tempo cured meats you fancy, and no matter that they are in Durban; they’re also online, and are excellent travellers.

Constantijn Hahndiek (ex-Hartford House) arrives as we are discussing what, exactly, Hylton and Paul Rabinowitz’s premises might be called (a salumeria? fabricina? antipasto bar? deli? artisan food factory?). Tijn, now of Sagra Foods, hunts out and supplies chefs with quality ingredients, and he is here to pick up a large order of salamis and pancetta for a Cape winelands client.

KZN is South Africa’s hidden pantry,” Tijn says. And this father and son are possibly its most unlikely flag bearers.

Paul is an industrial designer, partner in a pumping lighting and mirrors business, Arkivio, down the road, with clients mostly in Joburg and Cape Town. Hylton is a former restaurateur and diamond dealer.

But there is food in these genes. Hylton’s mother, Madeleine, dreamed up and established a hugely successful, sanctions-busting, import-substitution manufacturing business in Bulawayo. It produced tomato sauce, mayo, salad dressings, Worcestershire sauce, all under the Rabroy label, and is still going.

Hylton ran a restaurant there called The Cavern, until leaving Zimbabwe in 1976, “with nothing”. This inspired him, while managing The Hacienda steak restaurant in his new home of Durban, to develop another skill: he learned all about diamonds, including how to cut them. He was determined, he says, that if he ever had to leave a country again, he would be able to carry his assets away in a briefcase.

The path from diamonds and designer mirrors to salamis is not well-trodden. Paul was at design college in Milan (he speaks perfect Italian) when Hylton “retired”, and began amusing himself making yoghurt and cheese. Bitten by the fermentation bug, schooled by Google, YouTube and a library of food-making books, he moved on and up to salamis. Paul’s Italian friends were first amazed, then impressed. And Paul found strong links to Italian design principles – simplicity, fine materials. “Good ingredients, less is more, basic and simple. I despise master-cheffy, over-complicated food.”

When he returned from Italy, he joined his father in a shed at the bottom of the family garden.

We knew, we were proving, that there is a huge difference between traditionally-made salami and what we had got used to from supermarkets and industrial-sized producers. The flavours you can create… And all of a sudden, after my mum said there was too much salami hanging around the house and booked us a stall at a market, we were IN it!”

Fewer than five years later, Col’tempo (“with time”) is flying, and becoming a nationally-known brand. The range now includes bresaola, pancetta, coppa, chorizo and… Have a look online for the full show, which can be delivered nationally. Their pork comes from a farm in Winterton. They roast, grind and blend their own spices. And designer Paul is now able to discourse knowledgeably about all things salami from dropping pH to dextrose amounts, lactic acid to water activity…

Somehow, the partners haven’t fallen out.

No fighting lately,” says Paul. “It’s a special thing, working with your father.” Hylton says: “It’s been a phenomenal opportunity. Sometimes challenging… but he’s very tolerant of me.”

They have weathered the stressful, lengthy procedure of moving from a home industry to official registration as a small-scale food manufacturer and purveyor (complicated ventilation requirements, parking for 18 vehicles, disabled loos etc). And the deli-fabrica, just off cool Florida Road, is now open.

Photo supplied

It is all very understated and authentic. As per the Col’tempo mission statement: “makers and purveyors of simple, real food”.

Through thick glass you can look into the salami-maturing room, rows and rows of hanging forthcoming delights. There are a few tables for fine coffees and sampling of products. Antipasti boards are planned (they are unlicensed so it is BYO for the moment). There is much deliciousness and many ingredients to buy quite apart from the cured meats. Which now include very good chorizo, and wafer-thin pancetta. There are shelves stacked with the finest tins and bottles and packets, a chiller bursting with anchovies, a freezer with another enthusiasm, home-made pork sausages. An A (Abruzzo salami) to Z (Zuccho Modena balsamic vinegar) of temptations.

And then there is Hylton’s Italian bread… his latest obsession. Ciabatta and focaccia.

Meantime, Paul is thinking of developing a starter-kit for bread makers which will include a proving basket commissioned from the KZN Blind Society. Which is already working on a design for his other business: a cane-woven dog-kennel.

We love food,” father and son say. Yes, we can see, and taste. “And trying new things.” Yes, that too. DM

Col’tempo, 2 8th Avenue, Morningside, Durban 4001. [email protected] 073 167 3989


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