(Photo by Nick Strocchia)
Cheese plates are so last year. Cured meats in all shades of salty and pink are the new shareable darling on the restaurant scene. These local spots are slicing and arranging downright tempting spreads.—Megan Headley
Salted meats reign supreme at Mas Tapas where the incomparable jamón Ibérico de Bellota sets the gold standard. Mas serves shavings of this ruby red ham that comes from an ancient breed of pig free to roam the woodlands of western Spain gorging on acorns (that’s the “bellota” part) from oak and cork trees, packing on two pounds a day. Mas’s jamón comes from the shoulder and the loin and is cured for 30 months before it hits your plate with a hunk of bread fresh from a wood-burning oven.
At Zinc (right), everything served on their charcuterie board is from around these here parts. There’s Surreyano ham (a clever misspelling of Spain’s serrano ham from the Edwards family in Surry), Olli Salumeria’s Toscano and Calabrese salame, and two house-made items—chicken liver paté and beef terrine. Fresh bread, whole grain mustard, and house-pickled red onions and watermelon radishes round out a divine offering.
Nothing satisfies a gourmet’s late night hunger like the charcuterie board at C&O Restaurant. There’s a traditional Genoa-style salami, a dry salami, and ribbons of silky prosciutto. Spicy peperoncini, tangy cornichons, and toasted Marcona almonds make the warm crusty rolls with chilled butter seem almost superfluous.
Far from cold cuts
Behind the charcuterie counter at Feast!, Levi Houk drapes paper-thin slices of meat onto deli paper before wrapping them in butcher paper and sealing them with the shop’s sage-colored sticker. Here’s his advice on creating your own board at home:
Choose three to five different meats—one pâté, a cured meat or two, and a salami or two—and vary the spices, meat-type, and size to your preference.
Estimate two slices per guest of intensely flavored, large-format cured meats and four to five slices of salami or other mild meat.
Sliced baguette is charcuterie’s perfect partner.
Serve condiments with some acidity, like mustards and cornichons, to cut through the meats’ fat.
Keep meats refrigerated until 20 minutes prior to serving, then allow them to come up to room temperature naturally for the most flavor.—Eric Angevine
Move over Virginia ham
The artisanal renaissance that redefined wine, chocolate, and cheese in America has paved the way for Italian salumi, thanks to fourth generation salumiere (cured meat-maker to you and me) Olli Colmignoli. He, along with co-founder Chip Vosmik, launched Olli Salumeria in Manakin, Virginia, three years ago and the pair have won over discerning chefs and retailers nationwide with their meats, salame, and cooking fats cured just as the Colmignoli family’s done it in Italy for 160 years.
Harrison Keevil, chef and owner of Brookville Restaurant, is one of Olli’s greatest fans: “I honestly think it’s one of the best products you can get in the world, definitely in the States. It’s amazing stuff and we’re lucky to have it in our backyard. They respect the animals that they use in their products, which is really something that we appreciate here.”
“Here” being our hungry little city, which, just one hour northwest of Olli’s factory, means we were of the first to embrace Olli’s products. “Charlottesville has been very supportive. Folks there understand good food and appreciate local food,” said Vosmik.
You’ll find Olli on the menus at Brookville, tavola, and Commonwealth (among others), and it’s sold at C’ville Market, The Wine Guild, Mona Lisa Pasta, Foods of All Nations, Rebecca’s Natural Foods, Relay Foods, Whole Foods, and Market Street Wineshop.
Colmignoli’s philosophy explains their success: “We like to believe that we create experiences more than we create products. It’s like putting you in Italy, maybe with a good glass of wine, and some cheese, and friends.”
Now that’s a recipe for the generations.—Laura Brooke Allen