Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen the word charcuterie on a number of menus lately. It's pretty much everywhere these days. Perhaps you're not quite sure how to pronounce it. Admit it, you might not even know exactly what it is. Let's start here:
1. Sausages, ham, pâtés, and other cooked or processed meat foods.
2. A delicatessen specializing in such foods.
We live in a culinary age that might be best defined by its nearly obsessive preoccupation with bacon. Perhaps I've had just one too many chocolate-maple-bacon-red velvet cupcakes in my day, but I for one am oh-so-tired of the bacon thing. Enough. Please. Don't get me wrong, bacon is AWESOME, but there is so much more out there to love. This brings me to charcuterie, a foodie buzz-word truly worthy of the attention it has garnered in recent years. Charcuterie is an umbrella term for all things meaty, salty, and delicious. And yes, it includes bacon.
At Surdyk's we take our charcuterie pretty seriously. We may be best known for our 350-plus cheeses, but we're damn proud of our meat case. The selection may not be as gargantuan, but this little engine is filled to the brim with carefully curated (and cured) products that we simply couldn't do without. This is the place where meat-lovers' dreams are realized. I'm talking paper-thin slices of spicy sopressata from Biellese in New York and garlicky Salame Toscano from Fra Mani in Berkeley. We've got prosciutto legs the size of a small child, aged two years and imported from Italy. Serrano, smoky speck, mortadella, fennel-studded finocchiona, earthy La Quercia Pancetta ... the list goes on and on. We like to bring in the finest products available, and when we can't find what we're looking for, we simply make it ourselves. Some of our house-made treasures include rustic terrines of country pâté, duck rillettes, pâté with pistachios and prunes, even our own duck confit.
Putting together a charcuterie plate is easy as pie. OK, significantly easier. Pick three to five of the offerings in our meat case. Mix it up: You'll want to select a variety of different textures and flavors. We'll show you our favorites and give you a taste before slicing everything for you on our fancy and ridiculously shiny red, hand-cranked slicer. (We like to show it off. You might notice that we actually whistle while we work.) Once you've got meat in hand, don't go too far. You're not done just yet—accompaniments are critical. Olives and cornichons are conveniently located next to the meat case, and we've got an impressive selection of mustards, chutneys, and pickled peppers nearby. Grab a loaf or two of bread and proceed to checkout. See? I told you it was easy.
To recap: Charcuterie is as cool as it sounds. It is delicious. It is easy. It is bacon and more. Charcuterie = entertaining gold. Swing by the Cheese Shop next time you're asked to bring a dish to a party. Just try to act surprised when everyone gushes over your amazing contribution to the buffet table.
-Emily Dunne @surdykscheese