You animals may have seen my post about Charcuterie Masters a week or two ago. If not, go read some more about it at that link I just dropped. This post is dedicated to the incredible shit we tried at the 2017 event.
Jacuterie was showing off some incredible dried salami with regional flavoring inspirations:
Elevation got my chip for the vote though. These flavors were amazing, and every chub was worth buying.
Breakfast (maple whisky).
Chocolate stout mole:
I also tried some pastrami flavored BBQ short rib, which was sickeningly delicious. Unbelievable.
Smoking Goose came through with some incredible game-based meats. Terrines, head cheese, you name it – all great.
Yeah you are reading that correctly – lamb soppressata.
The rabbit and pork cheek terrine was my favorite.
They had some “rust belt” salami too.
On the subject of head cheese, Dickson was on point as well:
That was a duck mortadella (round one) and the pretty one had lots of duck tongue in it.
The garlic sausage from Heather Ridge Farm was a nice bite, but their root beer syrup concentrate stole the show.
Gaseiro e Bom had 5-year aged prosciutto for $800 a pound. Or you could just eat the free samples all night, like I did.
Ends Meat had some great items. In addition to the pork they even had a little beef salumi as well.
They had a nice nduja too.
I enjoyed the pate a lot at the Trois Petits Cochons table.
I signed up for a chance to win 50lbs of bacon from Ribs Within:
Refreshments – I liked the “kinda dry” one better than the bone dry.
Smoke Show was apparently smoking a whole hog on the premesis. I knew something was up when I saw the sign and cleaver.
We heard something was going on out back, so we investigated. Turns out that Smoke Show really did put on a show:
They are a Catskill Mountains-based producer of premiere farm-to-table food and wine festivals and educational programs. They pair the agricultural bounty (including grass-fed beef, organic produce, artisan cheeses, smoked fish, and wines from the region’s lush mountain valleys and fresh water streams) with New York City’s most innovative chefs and the culinary community.
Their goals include creating jobs, driving economic development by assisting family farmers and local artisans, and fostering culinary and agricultural tourism in the Catskill-Delaware New York City Watershed. This exposes everyone – from chefs to culinary professionals to foodies to gourmets – to delicious, fresh, sustainable and healthful foods.
Charcuterie Masters is the first ever competition of its kind and brings together more than 20 professional and amateur makers of artisanal charcuterie from across the U.S and Canada, including Rodrigo Duarte (Caseiro E Bom, Newark, N.J.); John Harkness (Prime Meats, Brooklyn, N.Y.); Chad Nelan (Elevation Charcuterie & Artisan Meats, Denver); Stewart Taylor (Babelfish Bistro, Guelph, Ontario, Canada); and Giuseppe Viterale (Ornella Trattoria, Astoria, N.Y.).
Charcuterie Masters 2017 is so much more than a national competition, it’s a celebration of Meaty Times where guests will be able to sample exquisite cured meats and salumi — including hams, bacons, pates, sausages and much more.
Participating chefs for Charcuterie Masters 2017 are:
Hugue Dufour (M. Wells Steakhouse)
Will Horowitz (Ducks Eatery, Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.)
Pitmaster Josh Bowen (John Brown Smokehouse)
Alfonso Zhicay (Casa del Chef Bistro)
Guests will have an opportunity to savor charcuterie, learn from the makers as well participate in a people’s choice vote of the ‘best-of-the-evening’ charcuterie. Pairings will include top-rated wines, craft beers, and farmstead ciders. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase charcuterie directly at the event.
A $60 general admission ticket entitles guests to explore unlimited tasting and sampling of all food and beverages.
Additionally, there will be $100 VIP tickets sold, which will allow access to a special hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. enabling VIP guests to enjoy early access to the entire festival.
A recent trip to Italy renewed my interest in, and appreciation for, all things “sliced meaty.” I thought I’d seize the opportunity, capitalize on my rekindled passion for this delicious shit, and dive a fuckload deeper into the various types of salumi with a detailed-as-balls educational post for you assholes.
Check it out you savages. This was an actual street name in Trastevere, Rome:
In case you’re a complete dunce, that means “Street of Salumi.” I like to call it Meat Street, if you will, which is where I’m about to take your ass right now.
So just what exactly is salumi? Generally, it’s any food product made from pig meat (usually), especially cured meats, such as salami. That’s not super explicit, and some salumi even involve beef, but essentially we’re talking Italian pork-based “cold cuts” here.
One thing we all love is prosciutto. Prosciutto is a TRUE salume (singular of salumi), meaning it’s a whole cut of animal, usually a leg or shoulder. A leg gets hung to cure, and later it is sliced and eaten.
Then there are items that involve ground meat, like salami and salsicce (sausage). Salami are smoked, air dried or salted, and then left to age. Salsicce is either raw or cooked slightly, and is a kind of salame (singular of salami).
Okay so salumi, salami: is that like potayto, potahto? Nope. Salumi is more of an umbrella term. All salami are salumi, but not all salumi are salami. Get it? Of course you don’t, because it’s fucking confusing. You had to go back and read that twice, didn’t you? I did. Maybe a Venn Diagram will help illustrate the point better:
Okay so let’s ignore the umbrella salumi term, since it’s kind of useless for our purposes here. I’m going to give you some info about the two major types of Italian meats: true salumi and salami.
As mentioned earlier, these are cured meats that have been made from a whole cut of animal, usually a leg/thigh or shoulder.
Prosciutto is a dry-cured leg o’ pig, and is probably the most common salume. These legs actually hang in Italian salumeria shops like decorations. It’s amazing.
Prosciutto crudo is the uncooked version, while prosciutto cotto is the cooked version.
For crudos, you’ll often see differences in the aging time based on the regions in Italy from which the ham hails. For example, Prosciutto di Parma is usually aged about 10-12 months, while San Daniele is 15-18 months. Some regions will age their hams longer, like 24 months, to impart different flavors, increase sweetness levels, etc.
As for prosciutto cotto, think of it like a traditional cooked ham.
Speck is a type of prosciutto that’s smoked (as well as dry-salted and aged), so it has a stronger, more unique flavor.
This salume is usually lightly seasoned with garlic, herbs, spices and wine, but the execution differs by region. The meat is then salted, stuffed into a natural casing, and hung for up to six months to cure. The meat itself is whole muscle from the neck and shoulder areas, so it is a salume despite being stuffed into a casing.
Fun side note: You may have seen capocollo spelled coppa, capicollo, capicola or capicolla. It’s even referred to as “gaba-gool” by NY/NJ area Italians and the show The Sopranos (or in this case, MadTV):
This is Italian pork belly (bacon). It’s usually cured and sometimes spiced. They slice it thin and eat it like cold cuts over in Italy. While technically not the same, you will often see pancetta swapped out with guanciale (pork cheek) or lardo (pure fat) in many Italian dishes that traditionally call for pancetta.
Bresaola is a cured, lean cut of beef, often times filet mignon.
You can see it here in my wife’s video from a salumi shop in Rome called La Prosciutteria, which I refer to as fucking heaven. There are a few selections of bresaola across the top right, immediately as the video begins:
While this may not necessarily be a salume, it is very often found in Salumeria shops throughout Italy. With that said, and the fact that this shit is delicious as fuck, I figured I’d mention it here.
Porchetta is a savory, fatty, and moist “pork roll.” It’s essentially a boneless pork roast whereby the pig is gutted, de-boned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, then rolled, wrapped in skin, and spit-roasted over a flame. Stuffing usually includes rosemary, fennel, garlic and other herbs, and porchetta is usually heavily salted.
It is typically served hot, cut thick, and eaten like a main course dish with a fork and knife. However it’s also common to see it sliced thinly after cooling. It’s then put into sandwiches or served on wooden meat board platters like the other salumi discussed above.
Okay, so a recap: Salami are ground meat, encased products that are smoked, air dried or salted, and then left to age.
If you’ve ever eaten an Italian hero, you’ve eaten some of these meats. Ingredients and parts can vary. In some cases you may even see non-pig versions, like venison or elk. In Venice, I even saw horse salami:
Salami varies greatly by region. In some areas of Italy, the meat is finely ground with tiny flecks of fat visible.
Other regions use a more coarse grind, use larger chunks of fat, or add spices and herbs.
My favorite varieties are the ones in which truffles are added.
The pepperoncino pepper is a mildly spicy variety of chili pepper. That pepper is what makes a salame “piccante” (spicy), as it is mixed up into the grind when making salami piccante. In the US, salami piccante is typically called “pepperoni.” However, in Italian, the word “pepperoni” actually means “bell peppers.”
Soppressata also varies by region and exists in different sizes and shapes, but the spice level and red coloring are both universal traits. It is almost always more coarsely ground than salami.
All that said, one can still find varieties of soppressata that aren’t quite as “hot.” While these pictures show a thinner chub, the most common forms I have seen were thicker, like three or four inches in diameter (like a giant’s penis).
This delicious shit generally comes from southern Italy. It’s an aged, spicy, spreadable salami “paste” that’s made from various parts of a pig. The spice levels are pretty hot in this product, and since it’s so soft, it is often spread onto bread like butter, or thrown into tomato-based sauces to kick them up a little bit.
This might be my favorite of the lot, and that’s a bonus for me, because it is usually the cheapest to buy in stores. The meat itself is similar to bologna in texture (in fact it IS bologna, since it hails from the town of Bologna). It’s extra finely ground (almost like it was processed by machine) heat-cured pork, which incorporates small cubes of pork lard.
I think mortadella is more smooth and soft than standard bologna here in the US, and it has a real porky flavor. Sometimes truffles, pistachios, olives and garlic are added for flavoring as well. Those are the best kinds. Also, lots of times these meats are formed into HUGE logs that are upwards of a foot in diameter.
Sausage party! The main difference here is mainly that, most times, salsicce is raw, uncured, or un-aged and needs to be cooked prior to eating. But some sausages are smoked and, thus, can be eaten as-is (like a hot dog or kielbasa).
So that about covers most of the common types of salumi you’ll see out there. I hope this information was helpful. If it wasn’t, then I should add that I don’t really give a fuck. Either way, go forth and eat this delicious meat. It will make you happy.
Crispo is a gorgeous Italian joint down on 14th Street near 8th Avenue. My buddy and his girlfriend have been coming here for years. I had never heard of it, but when he told me about it, I knew we had to try it out together as a group.
We started with a bunch of apps. For that reason, and because I knew we were also going to eat pasta and steak, I took it easy on the delicious and generously portioned table bread.
First, we had a sampler app trio of speck, aged goat cheese and mozzarella rice balls. The meat and cheese came with dried fig and an apricot/fennel jam. Both the speck and the cheese were great, top quality products.
The rice balls were addicting. You can easily catch yourself popping a bunch of these in a row without even realizing what’s going on. They were perfectly fried to a golden crisp on the outside, and the inside was both firm from the rice yet oozing with delicious melty fresh mozzarella cheese. Not heavy, salty or greasy, which is the opposite of what you sometimes get when these are done wrong.
The next app was a nice, simple fried calamari. This also came with fried zucchini. There was a cornmeal aspect to the breading here, which made for a nice crisp crunch. That’s fried parsley on top, too.
Our favorite app was this crispy pork belly topped with a melted gorgonzola-stuffed fig. Underneath the pork belly was crispy polenta, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
This was one of the most tasty apps I’ve had in a while. In fact, I think this could be an incredibly successful entree as well if just magnified in proportion. Seriously, I could eat this all day. The fat is cut with the acid, and the funk of the cheese takes the flavors off onto a ride that’s more wild than the fucking Great Space Coaster.
So after all of that, we were finally ready for some pasta. This place seems to be somewhat famous for two pasta dishes in particular: the Spaghetti Carbonara and the truffle ravioli. I know what you’re thinking. “Spaghetti Carbonara? I can get that crap at any halfway decent Italian joint.” But here’s the rub: most Italian joints fuck up their Carbonara with cream, making a dense, salty and overly-heavy pasta eating experience. Real Carbonara, from what I understand, doesn’t have any dairy, other than the cheese you grate over the top! The creaminess is achieved via egg yolk.
Break the yolk, mix it around a bit, and you’re ready to rock. Just sprinkle in a green veggie and some crispy pig bits. I must say, this Carbonara was divine, and like none I’ve ever really tasted before. Not only was the pasta cooked just right, but the ingredients were well-balanced, and nothing was too salty. A big problem I usually have with Carbonara is sweating like a pig while I eat, because of all the FFFFFFFFFFUCKING salt that’s usually in it…
The hand made truffle ravioli were nice and al-dente, served in a simple brown butter type sauce, and the portion was large for a very reasonable price. I was expecting like six somewhat large ravioli in the bowl, not a dozen.
Now to the meat. My wife and I shared the New York Strip steak, which was simply grilled and then topped with a mound of red wine reduced onions.
The steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of the onions (I’m a purist), I did find myself going into them every so often out of an enjoyed curiosity. The meat itself was nice, tender and flavorful. 8/10.
The steak also came with parmesan herb fries. These were really crispy, and the parmesan acts as a cheese-funk seasoning that replaces the standard salt. Very nice.
Last, we had some creme brûlée, pot de creme and pistachio gelato. I didn’t snap the gelato pic for some reason, but I did pull the trigger on the cremes (the two come in one dessert order – bonus).
I was blown away by the quality of the food here, the service, the ambiance and decor, and the portion sizes. I’m ashamed that this place never made it onto my radar in all its years in operation. But not just that: the prices are really fair. All of the food described here, plus about two or three alcoholic drinks per person (wine, cocktails, beer, after dinner drinks), plus a round of coffee for everyone with dessert, only came to $105 per person, with tax and tip included (we had four people at the table total). I was shocked.
Needless to say, I’ll definitely be back here, because there is a lot of shit on the menu that I want to try (like the pork shank).
I recently became aware of Capizzi when I was invited for a couple of press dinners. It is situated right between my wife and my work places, so it was an easy spot to try out on a whim.
This cozy little joint is tucked away under the bridge on 9th Avenue at Port Authority.
When you walk in, you feel like you’re at someone’s house that has been temporarily transformed into a dining room. The old tube TV and the floor-standing, old timey radio have been moved aside to make room for guests. They even have and old school fridge and ice box along the cabinetry on one side of the room…
…and dried peppers hanging from the ceiling, just like at grandma’s house.
Which they crush into their own house crushed red pepper, served alongside dried oregano that is still on the stems. Just like home!
By 6pm on the Friday before Memorial Day, when people are itching to vacate the city, this place was already jumping WITH A LINE OUT THE DOOR AND DOWN THE STREET. Completely full. Wow!
The plates mirror this cozy home feeling, and it’s no wonder Capizzi was jammed up from such an early time… because everything was awesome. And it boasts an extensive Wine selection for all you wine drinking folks out there. In my two visits, I got to taste pretty much all their wines by the glass. The montepulciano, nero d’avola, lambrusco, chianti, and muscato were all great.
Our waiter Andre started us off with a couple of glasses of sangiovese on our first visit, which is one of my favorite varietals. The cool thing about the second visit was that he was there again, but this time just visiting on his off-day to say hello to friends, which I thought was pretty cool. He remembered us too! Great guy. On the second trip we had the pleasure of being served by Sami as our waitress, and Javier as bus boy. Service here is impeccable! Javier was fast, attentive, and very nice. Sami was a sweetheart, and made excellent suggestions for what to order. The people running Capizzi definitely know how to choose good quality staff.
We had a plate of soft, tasty burrata cheese that was garnished with basil, artichoke hearts, sliced grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and prosciutto – all lightly drizzled with olive oil. It was excellent. Simple and delicious.
Next came the antipasto misto: a plate of Italian meats, cheese, olives, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and eggplant. A nice way to double down on our starter plate. As you can see in the pic, Andre again served us from the main plate. Top notch service here!
The antipasto came with a basket of toasted, lightly cheesed flatbread. Naked pizza, if you will. Really airy and crispy. We took this home with us since we couldn’t finish it all, and wanted to save room for pizza.
On trip number two we tried two salads – HUGE portion sizes. Definitely can split these. These were both very simple dishes that showcased incredible, fresh ingredients. In the first case, cucumber, roasted red peppers, and really top quality olive oil.
The other salad was a simple, refreshing fennel and orange salad. Again massive portion size, and very tasty.
Then comes the pizza. We ordered a regular Margherita pie with some arugula and prosciutto on top. The pie was doughy yet crisped and lightly charred on the surfaces and crust. This kind of perfection can only be achieved with an authentic wood burning brick oven.
The sauce was deftly applied with just the right volume and ratio to the crust and cheese. It had a very slight sweetness to it, which was cut nicely by the peppery arugula and salty prosciutto. The cheese was fresh and melty, and on top there was some fresh grated parmesan cheese for that earthy kick. We devoured every bite of this masterpiece.
On a second visit we tried two pies. First the margherita pie – your basic cheese and sauce pizza. It was fucking PERFECT. Words escape me right now as I try to describe it. It was crisp, yet soft. It was savory, fresh, and juicy from point to crust. Honestly this is now my favorite pizza in New York, and I grew up a spoiled pizza brat.
The other pie we tried was on special for the night, and was topped with speck, prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella. This was really great. In fact, pretty much every pizza on the menu sounds enticing. My wife and I plan to move back into the city this summer, and this area is one of or top choices for location. Needless to say, Capizzi will be our go-to pizza joint, no question. Look at how amazing the pizza is…
We finished off the meal with my wife’s favorite classic dessert, tiramisu, on our first visit. It was good – nice and light, not too boozy; a great ending to a wonderful meal.
On the second visit, we took advice from our waitress Sami to try the Oreo truffle cannoli. She hit the nail on the head. It was just the right amount of sweet without being overpowering. It was flavorfully unique, but with enough tribute paid to the classic cannoli dessert not to offend any traditionalist sensibilities. And as always, the plating was beautiful to boot.
As a pizza aficionado, I definitely recommend this place to those looking for a great pie (no single slices here – for that you need to go to Saluggis). Do yourself a favor and go here ASAP. I think for sit-down, full-pie pizza, this is absolutely my new favorite place to go.
An interesting side note about this place:
“They got an old-fashion’ toilet… You know… The box, and, and, and, ah the chain-thing… We might be able to tape the gun behind it.”