In Our Basket: Charcuterie Essentials

Posted by Gjusta Goods on

In Our Basket is an inventory of recent finds and current favorites at Gjusta Grocer — selected for the season by General Manager Nina Subhas.
“I love grazing boards, whether they be cheese focused, charcuterie, or crudité. When I am putting together a spread I try to have a little of everything: a little something sweet, something tart and rich…and a board or plate to pile everything on (no dirty utensils or cocktail napkins).  
These are my suggestions for what’s at the Grocer right now for mixing and matching into a stunning snack spread.”

 

This gorgonzola-style blue from Grants Pass, OR is one of my favorite blue cheeses we have at the moment. It has that gorgonzola crumble, but then melts super rich and creamy on the tongue with that intense tang that you want from a blue. This one has notes of malted grains and a little sweetness that you won’t find in just any gorgonzola. Eat it on a cheese plate now, and crumble it over roasted beets when fall comes around.
 
Schaller & Weber is a German butcher shop in the Yorkville neighborhood NYC that opened in 1937. Nearly a century later, their head butcher Ramon Jimenez, who has been at the helm for 41 years, continues to make some of the best German charcuterie in the country. I love country-style pate; the meat is coarsely ground and mixed with simple spices, giving it a good texture and rustic charm.
 
A cheese plate needs pickles. This pickled sea fennel is my current favorite. Traditionally eaten in the Marche region of Italy, sea fennel grows all along the Mediterranean coast, and tastes subtly like the sea: savory, fresh, and green. I sometimes dice it and use it in place of capers, or add it to a cheese plate in place of a cornichon. These come packed in wine vinegar and olive oil for an extra messy and delicious addition to the spread.
 
 
Champagne Pickled Strawberries from Stone Hollow Farmstead
A cheese plate should always have something sweet, but in peak summer a champagne pickled strawberry is the perfect accompaniment for making anything feel celebratory. Pickled with chocolate mint, vanilla beans, honey, and red wine vinegar, these are sweet and tart in equal measure. 
 
 
This Sicilian tomato paste is really good. I never thought that tomato paste would be exciting in the least, but this salty, super sweet, and umami tomato reduction begs to be spread on a cracker and topped with tangy goat cheese, or with fresh creamy ricotta.
 
 
Capriole started as a family farm in 1976 in Southern Indiana, and their fresh chevre remains beautiful and texturally unmatched. For a snacking spread, their seasonal releases are the way to go. The Tea Rose is, as they say, “full of the optimism and renewal of Spring,” pairing their goat cheese with a dusting of fennel pollen, herbs, and flower petals.
 
 
I have a strong bias for soft and stinky cheeses that I am always trying to combat when making a board for a group. A good balance is mixing in Alpine cheeses with semi-firm pliable textures that make presentation a breeze. This Vermont tomme has a slightly sweet and peppery taste that ends super buttery and earthy. It is a stunner when shaved with a peeler and eaten in the same bite with the country-style pate and crackers.
 
 
Wildcrafted Crackers from Frog Hollow Farm
Frog Hollow is a small family farm in Vermont that makes crackers with local honey and wild nettles harvested and dried on the farm. These are neutral enough to be a great base for all the cheeses, but delicious and well seasoned enough to be a snack all on their own.   
 
 
 
 
 

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