Charcuterie is one of the things we do at EVOO that I think is the most interesting and unique. The easiest way I can think of to describe exactly what it is is to relate it to deli-style specialty meats. This includes prosciutto, Tasso, guanciale, but also things like pates and rilletes. We make it all ourselves, which takes a lot of time and dedication but produces a superior end product.
On our list of charcuterie products, Tasso was the one that I was least familiar with (by which I mean I had absolutely no idea what it is), so I looked it up. If you were unsure of the meaning of a word, you would look it up in the dictionary. When you’re unsure of what a food item is, there is the Food Lover’s Companion. It knows everything and anything there is to know about all types of food, and that’s where I went for a definition of Tasso. The definition starts “Much to the disappointment of many, this Cajun specialty is generally hard to find outside Louisiana”. Well, much to the excitement of many, our head chef (Peter) loves Tasso enough to make it himself and make it available to all Tasso-lovers who come to EVOO. The definition continues to say that “Tasso is a lean chunk of cured pork (usually shoulder) or beef that’s been richly seasoned with ingredients such as red pepper, garlic… and any of several other herbs or spices…”. It is a unique and delicious offering which we are proud to serve.
When I first started at EVOO I was most excited to try the guanciale. I knew I loved prosciutto, and I knew that the cheek is supposed to be one of the most delicious parts of an animal and thus was thrilled at the idea of cured cheek in the style of prosciutto. My expectations were met and exceeded, and the guanciale is phenomenal.
When I buy prosciutto at the grocery store it’s hard for me not to just eat the entire package in one sitting. The prosciutto we make at EVOO is beyond comparison, and it makes the grocery store variety seem almost undesirable to me. One of my favorite things about all of the charcuterie is the plating of it- it seems like it would be simple enough, it’s just sliced meat on a plate. Maybe it’s the quality of it that makes it look so good, but I think that the charcuterie plates are some of the most beautiful plates we put out.
This is a photo of our prosciutto that we were serving in the spring, with a salad of zucchini, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. A perfect summer snack, I really can’t think of anything I’d rather eat. Except maybe the guanciale, of course. The color is amazing, and it doesn’t need any additional ingredients or “pizazz” to make it look a jaw-dropping level of delicious.
Also on our bar menu is a pig belly puree. Once again, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first tasted it. My family on my mother’s side is French-Canadian, and one of my favorite foods growing up was my meme’s meat pie. When I had my first bite of the pig belly puree I was catapulted into memories of my great grandmother stirring her giant pot of stewing pork for meat pies, and the familiar taste was as warm and welcoming as her kitchen. We serve it warm on pieces of grilled bread, and even if you didn’t grow up with a French-Canadian great grandmother’s meat pies, I’m certain that the taste will warm your soul as it does mine.
Aside from charcuterie, we also have a great selection of cheeses on our bar menu. My two favorites are the Bijou and the Humble Pie. Bijou is French for “Jewel”, and rightly so this cheese comes in small wheels about the size of a glass bottle cap. The cheese is a goat’s cheese from Vermont, and despite my lactose-intolerance I find them hard to resist.
The Humble Pie is also made in Vermont, and is a blend of sheep’s and cow’s milk. It is similar to Brie in taste and texture, and it is the personal favorite of our sous-chef Michelle (she’ll have it for dinner every now and then, it’s just that good).
Needless to say, no one will ever go hungry sitting at the Bar at EVOO. In addition to the special bar menu, the regular menu is also available to customers at the bar. We got a new pig in last week (Pete named him Leon) and will hopefully have a wealth of new additions the the charcuterie menu (and the regular menu) as a result. I will continue to update as this happens, so stay hungry!