The charcuterie revolution is upon us. Chefs all over the city are curing, whipping, stuffing and slicing, turning out world class meats and sausages that a few years ago would have been impossible to find. While there have always been many restaurants serving salamis and pâtés made elsewhere, there's now an explosion of in-house charcuterie.
Making your own charcuterie is no joke -- it takes time, precision, space and a whole lot of care and talent. With this in mind, we'd like to recognize the five folks in Los Angeles who are doing it well. Turn the page for the five best charcuterie plates in the city.
No, chorizo flip-flops do not yet exist. (Think of the dogs that would chase the saucy orange trail you'd leave behind.) We're writing today of socks designed to resemble charcuterie. Apparel-needy public, meet Meat Feet, a line of foot sleeves designed by San Francisco offal advocate and excellent chef Chris Cosentino. Remember, he's the dude who invented Gluttony Pants.
Two weeks before the doors roll up and any Pilsner is poured, Natalie van Waardenburg and Garry Muir are walking through The Stave, their soon-to-be wine and beer bar. The space looks far from finished, and the furniture arrives tomorrow. Their expressions alternate between unwavering confidence and disbelief as they mull over what has to be done in the next 14 days. Muir offers a private tour inside the dual-compartment walk-in refrigerator, while van Waardenburg opens boxes and inspects doorknobs. The electricians and builders are busy tying up loose ends. The toilet seat cover dispensers have not been hung in the right spots. There's always something. But no, this will not be a chain.
The Stave is Muir's second project -- he's co-owner of downtown Los Angeles' Corkbar -- and a first for van Waardenburg and their third partner, John Murawski. It took about a year to settle on the location, but the outdoor patio and welcoming atmosphere from the city and surrounding businesses sealed the deal. Long Beach is in the process of growing the Promenade (like Santa Monica's Third Street), a six-block stretch of restaurants, retail and residential units, like the 62 condominiums above the bar.
Both novel-sized paperbacks are written by Dick and James Strawbridge, who have appeared on BBC's It's Not Easy Being Green series. Just the sort of urban homesteaders you'd hope would write books like these. Only something about the odd color palette of both covers looks like they were -- How to say it politely? -- bound at Kinko's. We almost dismissed them on first glance (the cover images look much better online than they do on the books themselves).
But flip through the pages, and two fantastic little books with great step-by-steps -- and photographs -- are revealed.
What could rightfully come as a surprise, though, is the culinary direction the former Californian/Mediterranean restaurant is taking: Owners George and Lenore Gemanides have brought in chef Michael Bryant (Palihouse, Father's Office, Norman's), who will be developing a "seafood charcuterie" menu for the restaurant.
Up until Saturday, Broadway Street in downtown L.A. was a great place to be if you were in search of a bedazzled quinceañera dress, a solid gold watch, an art deco architecture tour or a decent torta. But in terms of modern dining, Historic Broadway wasn't quite the hot bed of hipsterdom that the neighboring Arts District and Gallery Row had become.
This weekend's opening of Adam Fleischman's UMAMIcatessen marked the start of a new wave of businesses that have hopes of breathing life into the area, including the upcoming Los Angeles Brewing Company, a remodeled Clifton's Cafeteria, Two Boots Pizza, Figaro Bistro, and the true mark of indie establishment, an Ace Hotel. Fleischman partnered with a serious powerhouse team for the five-restaurant food hall, including James Beard-nominated chef Chris Cosentino and Adrian Biggs of Harvard & Stone, to create a unique urban dining experience.
We stopped by to check out the space and what's on the menu. For a virtual tour, turn the page.
That the book is not too narrow of a single-subject study is why this is one of those rare reference books that gets undivided attention both in the kitchen and on the nightstand. A book you will want to cook from some days, simply learn from others (not that we don't love Bacon). The precise culinary school step-by-step recipe layout makes that dry-cured pancetta and "straight-method forcemeat" (a basic recipe for a terrine or pâté) seem much easier to make than they are -- although they still take several hours and plenty of counter space to make. Yet for a culinary school cookbook, this book is a rare home-cook friendly version with detailed directions (culinary school recipes are notoriously drill-sergeant brief) and quantities in ounces and cups rather than simply grams. A charcuterie book for fanatics, yes, but an approachable one.
Los Angeles may be known as the land of vegan baked goods and brown rice sushi, but plenty of local chefs also turn out damn fine charcuterie, the prepared meat products (proscuitto, pâtés, terrines, sausages, etc.) that are a celebration of all things animal. Most often made from pork, charcuterie was originally conceived as a way to keep meat from spoiling before the advent of refrigeration. Now, it only spoils our diets. Here, a side-by-side comparison of a few of the city's best.