All I wanted for my fiftieth birthday was to eat all the lobster I could, with a good white wine and a Blanton’s bourbon after. I remember when my mom turned fifty because Donna insisted on doing something special for her, while I lamely lay in bed, scratching my head (within the hour she’d marshaled friends and chartered a plane to Key West for lunch). My dad did a fifty-mile bike ride on his fiftieth with his girlfriend Pat; she was incensed by the arduous journey (“Rip,” she hissed, “you don’t need a woman, you need a machine,” to which he replied, “I just realized it’s my fiftieth birthday”). They were so much older, fifty an impossibly remote age to me, a 25-year-old. Yet here I am now, on that very day. In a wistful Read On »

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If you are in London, Ontario check out local cheesemonger and charcuterie maker Erin Harris, via Cheese Poet.    

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I can already feel Donna rolling her eyes. I’m like that, um, ham, who runs out onto a Broadway stage and flings out his arms … and then silence. Well, it is my theater here, and I don’t exactly sell tickets, and at least it’s not a political ad! Brian Polcyn and I are very proud of our new book, Salumi: The Italian Craft of Dry Curing, about how to make your own pancetta, guanciale, coppa, and other dry-cured wonders in the grand and ancient tradition of Italy. There’s a reason one of the oldest examples of early civilization still exists. Because everyone can do it, and because it’s delicious. Granted, not everyone wants a piece of meat hanging from the chandelier for three weeks, but for those demented and wonderful souls who do, this book is Read On »

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  On Saturday night in Cambridge, on a young friend’s recommendation, we dined at The Russell House Tavern, near Harvard Square, where chef Michael Scelfo and his mischievous band of cooks put out excellent high-end tavern fare. I was delighted when my 13-year-old son perused the menu and immediately asked, “Can we get the charcuterie board?” This question has only one correct response. I especially appreciated Scelfo’s pork rillettes, which were topped with a creamy layer of duck fat. Scelfo has a menu that would seem to be designed exactly for me, with items such as “Pig’s Head Cake” and “Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich,” but also deviled eggs and superb fried oysters. But it was the fact that he, like so many other chefs, offered charcuterie. Indeed the charcuterie or salumi board is now ubiquitous in American Read On »

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To celebrate this week’s publication of Salumi, my and Brian Polycn’s deeper quest into the craft of dry-curing meat, I’m giving away three copies signed by both me and Brian to three commenters on this post. For those who aren’t clear on the definition (and Italians don’t make things easy), salumi refers to Italian cured or preserved meats—mostly dry-cured, and mostly made from pig parts—everything from guanciale to mortadella to prosciutto. Salami, with an A rather than a U, are dry-cured sausages and are one of the many preparations that salumi comprises. My aim, as in much of my cookbook work, is to simplify what seems to be complicated. When I walked into my first salumeria, I was astonished by the variety available. Case upon case of salumi, whole sections devoted to different kinds of Read On »

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