Eataly’s Head of Purchasing on the Perfect Meat-and-Cheese Board
File this away for holiday-party season
Eataly already has lines longer than a Roman aqueduct.
They’re telling folks to check a Line-O-Meter on their Twitter page before braving the crowd.
But a better way to deal with the madness? Don’t wander aimlessly like a tourist. Instead, make like a special op, know your purpose and create a plan of attack.
Our purpose: the meat board, aka charcuterie, aka a true crowd pleaser.
Our commanding officer: Dino Borri, Eataly’s VP Of Purchasing. That means he has to sample farflung foods for America’s premier gourmet grocer for a living. Rough gig.
“Italy is the biggest producer of charcuterie in the world,” he says. And of all the things in the new 67,000-square-foot space in Century City, he’s most excited about the Culatello di Zibello DOP, a salumi that will make its U.S. debut there.
Exporting Italian meats is difficult. Italy’s centuries-old process doesn’t exactly conform to the FDA’s (overly) complicated guidelines. But they got this salumi through, and you’ll want some.
“In Italy, charcuterie is part of the aperitivo (drinks before dinner),” he says. “You don’t really eat, you just eat a little while waiting for dinner. You drink some beer or a sparkling wine.”
And you watch the sunset or chat about the day’s events. It’s a relaxed lifestyle we’d all do good to adopt.
Here are the rest of Dino’s tips on putting together the best damn board this side of The Boot.
Every dynamite charcuterie plate has variety
“Not everyone wants to eat the same thing,” Dino says. “We like to mix different stuff because some people want something fatty, some want cheese, others want the olives.” Other things to consider adding to the board: artisanal butter, dried tomatoes, artisanal breads like focaccia and grissini (bread sticks).
You won’t want to miss these meats
For Italian meats Dino says to try: “Culatello di Zibello DOP, Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele 36 months, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma 24 months, Mortadella and Salami Italiani (softer).” He also says that California makes excellent charcuterie, and the following were cured locally: “Nduja, Guanciale, Soppressata and Lardo.”
Never. Forget. Cheese.
Never. As well as some good, grass-fed butter. Dino’s suggested formaggi: “Parmigiano Reggiano, Castelmagno with honey, Provolone piccante, Robiola di capra, Bra duro (hard cheese), Gorgonzola piccante, Stracchino to spread on a slice of bread, and our housemade fresh mozzarella.”
The right ratio of meat to cheese to accoutrement?
If you have eight meats, you’ll want six cheeses and about four accoutrements.
Start off with wine and beer
“In every Italian family, you start off with the charcuterie board and some wine or beer,” Dino says. The following are his favorites for kicking off the night: Franciacorta (Monterossa), an Italian sparkling wine; a soft cocktail Aperol Spritz Friulano with white wine (Bastianich); and a Nebbiolo Fontanafredda, a tannin-rich red from the Piedmont region.
When navigating, know the landscape
The meat and cheese sections are on the second level at the new flagship, to the middle right area. The wine bar is catty corner, to the left.