Sunday, February 21, 2010


After a long weekend, we were really looking for a charcuterie to rejuvenate us. 8TH STREET WINECELLAR is a cozy spot to drink good wine and talk or not talk for hours. They get their meat from Salumeria Bielliese and cheese from Stinky Bklyn, so quality was not an issue.

The charcuterie plate was basic: fair portions of mortadella, serrano ham, and salami, plus roasted kielbasa and Italian sausage with a mild mustard, which were a nice addition. The biggest issue: side items were lacking. The cornichons (aka baby pickles, thanks for the Scrabble word though) and caperberries both tasted about as good as they sound. Excessive amounts of parsley garnish added color but brought nothing to the table.

After a brief negotiation with the waitress, opting out of ordering an entire separate cheese plate, we got a small hunk of Lamb Chopper added to the dish. It went well with the meat selection, and also worked as a solo act with a piece of bread.

We would go back to the 8th Street Winecellar for the relaxed atmosphere and good wine, but the charcuterie isn't the main draw.

Bottom line: While the quality was there, tender love and care was missing from the concept of the dish. The combined price of $18 was fair for what it was - top quality, but generic. There are a lot of meat and cheese plates in New York City, and this needed something extra to separate the men from the boys.

Word of motivational charcuterie advice: Dig Deeper.

Til next week,

A & J

8th Street Winecellar
28 W 8th St
btwn 5th Ave & MacDougal St.
(212) 260-9463
New York, NY 

Monday, February 15, 2010

CAFE KATJA: Aufschnitt Teller + Cheese Plate

This week we threw ourselves a curveball, venturing out into Austrian charcuterie territory. Although CAFE KATJA doesn't offer a conventional meat and cheese plate, we took it upon ourselves to combine the selection of cured meats, plate of assorted cheeses, and two apps of pretzels and spreads.

The aufschnitt teller offered a small amount of good quality meat. The highlights were the speck, liverwurst, and cured pork belly, which were accompanied by an orange mystery spread that we were tempted to smuggle out of the restaurant in our carry-ons. As we later learned, the spread is liptauer, a mix of butter, quark cheese, and paprika. Pickled mushrooms, onions, peppers, and pate with fresh horseradish added a variety of flavors to the dish.

A typical problem with charcuterie plates is insufficient bread supply. Disaster averted at Cafe Katja. There was enough sliced rye bread to feed all of GroƟglockner. But we're not complaining.

The cheese plate included a goat cheese, emmental, and Austrian farmers' cheese. Also on the plate: a generous dollop of the liptauer, again, and a delicious zweigelt-fig jam. 
We recommend a side of homemade pretzels, and washing it all down with a stein (pronounced "steen") of Spaten Oktoberfest.

Bottom line: Veering away from the traditional charcuterie option, Cafe Katja proved to be a positive experience for the taste buds. The combined prices of $12 and $13 for the cheese and meat plates were reasonable, but Katja's strongest dishes are the entrees, especially the cheese spatzle.
(Funded by James Fischer, Attorney at Law)

We someday hope to share a nice plate of liptauer with Klaus Teuber, over a discussion about the Isle of Catan.


A & J

Cafe Katja 
(212) 219-9545
79 Orchard St btwn
Broome St & Grand St
New York, NY

Friday, February 12, 2010

BREAD: The Cutting Board

We set the bar high on our first outing. Having gone to BREAD and ordered only panini and eggplant parm, we knew that going back to order THE CUTTING BOARD would be necessary.

The restaurant is a great place for a mid-afternoon bite with a friend or a loved one. They offer some nice wine and a great espresso.

The portions are generally small, but the Cutting Board was more than enough for two people to enjoy as a small meal or a big appetizer. When it arrived at the table, we knew that this was no joke.

As the name implies, the charcuterie was served on a...cutting board; for the meats, there was a great selection of proscuitto crudo and cotto, salame, capocollo, speck, and soppressata. There were also huge servings of four different cheeses, including fontina, goat cheese, gorgonzola, and most importantly, hand-made fresh mozzarella.

Also a plus: carmelized onions, skewers of cherry tomatoes, grilled asparagus, and apples and grapes with honey. It was also served with perfectly grilled homemade cranberry bread, which complemented all of the ingredients nicely. These little additions definitely set the Cutting Board apart from the rest of the charcuterie field.

Bottom line: For $20 split between two people, you can't afford not to get this charcut'.

While we may have hit the jackpot the first time around, we're confident that there are other great plates out there. Remember: Keep your eye on the prize, and live your life one charcuterie at a time (® Suburban Wells).
We know we will ;)

A & J

212 334 1015
20 Spring St, btwn Elizabeth and Mott
New York, NY

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Welcome to Charcut-A-Rama

[please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance]

Charcuterie [shahr-koo-tuh-ree, shahr-koo-tuh-ree]

Mission Statement: This is a safe, secure environment to learn about all things charcuterie. Our goal is to explore the complex world of cheese and meat plates in New York City. We are dedicated to seeking out the best charcuterie plates that the city has to offer, and reporting back with photos and evaluations.

Stay tuned.