Best selection of charcuterie in SD?
Well rather than a big selection, would an excellent but singular product and a local source suffice?
A product that is now finally available in San Diego is Paul Bertoli's salumi products, made out of his Berkeley Fra' Mani operation (http://www.framani.com ). After a long stint at Chez Panisse (during which time he authored one of the Chez Panisse cookbooks) and then going on his on to open up Oliveto (http://oliveto.com )(a wonderful restaurant), he finally pursued his true calling and started making salumi full time.
An all natural product made in the traditional fashion, he is either directly involved or closely supervises all aspects of his operation. As the most important ingredient is the pork, he developed his own source in true Chez Panisse fashion. The casings he uses are all natural, and the salumi hand stuffed and hand tied. For the larger products he actually ships his natural casings off to Germany to have them hand-stitched into larger casings! He uses traditional cultures to cure his product, specially importing them from Italy.
As the product is all natural and not pasteurized, one can continue to allow the product to cure by keeping the product outside. The live cultures on the surface of the product will eventually cover any cut end, but I seem to consume it much faster than it can form. I asked Bertolli what he personally recommends, to which he advises hanging it whereever "wine is happy", keeping it in his specially developed wrap to control further moisture loss. Though that would imply a cool and somewhat humid envrionnment, I've had no trouble keeping mine out on a counter right here in moderate North San Diego County.
At Taste in Hillcrest they carry two of his dry salami products, both of which are incredible. They carry his Salametto as well as his Salami Gentile. As he seems to make very few concessions to maketability (other than great taste) but rather concentrates on making a good product, you will find that most of his product line is rather large. This ensures a long cure time in the cellar. Of these two only the Salametto is close to what the average consumer might buy in regards to size...
I would highly recommend the Salami Gentile. It must be around 2 or more feet long! But it is incredibly good, even better than the market sized Salumetto... (The Salami Gentile uses a thicker natural casing, affording it a longer cure time and consequently a more complex flavor.)
By using a very sharp but sturdy knife, (you don't want to use one that's flimsy, for it will bend too much and compromise making the paper-thin slices that I recommend with this product), cut it as thin as you can and let it rest until the oils redistribute themseves on the surface, but not too long so that it starts to dry out. Hopefully it was already at room temperature before cutting, but if not, let it get to room temperature and enjoy with a dry red wine.
Incredible stuff! I just ran out of the Gentile so I'll soon have to return to pick up another one soon! This stuff is addictive - maybe there's more than just pork in there!
(Pictures of the tasting event are up on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... )
Thanks for mentioning that. I love good salumi, but it sucks not really knowing where to find any.
Whole Foods sells some decent charcuterie. Another good place is Cafe Cerise at lunchtime - they always have a charcuterie plate. Apparently you can ask for it at dinner as well.
I've also read that Sausage King in Hillcrest makes their own German-style salamis. Haven't tried them, though I intend to.