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Get on board with charcuterie craze with these tips and tricks

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Charcuterie has become an Instagram trend this summer and it’s easy to see why—beautiful photos of artfully arranging cured meats with cheeses, fruits, vegetables and crackers have elevated this appetizer into an art form. And it’s accessible to anyone, regardless of your culinary skills or budget.

Peter B. Nunez, chef at The Sycamore, has loved this trend for years. He said that charcuterie is more than a meat and cheese plate—it’s an experience. You want to combine complementary and contrasting flavors, textures and visuals to evoke strong emotions.

“Every bite is a different emotion,” he said. “It gives me the feeling of when I lived overseas, or just eating at home with the kids.” He and his wife often have small plates for dinner with their children, ages 6, 4, and 1.

Photos: Kyle Tracey

Nunez’s charcuterie creates an Ohio experience and features Ohio cheeses, meats and produce. In addition to celebrating the local farmland and its products, he said it’s a nod to the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Eastern European immigrants who built Ohio.

While the art of charcuterie is relatively new, the fundamental methods of the curing and preserving of foods likely date back to the earliest civilizations. Some speculate that the need to preserve food may have been what led Homo sapiens to cook it in the first place. One theory is that early humans hung raw food over a fire to keep away bugs and animals. In the morning, they discovered a smoked and tender treat. This finding may have played a part in the advancement of society by allowing people to maintain food supplies to get through times of scarcity and leading nomads to settle in clusters as the need to hunt and gather was reduced.

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Charcuterie’s Insta-worthy elevation began in 15th century France. At the time, charcutiers were not allowed to sell uncooked pork. The term charcuterie—derived from the French words for “flesh” (chair) and “cooked” (cuit)—was used to designate shops that sold cooked pork products. French charcutiers introduced ingenuity into the centuries-old method of preparation and created new forms of meat such as pâté (a ground or pureed mixture of fat, meat and seasonings), rillettes (finely shredded or chopped cooked meat blended with fat), sausage, bacon and head cheese. Charcutiers were esteemed for the delicacies they made and their role in maintaining the food supply for the town.

A few simple steps can help turn your board into a work of art. In addition to using complementary flavors and textures, add a pop with contrasting pairings such as a chewy salami and a smooth pâté, spicy chorizo and sweet fruits, and cold cheese and warmed sausage. Nunez said that contrast is also important. Some of the combinations he recommends include baked prosciutto crumbled over burrata cheese and black truffles with smoked honey. If you’re new to charcuterie, Nunez recommends pairing hard salami with gouda.

Another tip is to add visual interest by varying the way you slice your meats and cheeses. Try slicing salami on the bias, cubing your pepperoni and thinly slicing your prosciutto. Use seasonal flavors to tie your board into your event. For fall, add pumpkin spread, spiced nuts and pears and for winter, include pomegranates and cranberries. Finally, limit your board to one smoked meat—the strong flavor can overwhelm delicate flavors.

Arrange Your Board. Again, there aren’t any rules. Check out Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. A few tips for arranging with flair include placing contrasting colors and textures side by side, creating depth by using containers and arranging items symmetrically or in a pattern. You can also add visual interest with decorative items.

Select your Drinks. Pairing food and drinks elevates the experience, but offering a variety of foods can make it difficult to select one drink—and you may not want to limit your guests. If you’re serving fattier, saltier foods, serve rye whiskey and champagne. For spicier foods, pour bourbon and Riesling, or a spicy red wine. Scotch pairs well with botanical foods like fennel sausage, and gin pairs well with oily foods like duck.

And there you have it. Your guide to creating not only a delicious, but also a beautiful addition to your table that will take you through a season of gatherings.

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Food & Drink

The End of the Road?

Julian Foglietti

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As the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue, we are beginning to see the effects take their toll on Columbus eateries. Here's a list of some of the changes taking place.

The Sycamore+Cosecha Cocina  

Grow Restaurants, the company which owns Harvest Pizza, has listed The Sycamore and Cosecha for sale. While there hasn't been confirmation that the restaurants won’t make a reappearance in some form, Chris Crader stated in Columbus Underground, “It’s a lot of work to re-open after the pandemic and we have a considerable amount of interest in these two properties so it doesn’t make sense to open and then close again so quickly.”

Miller's Ale House

Both Miller’s Ale House locations are closing. The Florida-based company has removed mention of the Ohio locations from their websites.

Flowers and Bread Co.

In a recent article with Columbus CEO, owners Sarah Lagrotteria and Tricia Wheeler announced the closure of the cafe portion of their business. There are plans to expand the flower and bread workshop portion of the business under the new name Flower and Bread Society.

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Food & Drink

Rémy Cointreau presents: The Sidecar

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**SPONSORED**

We teamed up with Rémy Cointreau and local bartender, Ben Griest, from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to bring you an icon of cognac cocktails. Ben's previous videos featured the art of margarita-mixology, and now we are moving on to another tasty cocktail. This timeless, opulent drink is well-balanced and fresh.

With National Cognac Day coming up, we figured it would be great to share, Rémy Martin 1738 presents The Sidecar.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Today!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day here at last - we've gathered a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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