Charcuterie in Houston


(Bruce) #1

We were having a lot of fun on the other board with a Dish of the Month, an idea I stole from the San Francisco board. I’m going to be posting about this month’s dish here. We chose charcuterie. It was my suggestion and it’s going to be a brand new experience for me; I’ve been seeing charcuterie plates mentioned but never tried one myself. The best dishes of the month are the ones where you get to learn a lot in addition to eating great food.

Here’s a recent article listing some of the best available (in one critics opinion) but I’ve also identified several others at restaurants I’ve been to that I may be trying.

Best Charcuterie

I’ve been under the weather a bit so haven’t been able to get started but hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll have a report or two. And hopefully some other refugees will show up here too.

It’s going to be another fun month.


(Doo B. Wah) #2

First post on HO.

As we discussed via email, Jaymes has selflessly volunteered to coordinate a meetup in Houston at Coltivare I think. We’re still looking for the right day, but hopefully soon.

Thanks to the person or persons responsible for giving us this venue to “carry on” and thanks to you BruceSW for dragging me over here. I’ll try to be a good boy.

Now…Let’s eat!


(Bruce) #3

Welcome aboard, glad you made it over. That makes three of us so far.

I’m hoping to hit Revival tomorrow or Monday.

Uh, but I’ve never really cared for head cheese that much. Maybe I just haven’t had any really good head cheese???


#4

Howdy y’all! Bruce - I hope you don’t get all “charcuteried out” and then won’t meet us at Coltivare.

I’ll admit head cheese is usually pretty far down on my list of favorites, as well. But that charcuterie platter at Cultivare also has some wonderful pate, and terrine. I sure hope it works out that we can have a get-together. As I said, if we meet early, 5p, on a Sat, it shouldn’t interfere with the Sat night plans of those of you that have actual social lives.


(Lamb Owner) #5

Hey all, once I get this format figured out, I’ll be checking in too! I’m in on Coltivare, looking forward to it.


(Doo B. Wah) #6

Yeah, I’m not a fan of headcheese either. It doesn’t taste terrible, but I just can’t get past the visuals.

I have no problem with barbacoa, (steamed and shredded cow head), but I find the big globs of gelatin in head cheese and terrines off-putting.

I LOVE salamis, cured hams and the like. I wish we had a dedicated charcuterie here in West Houston.


#7

Current plan - I’m getting there around 4pm. Alerting those nice young people inside that I’m there. Then waiting in my car. Reading a book. I’ll have my phone for last-minute tweaks as to the who’s-in-who’s-out list. By the time the door opens at 5, will need folks there, or they won’t seat us.

I do remember that last time I had this platter, although I liked it all, there were one or two cuts of charcuterie that I particularly loved. Didn’t write down which ones. This time, definitely going to. And then stopping by Revival to pick up more to bring home.

I’m over the moon (in current fashionable superlative phrasing) about this get-together.

And hopeful for the future.


(Doo B. Wah) #8

Just to clarify, this is next Saturday the 17th right?


(Bruce) #9

I just PM’d you, just to see if I can figure out how to use that feature.

Take that CBS.


#10

Worked great, Bruce. Did get the PM (private message). Wonderful. Always a huge complaint for me about CH. Couldn’t contact anyone via any method that didn’t involve sharing with the whole world.

Enormous improvement, Hungry Onion. So thanks.


(Bruce) #11

I’m getting a rather late start on the Dish of the Month this month - just one more thing to blame on TPTB at CBS, obviously - but I finally made it to Revival today for the Cured Plate.

Counter-clockwise from the lower left: spiced honey whipped lardo, Coppa, Pepperone, Head Cheese, pecans and peanuts, chicharrone, bread, Salame (underneath the chicharrone and bread), sour cucumber, and, in the center, buttermilk ricotta.

I dug right into the head cheese and it was fine, at just the right temperature, I think. By the end of the meal/last slice, it had warmed up considerably and I found it less appetizing, although that was also in part because I was pretty full by that time. I presume everything here comes from owner Morgan Weber’s mangalica pigs? FYI the slices are only about 3" in diameter and quite thin.

I was underwhelmed by the pepperone at first. This turned out to be because it had quite a chill on it, more than anything else on the tray, and was very hard. By the time I got to the last of it and it had warmed up to room temp, the flavors had developed more fully and it was more easily chewed and it was one of my favorite items.

The spiced honey whipped lardo and buttermilk ricotta were both great, I could have eaten more of both of them if I’d had the tummy space. Likewise the slightly peppery sour cucumbers, all providing a welcome counterpoint to the saltiness and fattiness of the meats…

The best of the meats for me was the salame, underneath the chicharrones and bread, which I never got a picture of. Most interesting salame I think I’ve ever had, too, likewise slightly peppery with a red pepper rather than black.

The coppa didn’t make much of an impression on me, surprisingly, and that may have been the only one the waiter specifically referred to as house-made. I think it just kind of got lost in all the other things to taste and experience and try to remember. The linked article above says everything is house-made so it was notable to me this was the only one the waiter mentioned; I also noticed only a few of the meats in the cases were specifically identified as house-made.

The chicharrones, relatively freshly fried, peppery and quite greasy were a nice ‘local’ twist, but the biggest disappointment was the pecans, soft and flavorless. I had smiled when I first saw them on the platter and was very disappointed. I kept nibbling at them, hoping to find at least one that would resemble what a good pecan should taste like, but to no avail. I had looked over all the meats in the meat case while waiting for my order and wondered if I was going to get some of their mortadella, made with pecans rather than pistachios. Maybe it’s better that I didn’t.

The bread was, well, bread. A little warm though not freshly baked, it was all that was needed as a vehicle for the lardo, a nice sweet counterpoint to the saltiness and spiciness of almost everything else on the plate.

I had expected that I would wind up with some leftovers to take home to taste again after some reflection but I left unfinished only the bread, some of the chicharonnes and some of the pecans. I was simply too full (and satisfied) to finish them.

The waiter was not much help in specifically identifying the meats. I had seen there were several varieties of pepperone and salame in the cases and I wanted to know which I had gotten but he couldn’t identify them. After paying, I went to look at them again and the two that I identified as being the most likely suspects for what I had been served were both missing any identifying signage! The pepperone and salame were the two meats I’d be most likely to want to buy to take home. Prices, I believe, generally ran from $19-$26/lb.

I will heartily recommend this offering at Revival to my fellow Houston Onionistas or anyone visiting. Go hungry and take your time. It is second only to the Revival Dog, which has disappeared from the menu, as the best thing I have had at Revival.

How are the rest of you doing? Or is everybody just planning on doing Coltivare and calling it a month?

Let’s get out there and eat and report!

Website


(Lamb Owner) #12

That chicharrones had me worried at first glance. I looks like unfried tripe so I’m glad it turned out to be fried chicharrones. I hope to make it over to Bistro Provence soon for their nice charcuterie. I really like their pork rillettes so hope they are included. I see the month is nearly half gone. This time of the year always goes on fast forward through January, so I’m hoping for the best. Thanks for the great write up as usual!


(Bruce) #13

I’m looking forward to your report. I loved their food truck a couple of years back. I guess it’s never out anymore - don’t hear anything about it. I had one of the best quiches I’ve ever had from the truck but I have never made it out to the restaurant despite your glowing reviews.


(Bruce) #14

Kris Bistro was on my list of places to try this month, until I was looking through the YELP gallery and saw their presentation. Here it is, written up by the Press today. That’s just a bit too precious for me. Harrumph and Snort!


(Doo B. Wah) #15

Agreed!

I’d love to try everything there, but clothes hangers? Really?


#16

So a few of us did make it to Coltivare last night - Bruce, Mr. & Mrs. Lambowner, and I.

I do really like that place. It’s small (and, as Bruce points out, noisy) but an attractive space. We had been standing in the heat outside waiting for the door to open at 5, so when asked if we’d rather eat in the air-conditioned restaurant, or in the garden out back, we all agreed on inside. However, as the evening cooled, I think the garden might have been the better choice. The restaurant was indeed crowded and noisy. And, after we left, I watched the diners in the garden for a few moments, and it looked quite lovely and relaxing.

I’m hoping others will arrive here to share what they ordered, and their opinions, but, as for me, Coltivare prides itself on several things, including their special cocktails, and I started with the Lily Langtry - gin, hibiscus, lemon and Lambrusco Russo. http://www.chron.com/entertainment/restaurants-bars/article/Coltivare-cocktail-menu-highlights-bitter-Italian-5466662.php

I’d recommend this place just for the cocktails alone.

For starters, we shared the salumi board. I thought it was a great selection, and favorites were the prosciutto, n’duja, and chicken liver pate. I enjoyed it so much, got one “to go” to take home and put in my fridge for snacking during the upcoming week.

For main, I had the rigatoni with duck. This was very good, for sure, but don’t think I’d order it again. Mr. & Mrs. Lambowner got a pizza, and it looked so appetizing that I definitely think I’ll head that direction next time.

Sure want to thank Bruce and the Lambowners. These things are nowhere nearly so much fun if nobody shows up!


(Bruce) #17

Our small group assembled at Coltivare last eve to sample their cured board. Jaymes and myself and Mr. and Mrs Lambowner were present. The food was very good, the company was exceptional. It was great to see Jaymes again and I loved meeting the Lambowners and listening to their tales of their travels. Regrets for those who couldn’t attend but the maximum party they will seat is 6 and the places is so noisy communication between folks at the opposite ends of the table might have been impossible.

I got their biggest board for myself. It was all I intended to eat. The rest of the table shared a duplicate board and ordered other items and drinks. Mr. Lambowner got a very interesting Scotch (I just sniffed it) and they got the pizza which I’m dying to hear more about. (I see Jaymes has posted while I was composing this and I agree with her - I’d go for a pizza next time).

At the 7 o’clock is the n’duja (their spelling), the spreadable sausage from Calabria. Our waiter spoke very quickly but as he explained it to us, I did pick up that they use Fresno peppers. This was unquestionably the hit of the board for me and I think for everyone else.

Next up on that side of the board is the mortadella I had seen but not sampled at Revival with Texas pecans instead of pistachios. Then in the far dark corner, a couple of thick slices of pork terrine. On the opposite corner is a generous stack of prosciutto (all the meats here are from co-owned Revival Market just down the street), a salami (if the waiter gave it a name, I missed it but I see the sample menu on the website, dated just 2 weeks ago, mentions a genoa salami), and an excellent chicken liver mousse. There is also some ricotta, a selection of olives and nuts and some grapes marinated in apple cider vinegar that could deliver a little too much tartness.

My favorites besides the n’duja were the chicken liver and the mortadella but I did think they skimped on the fat with the latter. I would choose the headcheese at Revival over the Pork Terrine and the salami and pepperoni and buttermilk ricotta there also over this board.

Website


(Lamb Owner) #18

Looks like you all got it covered! I third that endorsement of the n’duja, I will be hitting Revival soon to see if they sell it in bulk. Just the yummiest. The prosciutto was perfect in my view, it was nicely dry and tasty. I’m not fond of prosciutto that must be gnawed to bite off a chunk.

The full name is Coltivare Pizza and Garden and so Mr. Lamb and I split the pepperoni and added sausage. There are some pretty innovative pizzas on the list, but I just wanted basic to compare with others. It was a good pizza, not my favorite in town only because I like the Napoli style super thin crust pizza most. The waiter advised that the crust here involves a three day proofing process and the crust was irregular and tasty, but not real crisp.The mozzarella was fresh and the sausage was crumbled and really very good. The house made pepperoni was excellent.

If I have any criticism at all it is the noise level as the other road tripping adventure eaters mentioned. It was really hard to converse. I was here once before and sat outside which was just as relaxing as it looks, weather permitting, and much calmer. The waiter was pleasant and gamely complied with our bill splitting antics, but not surprisingly, he was a tad harried. Many thanks to Jaymes and Brucesw for holding the spot in line so we could be in the first seating. No reservations so when the doors opened, the line was long enough to fill up the restaurant. When we left there were lots of folks waiting and our table was bussed and re-set before we were able to make the short trip to the front door.

So it is a fine restaurant and Houston is jammed with fine restaurants (lucky us) so I’m not sure at all why there is near hysteria over this one. I can’t recall another place that has attracted a line prior to opening, except for maybe the original Lupe Tortilla on Friday nights when folks lined up for margaritas and sand boxes for their kids. Can you?


(Bruce) #19

Ah leftovers - I am snacking my way thru the leftovers at my leisure and developing a better appreciation of both the salami and prosciutto. Saving the n’duja for last!

That’s at least the $64 question if not a Master’s Thesis. I think I recall there were lines for the opening of the first Torchy’s Tacos in Montrose, possibly there still are lines at times? Houstonia is asking whether they’ll be lines for the upcoming Hopdoddy’s Burger place, another Austin import that supposedly has a line regularly.

I don’t really get it but I think in part it’s the age group we witnessed. As Mr. Lambowner noted, it was a pretty young crowd. I wasn’t surprised. I think it may be more important for that age group to eat where they’re told to rather than exploring on their own. I think it also has something to do with the neighborhood - very hip and trendy. You really only hear about this sort of phenomenon in Montrose or The Heights I think. Also, Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera are big stars on the local culinary scene, everybody knows the story of Revival and this one was really hyped when it opened.


#20

I agree with all this. It’s a good restaurant, but I wouldn’t do my marathon wait again. I do appreciate the garden and, while I was waiting, noticed the kitchen staff out harvesting things for that night’s dinners. That is really nice.

However, I think the hype might be fading a bit and the trendy crowd moving on to something else. Just so happens that they left the prosciutto out of my “to-go” salumi samplers and, not wanting to drive back into town with the 5pm rush anytime soon, or ever, drove back over there Sunday night to collect the prosciutto (they were very nice about the oversight and gave me considerably more than was on the in-house board for my trouble). Got there about 6, I guess, and the restaurant was only half-full. It might still be jammed on Fridays and Saturdays, but suspect that, at full-hype, even weeknights and Sundays would have seen those long waits for tables.