2/22/2013 01:01:00 PM

Ask the Austin Zagat Blogger: What's Usually on a Charcuterie Plate?

Eating out in our fair city raises all sorts of burning questions. Is it okay to take a date to a food trailer? Yay or nay on cargo shorts at Uchiko? Then there are the more general questions we’ve always wondered but been too afraid to ask. Are you allowed to eat garnish? Who pays for that extra appetizer?

That’s where I come in, your trusty Austin Zagat blogger, Megan Giller. Ask me anything your heart desires, and I’ll give you my honest opinion.

To get the ball rolling, this week a restaurant-goer asked me, What’s usually on a charcuterie plate?

Good question. The days of finding charcuterie only at Chez Nous or Jeffrey’s are over, and every interesting bar and midpriced restaurant seems to feature the meat plate on the menu, especially now that we have local shops like Dai Due and Salt and Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria.

But it’s not just paté and pickles. A typical charcuterie plate has a balance of cured and smoked meats. “I’m a believer in variety,” says Ben Runkle, the co-owner of Salt and Time. “I like some kind of dried cured sausage or whole muscle, either a prosciutto or lomo, and some salami.” (Indeed, Bon Appetit rated Runkle’s coffee lomo some of America’s best charcuterie, and his brick-and-mortar shop is now open in East Austin). “And since we’re from Texas,” he says, “some smoked sausage.”

There’s also usually a pate or a rillette (shredded pork that’s mixed with pork fat and made spreadable). Arian Daugin, the owner of D’Artagnan, says he’s “also excited about duck prosciutto and wild-boar prosciutto.” And don’t forget the accoutrements: I like fig jam, and Daugin knows you also need “good bread, cornichons and hearty red wine."

Have a restaurant query you need answered? Send in your questions to Megan here.


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