Taste: An Old City Cure
SOMEWHERE DEEP BENEATH the swanked-out Moroccan stylings of Stephen Starr’s Tangerine, in a dingy basement replete with rusted-over pipes and fixtures, chef Todd Fuller is inspecting 20 or so dangling sticks, rods and logs of homemade salami. “This one feels just right,” he says, squeezing a molded-over two-foot length of harissa-spiked salami. The rows of naturally encased meats (read: bovine intestine) are in various stages of maturity, with a pungent Madras curry salami lagging behind the others. Fuller’s charcuterie inspiration came not from an Italian grandmother (he’s Irish), but from Paul Bertolli’s Cooking by Hand, a revered tome that advocates everything from brewing your own balsamic vinegar to collecting wild mushrooms. Sure, he could buy salami at Di Bruno’s like the rest of us, but then, says Fuller, “There would be no sense of accomplishment.” His next projects from the book? Home-baked bread and handcrafted cheese.
The salami process begins with a week-long salt cure of house-ground Niman Ranch pork butt, fatback and spices, followed by a month’s rest in the icy beer walk-in, and then up to three months hanging at about 52° Fahrenheit from an ancient pipe, during which the mold, an important part of the aging process that tells Fuller what’s happening inside the skin, develops. Though he expected lots of trial and error, Fuller says his first batch came out perfectly, and the salamis were immediately added to the menu. The final products are served as part of the restaurant’s enormous $28 meze platter, surrounded by, among other things, marinated manchego cheese and baccala salad, and are perfectly accompanied by the restaurant’s North African vibe and a full-bodied Spanish red.
Tangerine, 232 Market Street; 215-627-5116.