April 2, 2012

Charcuterie at Epicerie Boulud

One of the Manhattan places I most wish I lived next door to is Épicerie Boulud, the Upper West Side shop that, like my favorite Vancouver patisserie/chocolaterie/ café , Thierry, transports the visitor to Paris immediately upon entrance. Épicerie, as its name implies, is even broader in scope than Thierry, offering a full line of take-out food and catering for anything from a  picnic in Central Park to a swanky penthouse party. Among the highlights of the shop's offering are the amazing creations of master charcutier Gilles Vérot.

Vérot and his boss, chef Daniel Boulud, were on hand today to introduce their spring "collection" (the aspirational term for runway-worthy edibles) of charcuterie. Among them is a springtime Rillette Provençal with pork jarret (knuckle), tomato, zucchini, eggplant and basil. (Quick primer: pâtés are mechanically ground and sometime wrapped in a rich pastry to make them en brioche; terrines are coarser, featuring hand-ground meats, while the rillette contains meat that has been cubed or chopped and is usually cooked slowly in fat.)

To make his spring rillette lighter than its winter counterpart, instead of cooking the meat in its own fat, Vérot replaces the pork fat with a mix of juices from the meat and olive oil. He suggests pairing a slice of the  Rillette Provençal with a mesclun or other green salad and eating it as a main course instead of as the first course of a heavier wintertime meal.

A third-generation charcutier, Vérot also runs two Paris charcuterie boutiques with his wife Catherine, supplying individual customers and a select group of restaurants, including the very popular wine shop-restaurant Le Verre Volé. He and Catherine have a cookbook coming out in the fall, too, both in French and English. When I left l'Épicerie, Vérot was holding forth on how to make fromage de tête, or head cheese, of which he has been named the French champion maker. So if this is next on your DIY list, queue up and look for his book come fall!

Épicerie Boulud
1900 Broadway at 64th St.
New York, NY 
212 595 9606

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