May 18, 2017
The Meat of the Experience
Newport Beach Excels at Offering Sumptuous Charcuterie
A charcuterie board offers far more than mere slices of meat. It’s an invitation to open your palate to a dizzying arrangement of complex flavors, subtle nuances, and curated spices. These compositional elements that lurk behind each savory cut of varying girth and translucence are bona fide experiences that roundly beckon you to ponder the good life as the associated morsel melts in your mouth. Also, there is usually a finely crafted piece of wood, hunks of cheese and fruity elements like quince paste involved. These are bonuses.
Add the elements up, and you have one of the finest feelings of sophistication the culinary world offers. It’s a luxurious vibe that’s enhanced by Newport Beach’s own unique sense of refinement. The following restaurants are prime examples of where you can go to get lost in a sea of sliced sumptuousness.
A Market – Every foodie has an inner vulture; the part of the psyche that rationalizes it’s perfectly okay to hang around the food at a party or get-together and peck at the good stuff amid conversation. Nothing brings out this internal lurking bird quite like a properly made Cheese and Charcuterie Platter, which is exactly what you’ll get if you pick one up from this charming Mariner’s Mile marketplace and sister spot of A Restaurant. 24 hours advanced notice is all market chef Shelly Register needs to arrange a plate of meat and cheese-based magic for up to 25 guests. Just be prepared for plenty of hovering around the kitchen.
CUCINA enoteca – Most concepts built upon the “build your own” motif involve basic food options. While constructing your own burger or ice cream sundae is terrific, it tends to lack sophistication. That’s what makes the Formaggi + Salumi board at this rustic-yet-refined Fashion Island venue so terrific. This option gives you the opportunity to handcraft an exquisite board chock full of fine meats and cheeses culled from around the globe, from spicy capicola from Pennsylvania to goat gouda cheese from Holland. You may be able to indulge in funky stuff such as Utah venison if you’re adventurous enough. We suggest you be brave.
Juliette Kitchen + Bar – We’re all familiar with the famous line from Forrest Gump; the one about the box of chocolates. The same can be said about the Combination of Charcuterie board offered at this venue located a few blocks from John Wayne Airport. The selection of sliced meats rotates rather frequently, allowing you to have a different combination of three to five selections to indulge in practically every time you drop by. This strategy is not just reserved for the charcuterie, either: the restaurant also deploys frequent swaps on their cheese board.
Moulin Bistro – Charcuterie and cheese can be instantly elevated in the right atmosphere. And few environments are more conducive to this phenomenon than this north Newport Beach bistro and market. Approachably quaint yet impeccably stylish, this venue radiates a vibe that invites you to come in, chill out, and have meaningful conversations as you munch on artisanal victuals. But even without this special ambiance in place, the Plateau de Charcuterie et Fromage board whipped up here would still be most excellent. Festooned with various French cold cut and cheese options, this scrumptious, carefully curated offering will inject a bit of epicurean joie de vivre into your day.
Pirozzi – A proper plate of charcuterie and cheese can be more than delicious. It can be a conduit for culinary envelope pushing. To be sure, the mix and match boards offered from this Corona del Mar eatery’s Proscuitto e Formaggi Bar provide you with plenty of ways to give your taste buds an intriguing nudge. Owner/Chef Alessandro Pirozzi fills his roster of sliced meats and cheese with all kinds of unique offerings: Duck prosciutto, salami made from wild boar or venison, and Manchego made from raw sheep’s milk are available for your consideration. Don’t fret if these items are above your epicurean pay grade – classics like Iberico ham and burrata cheese are also on hand.
Provenance – If there’s one thing to know about Provenance’s Chef/Owner/dynamo Cathy Pavlos, it’s this: She knows her stuff when it comes to charcuterie and cheese. It’s an acumen that she expertly shares with her serving staff, too. As such, when you drop by this rustic Newport Back Bay venue and order the Chef’s Selection of Artisanal Cheese and Handmade Charcuterie, you’ll get the unique chance to learn about every nuanced metric about each offering that touches the board, short of what the cheese-producing cow ate last Tuesday. These fun knowledge drops create a more intimate sense of enjoyment as you work your way through the board, something that will dovetail rather brilliantly with the rest of your dining experience.
SideDoor – The first thing you see when you enter this Corona del Mar gastropub and Five Crowns’ sister venue is a chef diligently preparing cuts of fine cheeses and cured meats for unbridled indulgence. The sight of this station is enough to compel you to order a SideDoor Sampler of five mix & match charcuterie and cheese options on your initial visit. The active display of assembly isn’t an exercise in flashy showmanship, either; the international selection of goodies that arrive at your plate are utterly exquisite. They also pair quite well with a pint from the bar. Just sayin’.
Royal Hen – Balboa Island may not be the first place that pops in your head when you think of an exceptional plate of charcuterie. However, Tim Goodell’s top-notch gastropub-meets-bistro concept may change that perception. The venue’s Cheese & Charcuterie board is exceptional because the veteran Orange County chef treats its creation as hands-on experience from his perspective. You can be assured that each chef-selected slice of meat and cheese served up on the board meets his highly discerning standards. You can also bank on these indulgent cuts to be nothing short of tremendous.
Wine Gallery – If you’re going to run a wine bar, you better have some quality cheese and charcuterie at the ready. This cozy Corona del Mar spot not only knows this to be true, but it also delivers with fantastic aplomb. There’s nothing wildly fancy or outrageous about the items that populate their Cheese & Charcuterie board, and that’s perfectly fine here. After all, these delicacies are designed to be the accoutrements to the bevy of sumptuous vinos that are to be enjoyed here. Yet they tend to pair with the wines so well, they may threaten to steal the show every now and again.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar – It’s not surprising to see a smattering of nuts or fruit interspersed among the stars of a proper charcuterie and cheese board. On the other hand, the presence of pate may raise an eyebrow or two. This extra delight is certainly one of the reasons why The Winery Charcuterie and Artisanal Cheese Board is so splendid. Executive Chef/Partner Yvon Goetz slips a generous serving of chicken liver pate onto a meticulously arranged board of meats and other goodies, instantly adding an enticing dimension to the proceedings. If you’ve been intimidated by the concept of pate in the past, this will help you get over the hump in a most delectable way.