Above: There’s a hard way to create all this, racing around shopping and chopping and such. For $25, this is the easy way—and better!
By Wini Moranville
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the French apéritif, a word that traditionally applies to a pre-dinner cocktail, but has also come to mean the entire ritual of informally enjoying drinks and nibbles with friends at the end of the workday. Informally, this magical stretch of time is called l’apéro, and it differs from a cocktail party in that it’s not really a party. Two friends, a bottle of wine, and some simple but well-chosen bites are all it takes for an apéro.
Recently, I invited two pals over for an apéro. Around noon that day, I realized that my work would not be done in time for me to fix something good to eat. The problem was solved when I called the Cheese Bar, and ordered a meat and cheese plate. Fifteen minutes later, I had the beauty you see pictured above: ribbons of prosciutto, paper-thin disks of spicy salami, meaty bands of mortadella, plus three artisanal cheeses, perfectly cut into ready-to-grab chunks. Sour French pickles, piparra peppers, mustard, apple jam, marcona almonds and crackers rounded out the plate.
I can only imagine how much time and effort this would have taken to put together had I chased all over town for the ingredients. Even had I had them on hand, they would not have been so good: There’s something in the way the pros at the Cheese Bar slice the meats so thin and the cheeses just right that prepackaged goods can’t match. This bounty, which took me about three minutes to transfer from the take-out container to a platter, cost around $25 and easily served four as generous (but not overwhelming) pre-dinner bites. I will do this again.
The Cheese Bar is at 2925 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-277-7828; cheesebardsm.com.
Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.