Hy-Vee launches super charcuteire5/13/2015
Having vanquished its main rival, Hy-Vee is preparing to take on all comers. A preview of its next phase is taking shape at Hy-Vee on Mills Civic Parkway. Called the Mills Civic Culinary Center, it plans to offer a new Market Grill restaurant plus upgraded dining options of a more casual nature: a new sushi station, barbecue, Chinese and Italian take out, deli, olive-hummus bars and bakery. The gem of the center, which opened last weekend, is a horseshoe-shaped station with a deli, a specialty cheese shop and a charcuterie bar where at least 21 marvelous, cured meats are available daily for fresh slicing.
The Gauls invented charcuterie during the first century as a method of preserving meat and fish before refrigeration. Since World War II, it’s been used for the unique flavors it produces and as a way of suggesting that Italian and French cuisine are superior to all others. Before the new millennium, charcuterie was rarely heard of between New York City and San Francisco. Herb and Kathy Eckhouse learned to love the stuff when working in Parma, the center of the charcuterie universe. Their La Quercia now produces many of best such products in the world. It is featured in charcuterie plates served at local restaurants such as Splash, Django, Eatery A, The Cheese Shoppe and Gateway Market.
The Mills Civic Hy-Vee is serving products from arguably the top four charcuteries in America — Norwalk’s La Quercia, New York City’s Schaller & Weber, Berkeley’s Fra’mani and San Francisco’s Columbus — augmented with imports. Six types of prosciutto (salt-cured pork shoulder) from La Quercia include one made with pigs fed a diet of acorns (an ancient practice in Parma, which is as rich with oak trees as Des Moines), one from Berkshire pigs, another from Tamworths, and speck, which is prosciutto that has been cold-smoked after curing. Seven featured types of salami included a hot soppressata cured with fennel, paprika and red wine and a soppressata cured with chile de arbol and sherry. Coppa, from La Quercia, is a prosciutto-like product except it’s made with collars rather than shoulders. Hy-Vee was selling it last week for about $10 a pound less than other area shops.
Porchetta, the king of pork roasts; hams (including the legendary three-muscle jambon de Paris); Schaller & Weber’s famous double smoked bacon; pancetta (pork belly); mortadella (the original Bologna); and guanciale (bacon made from cheeks rather than bellies) round out the more familiar fare on the menu. Roast beef and turkey are also included. Prepared $15 plates usually included two assorted meats, a cheese, olives or nuts with dried fruits, pickles or pâté. Recipes, wine suggestions (basically pinot noir with salami and pinot gris with prosciutto and bacon) and tutorials were supplied.
Jersey Mike’s is a 1300 store submarine sandwich franchise that began on the Jersey Shore in the 1956, when submarines were pretty much a Jersey Shore-only thing. The shop in Clive pays homage to those roots with surfboards and surf reports on the walls and nostalgic rock and roll. All meats and cheeses are sliced when they are ordered, a service other sub shops here do not provide. They also offer prosciutini. Rarely heard of outside New Jersey, this cured meat is made like prosciutto, except it’s cured boneless. It tastes like a cross between prosciutto and American ham. They also offer cappacuolo, which is probably Jersey-speak for capacolo, which it resembled in taste. My bill was a few dollars more than what I usually pay at Jimmy John’s for similar fare.
Jethro’s is auditioning six new wing sauces in May, one from each executive chef. The winner will be served at all Jethro’s locations in June.
555 S. 51st St., West Des Moines,
Open 24-7 except for Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day
12851 University, Clive, 224-1000
Daily 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.