Discovery Channel may have proclaimed last week to be Shark Week, but charcuterie (pronounced shar-coo-teh-ree) has nothing to do with sharks. Yet, charcuterie is sneaking onto restaurant menus all over Central Pennsylvania, and customers are devouring it.
Much like the Italian salumi, charcuterie is a French word that refers to the art of prepared and cured meat products, mostly from pork. We're talking bacon, sausage, pâté, salami and more. In the days before refrigeration, this process was merely a way to preserve meats, but today it's become more of a culinary art.
There's no better place to try charcuterie than at Hunger-N-Thirst, a Lancaster gastropub that promises (and delivers!) craft beer and provisions. As the name suggests, the menu is a balance of gourmet pub fare accompanied by 24 unique beers on tap. Personally, I went straight for the build-your-own charcuterie plate — choose from three meats and cheeses for $13 or five for $18. The spread also included toasted bread, balsamic cipollini onions, marinated white beans and what looked like quince jelly.
In case you're wondering, while charcuterie only refers to meat, I've found that most places tend to add cheeses to the mix. Hunger-N-Thirst's meats ranged from dried chorizo and fennel salami to paté and prosciutto. Cheese options included Asiago, Gorgonzola dulce, Taleggio and Morbier. And even though the prosciutto was no San Daniele, the overall platter blew away any of the charcuterie that I've had locally.
Hunger-N-Thirst also offers provisions to take home with you. Its marketplace features cases packed with foreign and domestic charcuterie, cheeses and sides. The shop also has the most adorable kitchen accessories and home goods, all of which provide excellent gift possibilities.
My craft beer-loving dinner guests were simply raving about the adjoining bottle shop. After our meal, we spent a good amount time picking out bottles to go.
If you're heading to Hunger-N-Thirst, I'd recommend going during the week or an off hour, as it's notorious for being crowded. You can also try a charcuterie platter at the local eateries below. Just be sure to tell us about your favorite cured delicacy!
• Alvaro Bread and Pastry Shoppe, 236 Peffer St., Harrisburg
• Carr's Restaurant, 50 W. Grant St., Lancaster
• Cork & Cap Restaurant, 480 New Holland Ave, Lancaster
• Federal Taphouse, 234 N. Second St., Harrisburg; 201 N. Queen St., Lancaster
• Loxley's, 500 Centerville Road, Lancaster
• Penn Square Grille, 2 E. King St., Lancaster
• Pour, 114 N. Prince St., Lancaster
• The Sturges Speakeasy, 400 Forster St., Harrisburg
• Suba, 272 North St., Harrisburg
• Taproom by Spring House Brewing Co., 25 W. King St., Lancaster
• Trevi 5, 100 Hotel Road, Hershey
• Zuckfoltzfus Brewing Co., 12 S. Market St., Mount Joy