August 24, 2011
And then there was salumi.
This Tuesday, Aug. 29, the L’Auberge-Aubergine-Cantinetta Luca dynasty adds a seriously savory—and unprecedented—local taste portal with its new Salumeria Luca (625-6500).
It comes after Chef Jason Balestrieri was ceremoniously pummeled with requests for his housemade cured meats, which makes sense. His salumi selection, with five different types of house-cured salumi (Genovese, cotto, spicy soppressata, nostrano and pistachio) plus proscuitto San Daniele, mortadella di bologna and speck, is their signature dish (and one of my favorites to share in all of Carmel) for a reason.
“Since we are already making our salumi, breads, cheeses, pastas and sauces,” chef says, “it was logical to offer them for sale. Now locals and visitors can stop by and pick up a picnic to take to the beach, a bottle of wine, or just the ingredients to make a simple but delicious dinner at home."
He was also acting on the absence of something he sees as vital to a community like this one.
"When I first moved to the area a little over five years ago," he says, "knowing there was an established Italian community here, I expected to find at least one Italian deli, so I was very disappointed to see there wasn't one. This eases my mind." But there’s more than fine aged tube meat in this mix.
Cantinetta-Aubergine wine mastermind Thomas Perez has hand-plucked a selection of premium Italian wines at approachable prices with an expert eye toward new and lesser-known varietals. Many of the wines on the list will be familiar to Cantinetta Luca fans, only at retail prices.
There will be hot pressed paninis and classic Italian submarine sandwiches.
And Aubergine Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza has assembled a bevy of Italian pastries and desserts, including housemade tiramisu, Gianduja chocolates, ricotta-lemon cake, cornmeal-rosemary biscotti and seasonally-changing Italian gelato with, say, Watsonville strawberries, Gianduja, and Valrhona chocolate and in flavors including honey-ricotta, balsamic caramel, espresso, hazelnut, pistachio, toasted cinnamon, peach-verbena sorbetto and melon sorbetto.
"There are 10 different flavors of gelato and sorbet," Balestrieri says. "It's a little bit of a gelateria as well as a little Cantinetta-leaning wine shop. It has it all."
Normally you’d have to drop upwards of two bills at Aubergine just for a sip or nibble of their curative skills as part of a nine-course culinary kaleidescope, or sit down at Cantinetta Luca. Now it’s just part of the trip to the neighborhood salume store.