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The Art of Charcuterie

Notes from a Tuscan master charcuterist and Terra di Siena owner

char-cu-te-rie /SHär’kōōderē/

n: cold cooked meats collectively

Charcuterie is a practice in hospitality and entertainment shared around the world.

Filippo Gambassi shared his perspective with Williamsburg Lifestyle Magazine from his Richmond based business. Filippo, originally from Tuscany, is a fifth-generation cultivator of the finest cured meats and cheeses. Charcuterie is the very art of enjoying one of life's simplest pleasures. Filippo prefers quality over quantity in the most explicit sense.

Terra di Siena truly has a Master at the helm. The depth of knowledge surrounding the aging process, raising of the livestock, and preparation of charcuterie boards is beyond impressive. "Being a resident of the mid-Atlantic most of my life, specifically Virginia, has mostly proven to be a meteorological gem of a climate." Gambassi managed to draw a direct comparison of Richmond to Tuscany, in terms of the year-round seasonal flow and proximity to both the mountains and the ocean. Gambassi has observed an unfortunate practice, across the country, of cutting the meats too early in the day to save time. This detracts from the quality of the experience, making an otherwise tasty cut of meat or cheese dry and flavorless. Another detail pointed out was the freshness of the meat selections, particularly the prosciutto, makes all the difference as oxidation of the meat will be higher the fresher it is. Filippo explained that his role as a fifth-generation businessman is to tie each of the historical elements together, from farming, to production, and retail. To Filippo and his wife, Irene, this is more than marketing and storytelling, but carrying on a tradition.

Filippo insists on focusing on ingredients and aging, with only two or three meats and cheeses, rather than a bouquet of lower quality choices that go unappreciated.

The Williamsburg Winery has developed a special relationship with Terra di Siena to enhance their wine tasting experiences for guests. Utilizing Filippo’s expertise on the ingredients and preparation of the charcuterie makes for a completely authentic pairing.

Use of a cutting board to arrange a variety of meats and cheeses is more an element of authenticity than sophistication. Having the entire surface covered is not the point, but rather to enjoy savoring a few selections to satisfy the palate.

“When restaurants slice the meat at 2 or 3 o’clock for a 5 o’clock tasting, it leaves the board looking brown and lacking. I make the time to slice just at the right time for the flavors to be prime,” states Gambassi.

Red wine, salt, pepper, garlic, and a few spices should be all that comprise the best choices, according to Gambassi.

“A thinly sliced Guanciale melts in the mouth like butter.” Filippo Gambassi

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