Salami Birthday Cake

My friend and culinary bodhisattva Jon Rowley tells people, "Kim likes a good joint."

He's right. Having grown up around Philadelphia, a joint-centric city, I do LUV me a good joint. But before we move ahead, what in the world is a joint?

Take a few tables or maybe some stools and a counter. There's room for 20 people, max. The smaller, the better. So you're packed in like sardines, elbow-to-elbow with your fellow diners and you can hear what everyone else is saying. In such close quarters, you can smell everything on the stove, too. The food is likely to be homestyle, using hand-me-down recipes from somebody's grandmother or the equivalent of an older, wiser culinary muse. It's got history, it's got soul and it's got personality.

Last week, good old Rowley took me to a classic Seattle joint. Tucked away in a nondescript storefront near Pioneer Square, Salumi is a diamond in the rough and co-owner/salami maestro Armandino Batali is what makes this place sparkle. Open only for lunch a few days a week, Salumi is a little slice of joint heaven if you like salami and other cured meats. Batali and his crew make it all, the old-fashioned, artisan way, which is precisely why I felt like I was back in Piedmont, Italy, where I got an education in lardo and the fine art of animal fats.

One of the most magical things about Italy is the commitment to ingredients. Things are what they are, coming directly from the land. And Batali (yes, THAT Batali; he's Mario's dad) continues the painstaking tradition of buying meat from small farms and curing in small batches. This is a situation when I highly recommend eating the fat because you might catch a hint of grass or acorns in that slice of coppa or pancetta.

The mood is lively in the backroom dining area and I think Frank Sinatra (or was it Tony Bennett?) was coming from the speakers. A big bottle of red wine was passed around and we ate and ate and ate. Guanciale, soppressata, chocolate salami, oxtail, meatballs of my dreams -- it just kept coming.

I told Batali that today was my 40th birthday, so he told me to come in for a birthday cake, Salumi-style. I've decided he's my new boyfriend on the side. Cake details to come in tomorrow's blog.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 22, 2006; 2:39 PM ET Travel
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Did you say you're coming to Portland later this week? You should visit one of our farmer's markets -- just an incredible selection of local produce. The big downtown market is Saturday morning, with a smaller one on Wednesday afternoons. There are also neighborhood markets scattered throughout the city on other days of the week.

Restaurants: Try Park Kitchen, SouthPark, Bluehour, or Higgins for classic NW cuisine. Or Andina for the best Peruvian food you will ever eat.

And don't miss the microbrews -- Seattle may have better coffee, but we have better beer.

Posted by: Andrew in PDX | August 22, 2006 4:53 PM

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