The Meat Did It, II

A friend writes--no, actually, my friend Pam Hunter tells me just now that she went to Cesare Casella's Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, conveniently down the street from where she and I are staying (at my brother's, yet more conveniently), for lunch yesterday and came in as a table with chefs from an international voter's-choice poll of "the world's 50 best restaurants" sponsored by S. Pellegrino--recently feted in London at a fete that brought together our very own new-award-winner Grant Achatz and our Italian Abroad expert Faith Willinger in a continental exchange--was finishing a table-spanning selection of the cured meats our own Zeke Emanuel didn't try, though he liked most everything else.

"I've never had cured meats of that quality in this country," she said. "There's a very fine line of just-getting-high that Europeans know how to do and Americans don't. Cesare and those Italians know just how to walk it. What we tasted put the Californians [she's a very proud, and very knowledgeable, Californian] trying to make salumi in the shade." Which, of course, there isn't very much of in California.

Cured meats, these French, were what all the award-winners and everyone else scarfed down at the after-party across the street at Bar Boulud, the Lincoln Center-goer's best friend, where the two meats I always dive for on the justly celebrated charcuterie platter are the head cheese and, especially, the light-pink cooked ham--perfectly described by my svelte friend Ed Levine on his exemplary Serious Eats. I always knew Ed had perfect taste, so naturally he said it first: "The housemade jambon de Paris is the French ham I never thought I would be able to taste in New York." It's good any time--but especially, the crowds who cleaned the platters demonstrated, after 1 am.