Savor a world of flavor at Kirk Market’s newest department, the Cheese and Charcuterie counter. These crowd-pleasing artisanal specialty meats and premium artisan cheeses from around the world, are simple to serve and easy to enjoy.
At Kirk Market we are sharing our love of cheese by bringing a diverse selection of fine cheeses to our customers. We specialize in hand-cut international cheeses with a focus on small production, hand crafted gems. We always have something new to taste, and our trained staff is happy to guide you through the different milk types and styles of cheese.
Our Guide to Cheese
- Like bread or wine, cheese falls into basic categories based on its texture and the process with which it’s made. Luckily for cheese heads like us, the categories are simple:
- Fresh: Think of these cheeses as the ones without rinds. This category is where you’ll find casual favorites like goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and cream cheese.
- Semi-Soft: If you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich, consider these guys. Semi-soft cheeses—ones like Gouda, Provolone, Havarti and Jack—are great for eating out of hand and even better for melting.
- Semi-Hard (a.k.a. Semi-Firm): Cheddar is the king of this category, which includes tasty favorites like Edam and Gruyère.
- Hard (a.k.a. Firm): Grating cheeses (see Cheeses that Grate) and cheese tray stand-outs like Mimolette and aged Asiago rule this category.
- Washed-Rind: Cheeses like Tallegio, Limburger and Muenster bathe in salty brine, sometimes with a little beer, wine or liquor added to gild the lily. The brine in turn helps cheese to form an edible rind around its soft or semi-soft interior.
- Bloomy-Rind: These cheeses are purposely exposed to mold spores to create a gently fuzzy rind on the outside. The rinds on these cheeses, like those of Brie and Camembert, are generally edible, though some folks choose to skip to the creamy insides.
- Blue: Love it or hate it, blue cheese is here to stay. These pungent, delicious cheeses are marked with blue mold, introduced when mold spores are injected or added to the cheese. Stilton and Maytag Blue are stand-out examples of blue cheese done right.
Charcuterie (pronounced shahr-koo-tuh-ree) are artisanal specialty meats—cured, dried, and aged for extended periods before they are ready—often served as cold cuts on platters. Everyone knows salami and pepperoni, but then the list gets less well known, including prosciutto, pancetta, capocolla and other meats.
Though more expensive per pound than other deli offerings, charcuterie is more potent so you need less to get the same flavor, making it an affordable proposition for weeknight cooking.
Charcuterie is thought of as gourmet fare, but there’s a growing trend to use products like prosciutto and pancetta in casual everyday meals.
Prosciutto makes an excellent addition to quiche, and it is delicious when wrapped around a chicken breast and pan-seared. As it cooks, the prosciutto clings deliciously to the chicken. Chopped and sautéed pancetta is wonderful tossed into cooked spinach or mac and cheese. Substitute slices of artisan salami for mass-produced pepperoni on your next homemade pizza.
For a classic combo, add chopped prosciutto and peas to fettuccini Alfredo. Cut into strips, it makes a hearty addition to Caesar salad.
Or you can just put it on a plate and start eating!
Charcuterie Trays 101
The trick is to provide a variety of flavors that complement several types of charcuterie: cheese, fruit, nuts, cornichons and crackers, plus a sharp mustard to spread and a sweet honey to drizzle. Then guests can fashion their own personalized hors d’oeuvres.
- Cornichons: These baby pickles are crisp and tart, which helps cleanse the palate when eating rich meats and cheeses.
- Prosciutto: Subtle and creamy, prosciutto practically melts in your mouth. It is typically sliced paper-thin so a little goes a long way. Ruffle the slices to add volume for an attractive appearance.
- Spreadable Cheeses: Consider adding a wheel of Brie or triple cream cheese for spreading onto crackers.
- Honey and nuts: Local honey makes an excellent drizzle and partners well with the taste of crunchy marcona almonds.
- Crumbling Blue Cheese: The strong character of blue adds wild flavor to a robust charcuterie platter for a party.
- Salami: Sharp and tangy, salami pairs well with aged cheeses and a hearty coarse mustard.
- Sliceable Cheeses: A flavorful manchego or asiago will match the intensity of charcuterie and slices well. Try pairing with sweet quince paste.
- Crackers and Toasts: Offer several gourmet varieties.
- Capocolla: This Italian ham has a meaty texture and can be spicy. It contrasts perfectly with sweet seedless grapes.
Charcuterie Counter 101
- Salami: A broad term, salami refers to many types of dry-aged ground-meat sausages in casings. The flavor ranges from tangy to sweet. As a category, salami includes pepperoni, salame secchi, saucisson, borsellino, and many more, variously flavored with anything from paprika to garlic. The white mold on salami is harmless but the outer casing is usually not edible and needs to be removed. Thinly sliced, salami is splendid on pizza and pairs well with cornichons, creamy cheeses and fresh fruit.
- Prosciutto: One of Italy’s most beloved culinary creations, this dry-cured, unsmoked ham takes care and patience to produce. It is often aged for several years under climate-controlled conditions. There are many types, including a spicy version called prosciutto piccante. All types are generally served thinly sliced on party platters, in salads or in sandwiches such as the Italian pressed panini.
- Artisanal Deli Roasts: The charcuterie selection also includes several gourmet roasted meats. These are distinguished from their delicatessen counterparts by the level of craftsmanship: longer cooking over a lower heat, hand-rubbed seasonings and fresh herbs. The porchetta, pork loin, French jambon ham, smoked turkey breast and roast beef fall into this category. Rely on these for premium sandwiches.
- Pancetta: This is an Italian-style bacon, meaning it has been salt-cured but not smoked. Pancetta is sometimes rolled into a cylinder (arrotolata in Italian). Otherwise, it is sold flat (stesa). Unlike American bacon, most types of pancetta need no cooking before eating.
- Guanciale: A cut from the jowl (cheeks) of the pig, guanciale provides a balance of fat and meat that is reminiscent of bacon. It is often diced and sautéed, then tossed with pasta in dishes such as carbonara.
- Coppa and Capocolla: These cold-cut cousins are pork neck and shoulder roasts that have been pressed into cylinders and cured with red pepper for a bit of spice. Use them just like you would ham. Lomo is very similar to capocolla, but is made from pork tenderloin.
- Mortadella: This is a high-end bologna studded with white flecks of fat, pistachios and peppers. It’s best sliced very thin and served on sandwiches or crostini.
- Double-Smoked Bacon: This unbrined bacon receives twice the smoke time of traditional bacon—about 24 hours—which gives it a deeper, smoky flavor and meatier texture.
- Lardo: A type of rosemary-cured pork fat, lardo is considered a delicacy in Italy. Slice it paper thin and serve on crostini or wrapped around shrimp, then grilled.