You’re walking around Florence, taking in as much as you can, running your hands across the stones of buildings, wondering about the people who lived and loved and died in them a thousand years before you were born. You imagine all the wild boar roaming in the hills above the city, think about feasts of yore at which cinghiale starred, you wind down a narrow passage near the river and find yourself outside the restaurant with the rabbit dish you love. At your table, you order a quartino of Nebbiolo and accept a small plate of lardo, a gift from the owner. Outside, the sun begins to set. Inside, the evening begins, deliciously.
Lardo. If you’ve never experienced the pleasure that is lardo melting on your tongue, get a table at Houston restaurant Charivari (no, it’s not the only place in the city that serves lardo, but it’s certainly home to some fine examples of it) and ask for it. The chef, Johann Schuster, will be happy to oblige. Here’s a look at a platter of the food that I sampled recently at the midtown establishment — and I find myself wanting more as I write this.
Read about Schuster’s lardo here, and don’t delay if you want some, because this is not mass-produced salumi. (I write about a great dish at Nancy’s Hustle as well in the piece. The manti served at the new — and popular — restaurant in Houston’s EaDo area, took me back to Istanbul, as the lardo transported me to Florence. Not bad for a week in Texas.)
Finally, I give you sausage, two made with skill by Schuster, which I tasted on the lardo evening. There’s a rich, decadent blood sausage, and a garlic sausage that is as good as any I’ve ever had. You’ll love them.