Posted by: Food Lover | January 11, 2018

The Cure: Saskatoon’s Artisanal Charcutarie


There’s something special about a good Charcuterie board – they’re so simple: meats; cheeses; olives; some pickled vegetables; maybe a nest of arugula; and, bread. And yet, they can be so luxurious. We’ve enjoyed them all over the world, but we’ve encountered some of the best right here in Canada. You can just tell when a charcuterie has been lovingly put together, with a great selection of fine quality cheese and richly flavoured meat.

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A Custom Charcuterie Board By the Cure: Capocollo, Prosciutto, Bresaola (beef), and Terrine. Cheeses: Parmesan, Brie and Blue Cheese. Fruit and Nuts: Blueberries, Grapes, Raspberries, Green Apple, Almonds, Pistachios.  Vegetables include fermented items such as local radish, cucumbers, artichokes, onion, garden carrots (from Joel’s garden).  Regular and red wine mustard seed. A couple of dollops of creamed honey. Apple and wild blueberry chutney.

The Discovery

We discovered our most recent decadent indulgence upon ordering the Salumi (the Italian name for a charcuterie) at Taverna Italian Kitchen in Saskatoon. After a long work week it was time to unwind with good food and wine, and Taverna’s warm familiar hospitality was just what we needed to soothe our souls. We had settled on a night of small plates, so we could enjoy a variety of flavours. When Tasos, Taverna’s owner, came to greet us he told us excitedly that we had to try the new Salumi plate, “We’ve discovered a new local source for our cured meats, you’re going to love it!” How could we resist? We decided to pass on the small plates and order a large Salumi as a meal for the two of us.

Tasos did not disappoint; the Salumi – particularly the meats – was glorious. Impeccable flavours, with just the right amount of sumptuous fats and balanced salt. Mixing and matching the selection of meats and cheese, with the olives, arugula, and peppers (oh, and wine, don’t forget the wine!) made for a hedonistic feast. We had to know where he had found such delicious cured meat – we so badly wanted to stock our fridge.

duck confit

The Cure’s duck confit: cooked at our home with green beans and truffled gnocchi

We learned that two young men in Saskatoon had started to cure their own meats. At the time they weren’t selling to the public. At first, our only source of these delicious cured meats was an evening at Taverna (such a chore!); you can only imagine our delight when The Cure started to make an appearance at the Saskatoon Farmers Market. Not only did they provide a delectable selection of ham prosciutto, a variety of salamis and pancetta, they started to make duck breast prosciutto (always a smash hit at our house parties). Then came the viand glacé, which took our sauce recipes to new heights. Our hearts skipped a beat when we saw that they had prepared duck confit, a pre-cooked wonder that allowed for quick, easy and wildly luxurious dinners at home. As we got to know Lorenzo, he told us about guanciale – and how it could be used to make the best carbonara we’ve ever had. It’s taken our home cooked carbonara to a whole new level of richly delicious pleasure.  Their beautiful and varied Charcuterie boards are always popular host gifts when we’re dining at a friends place – and The Cure is kind enough to provide a beautiful board and bowls as needed (to be returned afterwards).

About The Cure

The Cure is the creation of Saskatoon’s own Joel Hassler and Lorenzo Brazzini, who hails from Perugia, Italy. Just recently we were able to talk to them at their production facility, which will soon open to the public as a retail outlet.

Where did they train?

Joel trained at the culinary program at SIAST (now SaskPolytechnic) and worked at several Saskatoon restaurants including Prairie Harvest Cafe and the Saskatoon Club. Lorenzo trained in Italy, where they offer culinary training as a high school curriculum stream. Lorenzo’s passion for food and adventure led him to travel the world, working in the kitchens of places like London and various cities in Australia.

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Left: Lorenzo Brazzini  –  Right: Joel Hassler

How did the two of you meet?

Eventually, the road brought him to Saskatoon and it was at the Saskatoon Club that Joel and Lorenzo first met. They both spoke fondly of their time there, the warm supportive environment and the license they were given to experiment in the kitchen. It was at the Saskatoon Club that they first started to experiment with curing meats.

Why “The Cure Charcuterie”?

As we chatted we asked why they have chosen to take this entrepreneurial path rather than continue to work in restaurants (they clearly have the talent to succeed in that space). We’ve often heard from others in the restaurant industry that the hours are grueling – 17 hour days are not uncommon – and little time for a personal life. We asked Joel and Lorenzo if this had been their experience in the business, and if this influenced their decision to strike out on their own.

“That’s certainly how the industry was when we first started, and we were lucky at the Saskatoon Club where treated us really well. But that old idea that you have to be “married to your kitchen” is beginning to change. People want to see their families, to visit friends, to have hobbies, to live and laugh. And the change was really quite sudden, as a new generation began owning and running restaurants. ”

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Prosciutto

There was another impetus to starting the new venture. When the Saskatoon Club closed for renovations, they took it as a sign that they were meant to go out into the world on their own. “We saw an opening in the Saskatoon market, no one was really doing it. Some restaurants did a few things for themselves, but there was no one who devoted their attention to cured meats.”

What are some of your biggest “hits” at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market?

“The mixed pack always sells well, probably because it’s essentially an instant meat platter for people. The bresaola is always a hit, though because of limited access to supply it’s a challenge for us to keep it stocked. No question that the people who buy the guanciale tend to be return customers; it’s a tough product to find here. Finally, we’ve had many requests for us to have our duck products – confit and duck breast prosciutto – available on a regular basis. We’re working on a consistent, quality and local source for ducks to allow us to do just that as we love those products and peoples’ response to them.”

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Bresaola

How has the business grown?

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Sobrassada: a spreadable Spanish style salami

They wanted to build a solid foundation and focused on developing a regular supply of “the basics” that restaurants could count on – things like prosciutto and salami. That’s not as easy as it sounds; we learned this is a business that requires careful thought and planning as inventory – particularly for restaurant clients – needs to be planned out anywhere from 18 to 24 months in advance! Once they established a stable base of Saskatoon restaurants and vendors (20 to date: see list below), they could focus on playing a bit with new offerings and sharing them at the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market.

“That’s what we want to do at the retail location. There will always be a few of the tried and true basics available, but we want to constantly try new things, to offer new selections. We’re looking forward to doing fermented and preserved products as well. We don’t want to get bored, so our customers can always expect a surprise when they come through our doors.”

What’s most rewarding for you?

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Pork legs ranging from  6 months to a year and a half in age.

Joel is clearly excited by the opportunity to develop with new offerings. It was such a pleasure to see his eyes light up as he talked about experimenting with a new range of pickled and fermented products – as well as new ideas for cured meat products. The initial list – mustards, pickled and lacto fermented vegetables (like cucumber, carrot, cabbage, onion, radish, mustard seed), terrines, paté, fresh sausages, and porchetta – have us salivating in anticipation.

As they gave us a tour of their temperature and humidity controlled curing lockers, it became clear what excited Lorenzo: with a broad smile he chatted about how very pleasing it was to see the lockers full and perfectly ordered. “It is such a long process. We watch them [the various meats] hang there for months, checking the temperatures, smearing them with fat, looking them over carefully each day, waiting for the moment when they’re ready. Then finally taking them down, cleaning them and cutting into them. Seeing that perfectly cured meat for the first time; it’s so satisfying.”

The payoff!

We’re certainly grateful for their labour of love, and we know a lot of other people in Saskatoon are as well. We particularly love ordering custom charcuterie plates for gatherings at our house and as gifts to anyone hosting us at their homes. There is no solid date for the opening of their retail location, but they know it will happen soon, potentially early in 2018. For now, you can catch them every weekend at the Farmer’s Market, and get in touch with them online. Make sure to follow their Instagram account; we love to check in and see what’s in store.

Where to find them:

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Spicy Salami, similar to Calabrese. Beef salami in the background.

Facebook:
facebook.com/thecure306

Instagram:
instagram.com/thecuresk

Saskatoon Farmer’s Market:
Saskatoonfarmersmarket.com

By Email:
thecuresk@gmail.com

Oh, and here’s that list of YXE and area restaurants and vendors where you can enjoy Joel and Lorenzo’s work:

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Capocollo

Taverna
Saskatoon Club
Congress
Hometown
Saskmade
Flint
Drift
Little Bird Patisserie
Calories
Una
Night Oven
Hollows  (pancetta only)
University Club
Caboose catering
Il Secondo
Soul Foods
Shift (at the RemaiModern)
Aroma (Radisson Hotel)
Dakota Dunes
Takeaway Gourmet (Regina)

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Are you passionate about Charcuterie and Salumi? Here are some great books for you to enjoy!

Charcuterie: How to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats     View On Amazon!

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion
View it on Amazon!

Charcuterieboard1

Handmade Charcuterie Board
View It On Etsy

 

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