Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Art of the Okapi Lunch Antipasto

The first key to a great lunch antipasto is fresh, high quality ingredients, and if there's one thing this okapi knows about it's how to find the very best ingredients for the best prices in this city. So, let's take a little tour, shall we?

I started at the Rochester Public Market. This was rated #1farmers market in the country last year, and there is no doubt in my mind that they earned this honor. This is where I got the tomato, romaine lettuce, 5 year aged sharp cheddar, olives, and cranberry stilton cheese. 

The produce can be purchased on any day the market is open (Tues, Thurs, Sat year round, extended days summer) at pretty much any farmers stand, so why not enjoy the ambiance and haggle a little?

The olives however can found at VM Giordano (open Thurs/Sat Only) which is a small cheese and olive shoppe located along the NW section of the market. For this lunch antipasto I chose green olives with herb de province from this shop. This is a great cheese and olive shop, but they are way busy. It would pay to research their product list before heading over so you know exactly what you want. This okapi didn't do that, so the rest of the olives and cheese were purchased from a cheese stand. 

There are two cheese companies that sell a huge variety of cheese and olives (Sat only) at stands in the main market and either one will do. I purchased feta stuffed green olives, pitted kalamata olives, 5 year aged cheddar, and cranberry stilton cheese: all for a fraction of the Wegmans price.

The rest of my ingredients were purchased on West Ridge Road. I started at Ridge and Dewey by hitting up Skip's Meat Market. This place has the the best prices for cold cuts that I've seen in the area. Many are under $5 per pound which is significantly less expensive than local super markets. They slice the meat any way you want it and you can buy as little or as much as you want. I grabbed some sandwich pepperoni, salami, and capicola. 

My next stop was Gruttadauria Bakery which is on Ridge near 390. This awesome place fills cannolis while you wait. They are amazingly fresh, crisp, and delicious. They can even be customized = awesome! 

Lastly, I popped into Pino's Deli which is found in Buckman's Plaza (west of the mall). This place bakes rolls fresh all day and I often get them hot. This okapi loves hot, fresh Italian bread more than almost anything in the whole world. The giant rolls that you see in the pic are called "paninis" by this place, but they look more like mini Italian loafs to me. Oh, and they're only 75¢ each.

I get that not everyone wants to do all of this running around and for those of you who want a kick ass lunch antipasto, but don't want the hassle, go to Wegmans. They have all of these ingredients, and other than the cannolis and bread, they are equal in quality/freshness. The difference here is in price, folks... and if you stop at the other places you're supporting small local businesses.

Either way you get your ingredients, the next step is the same: presentation. It's terrible to go out of your way to buy a bunch of great ingredients and then just throw them on a plate or (gasp!) serve them in the bags you bought them in. The way I see it, you have two options here:

Option 1: Divide it up like I did above. This can be done in any way as long as you separate the ingredients in a neat way. This okapi chose to do one serving dish for meat and hard cheese, one for soft cheese, and another for olives. You could do it cheese and olives on one and meat on another or split the olives...the options are really endless. It just depends on what kinds of serving dishes you have available.

Option 2: Put it all on one serving tray. If you have a huge tray, you can put all of this stuff  together. If you do this, you should alternate items for visual appeal. An example would be green olives, salami, kalamata olives, capicola, stuffed green olives, then sandwich pepperoni around the outside with a ring of cheddar in the inner ring and stilton in the center. Get creative!

Any way you do it, be neat and make sure to put down something like lettuce leaves as a barrier between the tray and foods. Enjoy!

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