Providence, RI: Meat and Cheese Boards at La Laiterie
But this time, it was on the other side of the cheese shop's wall at La Laiterie, the adjacent bistro that chef/owners Matt and Kate Jennings opened as a kitchen/wine bar extension of their Wayland Square fromagerie. Of course the cheese plates they serve are fabulous, but so are the charcuterie boards and the tasty housemade accessories that come with them.
This is one iteration of the three-way cheese board ($16). Pick any three of the half-dozen cheeses on offer that day, which the menu helpfully profiles. From right to left:
- Buttery-smooth rhubarb confiture.
- Lake's Edge, a bloomy-rind goat's milk round from Blue Ledge Farm in Vermont. Its semi-dry core is bordered and bisected with a grey-blue vein that melts into the creamier, oozier edge.
- Candied nuts (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts): The not-too-sweet honey lacquer helps the rosemary-herb mixture stick. They're downright addictive, and for sale next door in the shop and online. Consider yourself warned.
- Aged Taleggio: All the decadence and funky kick of the younger version but with a firmer feel and a nuttier finish.
- Local honey: Good enough to eat by the spoonful—which I did when the cheese was all gone.
- Bayley Hazen Blue: This Jasper Hill Farm blue sees a lot of play on local cheese plates, but it's well-deserved. Its slightly dry, crumbly body sets it apart from many other blues and it has a subtler, more complex sweetness.
The charcuterie program follows the same structure as the cheese side, allowing you to choose any three ($18) or five ($28) of that's day's in-house-made terrines, pâtés, rillettes, sausages, and cured fish selection. Clockwise, from top left:
- Pickled mustard seeds: So fun to crunch and pop as you eat.
- Pork sausage: An all-around mellow link that was faintly sweet, not too porky, and plenty juicy. Went perfect with the Baboo's Mustard (bottom right corner).
- Bluefish gravalx: Meatier, slightly chewier (in a good way), and definitely blue-fishy, this was an awesome change of pace from the usual salmon.
- Chicken rillettes: Leaner poultry often gets the shaft when it comes to charcuterie plates, but this rich-tasting coarse chicken mousse more than held its own with the pork products.
- Pickled onions: Zingy, with just enough crunch.
- Baboo's Mustard: This stuff gets me in trouble. Last time I was at Farmstead, I walked out with three jars. Spicy, sweet, and a little gooey. One of those condiments that makes pretty much anything better. Thanks, Matt's grandma (it's her recipe).
- Pickled beets and asparagus: From the house giardiniera supply.
- Apple mostarda: Crisp-tender slices with more of those crunchy mustard seeds.
- Cornichons: Snappy and sweet.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Associate Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.