It was a perfect fall day when the Surdyk’s Cheese Shop team trouped into Northeast’s most exciting new building: 1401 NE Marshall Street, the new home of Red Table Meats.
The brainchild of longtime Minneapolis chef Mike Phillips and Kieran Follaird, the gastronome’s entrepreneur, Red Table finally has a home. Tucked away inside an unassuming complex in Northeast, its unfinished entryway and industrial exterior belie the real truth of the place: this is where the good stuff lives.
After a quick tour of the premises we were ushered into a beautiful, sunlit room to a table piled high with coppa, lonza, jambon royale and a myriad of thick sliced salami. It was inspiring to hear Mike speak about his fight to bring traditional European charcuterie to the states, his mentors and inspiration, and his belief that salami can make the world a better place.
Red Table is deeply committed to nourishing not just its customers, but its community – developing strong relationships with hog farmers, working closely to ensure their pork is the best it can be, and paying them fairly for their work. And boy, does that investment pay off. Red Table takes a minimalist approach to seasoning their meats, and they’re all the better for it. “Just enough” seems to be the watchword-from how much seasoning is used, to the best way to eat it.
Younger and softer than many of the other salamis on the market, Red Table salamis are meant to be sliced a little thicker, the way you’d see it sliced at a market in Europe, not translucently thin as you may be accustomed to ordering it. Trust us, Mike’s right. (He usually is.) The thicker cut delivers rich, dense flavor that coats the mouth and an entirely different textural experience. This is your great-great-grandfather’s salami, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Not to be outdone by their smaller cousins, Red Table’s minimal approach to seasoning also shines with their large format, “single muscle” cuts-coppa, lonza, jambon royale, and their cousins pancetta & guanciale. The light smoke on a leg of jambon highlights its luscious, melt-in-your-mouth fat, while rosemary, bay leaf, and black pepper lend the lonza an unexpectedly floral note. Coppa draws just enough heat from its red pepper that a sip of beer feels particularly refreshing, and fried guanciale’s crisp edges meld perfectly with sautéed cabbage.
With our bellies and brains full, there was just one last question to ask. What was Mike’s favorite way to eat Red Table’s delicious fare? Simple, of course. Just a few slices of salami, lots of butter, and a baguette. Perfection.
-Nora Last, Surdyk’s Cheese Shop