On my list of Things In Italy I Really, Really Miss, the salumeria (specifically, the Salumeria Centrale in Acqui Terme) is ranked in the top five, along with access to inexpensive-and-delicious wine, fresh pasta shops, roundabouts, and the kitchen at Baur B&B. It may have taken us all week to get there thanks to the wonky Italian scheduling strategy of “Yeah, let’s be closed Wednesday for no reason!” but it was completely worth it in the end. Not only did we leave with a few etti of Prosciutto di San Daniele, but Michael got his first short joke in Italian. The old man behind the counter, jovial as can be and clearly amused by us tourists, handed me our package of ham and quipped to us: “la donna grande e l’uomo piccolo.” In English: the large woman and the small man, at least via iGoogle’s translation widget.
I’m just going to go and assume that he was referring to our heights rather than anything else and just laugh. Yep.
Obvious jokes about how I’m taller than Michael aside, the ham we feasted on that night (and the next morning in the car en route to Malpensa) was undeniably glorious. It sparked a need in me to explore more of the cured porcine delights from Italy, and while I was able to sample speck while in New Haven thanks to Romeo & Cesare’s, the others seemed otherwise elusive. Through some of my favorite blogs I was aware of mythical places in New York that sold not only these, but other meats like bresaola, guanciale, and more types of salami than I thought possible, but until I found out we were moving there I wrote them off as interesting curiosities that I might have ordered online one day.
That turned out to be completely unnecessary, because a few months later we were situated in the city and granted relatively easy access to one of the destination New York salumerias: Murray’s Real Salami. Our first visit to the Grand Central Terminal Market location was over the holiday season, part of a trip to see the Rockefeller Center tree, prompted by my craving some of the good stuff. Yes, there are few days that go by when I am not amenable to some prosciutto, but due to budgetary considerations as well as maintaining a moderate salt intake, I try to exercise a modicum of moderation here.
The GCT location of Murray’s Real Salami (down the corridor from Murray’s Real Cheese) is probably one of two reasons to visit that market to begin with, the other being a rare retail outpost for Penzey’s Spices. Most of the market is filled with expensive (I dare say overpriced) convenience meals and prepped meats and fish, geared towards the harried commuter looking for an easy meal solution that will absolve them from resorting to takeout but with much of the work done for them.
Murray’s cheese and salami shops are delightfully devoid of these characteristics as they are simply selling their impressive collection of meats in a more convenient location compared to their main shop in Little Italy. When it comes to selection and price, Murray’s compares favorably to the other places we’ve visited in the city so far, and goes the extra mile with providing detailed information about each meat on all of the labels sticking out from the various hocks and logs–something that is extremely helpful when browsing a meat case before asking one of the cutters behind the counter their opinion on which hams, salami or similar would be most appropriate.
The prosciutto di Parma that we purchased was a good deal despite the fact we were in Midtown; come to think of it, we stumbled upon the best price we’ve found so far there at $19.99/lb. And if there was any doubt regarding Murray’s devotion to cured pork, the holiday-themed prosciutto stockings strewn about the stand were testament alone–and I may have applied to a friend talented in the knitted arts to make us something similar for our kitchen.
All told, it’s an excellent excuse to browse the terminal’s marketplace and among some of the best deals–from a quality and price perspective–to be had there.