We blame it on the jelly. The year following the gifting of the most maligned food-of-the-month club, jars of blueberry, grape, hot pepper, and apricot pile up in the cabinet, unappealing and useless for all but as a spread on your morning toast (supposedly for those rare days you skip the oatmeal or omelet – besides, who can eat that much jam in a month?). It doesn't have to be that way. From rare craft beers to out-of-this-world salumi, food subscriptions can introduce delectables that you won't find in even your most discerning grocery store. As cousin Eddie said of Clark's Jelly of the Month gift in 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,' "It's the gift that keeps on giving the whole year." Here's to making that statement actually true.
Boccalone Salumi Society
Mark Pastore's San Francisco-based Boccalone has grown to become a world-famous salumi shop, serving salted, cured, high-quality pig to chefs and discerning locals for years. (Salumi is Italian for "cured meats," typically pork; salami is a type of salumi). That's because everything is handmade, fermented, cured, and specially spiced to create a particular effect – some herbal, some spicy, others kissed with smoke. Only a portion of his menu is available online at any given time, so unless you swing by Boccalone's San Fran store, the best way to gain access to Pastore's latest, exclusive masterpiece is to join the Salumi Society.
"The Salumi Society is how we started our business," says Pastore. Starting back in 2007, Bay Area foodies would come together for monthly meet-ups to collect their stipend of lovingly crafted cured meats. That venture helped to finance the shop and get Boccalone off the ground. Now the rest of us can get in on the same action (without having to make monthly visits to the Bay Area). Each shipment is a curated medley of what is bluntly described as "Tasty Salted Pig Parts," which is a sampler of some of Boccalone's more than two dozen offerings. So a typical sacchetto (or "small") box might include a marbled pancetta, a chunky paté, fresh breakfast sausage, and, of course, a paper-wrapped chub of cured goodness. Whatever the mix, you can be sure it's the epitome of artisanal cured meats. [$58 to $66 a month for 3- to 12-month subscriptions; boccalone.com]
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco