You, as a St. Louisan, know that Fitz's is the best root beer money can buy. You know that Schlafly is the king of craft beer. You know that Bissinger's is producing high quality chocolates, that Pappy's has world-class BBQ and that Monsanto is producing vegetables that have been genetically modified to grow to the size of a 1950's Cadillac. But did you know we have one of the country's best salumerias?
Salume Beddu is located off Hampton in Lindenwood Park, which I didn't even know existed when I first fell in love with their products. My first Salume Beddu experience was their Nduja pizza at Pastaria, also known as the world's greatest pizza. I immediately headed to the grocery where I bought their three commonly found salamis: Veneto, Calabrese and Finocchiona.
The Finocchiona's dominant flavor is toasted fennel seed, complimented by black pepper, garlic and citrus zest. The Calabrese is the spiciest of the three, made with three types of chiles, a splash of red wine and some fatty, delicious pork. My favorite and the most unique of the trio is the Veneto, a Venetian-style salami made with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and black pepper. I've given the Veneto as a gift to a number of out of town guests and they've all been blown away by it.
I was pushed by a friend to get off my lazy ass and drive down to their restaurant, which is open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday. They have an assortment of sandwiches using their various cured meats and other homemade ingredients, such as the magical fig-olive tapenade. I've never tasted a tapenade whose flavor changes so smoothly. It starts on your tongue with the distinct taste of fig, then naturally transitions to the earthy green olive.
Every Saturday they have specials, which they post on Twitter and Facebook, and that's what I went for.
The very appetizing, very sexy dish you see below is their 'Nduja bruschetta, which is always on the menu. The 'nduja is a chunky, spreadable sausage that is SPICY, but oh so good. Wikipedia tells me that 'nduja was originally based off of the French andouille, so that gives you an ideas of the flavor profile. Lots of chili. The sausage came with shaved lemon zest over it, which surprised me, but that bright tartness provided a much needed repose from the straight heat. It also came with ricotta salata & bread, which were vital in helping to cool down my mouth.
The main special for the day I went in were Ras el hanout rubbed ribs. I had no idea what Ras el hanout was (and all I could think was of Ras Al Ghul), so I asked Mark, one of the mad geniuses behind Salume Beddu. He told me it's a generic term for a North African spice mix. His version included nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cascabel peppers, and something like ten other spices. I tried to make a rub like this not too long ago and it ended up just tasting like lamb covered in cinnamon. Not good.
Mark rubbed the ribs two days before cooking them to give them lots of time to absorb all the flavors. Once those two days were up, he coated them in garlic and olive oil, then roasted them for three hours. When they were done roasting, Mark, his kitchen crew, and everyone who lives near the restaurant wept as they smelled the incredible ribs. But he wasn't done! No, he let them chill another day before finishing them on high heat with a balsamic-fig reduction.
These were up there with the best ribs I've had in my life. Let's re-live a bite of these. First you get the crunch of the rub. As you bite through it, you taste the exotic spice blend and get the heat of the pepper. Your eyes dilate and you cry a single tear. The meat is as tender as any slow cooked ribs you've ever had. The slight heat from the rub is neutralized by the sweet and tart balsamic-fig reduction. You wonder why you haven't been there for lunch before. Those ribs are in the running for one of the "Top 10 Dishes I Ate in 2014".
It also came with pan tomate on olive-fennel sourdough and a braised lacianato with picada, but who cares when you are busy eating meat.
The team behind Salume Beddu has the golden touch. I have to believe they are one of the best salumerias in the United States right now, yet most people I've talked to here don't seem to know that. If you can't make it there for lunch, go to the grocery and buy yourself one of their sausages. You'll inevitably make your way down to their shop/restaurant and become addicted to their creations.
After you go, let me know what you think! Do you think we have a national treasure on our hands?