Authentic Eats, Long Island Streets: Spanish Meat and Cheese Plates

In Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, prized jamón ibérico is displayed and treated like art, with respect and awe.

At the famous Boqueria marketplace, cured meats are a specialty made and sold by master artisans.

Meat, wine and cheese? Was there ever a more beautiful set of words in the English language? And yet, I hadn’t experienced dining like this until I went to Barcelona, Spain, where tapas and wine bars are a way of life, cheese plates are works of art and cured meats are as elevating as they are elevated above the tables in the shops in La Boqueria market and the pocket-sized restaurants in the Gothic Quarter.

On Long Island, a rapidly growing number of restaurants and wine bars do Italian meat and cheese plates spectacularly, Vittorio’s in Amityville and Verace in Islip among them. But Spanish? That, I thought, would be a challenge to find.

To my great delight, I was given a gift certificate to Salumi in Massapequa. I’d heard so much about it from coworkers in Chicago who visit there each time they’re on the island. I began to salivate over the menu immediately. Manchego! Garrotxa! Cheeses I never had learned the names of but ate with glee in Spain! Serrano ham! Lomo! And of course, the lauded prosciutto of Spain, the rare and extraordinary jamón ibérico, made only from black Iberian pigs fattened on barley, maize and then left to graze the peninsula’s pastures, before finally feasting on olives and acorns before we feast on them.

Needless to say, I made my reservation immediately.

The ambiance took me miles from Massapequa’s busy Merrick Road, with warm wood, wide windows and a cunningly chalked board of wine offerings. Brooklyn or the university area of Barcelona? Who’s to say? Then the Spanish Board, a fully loaded platter of Iberian inspired meats and cheeses hit the table, with trimmings like quince paste, Marcona almonds, and olives, all — as promised — typically Spanish and expectedly delicious. Freshly baked country bread, thick, slightly sweet and utterly addicting with olive oil and sea salt, also accompanied; a second order was hard to resist.

Next up, I’ll have to try Bin 56 in Huntington, where the tapas will likely take me back to an evening roaming on Las Ramblas; then I’ll revisit their neighbor Swallow, or give Babylon’s Barrique a whirl, but for a fantastic Spanish meat and cheese plate that is faithfully Catalonian, it doesn’t get much more authentic than this.

Barcelona, it’s good to have you here. And I can’t wait to visit you again.

For the full list of Su-Jit’s authentic eats, click here.