Since the dawn of existence, humans have relied on curing, smoking, and drying meats and other foods as ways to preserve them. For much of human history, these techniques were integral to man’s ability to survive lengthy travels, long winters, and other times where sustenance supplies were sparse. It wasn’t until recently, however, that we as a society came to the realization that not only do these methods make food last longer, but, in many cases, they can actually make food taste better. Although the term “charcuterie” may be foreign to you, chances are you know- and love- bacon, sausage, salami, ham, and countless other meats that can be classified under this distinction.
Tom and John Knorr, who are passionate travelers and foodies, in addition to being the owners of one of the Eastern Shore’s largest restaurant empires, always dreamt of having a cohesive brewery and pub to showcase creative beers that pair with elevated pub dishes. Originally located in Delmar, DE, the Evolution Brewing Company opened in 2009, but relocated to Salisbury in 2012.
Along with the move came the opening of Public House Restaurant, which brought the Knorr Brother’s brew pub vision to life, and created a destination for their growing brand. This destination, which features brewery tours, a separate tasting room, and swag shop, along with a full service brewing operation and pub, allows Evolution to highlight “who they are and what they do” while providing patrons with exceptional products to enjoy.
When the Knorr’s were conceptualizing Public House, they looked to popular trends in New York, LA and other innovative food markets for unique items to feature. The brothers knew they wanted to focus on local and seasonal dishes, which remains principal to the philosophy of the restaurant, but also noticed no one in the area was championing charcuterie, despite its recent resurgence in the restaurant world; so Tom and John decided to make cured meats a signature part of Public House’s menu.
Not only do the spicy and bold flavors of Italian cured meats (also known as salumi) go well with Evo’s beers, but eating charcuterie is social the same way drinking beer is social, so the two are a natural pairing for more reasons than one. Enjoying a charcuterie sampler and a few flights with friends is a fun, and tasty, way to experiment with different combinations and flavors.
Because of the time consuming process and level of technical skill required to make quality charcuterie, only a small number of places produce it at level high enough to meet Evo’s lofty standards. As a result, most of Public House’s meats are sourced from Creminelli Artisan Meats in Salt Lake City, Utah or Fra’mani in Berkley, California. Well regarded as two of the top charcuterie purveyors in the country, both rely on family recipes and techniques for curing meats that have been passed down for generations. Creminelli and Fra’mani craft artisan meats like Sopressata, Calabrese, Finocchiona, and Tuscano, which reference the areas in Italy in which each particular style of preparation originated. Similar to how American BBQ is classified by region, so too are Italian cured meats, each style having distinct characteristics and flavor profiles.
Not all of Public House’s meats are sourced from fine suppliers, however. When the opportunity presents itself, Chef David Wells also experiments with his own charcuterie recipes. One of his most popular offerings is the house-made duck prosciutto- duck meat smoked with spices and herbs then aged in cold storage until it’s ready to be served. Chef Wells has also received praise for his interpretation of headcheese, a technique that transforms scraps and leftover cuts into a delicious delicacy of gelatinous pork parts.
As addictingly amazing as cured meats can be, they are even better when accompanied by regionally made cheeses and flavorful accouchements. From Amish Cheddar made in Lancaster, PA and Camembert made in Hudson Valley, NY to selections made locally by Chesapeake Farms and the chef’s daily rotating blue, the exceptional quality of Evo’s cured meats is equaled by their cheese counterparts. A variety of artesian breads, dried fruits, nuts, local honey, homemade, old-world style IPA mustard, and pickles made on premise round out the charcuterie boards and add textures and flavors that elevate the entire dining experience.
Evo’s charcuterie and cheeses are sensational, but so is another staple of the Public House menu: the local oysters. Both Chincoteague salts and Chesapeake sweets are available when in season, as well as scrumptious Sewansecott oysters, which are grown in the bay and finished in the ocean for a distinct briny, balanced flavor. The supplier of Sewansecott oysters, the H.M. Terry Company, is a 4th generation family business located on the Eastern Shore of Virgina that prides itself on its quality products and partnerships with local businesses. Evolution prides itself on using these fine oysters in exciting food preparations- and even in a seasonal oyster stout.
Whether you wish to taste fine cured meats and cheeses, local oysters, or handcrafted beer, a stop at Public House is well worth the trip on your way to or from Ocean City. If you would like to learn more about the Evolution Brewing Co., Public House, or the charcuterie and oyster programs, visit the brewery’s website or Facebook page.