This lovely and welcoming neighbourhood bar could be plucked straight from the streets of Barcelona. It just happens to sit in the very beachside suburb of Manly. Hidden away in a little laneway the menu is simple: cured meats and cheeses and plenty of wine, many by the glass.
"I think places play the music for the clientele that they want to attract," says Viggo over dinner at Cured in Manly. He should know I guess, he and Louise were waiting for us for half an hour as we battled Christmas traffic, rain and an accident to get across the bridge to dinner. I kept hoping that the Christmas cookies that I carried in my bag would help to make up for our tardiness.
Cured is a tiny space. 36 square metres to be exact and located on Market Lane, a bustling little lane slightly away from the hustle of the main Corso. It was luck that they managed to nab a table. It's Tuesday night -weeknights are usually filled with local clientele but come weekends, the clientele changes from locals to visitors.
Cured's menu reminds us of a bar in Barcelona. On the left are cured meats and cheeses and on the right are wines by the glass and bottle. Service is very friendly and nothing is ever a problem, even if they are short staffed which they are tonight (we couldn't really tell). They explain that all of the 18 salumi are from Byron Bay produced from free range pigs (except for the Prosciutto San Daniele) and the ten cheeses are sourced locally and from overseas.
Affineur Chicken Liver Pate $12
The evening starts with a glass of Ashton Hills 2013 Pinot Noir and some chicken liver pate. It's a moreish pate that is perfect for sharing and Viggo points out that the amount of bread (made using single origin flour from the Flinders Ranges) is just right for the amount of pate. That sort of thing delights an OCD'er like me.
Charcuterie and cheese plate $13-$14 per item
And then the board comes out. It's laden with four types of meats and two types of cheese. We were warned off about over ordering (who us? ;)) and there is a speck, n'duja (my idea of heaven), soppressata and an aged pancetta ringed with black pepper. As expected I go for the N'duja and it is very hot but I find the heat addictive. The soppressata is similar but less spreadable with a mildness to it. There are lots of types of Sopressada and this one is described as a paprika infused spreadable chorizo. The speck is gorgeous and complex flavoured while the pancetta wins many fans at the table too with the aged quality and the intense aroma.
The two cheeses picked are delightful. There's my favourite goat's cheese called Holy Goat La Luna as well as a creamy and mild blue called Shadows of Blue (Louise's favourite). Paired with the pane croccante they're an excellent "dessert" although some dried fruit would have gone well with these. There is also affogato for those who want something a bit sweeter too.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you go for a different sort of place on weeknights than on weekends? Do you enjoy bars like this? Do you have a neighbourhood bar? Do they yell out your name when you walk in (Cheers reference ;))?
This meal was independently paid for.