BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
Picnicking has always been a particular joy of travel in Europe, where craftspeople revel in the production of a special cheese or a cured ham or salami, and there are so many little specialty food shops to explore. You pick up some charcuterie from one, a little cheese at another, a few beautiful salads from the local delicatessen. A stop at the bakery for a crusty loaf, and you’re set, except for some wine and a special someone with whom to share the feast.
American-style shopping doesn’t usually lend itself to the multiple-small-shops approach, but at the new craftdeli inside The Butcher’s Block, on Bloomington’s east side, you can almost duplicate the European experience. The deli makes it easy on picnickers in a rush, or just those in search of a quick and delicious lunch, by serving sandwiches—freshly baked baguettes layered with luscious combinations of cheese, imported cured meats and sausages, house-smoked or roasted turkey, pork, brisket, lamb, and rotisserie chickens. There are salads as well—green salads full of tempting ingredients (for example, apple-wood bacon, corn salsa, and blue cheese dressing on an iceberg wedge or, more exotic, arugula, prosciutto, raisins, white truffle oil, almonds, and parmesan) and antipasti salads like marinated mushrooms, artichokes, grilled asparagus, or feta and olives.
But craftdeli also caters to those wanting to assemble their own picnic. All the smoked, roasted, and cured meats, an increasing number of which are produced in-house, can be purchased independent of the sandwich fixings. Also, there are imported patés, salamis, three or four types of prosciutto, and both Ibérico and Serrano hams.
And then there are the cheeses—65 to 75 of them, imported from all over the world as well as around the U.S. From funky, washed-rind cheeses like livarots to fresh Italian burratas to aged cheddars from a small-scale Wisconsin producer, the selection is eclectic and tantalizing and, says owner Dave Schell, always open to customer suggestions.
Craftdeli is a separate entity inside The Butcher’s Block and, if it takes off as Schell hopes, perhaps the precursor to other craftdelis in Bloomington. For now, it is your one-stop shop for romantic picnics—jug of wine and thou not included.
The Butcher’s Block is at 115 S. State Road 46 #E. Call 336-6328.