Having a budding and extremely promising business questionably targeted by the government and drained of its monetary lifeblood via combative legal fees. It would have been enough to make lesser men throw in the cheesecloth. But when you’re as passionate about charcuterie as Albert Juarez, battle scars increase rather than detract from the desire—and ability—to bring artisanal meats to a carnivorous clientele.
Roughly a year since his first business, Knight Salumi, went out of business, he’s started a new business called Meat Men. Like Knight Salumi, which was headed by youthful yet seasoned charcuterie guy, Rey Knight, it’s a collaborative effort, but this time around Juarez is the head man while Knight (who’s focus is now on his new business, Butchers Brewing Co.) is a part-time contributor.
Meat Men is still in its infancy, but I was recently able to sample some of their handiwork at Rancho Bernardo’s Urge Gastropub. The night I went in, they were offering up a duo of the company’s offerings that included chorizo and pepperoni. The chorizo had all the rich paprika essence of a top tier Spanish variety while the pepperoni had even more zing than the often bland Americanized takes on this Italian staple offered stateside.
The only things that seemed a bit off was a scent so nose-splinteringly pungent and funky that it made me hold my breath every time I took a bite. The process of crafting charcuterie requires bacterial reactions to take place, so one expects some trick-versus-treat nose candy, but this went a tad too far. Still, the flavors were bold and enjoyable, especially for such an early effort. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes (just not my nostrils) on these guys.
Pictured: Plate of artisanal meats from local charcuterie company Meat Men served up at Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo.