Author: Tiffany Mayer
Follow her on Instagram: @eatingniagara
Where: Unit 4, 1161 South Pelham Rd., Fonthill
Get in touch: @cured_charcuterie on Instagram; @curedcharcuterie on Facebook
Christie Devos doesn’t like to be rushed when she goes out to dinner.
She’s not a fan of time limits at the table, even in this new era of pandemic dining when many restaurants have capped the length of reservations.
After all, eating is a social and sensory affair. Devos has reinstated that approach to dining in Niagara with the opening of her restaurant, Cured Charcuterie & Cocktails, in Fonthill earlier this month.
“For me, going out is really about the social hub. It’s about good, fresh food”
“For me, going out is really about the social hub. It’s about good, fresh food,” Devos said. “During the pandemic, we really found that going out was only to eat lunch or supper. We like to go out, we like to take our time and be out for a couple of hours.”
Few things allow for that kind of leisurely meal like a charcuterie board decked out with cured meats, flavourful and full-bodied cheeses, and all the sweet and sour accompaniments.
They’re conversation pieces and interactive, especially at Cured where diners build their own boards, choosing from 24 different meats and cheeses that change weekly for a customized experience every visit.
“It’s fresh, it’s local. We’ll change it up all the time so you’ll want to come because you’re going to get something different all the time,” Devos said. “The fact you couldn’t go anywhere and make your own charcuterie board (before this) was crazy to me.”
Although charcuterie boards and boxes can be counted among the pandemic’s most popular comfort foods, the idea for Cured had been percolating with Devos for years.
Before the world shut down in March 2020, however, she was busy managing another local dining success, Bricks & Barley in Niagara-on-the-Lake. But the imposed slowness of the pandemic reminded Devos of her idea and the benefits of running a place of her own, closer to her family in Welland.
She was keen to make life better for others with her new venture, too.
“We wanted to do something with the locals and something super supportive of local,” Devos said. “I’ve worked for a lot of people and everyone says they want to support local but they very rarely do or stay with it because it can get expensive. We’re trying to stick to that and keep it as local as possible.”
That includes everything from hiring local trades to build the Cured space to emphasizing Niagara and Ontario on the menu, which also includes a list of ever-changing features, including a daily flatbread and featured panini, and fare for vegetarians and kids. That way everyone is included in a meal at Cured.
On the charcuterie menu, the focus is on staples — prosciuttos and salamis — and specialty items, like ’Nduja, a spreadable, spicy Italian sausage. Cheeses also go beyond the usual suspects to include smoked or saffron blue cheese, or a crackling aged Gouda from Toronto.
“It’s not something you’re going to find in a grocery store.”
Jams, chutneys and pickles are locally sourced from Port Colborne farm T&N Jarry. Many are exclusive to Cured, like the bourbon berry jam or banana date chutney.
“It’s another talking point for the board,” Devos said. “It’s not something you’re going to find in a grocery store.”
The same attention has been paid to the beverage program at Cured. Wine is Niagara only, and a resident mixologist crafts cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and spirits infused in-house for elevated, seasonally inspired imbibing.
“With handcrafted cocktails, it’s like food,” Devos said. “You’re creating flavours, you’re building them. It’s not something everyone is focused on but I appreciate a well-crafted cocktail”.
“It’s who we are,” she added. “It’s not just eating and drinking to fuel yourself. With the way world is today, it’s your opportunity to go out and be with friends and not be locked away.”