There’s something immensely satisfying about a well-curated sausage board: cold cuts, fruit, cheese, maybe an interesting mustard or jelly, gherkins and olives. Eating becomes a kind of “Choose Your Own Adventure” with so many options. Sausages are my favorite way to feed people when I’m entertaining without serving a full meal. It has something for everyone, a beautifully arranged display creates an upscale atmosphere and doesn’t require a lot of dishes, cutlery or tidying up.
Sometimes I make my own sausages, go to Whole Foods and buy fancy, overpriced foods in tiny, beautiful packages. But I live in Los Angeles, which has all kinds of sexy little markets selling cold meats – and my favorite is Lady & Larder owned by a woman. L&L has a delightful little shop in Mar Vista and when everything shut down due to COVID-19 the owners quickly adjusted and turned the cheese shop into Lady Bodega. There you will find a community resource of charcuterie and cheese, interesting sandwiches and salads, and fresh produce from local farmers. You can pick up CSA product boxes and pizza kits from another small, local business or fresh eggs from a local farm, as well as tamales and salsa. If you’re in the mood, consider a small spoon set of caviar. While there are standards, Lady & Larder also offers something new every week – white peaches, sunchokes, wild honey, black figs. When you pick up a box of groceries, it often contains something special – some purple basil, a bunch of wildflowers, unique fruits full of flavor.
Where Lady & Larder really shines is with the sausage boards, which are also available nationwide on the website. The boards are light, plentiful and beautifully put together: a small jar of honey in the middle, rows of folded salami, marcona almonds, pistachios, orange slices, blueberries, strawberries, hard and soft cheese, olives. Yes, they’re expensive ($ 195) but you get what you pay for. When my wife and I need a little escape from this never-ending social isolation, we order one of L & L’s mini-boards (available in LA only) for a far more manageable $ 50, and she’ll eat all of the “fragrant” soft cheeses and Dried fruits while I take on the digestive responsibility for the chic salami and the plump blueberries and strawberry wedges. The presentation and selection of meats and cheeses is always surprising and a reminder that (as my mother likes to remind me) we eat with our eyes first.
On his Instagram, the Lady & Larder’s owners love for food is joyful and plentiful. Every day there are beautiful pictures of the custom-made baskets and boards they make for customers, the products they buy at the farmers’ market, bread from local bakeries, barbecues from a neighborhood restaurant. The focus is always on local, the premium that is available to us here in our community. The food is very good, but the sense of community that Lady & Larder creates and their commitment to giving as much as it receives is even nicer. Whenever I visit the store or check out Instagram I am reminded that we can all find ways to empower the communities we are part of. We just have to find our way.