Cured meats, fine cheeses and exquisite olives for the ultimate antipasto

There are few moments in life as pleasant as the hour before dinner, when, glass of wine in hand, you contemplate the meal ahead; and fewer appetizers that satisfy as happily as a well-constructed antipasto plate. Plump, briny kalamatas, soupcons of soft French cheese and thin slices of Serrano ham alongside crusty, handmade bread, a bowl of sun-ripened, lightly salted tomatoes – some of these morsels sourced locally are all you need for the perfect pre-dinner platter. Come to think of it, who needs dinner when there’s all this on offer from the deli?

A great selection of high-quality cheeses and cured meats – including some shown here – can be found at R. Field Wine Company. Amazing olives are available at Whole Foods.

Gratte Paille

There are those who consider this the ultimate cream cheese, perfect for after dinner – and even as dessert. The triple-cream cow’s milk cheese is dried on cheese straw mats – “gratte” meaning “scratch” and “paille” meaning “straw” – and is then infused with crème fraiche. As it ripens, expect a rich, but not overwhelming, creamy flavor and enough earthiness (think mushrooms, truffles) to make it one of the most sought-after cheeses in the world.

Pair with these rustic Irish oatcakes and a glass of dessert wine or champagne for a truly sublime experience.

Mimolette Losfeld

From the Nord Pas de Calais region in France, this cheese, the color of cantaloupe with the richness of caramel and the texture of an aged Gouda, makes an excellent appetizer alone or with other, softer cheeses. Aged for almost two years, the thick, oatmeal-like exterior hides a vibrant orange center that makes this cheese as much a talking point as it is an eating one.

Cured Duck Breast

Moulard duck (typically raised for foie gras) is highly prized and makes for a divinely fat-filled treat when dry-cured prosciutto style. In terms of taste, think of a meeting point between Muscovy and Peking Duck – a little sweetness behind the slightly smoky flavors imparted by curing. Have the deli slice it thinly for you. Paper-thin sheets of this pricy bird make for luxurious sandwiches.

Olives

It stands to reason that if the quality of olive oil matters, then those little salty nibbles on your deli platter should matter, too. Avoid all dull-looking varieties and those floating in cloudy liquid; search instead for glistening, plump, perfectly rounded and preferably oversized offerings from Greece that are now readily available in Hawaii. A bright sheen on waxy green or black skin is a sure sign of a great olive; for taste, look for sun-dried tomato-filled offerings from Northern Crete or hand-picked kalamatas cured with water and salt. Largest selections and rarest offerings are now at Whole Foods, or check out Oliver, home to gourmet Greek foods, next to The Olive Tree Café in Kahala.

Hawaiian Bresaola and Wild Boar Prosciutto

While Bresaola usually comes from the Valtellina region of Italy – a place also famous for the Nebbiolo grape – you can, on occasion, try this salt-rubbed, air-dried beef in Hawaii. Available at gourmet deli counters like R. Field and Fujioka’s, by far the most interesting meats are served by Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero. If you’re lucky, there might be some Hawaiian wild boar prosciutto on the menu at town, too. And the salami is made with boar from the Big Island, hung for five weeks and flavored with garlic, fennel and red wine.