Saturday, December 12, 2009

So much fun...

I had a great time at the Spartan and Bows + Arrows party! Thanks to all my new friends and fans of salty foods. I can't wait until next time!

We're gearing up for the holidays at home, and its a mad house of decorating, pickling, cooking and listening to Christmas music. Our favorites are the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the Christmas albums by Low, John Fahey and Bob Dylan. Have a happy holidays, and I'll check back in in the new year with lots of exciting updates.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Salt & Time, out on the town

If you're in Austin and looking for something to do on the evening of Thursday December 10, consider stopping by two of Austin's finest retail establishments Spartan and Bows & Arrows. This is the perfect chance to finish up your holiday shopping, pick a little something up for yourself, grab a drink and snack on some tasty treats made by yours truly. Unfortunately, this will be a vegetarian affair, but I hope to have some salume ready for the next party they throw!

Come eat this pickled fennel!

Bows & Arrows
215 S. Lamar
6:00 ish

Monday, November 16, 2009

What the hell is going on around here?

Seriously, how do I expect anyone to take my blog seriously if I can't get my act together to at least post every once in a while? And I know you don't want to hear any excuses. Plenty of people who are busier than me still manage to post on there blog. I mean, didn't you see Julie & Julia? She was crazy busy, and she still managed to cook all those recipes AND post about it. It's true, it's all true.

Nonetheless, for those of you who have persevered, and have continued to come back despite the obvious lack of update, I have some news for you: I'm going pro. I had the great opportunity to learn from the talented folks at Marin Sun Farms, the Fatted Calf and Avedano's, and while I never got around to blogging about it, it changed my life. For the last couple of months, I've been investigating all of the legal and logistical issues around producing and selling cured meat products in Texas, not to mention getting to know some of the great farmers and ranchers in the area, and now I'm ready to start making salume. As you know, making salume takes time (and salt, of course) so it will be a while before I have much to sell, but if all goes according to plan, the people of Texas should be able to buy Salt & Time Salume early next year.

I'll keep you updated, I swear.

p.s. I had an absolutely amazing meal at Olivia. Lamb's Tongue Fricasee, Rabbit Confit with Gnocchi and Natalie had the Salmon Crepe. All wonderful, and had a great chat with Chef and Owner James. Should have Twittered it, but I'm worse at Twittering than I am at blogging.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Michael Ruhlman recently blogged about distinguishing between foodies and cooks. (On a side note, this post was part of a pretty unique media dialog. Michael Pollan wrote an article for the Times Magazine, inspired by the movie Julie & Julia, which is of course based on a food blog and the life of Julia Child, as documented in the public and private writings of Mrs. & Mr. Child. This article prompted Ruhlman to respond on his blog concluding, among other things, that food bloggers are continuing Julia Child's legacy. This post generated tons of responses on his blog as well as his Facebook and Twitter pages, which ultimately resulted in Ruhlman writing a follow up post responding to many of those comments. Media democratization at work!) Michael's basic point, is that there is an important distinction between foodies and cooks. Food is a lifestyle for foodies, but cooking isn't necessarily part of it. Cooks are, quite simply, people who cook food, and presumably, enjoy doing it. The two are not mutually exclusive, certainly many foodies are also cooks, but many are not.

Personally, I can trace my transformation from foodie to cook, and further to butcher, back to a specific moment. Bill Buford's wonderful book Heat, itself a memoir of the author going through this transition, was a huge inspiration to me, and surely to many, many others. Specifically, Buford's description of Dario Cecchini, the master butcher was a revelation. Buford is a great writer, Dario is a brilliant butcher with a flare for the theatrical, and the resulting combination is pure magic. Dario is a bombastic, larger than life kinda guy. Or at least that's how he comes across in the book, and now Bay Area foodies, cooks and butchers alike will have the opportunity to check him out in person! Meatpaper and Marin Organic are teaming up to brig Dario to Fort Mason for a meat cutting demonstration. Tickets are pricey, but likely well worth it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pickled Okra, Batch #1

On my first trip to the Austin Farmers Market, it was clear that we were in the midst of a serious heat wave, not to mention a major drought. Variety was pretty limited, and you could tell that the farmers had been working very hard to get whatever they could to the market. Okra however, was relatively abundant, so i decided to by a bunch and try my hand at pickling them.

Pickled Okra is quite popular in Texas, and really should be popular everywhere. The okra loses its slimines as it pickles, but maintains a good amount of crunchiness and its flavor really pops. I made 3 different batches, each with a different recipe, and I'm quite happy with all of them.

Half eaten jar of pickled okra

For batch #1 I used a Southeast Asian flavor combination of lemongrass, ginger, garlic chili peppers and rice vinegar. This was Natalie's favorite. Their was a subtle sweetness that I really liked, but I would have liked them to be a hint spicier. Next time, more chili's!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A little help for our friends...

Soul Food Farm, one of Northern California's truly great farms, was recently hit by a wildfire. As most of you probably know, making it as a small farm is hard enough without any major catastrophes. The Ethicurean has a post about what is happening and what we can do to help. Please check it out and help if you can.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Signs of life

I'm settling in to my new home in Austin (actually, about 45 minutes outside of Austin for the time being.) and besides the heat, I'm really enjoying it. I haven't taken in any BBQ yet, but I have been enjoying some awesome cheese from Pure Luck Dairy, some awesome beer from Shiner (Smokehouse Ale, yum!) and some awesome views from my porch. I've also been experimenting in the kitchen a little bit, pickling some eggs, making a caramelized onion jam and tonight, pickling some Okra. Unfortunately, I lost my camera, so for the time being, I can't show you any of this.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No, I didn't get lost in the wilderness...

I apologize for the mini and unexpected hiatus. Apparently packing up and moving half way across the country is more work than I had anticipated, and its cutting into my blogging time. Natalie and I are one week out from pulling up the stakes in Oakland and I am swimming in boxes and garage sale prep. Still, before we depart, I will try to write about some of my favorite Bay Area spots. Stay tuned!

And, if you're in the neighborhood on saturday, stop by the garage sale!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going Camping...

I'm going camping this weekend! I brined a mess of pork chops to get ready.

See you all next week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Butchery Zeitgiest rolls on...

Last week, the New York Times had a doozy of an article about hip young butchers. While I can't get as worked up about it as Larbo does, the author doesn't do much of a service to the people she's writing about. I don't want to come across as the pot calling the kettle black. I am, of course, one of the "young would be butchers who want internships" and I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from several of the folks in this article, but I don't miss the irony of butchering being compared to indie rock. Been there done that, you know? Anyway, cheers to Melanie from Avedano's who says: “We never did it to be rock stars. For me, it was a way to promote small farms and certain fish. That’s it.”

As an antidote to all that young hipness, check out my photos of old school meat markets and deli's in New York.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Parts & Labor: Corned Beef Tongue pt 2

Sorry I'm a little late getting this posted. I Hope none of you were following along at home waiting for me. Then again, even if you were, you could have just left the tongue in the brine and you would have been fine. (Though you might want to soak it in water over night to mellow out the saltiness.)

When we last met, our tongue was brining in the fridge. I let the tongue brine for about 10 days to make sure the brine saturated the tongue completely. By the time it was done, the meat had a nice pink color and a moist, almost gelatinous texture. This, by the way, is how it is supposed to look.

After removing the tongue from the brine, I dumber all the liquid, but strained out the seasonings to use later. Next, the tongue goes into a pot with with water, carrots, onion, celery and the reserved seasoning.

Bring to a boil and let it go for about and hour, then comes the fun part... The outer skin of the tongue is tough and not enjoyable to eat, but luckily it peels off easily after boiling.

It is import to peel the skin while the tongue is still hot, otherwise it will be hard to get off. At this point, I cut a hunk of the tongue off, rubbed it with a seasoning mixture and threw it in the smoker to make pastrami. The rest went back in the water and cooked for another couple of hours.

Pastrami ready for the smoker

Corned tongue, ready to eat!

In my mind, the best way to eat corned beef and/or pastrami is in a a Reuben sandwich, and so that's what I did. I started a batch of sauerkraut a couple of days before i started the tongue brining and made a pretty darn good sandwich, if i do say so myself.

I know that brisket is more popular cut of meat, but as far as I'm concerned, save it for the barbecue. When it comes to corned beef, I'll take tongue any day!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Butcher's Table

Sure, you've sat at the chef's table of your favorite restaurant, but have you ever sat at the butcher's table? A16 Restaurant has a little thing going on for lunch on Wednesdays. They get their pigs in for the week and break them down in front of any guest adventurous enough to pull a seat up at the counter that runs the length of the kitchen. For some, watching a dead pig get dissected into the various cuts of meat that eventually end up on your plate might be, well, less than appetizing. Lucky for me, I'm long past that point.

It was an impressive sight watching the crew make quick work of the pig and a half that would become a week's worth of pork for the restaurant.

For lunch we ordered a salad, pizza with anchovies, black olives and chili oil, with a fresh egg on top and the trippa alla Napoletana. This was my first time having tripe, and man was it good. The texture was wonderful, smooth but not slimy, firm but not chewy, and the flavor infused throughout the whole dish. If you've never had tripe and are at all squeamish about trying it, this is the dish to be introduced to.

Between the corned tongue (which I will finish posting about soon, I promise), this and some Fatted Calf Liverwurst, I've been having an adventurous gastronomic week, with each one exceeding my expectations.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My New Favorite Blog

Charcuterie Sundays = awesome!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nothing says the 4th of July like Hot Dogs!

For home sausage makers, hot dogs are a challenge. They require more equipment, greater temperature control and have a much higher likely hood of going wrong than regular sausages. While hot dogs are sometimes looked down upon compared to many of their fellow sausages, they actually take a great deal of skill to pull off. I'm always up for a challenge, so in honor of the holiday, I decided to take a crack at America's favorite food.

I started out with 100% grass fed beef chuck from Marin Sun Farms and some Oregon pork (The name of the farm escapes me), both of which I purchased at the new Berkeley Bowl West. As I said before, temperature control is very important with hot dogs, so after cutting the meat into chunks I stuck it in the freezer for a while to cool off. After that I ground it and mixed it with seasonings like a regular sausage, and again stuck it back in the freezer. Here's where it gets interesting. Hot dogs have the smooth texture that we know and love because they are emulsified by blending the meat with water and an emulsifying agent, in this case whole milk powder. I did by blending the meat with ice water and the milk powder in my CuisinArt food processors. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you can see the before and after shots of the meat in the third and fourth photo. After emulsifying it, the meat is smooth, homogeneous paste. After emulsifying, it went back in the freezer again (Temperature control!) while I set up my stuffer. As you can s, my stuffer is an old cast iron monstrosity. Its really better for than it is for stuffing sausages, but it gets the job done.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After stuffing and linking the sausages, I smoked them to add flavor and raise the internal temperature, then steamed them to finish cooking. (Internal temperature between 152 and 155) Finally, I gave them a shower in cold water to bring the temperature down and avoid wrinkling. Presto! We have hot dogs.

I followed Ryan Farr's sagely advice and made Beans & Weenies. Unfortunately, we ate them so fast no one got a picture...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marlow & Daughters

Tom Mylan and the crew at Marlow & Daughters have been getting a lot of well deserved praise since they opened. Marlow & Daughters is the sister (ahem) butcher shop to the Marlow & Sons, Diner and Bonita Restaurants. While I was in New York, I spent a couple of days hanging around the shop, doing my best to take pictures without getting in the way. One of the things that immediately jumped out at me is that their is no back room at Marlow & Daughters. Everything from breaking beef quarters to making Sausage is done in plain view of anyone who happens to be in the store. I asked Tom if customers ever get grossed out by this, and he said it has happened a few times, but that most of their customers like the transparency. As Tom said, this isn't the Butcher Shop for everyone. Customers looking for enough Beef Tenderloin to serve 15, or for boneless skinless chicken breast aren't going to get what they're looking for here.

Bringing it in...

... and breaking it down.

What Marlow & Daughters is, is a great butcher shop featuring meat from local farms that are working hard to raise their animals the right way. The transparency that comes from butchering right in front of the customer runs through the shop and extends to the farmers who are supplying it. If you ask what farm your steak came from, they can tell you. And if you call up the farm, you can probably go visit.

In addition to some mighty fine looking cuts of meat, they also sausage, some charcuterie items, and a small amount of prepared or ready to cook items (the marinated duck heart skewers got my attention!) In addition, they have a great selection of artisinal products, including some of the best American cured meats, including Fra' Mani, Benton Hams, La Quercia and Salumeria Biellese. Mix in some local eggs, dairy and produce and and you have a great shop with a great sense of community. While I was there a guy came by with some homemade mozzarella to share and get feedback. This is definitely the kind of butcher I'd like to have in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Parts & Labor: Corned Beef Tongue pt 1

My last couple of posts were kind of wordy, so I'm gonna let the pictures do most of the talking on this one. Corned (or brined or pickled) Beef is beef, most often brisket, that has been brined and then is boiled before serving. Beef tongue makes a great substitute for brisket because boiling is the best way to cook tongue. I used the Lobel's Meat Bible recipe for Corned Beef, but replaced the brisket with tongue.*

I like to get all my ingredients ready before I start cooking.

The celery and onion are just for decoration, they don't get added until we boil the corned tongue.

Here is our tongue. I forgot to take a picture before I put it in the brine. This one has been bringing for about a day, but I pulled it out to take a look. The texture and color are already beginning to change from the brining. Tongues can be a bit hard to brine all the way through, so I used a brine injector to shoot it full of brine before I put it into the brining bucket.

Here is the tongue, back in the brining bucket. As you can see, not all of the tongue is submerged in the brine, so...

I put a plate on top to weigh it down and make sure the entire tongue stays submerged in the brine. Throw some plastic wrap on the top, stick it in the fridge and forget about it for a couple of days. After 3 days, move the tongue so that the part that has been at the bottom of the bucket is on the top. Put it back in the fridge and forget about it for a few more days.

My tongue will be done brining next week. Check back then for the final steps and to see how I serve it. (Here's a hint: I also have a batch of sauerkraut on the way.)

* Both out of fear of legal consequences and respect for the authors and publishers of books, I'm not going to reproduce recipes on the blog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Part(s) of the solution

Following up on my last post, I wanted to continue with the importance of changing our approach to eating meat. If we follow the economics of "less for more" consumers will either have to eat less meat or spend more money. For the "average" consumer this is going to be a tough pill to swallow. Despite a growing awareness about the risks and rewards of different models of food production, most people are dealing with the much more immediate concern of feeding their families on a limited budget.

As I said in my last post, I think that eating all parts of an animal is an important aspect of changing our consumption habits. While there is certainly a stigma attached to "variety meats", offal or my personal favorite term, parts, there are tons of good reasons to be a little adventurous. Perhaps the greatest incentive is the cost, since most of these cuts provide a great deal of nutrition and, yes, flavor for a much more affordable price. (These things are of course connected. Much of the stigma around eating parts is that they have historically been poor people's food.) Luckily, many chef's are taking it upon themselves to envangelize on behalf of parts, none more so than Chris Cosentino of Incanto and Boccalone fame. If parts are safe for fine dining, then what's the problem with bringing them home as well?

Well, I know from first hand experience, the biggest obstacle is figuring out how the hell to cook it! First off, Fergus Henderson's cookbooks are an invaluable resource. Once you get them, check out this great blog by a home chef working his way through the recipes. In addition, while I don't claim to be in Henderson or Cosentino's league, I am going to add my voice to the choir and start posting about my home experimentations. Come back tomorrow to find out what will be the first mystery meat!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Less for more

Jay from The Linkery has some interesting thoughts about the idea of a "less for more economy," the idea being that we need to change our consumption habits towards consuming less quantity, but higher quality and therefore more expensive items. The original blog post at The Plastic Society touches on food as one aspect, but Jay goes into more depth. This is a pretty bold position for a business owner to take. I don't think there are too many ad agencies out there that would recommend their clients slogan be "We'll give you less and charge you more for it, but for a good reason." But if we step back and think about what qualities we want in our food, "cheap" shouldn't really rank all that high. For me, nutritious, flavorful, safe and sustainable all immediately come to mind before cheap.

I think that this is even more important when it comes to meat. Health concerns from E. coli and mad cow, to heart disease and colon cancer are all linked to consumption of meat, especially "cheap" meat. In addition, as consumers, we've been tricked into believing that meat is a commodity, essentially all the same regardless of where its from or how its raised, and that the most desirable cuts are all middle steaks. In essence, we've come to expect that we can eat filet mignon all the time, anytime, anywhere, that it should be relatively inexpensive, and that it should taste the same all the time. The problems with this, though, are too numerous to list. (Read the Omnivores Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, or Food Matters for a more complete run down.)

The reality is that good, healthy meat is expensive, and we need far less of it than the average U.S. consumer eats. Government subsidies have made bad, unhealthy meat artificially inexpensive, and so most of us eat way too much of it. Even under the best of circumstances, I can't envision changing our production and distribution systems to be healthy and sustainable without also changing our consumption habits. Obviously this means eating less meat, but it also means eating all of the animal. So, if you haven't yet, head down to your butcher and buy some oxtail or beef cheeks, pig trotters or lamb shanks. Don't be scared, ask the butcher how to cook it, or look a recipe up on the internet. It will be a whole lot cheaper than the filet mignon and it might just taste a whole lot better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Maybe this should have been a BBQ blog...

17th St Bar & Grill Ribs and Beans

While BBQ is certainly well within the realm of what I thought this blog was going to be about, I didn't think it would be quite so prominent of a feature. But, as the saying goes "When life gives you BBQ... What are you complaining about, BBQ is the the greatest thing in the world!" This past weekend, life gave me a little more BBQ at the 7th Annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party. With Pitmasters coming in from around the country, this is the kind of event that would be worth planning a trip around, but for me it was just a happy accident. In fact, I only found out about it last week when the Southern Foodways blog mentioned it. Upon finding out, I quickly decided that in lieu of my third trip to Fette Sau, I would get my BBQ fix at the festival. (Now, I know you are asking yourself, "why not go to the block party AND go back to Fette Sau?" The answer is quite simple really. It's pizza. I only have so many meals to eat in New York and I have to make sure I eat enough pizza to last me until my next trip.)

I don't think there was bad BBQ to be found, but I decided to focus in on the guys who had traveled north for the event. The Salt Lick was there serving their unrivaled brisket, but I've been to the Salt Lick and will have ample chance to return in the future. I ultimately decided on 3 pitmasters: Ed Mitchell from The Pit in Raleigh, Patrick Martin from Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, and Mike Mills of 17th St Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL and Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas (He's also the author of Peace, Love & Barbecue).

Mike Mills was cooking up some unbelievable ribs, with a wonderful crust, great smokey flavor and great sauce. Next time I'm visiting my family in Illinois I'm going to have to make the trip to Murphysboro because I will be dreaming of these ribs for a long, long time.

Both Ed Mitchell and the Martin's crew were doing Whole Hog BBQ, but with a couple of notable differences. Martin's was using wood that they burned down to coals and then placed in the smoker and Mitchell was using charcoal. The other big difference was that Martin's put a small dab of tomato based barbecue sauce on the sandwiches, while Mitchell uses a vinegar based sauce on the meat but no additional sauce on the sandwich. Both sandwiches had a coleslaw topping.

Unfortunately, my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I only ended up getting to try Martin's sandwich. It was really quite wonderful, with wonderful flavor and a complex texture. They were also giving small pieces of skin to those interested. It was very flavorful but very tough, definitely not for the meek.

Martin's Sandwiches

Pile of skin at Martin's

Despite having my appetite completely defeated by ribs and a sandwich, I decided to spend some time watching Ed Mitchell practice his art. It was a sight to behold. Not a measuring cup to be found, salt, sugar, pepper, vinegar and chili peppers were added to the meat by the bottle and and handful. I also enjoyed watching one person after another coming by to get their picture taken with Ed. There is no doubt about it, the man is a superstar. I had a brief conversation with Ed and I was interested to find out that he raised his own pigs. This is clearly a man who know a thing or two about pigs.

Pitmaster Ed Mitchell getting the fire going

Ready for the grill

Close it up and cook until tomorrow

Friday, June 12, 2009

Isn't it about time for a post about salt and time?

Despite naming this blog Salt & Time, I haven't really posted much about the wonders of using salt and time to "cook" food. Chow has a great video up about Alex Hozven "master pickler" from Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley. As Alex tells us, the Japanese word for pickles is Sukimono, which means to alter without the use of heat. Check it out:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fette Sau, pt 2: The Food

So by now, you already know that Fette Sau looks cool, but the burning questions remains unanswered. How is the meat? In order to have a well informed opinion, I found it necessary to make two trips in a 36 hour time period, and while I think it still have little chunks of pork belly floating in my veins, I'm already salivating at the thought of a third trip before I leave town.

On my first trip I went with friends, which had the advantage of getting to try lots of different things, but had the disadvantage of having to share it with them. We got pulled pork, pork ribs, veal breast and a couple of links. A couple of rolls, sides of beans, pickles and kraut, and a gallon of beer and we were ready to dine!

First, the sides: The pickles were great, nice and crispy with a very clean mild taste. The freshness of the cucumbers really came through, the kraut was also nice and crispy, it tasted like it had not been cooked or pasteurized (hooray!) but was also a very light flavor. The rolls were fluffy and moist. There was no butter for them, but it didn't matter once you jammed some meat in there. Finally, the beans were my least favorite. They were good, but they were somewhere in between chili and baked beans. I like my baked beans a little sweeter.

The beer was Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold. It was cold, tasty and came in a glass jug. I'm not much for writing about beer, but if you want to read a good beer blog go here.

Now, on to the main course. Let's start with the ribs. Mmm... ribs. While I generally prefer baby back ribs, these St. Louis Style Spare ribs were incredible. They were moist flavorful and tender, the kind of ribs you lay in bed dreaming about. They were great without any sauce, which is the true test of good BBQ. The ribs and the pulled shoulder were both from Duroc breed hogs. The pulled pork was nice and moist with a good flavor. I piled it on a bun with a small squirt of sauce and spicy mustard and had myself a real nice sandwich. Next up was the spicy sausage, also pork but this time from Berkshire pigs. The sausage was excellent, though not very spicy. I could have sworn I tasted some fennel, which I found interesting. I don't usually think of fennel in smoked sausage, but it tasted great. Finally, for this meal anyway, was the veal breast. I've never had veal BBQ before, and I'm not sure that I would pick it again. It was kind of what I expected, very tender and fatty but without a whole lot of flavor. You know, like veal. Of all the meats, this was the only one that really needed sauce.

A couple of days later, I decided that I really needed to eat at Fette Sau again. After all, I hadn't had the pork belly OR the brisket. I mean, it was practically like I hadn't eaten there at all, you know? So, I returned to dine alone at Fette Sau. This time, I made sure to get the aforementioned items, plus sausage and potato salad. The potato salad was tangy and mustardy, the dressing was not over the top creamy, but not a vinaigrette either. The brisket was a little dry in parts, but this may just be because I am judging it against the greatest brisket in the world. The pork belly more than made up for it though. As you can probably imagine, the belly was incredibly moist and fatty, and I mean that in the best possible way. Occasionally I would take a bight with a little more meat than the others, and it was like finding a buried treasure of flavor. When it comes to the belly, a little bit goes a long way, but it is absolutely wonderful.

As you can see from the above photo, I wasted no time getting down to business on trip number two. That is, by the way, the pork belly on the left, the sausage in the middle and the brisket on the right. One thing that was odd was that this time the Spicy Sausage did not have fennel in it. Maybe they made a different batch, but I thought without the fennel it seemed to be missing a little something.

Though I haven't mentioned it yet, one of the great things about Fette Sau is that they make a point of buying quality meat from small and local farms. They list the farms on their website, which I think is great. (I would link to the page but its a fancy flash site, so I can't, but its under the "About Us" section.) We should all celebrate the farmers who are working hard to provide us with high quality and sustainably raised food. Cheers to Fette Sau and their farmers.

Big City paper on small town BBQ

Thanks to my new friend Zane who sent me this link to an article in the New York Times about Scott's Variety Store and Bar-B-Q:

"In the manner now expected of the nation’s white-tablecloth chefs, the Scotts shop local, whenever possible. They buy pigs from farms in three nearby counties. And they turn to Mel’s Meat Market, in the nearby town of Aynor, for butcher work and delivery."

It sounds like these guys do things a lot like the folks in "Whole Hog," even if they are a state or two over.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fette Sau - big city BBQ done right

My friend Paul has been demanding that I go to Fette Sau since I arrived in New York, and his urgency is understandable. Fette Sau is great barbecue smack in the middle of Brooklyn. Big cities and BBQ are not always so compatible (Oakland, for example!) and true aficionados are rightfully skeptical of city slicker claims of good BBQ. (Watch the video in the previous post if you don't believe me.) But the second you walk in to Fette Sau, all your fears of boiled and grilled meat drenched in canned sauce fall away. As you walk past the wood pile on your way in, the smell of smoke welcomes you, and smoke is the second most important ingredient in BBQ.

Fette Sau's aesthetic borrows generously from Southern BBQ shacks but it is also unmistakeably Brooklyn hipster. The cut chart wall mural is awesome, and I loved the butcher tools for draught handles.

Okay, enough of how the place looked. Lets get down to business, how was the food...

Come back tomorrow to find out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dad's Finds

When it comes to finding interesting sights on the internet, my dad Tom is a mad genius. His technique is unorthodox, but he find's great stuff.

Dad, hunting the internet for cool shit.

One of my favorite sights that he's found is the Southern Foodways Alliance. Based at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, the Atlantic Monthly describes the SFA “this country’s most intellectually engaged food society.” SFA publishes Cornbread Nation, sponsors all kinds of great events and has an awesome website. My favorite part of the sight is their documentary film project and my favorite of the films is "Whole Hog."

Whole Hog from Joe York on Vimeo.

The SFA has tons of great resources including, a blog, podcasts, a monthly newsletter and so much more. Spend some time on the SFA's sight, you will be glad you did.

photo of Dad courtesy of Beer & Nosh. Yes, my dad is a food blog superstar.

On the ground in New York City

I arrived in New York last night and had a great meal at an Argentinian place, which I will right about in great detail later. The blog will be a little quiet for the next couple of days, but will be back with a vengeance next week.

Monday, June 1, 2009

South Bay Sausage Tour, pt 2

After eating lunch at Neto's, we headed up to Mountain view to check out Dittmers Gourmet Meats & Wurst-Haus. Holy Crap! Dittmer's is out of control, they have an incredible variety of sausages, smoked meats and cured meats. They make everything on sight except for their Italian Salumi and proscuitto because, well, Dittmer is German not Italian, and he's go the accent to prove it.


After seeing the incredible variety of products they were selling, I was not surprised to learn that they break whole hogs at Dittmer's. It's clear that nothing goes to waste; Head Cheese, Liverwurst, smoked Hocks, if it comes from a pig then Dittmer will make it taste awesome and sell it to you.

Dittmer's has more going on than just Pork Sausage though. They also are a full service butcher shop with fresh cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal and poultry and they are a full service deli. Unfortunately I was still stuffed from lunch, but I did grab a landjagger, some beef jerky and some sausage. The landjagger was nice and smokey. The grind was coarser than I expected which gave it a hardy texture. The jerky was wonderfully smokey and rich with just the right amount of sweetness. The sausage, unfortunately, went in the freezer, but I'll report back when it gets eaten.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Omens

Yesterday I attended a a free knife skills demonstration at Omnivore Books on Food. Peter Hertzmann, the author of the excellent Knife Skills Illustrated as well as the à la carte website, was the guest of honor. He demonstrated the basic techniques and offered a lot of insight about to get the most out of your knives. I picked up a copy of the book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in improving their knife skills.

Peter was a lot of fun and was a great teacher. He teaches Knife Skills at the Palo Alto and Los Gatos locations of Sur La Table, if you get a chance, take one of his classes. In addition to having a background in Chinese and French cooking, Peter has been learning the art of Butchery in recent years, so I really enjoyed talking to him about his experiences and getting his feedback.

For those of you in the Bay Area, if you haven't been to Omnivore Books yet, you really need to go. It is a fantastic bookstore with an amazing variety of cook books and books on food. They have a great selection of current books, but even more impressive is their collection of antique and out of print books on food.

I was surprised to find out that Omnivore Books is in an old butcher shop, and they have the rails and walk in cooler to prove it. The USDA and local health agencies have done their best to get rid of rails in butcher shops, and old wood walk ins like this one are almost non-existent. As much as I love Omnivore Books, I couldn't help but think how great it would be to put the old butcher shop set-up back to work!

I consider it a good omen that even when I go to an event about cutting vegetables at a book store it turns out to be taught by a butcher at a butcher shop!