Learn to breakdown and process chickens, lamb and mutton in the Seattle area

I just got the coolest email. As you may have noticed, I am a big fan of getting involved in the entire process of bringing animals to the table, from them being born to how they die. A local Seattle farm is now offering the opportunity for anyone to learn to process and butcher animals. I am ridiculously excited about this, though sad that I won't be able to attend all parts of it. I hope that some of you, darling readers, are able to and can give me a full report! Here's the email I received, verbatim. [I received the e-mail through the Seattle P-Patch mailing list] Greetings Washington … [Read more...]

Aura at Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler

Whistler is like a second home for me, I grew up flying down its slopes and was raised on the what little great food was available there in 1989. Not to sound too much like an old-timer, but when people ask me for a restaurant recommendation in Whistler, both the places I suggest have been open since the mid-80s, Sushi Village and the Rimrock. Now I have a third suggestion. Though I've been there a tiny fraction (okay, the once) of the times I've been to the others, I'm inspired and hopeful about the ambitious, innovative and yet totally fitting menu that Aura, at the new and already under new … [Read more...]

The Top Six Dishes I ate in Seattle this year

I'll be honest, this started out as a top 5 list, but I had six dishes that truly stood out in my mind that I ate this year. I eat out a decent amount and I don't always write about them--especially if the rest of the meal was distinctly underwhelming, as was the case in at least one of them. I like just picking a dish because I'm not judging the whole restaurant experience (another of these dishes was served with a side of horrifically bad service), nor am I needing to make extensive commentary. The only point of this is to give props to the creativity and skills of the chefs and restaurants … [Read more...]

Small Wonders of Summer Part 1: Padron Peppers

Pancetta Wrapped Padron Peppers

"What about a pepper could be that great?" I remember thinking, years ago, as I read Calvin Trillin's piece on trying to get Padron peppers in the U.S. Well, Calvin, I'm sorry, I should never have doubted your impeccable taste espoused with such riotous wit. I have had Padrons a few different ways now, but this was the epitome of taste perfection. Nope, pure, Spanish, olive oil roasted with sea salt, you've been bested, but by an oh-so-worthy opponent: wrapping in delicious pork products. Having found these fine specimens of capsicum, burn-inducing beauties at the Portland Farmer's Market, … [Read more...]

San Francisco Picnic

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Now that my situation has been rectified, I must admit that I was committing a grave mistake by failing to visit San Francisco in the last 14 years. In the coming days, I do promise to attempt a deeper delve into the food I consumed while actually on my visit, but right now I'm already floating down memory lane by eating the fabulous foods that I brought back with me. Thanks to the luxury of traveling with a small insulated tote, I was able to return from my short trip laden with the fabulous products which I did not have time to eat while there. The pimentos de padron, you'll see, the bright … [Read more...]

Whipped Lardo: How to Make my Holy Grail

Whipped Lardo

Whipped lardo is simply heavenly. A heavenly spread that was my holy grail of recipes. I'd eaten it at an underground restaurant type of meal and it stuck in my mind. Stuck so hard as one of the best bites I'd ever eaten that I scoured the internet, up, down and every which-way, without gaining even the first inkling of any idea how to make the dish. So it was taste and test time. For the last year I've made more attempts than I want to count, all equally failed, to recreate this dish. It had been called 'Whipped Lardo' when I ate it, so yes, I began by making my own lardo. Good, yes, but was … [Read more...]

The Unveiling: Duck Confit Hash

Duck Confit

Breaking through the snow white layer of soft fat, feeling the aged meat, seeing the beautiful colors of charcuterie. There is something magical about digging out a homemade duck confit. The long hours of preparing the food are behind you, the easy part is ahead. No more waiting for the perfect time, no, now you get to unveil your handy work and again expose the duck to air. This particular confit sat about in fridge for the last six months, since a kindly gentlemen had allowed us to kill 3 of his male ducks and to preserve for him. I describe the whole making (in fact, of this exact batch of … [Read more...]

Delicious Pigs and Such

Want to learn how to break down some of the finest pigs being raised in America? I do! I don't post about events very often, mostly because if I'm interested enough in attending it, I'm probably barely squeaking in under the limit they have or it is already full, so I'm just moping about it. Then yesterday I learned of an amazing event which I will be unable to attend because I have this so-called "real" job. Heath Putnam was kind enough to give me a call when I inquired about his three day pig-breakdown and charcuterie class at the end of January. I was hoping to be able to make it to … [Read more...]

The Easiest Duck Confit

Salted Duck Parts

Runner ducks are not fat ducks. Nobody's making foie gras here. But a man I met, Gene, had a bunch of runner ducks, and he did not need the guys. They don't lay eggs, you see. They are, though, not fat ducks. Still, I wanted to make duck confit! So I traipsed down to our local Mexican market and bought an enormous tub of lard. Excellent. Salted Duck Parts  The first step of duck confit is optional. Last time I skipped this step and it worked fine, this time, because I was sharing this with Gene and wasn't sure when he would use his, I did it. If you bury the parts you are confiting (these are … [Read more...]

The Death of a Pig: Warning–Graphic Pictures

Helen shortly before her demise

I said it in the title, and I'll say it again, because I know there are vegetarians who read this blog and I don't want to be responsible for them seeing things that they don't want to see. If you eat meat and you don't want to see this, I'll be honest with you, you are a hypocrite. You eat the meat from these animals, you should know what they go through to become your food.  Helen was the name of the pig we were killing yesterday. She seemed sweet, but they had fed her a fair amount of alcohol before we sent her on her way, and don't most girls seem sweeter with some booze in them?   … [Read more...]