Christoph Wiesner, the Austrian butcher who raises Mangalitsa, is always tense before the kill. Last year, he told me, yes, he was nervous because it wasn’t his pig, the pig didn’t know him, he couldn’t know what the pig would do. Under normal circumstances the pigs have spent their lives with him and the week before they are done in, he brings the captive bolt, the stunning device, into pens so the pigs are used to even that. The pigs are calm throughout. This year, at Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, Christoph was not only unfamiliar to the pig, he was miked so that his every word echoed through speakers. Furthermore our crowd gathered around to witness the kill. Our Mangalitsa was clearly thinking “This can’t be good.” But it was over quickly (the full video is at the end Read On »

Share

  My friends Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes  The Culinary Life blog, and Garrett McCord, who writes the blog Vanilla Garlic, are publishing their very first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, on that all-but-infallible pairing of pasta and cheese. When they asked me to write the foreword, I groaned. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we don’t need more of, I thought to myself. But then I read it, and thought this is exactly the kind of cookbook we need, this nation that has so readily accepted orange flavoring packets to stir into their food. Stephanie and Garrett attempt to raise this often thoughtlessly prepared dish to its highest possible level by asking us to take more care with it, to use excellent pasta and excellent cheese. This is not only a book filled with Read On »

Share

Check out this photo gallery of a 22 hour day at restaurant Balthazar in NYC, via NYT.

Share

Wrapping up three great days of Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, and I’ll write more about it, but had to quickly share the astonishing differences in breeds of hogs, and most important, the difference between a factory-farmed pig and a properly raised pig. Above Brian Polcyn shows four different breeds. On the left is the belly of a factory-farmed pig, breed not known. Notice how diminutive it is, how little fat is on that loin, which I guarantee tastes like cardboard when cooked. Compare it to the one he’s holding up, a farm-raised Berkshire-Duroc mix. When you buy the one on the left, not only will it not be a pleasure to cook and eat, you have cast a vote for more just like it. When you buy a belly from a farm-raised Berkshire, you Read On »

Share

I’m in Traverse City, Michigan, at Pigstock 2013. Herewith, a guest post from Chef Erin Harris. Erin began her culinary adventure in her hometown of London, Ontario, where she started cooking in a local fine dining restaurant at the age of 16. Erin studied Culinary Arts at Fanshawe College, and continued her education at George Brown College, where she studied La Cucina Italiana. This diploma course took Erin to Italy for 6 months where she studied Etruscan-era cuisine in Tuscany, and regional specialties in Trentino-Alto Adige. Erin found her true love while in Europe: cheese. She now owns a small boutique cheese shop in a local farmers’ market—The Cheese Poet—where she sells all of the best Canadian-made cheeses and charcuterie. Erin is also a sales consultant for a respected national wine agency, and teaches cooking Read On »

Share