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 »

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I’m presumably in Stonington, Maine, cutting pig and rejoicing in the glories of the hog with Charcuterie pal and co-author Brian Polcyn, to benefit the Island Culinary & Ecological Center. (Join us if you’re anywhere near Stonington! Details here.) From Maine we return to wonderful Traverse City and Pigstock, so I’m reposting this splendid cocktail made from gin and preserved Michigan cherries (don’t have any on hand? improvise!—a gin sour with preserved fruit). —MR A PR firm sent me a bottle of Nolet’s gin, which I was happy to taste (and used in The Southside), but when I was researching the gin I came across a Cocktail Enthusiast review of the gin, and lo! What’s this? The author of the post, Kevin Gray, included a cocktail recipe pairing the gin with sour cherries. His post Read On »

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Ina Garten and I had such a good time on stage at Playhouse Square in Cleveland last year, she’s asked me to join her tomorrow for a similar show at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh (details here). Garten is the brain and heart behind what has become an adored brand. And such is the subject of our talk, business and brands, as well as food and cooking. (Though ask me in the comments field below if there’s something specific you’d like me to address.) She, like me, is something of an accident—that is, Garten never set out to do what she is doing. She knew by age thirty that she didn’t want to be entombed as a policy wonk in D.C., so she put a low-bid offer on a prepared foods store in the Hamptons Read On »

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Here’s how it happened. When my mom asked me what she could give me for my 50th birthday, I said “A Broadway show and a nice meal, just the two of us.” The restaurant she chose was one of her faves, Marea, but then she changed her mind—her pal Cynthia, with whom she was staying on the UN-traffic-clogged East Side, said we had, had, had to go to Omar’s—only open ten weeks. I hadn’t heard of it. Checked it out on Urban Daddy—interesting but I hate clubs. I looked into the namesake and thought, South American party boy—I don’t know, Ma. But she’d reserved it, even ordered a car for after the theater for the special occasion, so I didn’t argue. It’s in one of my favorite neighborhoods, West Ninth between Fifth and Sixth, and we descended from the sidewalk to Read On »

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To help us enjoy our 50th and 51st birthdays, our friend Ingrid sent us some exquisite oysters from Maine. After we’d eaten them, perhaps still delighting in the pleasure, Donna became enthralled with the shells. Me too, and I just wanted to put this photo up. Because. In October, Brian Polcyn and I will be traveling to Ingrid’s territory for demos and cooking of the noble pig, not only to promote the new and revised edition of Charcuterie, but also to benefit Ingrid’s Island Culinary & Ecological Center. Can’t wait! If you have access to pristine oysters but have never shucked before, you will need a shucking knife (about the cost of an oyster and widely available), and this good video shows how to do it. If you liked this post, read: My past post on Read On »

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