Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July Mangalitsa Dinner

I celebrated the 4th of July with Bill Fleckenstein, Chris Carmarda and Chuck Miller and a few others. We ate Mangalitsa pork that Bill purchased from Bill the Butcher and some that I brought along, including some speck.

Chris Camarda makes some incredible wines. Chuck Miller runs a business that stores wines. Bill Fleckenstein is famous for running a contrarian investment fund and writes for MSNBC. There were other guests too - but those guys are the ones you can read about on the internet and in magazines. For example, here's a blurb about Chris:
Winemaker Chris Camarda has been named one of the 50 most influential winemakers in the world by Wine & Spirits and is considered to be among the pioneers who put Washington State on the map as a world class wine region.
If I keep doing what I'm doing, people may write the same stuff about me.

Pretty much all of them had, thanks to Bill Fleckenstein, already eaten Mangalitsa pork a bunch of times, either at Bill's house or at Monsoon. It was nice to share a Mangalitsa dinner with people who already know and like the product.

In fact, I suspect Nell's started buying Mangalitsa just for Bill and his friends. Now it is a different situation; it is selling well enough that it can't be just Bill and his friends buying.

On the way to the dinner, I stopped by Bill the Butcher in Madison Valley and had Bill (the butcher) slice my speck into lots of paper thin sheets. That was incredibly convenient for me.

Chris, Bill and Chuck liked the speck. Besides eating it straight, on bread, wrapped around crab, wrapped around figs or on top of some grilled loin, Chuck invented a something I'd never seen: he rubbed a piece of speck on a piece of corn, instead of putting butter on the corn.

That's one fun thing about introducing new foods to America - you get to see Americans create uses for the new product.

Bill and his wife served a ridiculous amount of excellent food and wine - a bunch of the wine was from France, and a bunch was made by Chris ('94 and '95). I'm not a wine person, so I felt totally in over my head.

Bill roasted a shoulder butt in his Green Egg. I brought some boneless loin roasts. I don't normally eat loin (I mostly sell it), so it was interesting. The loin was surprisingly juicy and fatty.

Anyway, Bill (Fleckenstein) said something interesting about Bill the Butcher (the business, not the person). He said he knew it existed for a while, but only recently went in. He'd heard they were organic, natural, grass-fed, local and so on - and to him, that implied it wasn't going to taste good. I suspect (but am not sure) that Bill is particularly dubious about grass-fed beef.

When he heard Bill the Butcher had bought some of my pigs, he went in to buy the pork, because he's a huge fan of Mangalitsa pork - because it tastes the best. Yet when he saw Bill the Butcher's wagyu, he could see that it was some really great beef - so he bought some. He didn't recall if it was organic, local, et cetera - he really doesn't care about that.

According to Bill Fleckenstein, he thinks Bill the Butcher should just emphasize that they've got the best-selection of best-tasting meat, and the best service - and forget about all that other intangible stuff. Because he doesn't care at all about that - as he put it - "hippy s--t" - and if anything, seems to think it gets in the way.

Later, his wife further mentioned that it would be really nice if Bill the Butcher had more vegetables, so she could make side dishes to go with the meat. She doesn't want to have to go to another store or farmers market just for good vegetables. Bill the Butcher already has eggs, which she appreciates.

In general, it was very interesting to hear them discuss this stuff. Although Bill routinely eats Mangalitsa at Monsoon Capitol Hill, Nell's and at home, he's not the sort to go to the farmers' market on the weekend. His wife isn't going to do that either. They've got the money and desire to buy tasty stuff, but they aren't going to go to a farmers' market to shop. A bit unfortunate, but that's just how it is.

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