Saturday, October 29, 2011
I saw an article about a butcher making Mangalitsa products. The article's photo (above) shows him holding up an imposing slab of Bauchspeck (recipe).
It reminds me of "Decision Before Dawn", a film from 60 years ago (the two Germans look like they could be related) - and the fact that fatty bacon is a niche product now, not a staple.
Next week I'll be delivering a bunch of Mangalitsa bacon to Rainier CrossFit.
CrossFitters like fatty bacon. E.g. Kurtis, owner of Rainier CrossFit, told me that he ate an entire pound of Mangalitsa bacon ends in one sitting, except a small bit that he gave his wife.
When he told me that, I couldn't help but think of bears. Although it is the same with wild boar - the man eats first.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Prestige QuattroUnfortunately, you'll have to get it in Japan.
This Quattro features delicious ingredients such as Mangalitsa pork, known as Hungary's "edible national treasure", and tasty snow crab in white sauce seasoned with truffles. An extra special pizza especially for this winter. Limited offer/until the beginning of January 2012...
That reminds me - currently, the only restaurant in the USA (that I know of) serving Mangalitsa pizza is Domenica, in New Orleans. That's a John Besh restaurant.
Just a month ago, Serious Pie in Seattle had Mangalitsa pizza. They were buying the raw material and curing it into products. They've since switched to different raw material and stopped serving Mangalitsa on their pizzas, despite what this recent blog post might imply.*
I find it fascinating to see what decisions companies make. They are all acting in what they perceive to be their self-interest. You might think that Domino's would never buy "luxury pork" to put on their pizzas - yet they are. And given how big Domino's is, even if just .1% of their pizzas have Mangalitsa on it, they'll probably buy tons of Mangalitsa.
* When the chef changes, you should expect menu and purchasing changes. Currently, almost nobody in the American market (unlike say, the Spanish or Hungarian market) really needs luxury pork on their menu. It is an obvious thing to drop.
Restaurants offer a special "value" menu in this period. Basically, they serve cheaper stuff. Servers brace themselves for a lot of work and low tips. Volume goes up, margins go down.
A lot of people are excited about restaurant week. Yet even if they eat at a nice restaurant, they aren't eating the food that makes that restaurant's reputation.
A lot of people who like to eat good food stay home during restaurant week, if only because their favorite haunts fill up with dilettantes.
My experience of restaurant week: Mangalitsa (aka luxury pork) sales crash during this period.
It reminds me of one person's comment on twitter, "Who wants some Mangalitsa Pork? The most rare/expensive pork money can buy. People hate ballers these days."
When I see Mangalitsa pork popping up in spoofs about pretentious restaurants, I cringe:
How does it work? Exactly 19 lucky souls (chosen at random from the membership rolls of Match.com and the New York City Municipal Credit Union) gather on the corner of Keelhaul Terrace and St. Flocellus Street in the Rottenwood section of Brooklyn exactly 19 minutes after sundown every evening (a security force of pensioned-off Guardian Angels enforces the temporal parameters), mill around aimlessly until the unmistakable rat-a-tat-tat of a driveby gang shooting is heard from two streets over, and then line up in ascending order of height along the curb while Blutwurst and his team race by on their vintage Schwinn Couriers and toss exquisitely crafted morsels (Mangalitsa pork-fat shooters, rattlesnake-and-cannabis hand rolls, rabbit tartare with catfish-liver crostini, and the like) — though never quite enough of them to go around —into the air above their heads. Hilarity ensues.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Ba Bar in Seattle should have a Mangalitsa special on the menu any minute now.
On Monday I dropped by late and talked with server Mike (left) and bartender Fairness (right).
Mike used to serve at Monsoon. He's a big fan of Mangalitsa neck. In fact, he was working at Monsoon when I last ate Mangalitsa neck there.
Servers are very important. If they like the food and think their guests will like it, they'll market it to them.
At Monsoon, Mike discovered that telling customers with a sense of humor that Mangalitsa was "luxury pork" was the easiest way to sell it. We laughed about that.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The instructor is Christoph Wiesner.
Mosefund Farm is hosting the classes on October 28, 29 and 30.
There's another set of classes on November 4, 5 and 6.
You can read about Dr. Mike Eades's experience at a previous class at Mosefund here.
I talked with Michael Clampffer at Mosefund about their classes recently. They've still got openings. If you'd like to attend, you can reach him at 201-289-0210.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
We all chose the Mangalitsa neck, of course. That's a favorite cut of the Eadeses. Both Mike and Mary Dan know Mangalitsa inside and out.
Kevin and I were planning to do some aerial acrobatics Wednesday night, but then Mike emailed me that he'd be in town, and wanted to know if we could get Mangalitsa neck at Monsoon.*
Kevin was happy to join us. He's a paleo athlete, world-class stairclimber and big fan of the Eadeses.
It was great fun. The Mangalitsa neck was awesome!
* I was tasked with making sure that indeed, the Mangalitsa would be on the menu, because had it not been on the menu, we would have eaten somewhere else.
The blog Tomostyle has a post on Robert Cortez. It says:
"Consumed with emotion" - sounds right.
I am still consumed with emotion during the Mangalitsa pork dish, moist short ribs glazed in a rich bone sauce with ginger lacquered grilled peaches that shine bright with end-of-summer sweetness. There is a silky ecru corn cob velouté that tastes just like corn cob, a perplexing delight of sweetness and earthiness that blossoms in the company of puffed black quinoa and hearty farro.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I've been cooking Mangalitsa for others lately.
I've been astounded at how forgiving this stuff is. Even overcooked, it still tastes really good.
If you cook things like crab or clams, you can overcook them and blow the meal. It is pretty much impossible to do that with Mangalitsa belly or even hunks of meat.
When I serve others Mangalitsa the first few times, it usually blows them away. It isn't like I'm particularly good at cooking this stuff. Although I've had a lot of practice, I normally keep it very simple.
I didn't prepare the meal above, but it is simple enough that I might have. Dinner was dehydrated bacon, portobello mushrooms fried in lard, sweet potato fries fried in lard, salad with Mangalitsa bacon, seaweed salad, pickled vegetables of various sorts and some sirloin cutlets. Delicious.
I'm reminded of Rebekah Denn's article (which won her a James Beard award), on Mangalitsa belly:
...This fat-laden cut — belly with some small ribs — is sinfully rich and salty-sweet. By the time it left its slow braise and joined some glazed turnips and Brussels sprouts on the plate it was practically pork candy, or the pig equivalent of foie gras. It was so tender and moist it fell apart at the touch of a fork.
Dining on any more than a small square of the meat would overwhelm any rational appetite — the serving shown in the picture, I realized after taking a few bites, would feed two or three. The foie comparison carries over to the serving size...
I am not usually one to eat the fat off any form of meat. It tastes foul, the texture is rubbery, and it’s terrible for your health. With the melting mouthfuls on this young pig, though, I get how people can nibble at it until their lips glisten.
I’ll be buying that cut and making this dish the next time I want to make dinner guests swoon.
When I have a make-or-break dinner, I do it with Mangalitsa, like the one shown above.
I don't bother wasting my time trying to find and then prepare beef or seafood. That's just way outside my comfort zone. I'm almost certainly going to screw that up and then feel like an idiot for not using Mangalitsa the first time around.
I found this Mangalitsa-related article today - a chef is buying pigs for a special dinner from my customer Dan Hiday. I'm happy to see Mangalitsas getting the respect they deserve.
It is too bad the journalist misspelled Mangalitsa.
I really wonder what these pigs would think if they knew how incredible they taste, and in what high regard quality-sensitive Americans hold them. To think that they get written up in the paper - yet they are only pigs. There's plenty of humans who won't ever make the paper.
My own understanding of pigs tells me that if they knew there was some really great food out there, they'd want to eat it. Even if it meant consuming other pigs.* Such is the Way of the Pig.
* pigs are eager cannibals. They'll eat their babies if they feel like it. They'll eat each other alive.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Garden and Gun has an article by Wright Thopmson on the Fatback Collective competing with Mangalitsa pigs at Memphis in May.
Wright was embedded with the barbecue team. He stayed up all night with Sean Brock while the pigs were grilling.
I can remember him scribbling a lot on his notepad. I remember thinking to myself, "there's no way he's going to be able to read those notes later," because what he was writing looked absolutely unintelligible, and he seemed quite drunk.
But reading the article, Wright has incredible recall. Reading his article, I recall it. That's how it happened.
It is great to think that someone can have a great time, be on a winning barbecue team, write about it, get paid and be incredibly likable.
Monday, October 10, 2011
James Beard Ward-Winning Chef Donald Link is a Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa breeder. Above is a photo of forager Ashley Locklear holding one of his piglets.
The first crawfish I ever at at a crawfish boil were cooked by Donald. They were produced by his cousin Billy, a rice farmer and crawfish producer, who drove them to Memphis from south Louisiana. It was a wonderful experience.
Here's a video showing Donald talking about the Mangalitsa we competed with in Memphis In May.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Illtud has a post about Shane's pigs and products. I copied his photos here. You can find them and more on his blog.
I find it amazing that a bunch of ugly-looking, manure-covered pigs can produce such wonderful products.
It strikes me that the Mangalitsa pigs have no idea that they taste so much better than all the other pigs in the USA. They really produce some of the tastiest food made in the USA. If they only knew, it might go to their heads.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Likewise, Right Brain’s Mangalitsa Pig Porter took home the gold in the experimental beer category. The concoction, introduced this summer, is brewed using cold smoked Mangalitsa Pigs, and is just one of the several experimental brews offered by the Traverse City brewery.