DirTea Party – Oct 25

October 20, 2009

TeaParty Invite

Join us for a
DirTea Party
Fundraiser for Funk Town Farm
a community garden

Sunday, Oct 25
11am – 2pm

Funk Town Farm and
the Regen Café
219 East 15th

$5 for all you can drink tea
crumpets and other tea snacks included

Bring Your Own Tea Cup
or “rent” one for $1.


Salumi Revolution

October 12, 2009

salumi tray

NPR highlights Bay Area Salumi Makers.

I ran across a great food story on NPR this morning.  Locals using local pigs for cured meats.  I only see one salumi maker covered who sells his goods at retail, Boccalone. Oaklanders can get it local at The Pasta Shop, in Rockridge.  It seems the rest are created by chefs that serve them at their restaurants.  A nice gesture, but I’m always hunting a way to get local in my kitchen, not someone elses.  Sin embargo, check out the whole story and maybe pop in and enjoy a good beer and salumi at one of their bay area locals.  Happy Monday!

The Complete Article:
Listen to it at NPR.org (a bit more detailed)

In the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a salumi renaissance taking place.

“Salumi is the Italian word for cured meats,” explains Mark Pastore, one of the owners of Boccalone, a salumeria in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The store sells “chubs” of cured meat like brown sugar and fennel salami, pancetta, spicy Italian sausage and pate di Campagna, made with ground pork tongue, liver, kidney and blood.

Local chefs and restaurateurs like Pastore are turning to centuries-old methods for curing meat, and it’s no surprise that the revival is centered in the Bay Area.

Around the turn of the century, Italian immigrants settled in San Francisco and brought with them a rich tradition of salumi-making. The Bay Area’s cool climate was ideal for curing meat. Immigrant families established companies like Molinari & Sons and Columbus Salame Co. around the turn of the century, making San Francisco the salami capital of the United States.

“We are going back to the roots of what some of those families did,” Pastore tells NPR’s Guy Raz. “We’re working with, as much as possible, local pork with really high-quality salts and spices, and working in much smaller batches than the folks who’ve grown a lot bigger.”

Pastore’s partner in salumi-making is Chris Cosentino, the executive chef at Incanto and a former Iron Chef contestant.

“We have this history here,” says Cosentino. “You’re seeing a younger generation of chefs who are not only teaching themselves patience, but also celebrating that history. Celebrating Italian history, celebrating French history, celebrating German history — it’s everywhere. It doesn’t just fit one culture.”

Take a 30-minute drive south of San Francisco and you’ll find the salumi tradition celebrated at a British gastropub called Martins West. The restaurant is another in a long line of establishments taking part in the salumi revival.

Chef Michael Dotson cures his own meat, which sometimes takes several months to a year to complete. As far as he’s concerned, making your own salumi is just as much about sustainable living as it is about tradition.

“One of the last restaurants I worked at, we were known for our rack of lamb. And we went through 160 head of lamb a week. It would kill me every single day to sit there and see all these racks of lamb going out, knowing that there were all these parts of the animal someplace else,” says Dotson. “We weren’t doing our part to balance out the system.”

I’m tellin’ you, the uses of zucchini and tomatoes are absolutely endless!

Last night our building had a little pot luck dinner.  So wonderful to sit around the table with your neighbors, especially when they are as cool as ours.  And Thom, I’ll need you two to guest post about that cous cous!!

So, I love a crock pot when it comes to pot luck, especially when the number of guests is undetermined until the last minute.  I put a bag of dried red beans out to soak the night before, what’s better than big pot of chili the first day of October?

The only catch is that at least one set of neighbors is vegetarian, bordering on the vegan side, so no chili con carne tonight.  This is actually excellent news for the pocket book.

As the beans slow cooked, I set about sourcing other ingredients:

1 GIANT zucchini from funk town garden, free
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, Lucky’s grocery store, pretty sure its local ($1.50)
5 red romas from funk town garden, free
1 big green tomato from funk town, free (the green ones have great, tart flavor, its like adding lemon juice to a recipe!)
1 onion (farmers marke stash, probably cost 50 cents)
A few cloves of garlic (farmers market stash, probably cost 10 cents)
An asortment of dried chilis from farmers markets and travels past (maybe $1’s worth)
a table spoon or so of paprika and cummin
….and, the key to texture:  A cup of green lentils.  They mush up almost like ground beef and sort of hold the beans together. (from Farmer Joes.  probably $1’s worth of lentiles)

I realize the term “sourcing other ingredients” sounds complicated, but it was more thoughtful than work-ful.  The garden and the grocery story are a two block triangle from my pantry.

I cooked the beans in the crock pot with a sachet of herbs from the garden, rosemary, oregano, etc…. to give them some built – in flavor.  On low, I give my crock pot 6 to 8 hours to cook beans that have soaked overnight in cold water.

About an hour before serving:

I drained off some of the extra water (but not all) and added the green lentils, putting the crock pot on high to cook the lentils.  Just watch the pot, if the beans dry up, add more water.  It’s not high maintenance, but it is interactive.

I sauteed all the veggies in olive oil, beginning with the garlic and dried chilis, which released a lot of flavor on contact with the heat of the skillet.  I had way more veggies than would fit in my skillet, so I did a few rounds, just trying to impart some flavor in the food before adding it to the pot.

Then I hucked the crock pot up stairs to the dining room and plugged it in on warm until everyone was ready to chow.

Becasue the table was alreayd elbow to elbow, I didn’t want to have to make room for plates AND bowls, so I smashed some potatoes from the pantry (just boil ’em and mash ’em—any dairy you can add is great, but I left it out for the vegans) and served the chili on the plates in little mashed potato bowls.  You know, a scoop of potatoes with a ladel-size whole in the middle.

To drink, I put a BIG bunch of fresh mint (garden) in the bottom of a pitcher, add two trays of ice on top of the mint (to keep it from floating to the top), fill with water, and then squeeze the juciest lemon I could  find into the pitcher.  VERY refreshing.

The Building Pot Luck:

The Table. No one wants to be the one to carry the dining room table up or down stairs.  We found a long piece of ply wood and laid it across folding TV trays.  Its very easy to set up and take down, we just leave the ply wood leaning against the wall when we don’t need it.   It’s important to get everyone at the SAME table, not a bunch of clicky four-tops.

Dishes.  BYO.  Its the same amount of work as cooking and cleaning up for yourself.

Chairs. BYO.  Everyone can carry one chair.  What would take one person 1 hr to set up takes ten people ten minutes.

Food. Pot Luck.  There’s always more than enough, and if you’re a picky eater, fix something you know you’ll eat.  It doesn’t matter if your plate is full of everyone else’s food, it matters that you’re at the table. I promise, after the first one, people will learn who’s allergic to shell fish, who doesn’t drink, who is vegetarian and begin to accommodate at future dinners.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch an empty space turn into a community dinner.  If you have access to a roof top, a garden, a patio, a vacant apartment, even a side walk, put a note on your neighbors’ doors and invite them to share a meal together.  You’ll sleep better, and smile more in the morning.