New Digs in the Northwest

I have spent most of the summer relocating to and getting settled in Portland, OR. I am a native Northwesterner who has lived in Portland before, and I know the city well. But like all cities, this is an ever-changing cultural landscape. New restaurants have opened, the "it" neighborhoods of a few years ago have matured and new ones are popping up. I am excited about the possibilities for The Ethical Butcher here in Portland's dynamic food scene. With farms literally at its doorstep, the ocean an hour away and rivers everywhere, Portland naturally lends itself to uninhibited access to sustainable meats and seafood. I am exploring many avenues for getting involved here and already making headway in these first few weeks. Let me fill you in on some of what I'm working on...

  • I will once again be reviewing and listing restaurants and stores that serve or carry meat and fish from sustainable sources. These listings will not be limited to Portland however--Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and points all over the Pacific Northwest will be included.

  • I recently found a commercial kitchen to begin curing my specialty bacon on a large scale. After navigating the maze of government inspections and licensing, I will finally be able to legally offer custom-curing of both lamb and pork bellies in late September. I had also hoped to sell my bacon at local farmer's markets, but have hit town too late in the season to apply. I will definitely be in markets around the area when the 2010 season begins, just follow the tell-tale smell of bacon cooking...

  • Speaking of my bacon, an update on The Bacon Gospel. Due to some issues with nailing down a supplier, I had to push back the dates a bit. Bacon for the Sound will begin next week and BCN for PDX will take place in September, using some very special local pork. Next March I will be in Austin for SXSW 2010. The Bacon Gospel will look a little different, though. From March 17-21 I will be slinging the most mind-blowing, palate-pleasing BLT's known to man. I've still got one hitch to realizing this vision, though. Due to Texas law, I must set up my stand on private property. If you live, or have lived in Austin, or know anyone who does, I would greatly appreciate leads on businesses in the vicinity of the festival to approach about using their sidewalk. A location on W 6th would be optimal, but I'll take what I can get. I am pretty confident the word will spread...I mean, it is the Gospel, after all.

  • On to one of the most exciting things I've got coming up. I have been developing a pretty fortunate relationship with local farmers who raise one of the rarest breeds of pig in the world, the Red Wattle. Their numbers are so low (around 2000 worldwide) that most of the animals are currently only being used for breeding to get the population to healthy levels. But this is why I used the word "fortunate". I will be using or eating Red Wattle not once, not twice but three times in the next couple of months! I hinted at the special pork I'd be using for BCN for PDX, and Red Wattle is it! Once called the "bacon pig", this pig puts on a superior fat-to-meat ratio. It is an honor to be able to use it for The Bacon Gospel!

  • I also secured a couple of suckling pigs of the same breed from a litter due later this month. I will use them for the first in a series of "farmer/eater meetups" (still thinking of a clever title) at local restaurants this fall and winter. People who attend this event will not only get to eat some of the best pork they've ever had, but meet the tireless farmers who are working so hard to bring heritage breeds back from the brink of extinction. I will do the same with local heritage lamb, goat, rabbit and poultry in the months to come. I am still looking for a location for these events, so if you have ideas, shoot me an email!

  • I must now selfishly admit that I am thrilled for this coming Labor Day weekend. After a slew of emails between myself and the farmers about using their pork for other projects, I was invited to help the farmers pit-roast a 100 lb hog! This is a butcher's and chef's dream! It will be my first time roasting a whole hog and I am beyond ecstatic about eating pork that very few people alive will ever have the occasion to, ON the farm they were raised. I assure you, there will be tons of pictures and and an in-depth interview with these heroes among farmers, butchers, chefs, and pigs. I will also soon write a more informational post about heritage breeds in general, and why it is so very important to buy heritage meats.

  • Lastly, I am working on the beginning stages of a business plan for opening my own shop. This will be a place where, as my name implies, one will be able to buy meat, fish and other animal products from only the most sustainable and trustworthy sources. I am even toying with the idea of offering humane slaughter and processing of chickens and rabbits for all those backyard farmers who are really ready to look their dinner in the face. What is more local than the animals you raise yourself in your own backyard? For many this is a step too far, but if you really think about it...it is a step in the right direction.