Minor Details.

In my last post I wrote that I wouldn't be adding any new posts for a bit because I have a bunch of projects to concentrate on this month. Then I realized I didn't say what those projects were, nor did I reveal that secret menu from my Heritage Breed Supper Club before the holidays!

The dinner went really well-- it was well received and everyone loved the food. With fifty guests and one chef, I was lucky to have a few volunteers on hand to serve and plate! My wonderful grandmother (being German, we call her Oma) came in on the last day to help with some prep. My Oma is everything you imagine when you picture a a woman named Helga, and more. She worked fast and tirelessly for hours. Oma has never been one to play co-pilot in the kitchen, so it was a first to have her taking direction from me! So much of my interest in food stems from early experiences with her at the German bakery and deli we used to visit every weekend when I was a kid. To have her help and attend my first public event is an experience I think I'll hold onto forever. I definitely learned a lot that night that I can apply to improving my future events. One of my goals now is to focus on smaller and more interactive opportunities in the community, but I'll talk more about that later...

My Red Wattle friend ended up as 2 different slabs of bacon, 2 hams, a loin roast and shoulder/jowl carnitas. Almost all of the vegetables came from the Portland Farmer's Market and the rest from a locally-owned grocery store, most of the produce came from Washington and Oregon, and none from further than California. It was fun walking through the last day of the market's 2009 season, thinking that I will be returning as a vendor in just a few short months! The full menu from that evening is included here. Sadly there are no pictures from that night, at least not that I know of. The video posted below shows a bit of the prep for the dinner and was shown to guests a while before dinner, with a couple of Q & A sessions in between.

Menu for the first Heritage Breed Supper Club:

Figs and Dates wrapped in Candied Lemon Preserve-Jasmine and Chamomile Tea Bacon

Olive Tapenade and bread

Molasses-Ginger uncured Ham with Cardamom Apple Butter

Tortas Carnitas w/ Shredded Red Cabbage, Roasted WA State Serrano Chile Crema and Refried Pinto Beans.

Persimmon-Pear Glazed Pork Loin Roast-glaze made using Local Clear Creek Distillery's Poire Wiliams

Brown Sugar-Sage Bacon, Red Cipollini and Roasted Winter Squash Frittata

Rosa Bratkartoffeln - German-style homefries with beets

Burnt Orange Whipped Yams

Apple Cider Braised Kale

Honey and Thyme Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

This was a big menu for one young butcher/chef to tackle! Everything started from scratch, from the butchering of the pig to peeling apples for the apple butter that cooked for hours. I burned oranges and roasted serranos, made lemon preserves and tapenade, shredded carnitas and tied roasts. My head swam with recipes for the two weeks I had to put this event together. There were a few bumps along the way: my car broke down the night before the dinner, and the Parkers had not one, not two, but THREE different vehicles break down in their attempt to drive to Portland from their Dallas farm that night. They hobbled that last car home and let me know they couldn't make it. Luckily there happened to be a few farmers in attendance anyway! Other guests included a few Portland chefs and others in the Portland food scene as well as several friends and acquaintances.

I was asked if I'd do more dinners like that in the future. I most certainly will, but they will be different in a few ways. Once I have a staff of a few super solid people, I'll be able to rock harder. For now, I'd really like to keep it smaller, about half the size of this event, more like 20-30 people, even 10 for really intensive and interactive classes. I'm focusing on ways to allow people to really learn and gain first hand experiences.

I am working with filmmaker Moira Morel to continue developing a series of how-to/know-how videos. These will include practical skills like cutting a chicken and filleting a fish as well as info on sustainability and discerning and navigating "green" labels.

What's the difference between a good fish farm and a bad fish farm?

How are the standards for "cage-free", "free-range","free-roam", "pastured" and "organic" chickens different? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??!?
I'll tell you that and much more in this yet-to-be-named series!

This year I plan to focus more on fish sustainability. It was something I talked about often in the first few months of this blog. I have been so deep in hog world lately trying to get my bacon business going and have not been in daily contact with fish suppliers-- and so my finger has been off the pulse of this issue. I am working to change that in the coming months. In just a couple of weeks I'll be the guest Chef at Salt, Fire & Time's Community Feast. I am shifting gears from swine talk and will instead be discussing issues pertaining to sustainable fish over a 4-course meal showcasing seasonal and sustainable NW seafood. I will be providing regional guides to responsible seafood choices as well as a guide to sustainable sushi. This dinner is part of the Urban Growth Bounty Series organized by the Portland City Planning Commission, Abby's Table and Salt, Fire & Time.

I'll also be continuing to build my own series of home butchery/meat and fish sustainability workshops. Hopefully I will be ready to start offering them in Spring. As one of my main projects is called The Bacon Gospel, this is indeed a traveling affair. Portland is now the second stop. This year, I am planning to get things going in the Seattle area and also have trips planned to the Bay Area, LA and Toronto, ON. In the latter, I will be presenting workshops in partnership with Wheelbarrow Farm in Sunderland, ON. I've got my sights on a woman-owned shop in SF and a collaboration with my new favorite ladies of meaty libations (wait, NEW favorite?!?), Alie and Georgia of LA.

Want The Ethical Butcher to visit your city? Know someone you think I'd be stoked to collaborate with? Shoot me an email!

Reserve spots for the Sustainable Seafood Community Feast, Jan. 22nd here : http://saltfireandtime.com/products-page/events-feasts-classes

Alie and Georgia's hilarious meat-centric concoctions are here:

In other news...

I woke up today to read that I was selected as Kickstarter's BEST Q & A of 2009!!!!

"We’ve done quite a few fascinating Q&As on the blog, but none of them moved us like our conversation with Berlin Reed, the Ethical Butcher. A sustainable butcher in Portland who’s also a former vegan, Berlin’s ruminations on his work and life philosophy are absolutely beautiful. We can’t recommend it highly enough." Wow! What an honor!!

As you know, my Kickstarter drive was successful. There's a waiting period before I can access the funds, but I am now poised to begin making and selling my bacon for public enjoyment!! The market application opens in just a few days and I have secured a kitchen! Now it's time for all the bureaucratic hoops, licenses, fees and fun!

Really rad 'The Ethical Butcher' t-shirts will be arriving on many a doorstep beginning in February. First for all $20 and over donors from the Kickstarter drive, then for sale online and at the farmer's market! Over the holidays I rewatched 'Boyz n da Hood' and have since been obsessed with the name "Furious Styles". This name not only describes the new shirts, but it's also now a flavor of bacon!!!

I am working with the 15 donors who pledged at the "Name-Your-Flavor" level to create 21 new flavors of bacon. I am also adding a few more of my own to the book. My plan is to have a menu of at least 50 flavors on opening day of the market in March. Between the Kickstarter flavors and the ones I already have I am currently at 42!! I spent a good chunk of yesterday coming up with menu names for each of the existing flavors. So far I've been referring to each flavor by its main ingredients, which gets tricky when many flavors share common items. I could just see the confusion on a busy market day, "Did you say Brandy-Blackberry-Mint? Or was it Brandy-Chocolate-Cherry? Or maybe it was Brandy-Maple-Spice?" Now folks will just flip through a book with names like St. John's Place, Mon Cheri and D'Artagnan. Some names have been chosen by donors, the others I named based on either the person that requested the flavor or an ingredient in the recipe. I used names of places for many of the flavors for a few reasons. The project itself has a lot to do with regional tastes and ingredients. So many people request flavors that remind them of their mother's garden in Southern California, their families' plantation in the islands, or the maritime woods of Maine. The project is also about using local meats and other ingredients with a strong connection to place. I have used Pine needles from the Berkshire mountains, honey from India, cacao from Trinidad and Jasmine tea from China. The last reason? Duh, MY name is a place!

As I work on lengthening my list of bacon flavors, I also am looking to start giving folks a chance to taste a few flavors before the market opens in March. This will be done as a collaboration with a few local businesses. These will be open and casual bacon tastings, sort of like BLT parties. Several flavors of bacon in both pork and lamb and sandwich fixins will be available. These will be a great way to point attention to other local craft food businesses and for both products to be used in unexpected ways. The first bacon tasting will feature Extracto coffee, which is roasted right here in Portland. Extracto is by far some of the best coffee I have had in my life, and for my money, the best in the Northwest (sorry, Stumptown) . Friends jokingly refer to the Northeast Portland cafe as my "office" because of the amount of time I spend writing there. I am hoping to hold several tastings like this before the market season begins. If you have suggestions of local craft bartenders, tea shops, chocolate makers, beekeepers or others who might like to have their products featured in new flavors of bacon, please send their info my way ASAP!

I will keep updating with info on the new bacon flavors and tastings. Check back often and hope to see you at the Portland Farmer's Market!!


  1. You and I are tracking the same topics and it's good to find a kindred spirit. You may be interested in Nourish Network, where we just covered many of these topics (see Feast of Seven Fishes, Turkey Time, Where's your Beef Been and more). I also do an annual blog event (Teach a Man to Fish) and chefs' workshops (Teach a Chef to Fish.)

    Are you an IACP member? Our annual meeting this Spring is in Portland, it would be great to meet/meat you!

    Keep up the good work, rock on...

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