Ramble On

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Pork Diaries: Another February Butchering Event

Chef Nathan Anda of Red Apron Butcher demonstrates butchering.
A few weeks back, one of my work colleagues sent along an email from DC’s Living Social – the event they were promoting featured a butchering demonstration, charcuterie tasting, and beer pairing.  Who am I to say no to such an ingeniously cobbled together event?  I was like a fly attracted to a blue light – especially since this would be only a week after David, Chris and I had completed our own hog butchering event with friends out in Luray.

So last Monday, Mary and I went downtown to F Street NW – for a moment, I relived so many 9:30 Club concerts since we were on  the same block that the club used to be – and joined a warm crowd of 60 or so folks for the show.  

When I first saw the invitation and considered the butchering part of it, I thought, “Well, perhaps the butcher will take a loin and show how to cut pork chops or something;” needless to say, when we got there and there was a half carcass laying out on the stainless steel table, I knew we were in for more than that – and then the chef proceeded to saw off the head.

The chef – Nathan Anda – is a man on a mission, offering charcuterie and salami and specially prepared sandwiches made with them.  He described how he’d developed a passion for butchering over the years, and now travels to gourmet destinations like Napa and Italy to learn about new ways to cut and prepare meat for consumption.  These days, he butchers as many as 30 hogs a week, all raised at an “Animal Welfare” approved farm in North Carolina.

He runs a shop out of farmers markets called Red Apron Butchery (link:  http://www.redapronbutchery.com) but will soon open three stores that you can read about at the website. 

The charcuterie tasting included salami, bologna, mortadella, finocchio, and
and a pleasant surprise, the bourbon fig rillette.
For the charcuterie, we were offered Nate’s version of Bologna, Mortadella, Finocchio, Salami Cotta, and a Bourbon Fig Rillette.  At first, I thought the rillette was scrapple, but I’ve learned that there is a major difference – the rillette contains no corn meal or any other cereal product.  The combination of pork, lard, bourbon, and fig was quite an innovation, and one that should inspire all would-be pork enthusiasts.

I don’t know what to make of the beer pairings – we liked one of them very much, a smokey pilsener-styled beer, but there was a second that was more like a barley wine, a bit sweet for my taste.  Although the event flyer described an Eggenberg Pilsner and Schlera Marzen, I’d hesitate to say that’s what was offered. 

Overall, even though the beer pairing was something of a let down, the event was a success.  Mary and I had a great time, and I plan to follow Nate’s offerings at the Red Apron Butcher.

In part because of this event, I’m very much looking forward to cooking up some of the pork I brought back from this year’s pig, now that I think of it.

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