Underground sausage and high-minded Cooking for Solutions.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It went down like some kind of drug deal. He told me the description of his truck, and asked me to meet him in the lot of a shopping center. I brought the cash. He brought the sausage.
Turns out his dope could be classified as addictive: The goods he produced from an ice chest in the bed of his truck – one-pound packs of chicken-artichoke heart-manchego and lamb-black currant-cumin sausages – made a birthday barbecue beautiful. And the name one of his Culinary Center students gave him made more sense, because the PigWizard’s sausage work was magical.
I’ve since tried his “orange poppy” – candied orange rind, poppy seeds and chicken. It made last Christmas breakfast blessed. The “Sicilian,” meanwhile, with pecorino and romano cheeses, parsley, basil and wine cooked in, is an offer that can’t be refused.
Special Edible Blog up now at www.mcweekly.com/edible • Hot dog-eating contest video • Chef of the Year Suzanne Goin recipe • A man wearing jean cut-off spandex
Only I couldn’t write anything about it, because, though he made his sausage at a USDA-inspected plant in San Leandro, he hadn’t cleared the extensive permitting of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required to do his own product there and sell it wholesale.
Now the time has come. The paperwork should be in place soon. In the interim, the Wiz took Most Creative and Best Presentation for his wildly bizarre and tasty pork-wine-chanterelle sausage pinwheel at the Big Sur Chanterelle Cook Off. He’ll be at June’s Monterey Beer Fest serving four flavors. And, best of all, he’s scheming on acquiring a food truck that he hopes to park in Sand City while he awaits final USDA approval.
With a recent rendezvous I reloaded with his “Meguez,” born of lamb, salt, paprika, garlic, harisa, black pepper, lemon juice, sumac powder and cumin in his standard-issue hog intestine casing (rather than the chewier, harder-to-digest collagen wrap). I haven’t had the Meguez, but a French friend says not only can he rarely find the South France-North African treat in this Yankee land, when he has it wasn’t remotely this good. I also grabbed more “Sweet Morrocan Lamb” with pomegranate juice, dried currants, salt, white pepper, thyme, cinnamon, curry, cumin and ground ginger.
More magic at www.pigwizard.com or 236-1844. Oink.
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Between the green garlic-stinging nettle soup (with creme fraiche) and the grilled quail with kumquats, bacon and wilted greens (with date-walnut glaze), you know the girl is good. (And those are just a pair of appetizers at her Lucques Restaurant in L.A.)
But it’s the Beard that sets her apart.
Suzanne Goin has taken home James Beard Foundation honors for best chef in the region and been a finalist for best in the entire U S of A, some of the loftiest praise possible from the organization founded by Julia Child and Peter Kump, and one unequalled in epicurean credibility in this country.
This year’s she is the Aquarium’s Chef of the Year, meaning she will be starring at the most palate-charming and thought-provoking progressive food event on the plate, Cooking for Solutions (May 21-22), which showcases how tasty good sourcing practices on an annual basis.
“Goin’s been one of the main voices on sustainability,” says CFS and Aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson. “She’s had the message for quite a while. We’re very glad we can have her back.”
Chef-author-superstar Rick Bayless has also been Bearded for his work at the landmark Frontera in Chicago; this year he’s also earned CFS’s Educator of the Year. Goateed Food Network rock star Guy Fieri, meanwhile, will play special guest emcee.
Foodies flock to the Friday gala with good reason and great reliability – the thing always sells out – as the honorees and dozens of other Celebrity Chef Ambassadors prepare sustainable tastes buttressed by more hedonistic-but-earth-healthy nibbles from standout local spots (who host the visiting chefs). Sixty vitners from the region pair wisely raised wines, and folks like Goin and Bayless sign cookbooks. Saturday features a range of “food and wine adventures,” cooking demos and an Iron Chef-style Sustainable Seafood Challenge where Fieri and celeb chef-TV host Sam Choy run commentary. Check out the whole gourmet gamut at the Aquarium’s website.
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One of my favorite local winemaking families is doing a dinner Thursday, April 29, as Cima Collina visits TusCA. Annette Hoff’s wines, Mark Ayers’ food, yes. 657-6675 for more info… Sources in San Luis Obispo tell me Sean Croce, who suddenly evaporated from his Croce’s pizza-night club corner in Monterey, has done a similar disappearing act in SLO… Carmel Valley’s Joullian Vineyards scored five medals in the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including a Gold Medal for the 2008 Joullian Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay… Don’t look now: lightening rod former owner of Ol’ Factory Cafe Morgan Christopher says he’s got “a location (a great one), a name, and an experienced ownership/managerial team in place.” Then adds that all that is needed is “some financing.” Hmmm… “If you want a subject,” says Uncle Pumblechook in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, “look at pork!”