Archives for posts with tag: pork

Part 1 and Part 2

Five days later, I’m back on Vashon, after a 7 am wakeup and 8 am ferry, driving south on the main road, going way past the tiny little town and the turnoff for the farm where the pigs were raised and slaughtered. The road curves through the ferns and mossy trees and pops out along the eastern coast where it clings to the rocky little shore for a half-mile or so. The highway heads back into the trees and I almost miss the turnoff to the Farmstead Meatsmith headquarters, a big A-frame house that they’ve only just moved in to. The raised living room and bright sunroom serve as a makeshift butcher shop. Today every surface will become home to pork products: the dining room table is covered in white paper, the stainless steel prep table in the sunroom is covered with wooden cutting boards. The best surface of all is the incredibly solid butchers block that Brandon got from some woman in Reno who got it from her dad, who got it from a closing grocery store. He’s got the old-school three pound cleaver to go along with it—the woman of the butcher block ran after him with it, not wanting to separate the block and the knife after so many intimate decades together.

There are six of us today—two middle-aged Seattle guys who want to keep it real in the city and have big charcuterie plans. Another two have come in from farms near Port Townsend, and are dressed in that way that young farmers dress, in holey shirts and practical pants, leaving a little trace of dirt clinging on everything as a badge of honor. One, a girl with rimless glasses, is in the middle of raising eight (“Eight?” Andrew asks then tries not to look too shocked) pigs on the farm she works for, and is here to really learn what to do with them. The other farmer is just about to be a father, and has plans to live with no income in a little house near the sea, working on the farm for produce and collecting oysters from the ocean. And raising pigs.

Sometimes I think of myself farming, spending a summer working on some little organic farm, sleeping in a farmhouse and eating what I’ve picked—then I meet farmers and I realize that I am a sissy little girl and I like croissants and cozy beds. I’ve volunteered on a couple of those sweet little organic farms and it was not sweet. It was novel for about 35 minutes, then I was just squatting in the dirt and getting bit by ants and sweating.

And one other classmate, a woman from Bellingham who’s preparing for the apocalypse. She’ll be the one who can kill the pigs and provide the pork chops in the midst of the collapse of civilization, she said, and I don’t think there was that much kidding. And why am I here, in my white shirt and yoga pants, possibly the worst outfit choice for cutting up a pig. Because I’m a little-bit-lost college grad trying to find something interesting to do, and I feel like I’ve poked around in lots of aspects of food and this is one area that I’ve missed. Because, mostly because, it’d be cool to butcher a pig.

We go outside to the “USDA certified slaughter truck” and start hauling the pig sides in. Three halves of the pigs killed last weekend come in from the truck—one half is saved for the charcuterie class in a few days. The dining table gets a whole pig, the silver prep table a half. We all naturally find our pig half and start fondling knife handles, anxious to start. We start by quartering the pig: the leg, the shoulder, the belly, and the loin (the back.) There are already some recognizable cuts—you can see the stripes that will become bacon on the exposed side of the belly, the leg looks like prosciutto, the ribs; pork chops to-be. And it’s hard work, butchery, transitioning from knife to saw, knife to saw—slicing carefully through flesh and sawing frustratedly through bone—and it’s wholly satisfying. There are things that feel especially good, especially tactile and right, like peeling the skin off the belly, wedging your thumbnail in-between the soft fat and the harder fat that lies just underneath the skin, peeling it off in a thick white waxy layer.

Cutting the spare ribs off the belly is nice too, carefully picking the knife in-between the bone and the fat, hugging the bone with the blade to keep as much fat on the belly—on the bacon—as possible as you cut the ribs away. The loin gets gently pulled out from under the spine by hand. The pork chops are hard to do and I swear off of them after doing only one. They stand in a row, all attached, and have to be first sliced, then cleavered apart. The slicing, fine. The cleaver action, terrifying. I do one shoddily and slink away, hands shaking a little. The shoulder gets cut in half, into the picnic and the Boston Butt, cuts I’ve heard of and seen wrapped in saran wrap, but would never have been able to point out on the pig. The thick legs become roasts, hams if they’re brined. I realize that that bony little circle that’s so good for gnawing is the pig’s real-live leg bone, not just decoration. The feet come off, the back one sawed and the front one just kind of worked off, a knife pushed through all the connective tissue till suddenly I had a little pig paw in my palm. There are different ways to cut up the animal; the American cuts generally symmetrical, with no consideration of bones or curves. The French cuts work more closely with the way the animal is built, Brandon says. He explains that as much as they do their best to let the pigs be pigs when they’re alive, they want them to be able to be pigs when they’re dead too. There’s no sense in making difficult cuts that the flesh and bones don’t want you to make. We finally finish the pigs, after three hours of cutting and sawing and peeling and pulling and pushing.

Andrew’s been in the kitchen the whole time, making lunch, and I’ve been peeking over the whole time, almost more interested in what he’s making that smells so good than the animal in front of me. Our final task before lunch is reassembling the pieces, putting them back together into a pig. It’s harder than it sounds—the original position of the pieces forgotten after we successfully divided them from the rest of the body. But the dining room table soon holds a Franken-pig, all its pieces shuffled back together in a close-enough way. Each half gets heaped into a bus bucket and we clear the table for lunch.

We have brown bread, baked while we butchered, spread with soft sweet butter and sprinkled with salt, while we wait for the hunk of pork to finish roasting, a sirloin roast, a cut I don’t think I’ve ever had before. When it finally gets pulled out of the oven its inch and a half of fat is browned and crackling, dripping its essence backs down into the meat. We fill up plates with hot potato gratin, the top crisped like the pig skin, cauliflower dressed with ribbons of balsamic reduction, and a raw salad of kale, apples, carrots, and cabbage, a welcome crisp freshness next to the fats and carbs and heavy, now very familiar, protein. I sit next to Wallace, Brandon’s two and a half year old son and we talk about what we do and don’t like. “Do you like the meat?” he asks me with his adorable little man cuteness, “I do, do you?” He grins and chews on a crispy little piece of skin. “Do you like carrots?” he asks me, and when I say yes he takes a little orange piece out of his mouth and offers it to me, “This one is really good.” I ask him what he likes to do and he says, “Eat!” and pops a little piece of fat into his mouth. Brendan and his family are way more comfortable with fat than most of us. He worships pig fat, reluctant to lose even an ounce. The difficult process of scalding and scraping preserves precious back fat; the butchering techniques leaves no fat behind. Andrew has followed suit—I see him squish big slices of fat onto bread like butter. It is good fat, and I do try a bit of the fat I’ve been fondling for the past three hours, but one bite is enough—it takes practice to eat that much pork.

After lunch I wash my hands, but they wont really get clean, they’re so saturated with fat. They feel smooth and they look a little shiny, and I strongly shove lurking germ fears away. Waiting in line to get on the ferry back to Seattle, I look through my pictures, making my way backwards from butchery back to evisceration, scraping, hanging, dragging, killing—all the way to photos of three live pigs rooting around a their familiar dirt, Brandon and Andrew’s hands rubbing their heads. “The first step in any pig recipe,” Brandon had said when he got ready to kill the pigs. The butchery was difficult and interesting, the bones and muscles no longer really animal. The organs were vaguely gross but mostly fascinating. The killing was the most uncomfortable part, watching something slump into something else entirely, its systems breaking apart and becoming materials–but those pigs had been raised for pork their whole lives. Their birth was the first step in the pig recipes; in the bacon and eggs, in the seared loin medallions, in the creamy pate to be slathered on good bread. Most of all, these two days showed the incredible amount of work that goes into meat. If all pigs were raised, killed, and processed in this way, pork would be astronomically expensive. So there’s ways now to raise them and kill them and turn them into meat for far, far less money.

And I think it’s interesting that we’re wanting to go back to the slow, painful, expensive way. Farmstead Meatsmith put out a video about butchery last summer, On The Anatomy of Thrift, and it got over 25 thousand hits. And it’s not a video for old farmers just sorting out the internet—it’s for young people in cities wanting to get a taste of that oldness, of this trend of simplification. It’s tempting to belittle this trend—the obsession with the artisan, the hand-made, the curated vintage—and call it just a trend. But I think it comes out of a really complex desire, some weird need that our culture is developing as we forge onward. I think its comes from something deeper than trendiness—we can feel a need for change in our world. The earth is crowded and tired. We have been going upward for ages, and I think maybe we’re needing a little break.  But it’s not possible to put civilization on hold while we all move to the woods and start raising pigs and kale. So we’re funneling that slow-down, good ol’ days desire into things like food and shopping—things that are both enjoyable and easy to change. Choosing local apples, buying a handmade bag from a local shop, going out to a farm to watch a pig get killed and helping butcher it by hand—these kinds of things let us feel that we’re slowing down, even if we’re not. Andrews’s blog describes itself: “We intend to serve the needs of the burgeoning agrarian renaissance by producing dynamic media for agricultural enterprises and organizations.” And this is why this neo-back-to the land thing is so interesting. Because it seems like it’s a turning away from technology, from all that’s modern and progressive, but we can’t really leave all that behind, can’t forsake our iPhones for hatchets. Like me, most people wouldn’t last long on a farm. So, instead, we’re blogging about pigs.

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Part 1 here

Clean and white and looking much more like something belonging in a butcher shop, the pig hangs upside down, feet splayed out on the bar above. With a not-so-big knife, chosen for its blunt tip to avoid nicking the organs inside, he starts working a slit down the center of the pig. Thick fat parts around the knife; fat that will become bacon and piecrusts. The two sides peel apart around his hands and he tells us all to come sniff the air coming out of the pig. Beef has a very specific smell—a hamburger and a steak have something in common scent-wise. But a singular pork-scent is harder to identify, a loin and a strip of bacon don’t smell a lot alike—I can’t think of what “pork” smells like. This is what it smells like, says Brandon.

First whiff is nothing really, maybe a little bit of unpleasantness. Second go-round is this weird, pungent, bodily smell that does somehow bring the taste of a still-pink pork chop into my mouth. After we all get our sniff, Brendan furthers his slice, unearthing the secret insides of the animal. I was surprised by how clean and pale it was. Up until this part it’d been a bloody process, with the knife to the neck and continual dripping of red blood from the nose and mouth as the pig hung. Now, headless with gaping belly, all clean and dry inside. The cut about halfway finished, Brandon piles the organs that once lived in the hind end of the pig out, all of them slipperily falling over one another into his hands. The ballooned bladder, the bloated rope of the intestines, the dark brown-crimson liver. They flop into a bus tub and Brandon cuts a little further, getting closer to the headless neck. The lungs come out, the esophagus, the caul fat and spleen, the heart.

Having thought of the mysterious organs as a system for years, I was surprised to see them all come out individually. The heart is related to the whole body, but it easily slips away from all the rest.

All of this is food, and emerges from the pig with a recipe from Brandon. Spleen: to be butterflied and filled with sautéed onions, steamed over rillettes. Lungs, chopped and sautéed with wine. “The heart has the perfect sized cavities for dates and pine nuts,” Brandon says as he wiggles his fingers into the holes that once served arteries. The liver seared or made into paté. An abundance of guts, a feast of offal. He puts his hand on the end of the esophagus and fills the lungs up with air and they massively expand and I think of the living pig, its body full and taught.

The body is empty now and Brandon finishes the cut. The pig hangs like a book, one side splayed open. The saw comes out, and there seems to be a transition from slaughter to butchery. No fur, no head, no life-giving organs; no longer really an animal. Flattened, its legs pointing in opposite directions. Andrew pulls the feet apart and Brendan settles his saw into the very center of the spine. The halving is tricky business, trying to saw through the exact center of tiny featherbones that extend up from the spine. Slowly the sides come apart and two separate halves hang from the tree. Their hands bloody, sleeves dirty with organ phlegm and fat, Andrew and Brandon release the pork from the hooks and ease it down onto a wood pallet. I rub the finally exposed pork—familiar, pink meaty protein pork—with my index finger and think about washing my hands. I’m really cold and wet. And thrilled.

 

I’m on Vashon Island, a twenty-minute ferry ride from West Seattle, for a pig slaughter class. I called it a butchery class for most people who asked what I was doing this rainy Saturday, feeling a little shy about spending the day watching men kill pigs. But I’m here, on Vashon, this beautiful little place populated by old hippies and ambitious young farm folk like Brandon and Lauren Sheard, who run Farmstead Meatsmith, a hybrid farm-school-personal butcher, with the help of Andrew Plotsky. I found the place because of Andrew, because NPR’s food blog did a story on him, a vegan turned pork butcher. I find the farm, not even half a block down a dirt—mud—road from a little circle of new-ish houses. I park and meet Andrew, and we walk over to the rest of the group gathered under a massive pine tree rigged with chains, sheltering a metal drum of water. There are five of us; me and one other girl—a farmer just about to relocate to a farm with pigs—and three men, one hoping for home charcuterie, testing his stomach today, and two others who just want to learn how to turn pig into pork. Brandon and Andrew welcome us and we get right at it.

At the pig’s little corral, we learn a little about the pigs—Tamworths—one of the only remaining pure heritage breeds. They look more like boars than pink county fair pigs; they’ve got  prickly fur and a little hint of that ridgeback at the top of their necks.  “They’re foragers,” Brandon tells us, pointing to the totally bare muddy mess of a plot where they used to call home. He steps over the foot high electric fence powered by a motor boat battery hidden under an overturned plastic box and the three fuzzy pigs flock to him like overgrown puppies; Gary, Sary, Milly, and Dilly, all the size of fat dogs, with bristly golden hair the color of old pennies. They’re more interested in the food he carries in a five gallon bucket than they are in him—a salmon skin flops out of the bucket and the pigs dash for it. Brandon has a matte black Magnum 22 with him—I don’t know a thing about guns but it looks serious, and totally out of place here in the muddy field, in the hands of a bearded guy wearing a wool vest over a long-sleeved flannel. Brandon kneels down in front of the giant slop bowl one pig’s face is buried in and steadies himself on one knee, the gun hiked up to his shoulder. He uses hollow bullets so they explode into the brain the instant the make contact. He looks right at the pig, gets still, and then gets up. “Once you realize you can take your time, it’s the most relaxed process in the world,” he says to us. “It’s more painful for you.” This is true—my whole self is cringing, has been since we walked over to the pigs area with a gun as part of the group. Brandon explains that pigs have thick skulls–miss the right spot and the bullet will just drive into an inch and a half of bone and the pig’ll keep on eating. The sweet spot is right where you’d imagine it to be, just above the middle of the eyes. Just as easily as he bailed the first time, Brandon kneels down again and shoots Dilly, the littlest pig. She doesn’t squeal—but the others do, as Andrew instantly swoops down with knife and shoves it right into the carotid artery, pushing till the tip just touches the spine.

The pig thrashes under his weight like a big mammalian fish, Andrew’s hand massaging the blood out of her neck. The other pigs keep eating, looking over at their dying pen-mate with only mild interest. For maybe three very long minutes Dilly’s legs shake and blood streams continually out of her neck. She finally settles, head in a pool of her own pretty red blood, her ears soaked in it and her tongue hanging out, dipping into it. “Good job,” Brandon says, to Andrew or the pig, I’m not sure. “The pig at the bottom of the hierarchy is always the most personable,” he says. “She’d always come up and lean against your leg,” adds Andrew, a strange farm eulogy. They respect these pigs, view them as creatures to be cared for, but ultimately, pigs are food. Their animalness gets stripped away layer by layer, first with the bullet exploded into the brain, making it a carcass, then the knife to the neck, draining it of its blood and its fullness.

Andrew takes the same bloodletting knife and makes two slits on either side of the tendons at the backs of the ankles, revealing thick ropes that will hold up this pig’s entire weight. The strange metal bar with a dip on each end and a loop in the middle that he’d carried over gets slipped behind the tendons, the pig’s feet resting in the grooves. The two men grab hold of the bar and start dragging the 200-pound body back to the tree where the work will really begin.

The six of us trail behind quietly, gawking at her bloody head, her comically piggy nostrils leaking strands of gummy blood. I remember Wilbur, fainting at the very mention of bacon. We come back to the tree where we met and they start adjusting the chains rigged around the sturdiest branch, getting ready for the next step. Brandon explains that while cows and other ruminants have hides, pigs just have skin, like us. This means that skinning them—which is the way they’re processed on most industrial farms—means losing edibles. The skin can become cracklins’ or chicharrones, depending what continent you’re on, and the fat just under the skin is precious flavor. So instead of skinning the pigs, they “scald and scrape”—scald the pig then scrape off the fur.

Andrew lights the little propane burner under the giant 55-gallon drum filled with water—a farm-ified lab setup, thermometers tucked into the two men’s vest pockets. While the water warms, Andrew and Brandon hook a sturdy chain into the loop on the metal bar still held by the pig’s tendons. They hoist her up, Andrew pulling on the other end of the chain, Brandon holding her front feet as she swings up into the air. We’re waiting for the water to reach 145 degrees—the perfect temperature to scald the pig for five minutes, just long enough and just hot enough to loosen the top layer of pigmented skin and the bristly hairs. A shoddy scald means impossibly sealed-on hair and a bad tasting outer layer of skin left on the pig. So there’s definitely a sense of urgency as they dip her in, doing “the pig waltz” with her hind feel that stick out of the top of the barrel. Brandon’s watch calls time and they start reeling her out, scraping every inch that emerges from the water with an aptly named “hogscraper,” a shallow metal bowl with sharpened edges, a wood handle emerging from the middle of the convex side, like a flattened bell. The thick bristles come off in reddish clumps along with thin sheets of skin. Brandon takes her feet, yanking off her toenails with another well-named tool: a “nail puller,” then scrapes between her toes and around the bumpy backs of her ankles while Andrew tackles the head. There are a few pig processing places that employ this method, but it’s done mechanically, the pigs’ bodies dunked in massive tanks then tumbled around in giant nubbly cylinders to burnish all the fur off.

 

 

After they’ve scraped this end clean, the let her down, hook into the tendon of one of the front feet, nd do the whole process over again on the other end. When they’re done the pig is mostly bare and the men’s forearms are speckled with blood, their chests matted with pig fur. They get out their knives and start shaving the tricky spots. Brandon buys almost all antique knives, prowling eBay for sturdy cleavers and beaver skinning knives that have been used for half a century or more. “New ones are more expensive, and they don’t work as well,” Brandon says. There’s clearly a dogma of nostalgia at Farmstead Meatsmith—when one onlooker, a mostly silent maybe-Russian, asks if its possible to kill a pig without a gun Andrew cites a book published in 1833. They wear wool vests and flannels—and they’re killing pigs by hand. These are not modern men, in the city-dwelling, suit wearing-sense at least. But I’m thinking that maybe they are a super accurate reflection of something we’re collectively pining for in this moment. The world keeps on getting more complicated—and the old school keeps on getting hipper. DIY is cool, riding single speeds is cool. Farmers markets and patio gardens are cools. We love “artisans.” Southern food, the staples of a place that has long been the least progressive part of the nation, is cool. Menus are stuffed with fancy comfort food—mac and cheese, burgers—and restaurants are full of exposed beams and mismatched silverware and mason jar glasses. This, raising and killing and eating pigs, is cool. Andrew has a blog, Farmrun, that often showcases Farmstead, that’s designer-y and cool, with lots of white space and well-chosen pig photos. But I’m having a hard time imagining him hunched over a MacBook now, as he shaves bristles from bloody pig cheeks.

Soon enough, the pig is bare, spare a few stubborn bristles. Next up is the head. The line where the cut will be made was started with Andrew’s stab this morning—Brandon takes that mark and follows it around the neck, cutting through all the different tissues in the head. The head comes off without much of a fight, and Andrew grabs it by the ear and sprays the bloody side down with a hose. The anatomical-cut-away side gets hidden, the head plopped onto a cafeteria lunch tray, and the barber shop routine continues, Andrew puling the flesh taught to finish the shave.

 

Sometimes, eating alone is sad. Sometimes, it’s not. When you’ve got three chefs and house-made charcuterie for company, not so much. I wondered where to go for my solo dinner in Montreal, debated a classic French meal at a famous bistro, a light vegetarian meal after the days of amazing indulgence (more on that later), but settled on Le Comptoir, only a 20 minute walk away and oh, just voted into the top 10 restaurants in Canada.

Crossed my fingers and called for a spot at the bar, got a harried yesofcourse, and trotted on down to Rue Saint Laurent. Took my spot at the bar, a ringside seat for the kitchen drama unfolding right there in front of me. Three chefs, one dishwasher, and an array of extraordinarily hip waitstaff diving and ducking and twirling around each other, plating perfect dish after perfect dish, carefully measuring out slices of sopressata, stacking bright tomatoes atop one another, calling out for service, whisking the food off to the awed spectators. I started with a glass of organic Greek red wine (number one reason I like Canada), chosen by my waiter and guide through the all-French menu scrawled up on the wall. Then a plate of charcuterie—a must, seeing as they make the stuff right downstairs.

Soppresata, fennel sausage, chorizo, pig’s head (Yes. And explained by my Francophone waiter, “This is of the pig’s whole head, cooked and chopped.” And yes, shockingly good.), and a little rectangle of terrine. With a healthy dab of house-made mustard, a couple perfect little pickles, and a big hunk of pickled fennel. Took me a while to work my way through all the pork, but I made it to the other side for my next blissful course: poelee de chanterelles, langue de porc braisee, mini raviolis a la puree de racine de persil. I could pick out “chanterelles” and “pork” and “ravioli” on my own, and I was pretty much sold. Then once I got the full translation and realized pork tongue was up for grabs, I was super sold. I love weird animal bits. If anything was to convince me of divinity in this world, it’d be foie gras. Sweetbreads make me want to sing, bone marrow makes me want to dance. I always, always go for the lengua from the sketchy taco trucks. Pig tongue at the 8th best restaurant in Canada? Yes please.

Another glass of wine, this one a French red, arrived along with my bowl of heaven, chosen and explained in great, kinda indecipherable detail by my very knowledgeable waiter. And then the braised tongue, incredibly tender and perfect alongside the earthy mushroom and rich sauce. (And I swear they were morels…or maybe it was all so good that I just went ahead an hallucinated an once more of goodness…) And perfect little raviolis, all in a sauce of the gods, topped with a very necessary cloud of greenery, just bitter enough to cut the richness of it all. I’m not a very slow eater, in fact, a little bit of a scarf-er, but I savored that dish for a very solid twenty minutes.

Added to the flavors of the plate and the perfectly-picked wine was the joy of watching the three cooks practice their craft; the pantry man careful and deliberate with his many many mixing bowls, the broiler-grill duo wielding hot pans, coloring plates with sauces, timing a million things in their minds. Such a delight to watch this goodness come into being, to watch people do something they’re really truly good at. And a tiny bit of melancholy envy, mostly of their focus and their clear satisfaction. I miss that little jolt of joy when you see a row of perfect dishes ready to enter into the world, made by your own hands. But I got over my little pang when I noticed that all the glorious chefs were sweating like mad, wiping their brows on dirty kitchen towels and sneaking sips of wine out of water glasses. Then I snapped back to reality and relished my position on the other side of the counter.

I hadn’t noticed the dessert menu drawn up on the wall behind me, and hadn’t planned on dessert, with my double pork, double wine meal. But they had panna cotta. Panna cotta, compote de pommes, a la feve tonka, puree de date, sable Breton aux pecans. Apples…dates…cookies…tonka? Not so sure. And it was explained to my little English-only brain, but it was loud and I was in a pre-panna cotta haze, so I just nodded. And maybe drooled. The panna cotta arrived in a little glass, just like Mom makes; just like how its supposed to be. Jelled cream topped with something fruity. Pure, bright bliss. I love panna cotta because it manages to be rich and refined. It’s straight cream, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s the girl you never knew was uber wealthy till you spied her beautiful shoes. It’s quietly decadent. It’s the best. “Was it what you were dreaming of?” my waiter asked. Yes, yes, yes. The pure creaminess cut with the warmth of the apple and date, the silkyness contrasted by the snappy sable. I lingered for a good while longer over my panna cotta and last little milliliters of wine, not wanting to leave the glow of the kitchen, of cooking, of good food, of people all delighting in creating and eating and drinking and savoring and sharing.

But here’s the walk home:

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1559072/restaurant/Plateau-Mont-Royal/Le-Comptoir-Montreal”><img alt=”Le Comptoir on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/1559072/minilogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>

Florida is about as south as you can get in Americaland, yet it’s just not very southern. It’s a weird phenomenon, but if you’ve been to Florida… You know. Down here you’ve got to go north to go south. (Maybe because a good portion of the FL population is northern imports.) Despite all this non-Southern-ness, there are a few Dixie little things that have trickled down. Super sweet sweet-tea for one, and pulled pork another. Lots of funky little roadside BBQ spots, lots of “Insert-Name’s Famous BBQ.” And best of all Nancy’s BBQ, a pop-up place that in the know Sarasotans know and love deeply. Though she’s opening up a more permanent shop soon, up until now we’ve had to wait for Twitter updates to find her tasty Carolina style BBQ. It’s real real good. Soft bun, sweet smoky saucy pork. What more could you want? Well… Maybe some hot dog cart peppers n’ onions. In the Halloween spirit we went to a Pumpkin Festival, which although kinda slim on the pumpkin-ness, was packed with county fair-esque food booths. One of which was a pulled pork and hot dog joint. They drew us in with free samples and the next thing we knew we were forking over wads of cash for bread and pig. Really good bread and pig. And I saw the big pan of onions and peppers for the Jersey-style dogs, and had to break convention and add some to my sandwich. …excellent choice.

Phone pic. Didn’t bring camera to very funkily picturesque pumpkin fest, fool!