BobbyQ Number Two

Last week while carousing the farmer’s market we noticed the mint looked really good. Since we had a cheap bottle of rum lying around the house, Shannon thought we could make mojitos. Then we thought we’d just go with the whole Caribbean theme. I barbecued marinated carne asada with carmelized onions and mushrooms for sandwiches. Shannon made chipotle cream sauce and cilantro chutney to go with them. Now there is a little sandwich shop down the street from us that makes somewhat similar sandwiches. They don’t have a sign in front of their tiny little establishment, almost as if to say… we’re so good at what we do, we don’t even need a sign. As pretentious as it is, they truly don’t need to advertise. This place is always packed, except when their closed, which is like every Monday, 3rd Tuesday and like a 2 months in December through January and pretty much any other time I remember to go there. And don’t even bother trying to get a sandwich after 2pm… they have usually have sold out by then. Regulars have no doubt figured out that I’m talking about Paseo’s, well the sandwiches we made at the barbecue stood up pretty good to Paseo’s and since I can make these any time I feel like it, I don’t think I’ll be dealing with the frustration of walking down there anymore and figuring out that they are closed or sold out of sandwiches.

With all that said, we had a great barbecue, I got to see a lot of my friends from the Nuffsed crew that I haven’t seen in a while and people brought some great dishes as well, thanks to everyone who attended. I especially noticed we had quite a few canine Q’ers today: Henry, Mia, Rosie, Freida, (Sorry Jill I can’t remember your dog’s name), and a very special shout out to Buster, who wasn’t feeling very good today, you’re a champ buddy and I’m glad you made it, even when you weren’t feeling so hot.


The $2.77 Pork Chops

When you walk down the protein aisle at the Wallingford QFC there is a small section near the end with a bunch of those Styrofoam meat trays filled with an assortment of meaty goodies all marked “reduced”. What this means is that everything in the bin has to sell today or they have to toss it. Shannon and I rarely shop at the Wally QFC anymore but the fact that it’s so close to our house earns it an occasional stop from time to time. When I’m there I always have to check the reduced section because sometimes there is a real steal… like two pork chops for $2.77, which is 76 percent off from the $16 pork chops from Wooly Pigs.

Before I get into how these chops measure up to the $16 versions I have to tell you a little story. I used to shop at this QFC a ton. I used to know almost everyone who worked there: Dixie, Tammie, John, Alex on the night shift, Bald Paul in produce, and of course Kristy & Christine. I spent enough time there that Christine was not hesitant in hiring me to dig ditches in her back yard. Thanks Christine! One of my favorite times to shop there was after I closed down the bar, I’d usually roll in at 3am and do my shopping before I headed home. One particular early morning shopping spree I was standing in front of the “reduced” section when a sketchy looking guy came up to me and said, “You see all this stuff in here, it’s free… it’s all expired.” Sure enough most of the meat in the reduced section had just expired at midnight but was still sitting there waiting for the overworked night crew to get around to clearing it out. Regardless I was still curious how this bum was able to get the items for free. “I buy this stuff all the time and take it home and eat it, they never realize they are selling me expired meat.” the man went on, “Then I bring the wrapper back with the label and my receipt that shows they sold it to me past the expiration date and I demand a refund.” I knew supermarkets weren’t allowed to give away their expired goods, but this guy had figured out a loophole. I never actually had the stomach to attempt this scam since getting it for free doesn’t change the fact that the meat is EXPIRED. But to give this guy a break, he looked like he was very near the end of his rope and I suppose meat that was perfectly legal to sell 3 hours ago would be safer to eat than the $3.55 lunch special at China First which I have eaten on numerous occasions throughout my lifetime.

Now Back to the chops, I prepared them my usual way, this time paring them with some left over whole wheat penne that Shannon whipped up the night before. And how do they compare? I have to say I loved them, so much so that the visions I had of the wretched conditions that this poor piggy endured on mega farm X, the hormones, the pens barely enough to breath in, the brutal end of this miserable swine’s life at the hands of the pneumatic bolt gun all vanished as I savored every last bite. Sure the $16 chops from that happy Berkshire hog which frolicked in open pastures outside of Spokane tasted better but I would be hard pressed to say they tasted 420% better. It is just amazing to me how a large company can produce goods that cost less than 20 cents on the dollar next to some small local farmer. I hope you all think about this next time you buy something. Why is it it that cheap? The answer is it isn’t cheap at all, somewhere someone else is paying for it. And all the while there’s governments and a corporation to cover it up so we don’t have think about it. More about this later… until then I’ll just shut up and enjoy my pork chop.

The Sixteen Dollar Pork Chops

I’m at the University District Farmer’s Market buying pork from Wooly Pigs. I had $14 in my hand while the salesperson put a package of two frozen pork chops on the scale and told me “Sixteen Dollars”, about 1.3lbs worth. I pulled out the VISA card and bought them. I needed to know what the fuss is all about with Wooly Pigs. Shannon had told me that this local (Spokane) farm had gained national fame for purveying some really tasty pork. The Salesperson, who I believe was the owner of Wooly Pigs warned me that these were not the “Mangalitsa” breed, the breed of pig that gave Wooly Pigs their notoriety. Instead these pork chops were from a Berkshire hog which later research revealed was no slouch of a hog breed itself. Of course I already knew that they were Berkshire Chops because I ordered them from the sign that read (in large bold letters) “BERKSHIRE CHOPS $12/lb”, the guy had given me a pretty good description of what it is like to eat Mangalitsa and I decided that I wanted Berkshire. Wooly Pigs is the sole domestic farmer of Mangalitsa hogs in the United States and if you visit their website you will find a torturous amount of information about the Mangalitsa and pig farming in general, including some video of an actual hog slaughter (pretty darn humane one by relative standards). But anyway back to the pork chops. Now whenever they are mentioned they are called “The Sixteen Dollar Pork Chops”. How good were they? Well, my favorite breakfast is fried pork chops, potatoes, and two eggs over medium. I decided that that this is the only meal that will suit these babies.

Pork Chops and Eggs

2 Pork Chops about 1/2 lb each

2 Cloves Garlic

2 Medium Sized Red Potatoes (Preferably left over from last nights dinner)

2 Eggs

Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil.

Scallions for Garnish

Take the chops out of the fridge to bring them up to room temperature, Prep the Garlic and scallions and slice the potatoes into about quarter sized wedges. Salt and pepper both sides of the chops and rub with half the garlic. Heat a skillet to medium high and place about a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan. Throw in the potatoes. Heat another skillet to medium high drop another dab of olive oil in the new pan and place the chops in it. Cook the chops just a few minutes on each side, I actually forget how long but I’m gonna say like 4 minutes on each side (I could be wrong). Make sure you flip the chops just once. Before you flip the chops, toss in the rest of the garlic with the potatoes. At this time I usually whip out our egg pan and fry up two eggs over medium. If it’s a good day I can get the whole meal ready simultaneously.

How were they? They were good, If I were rich, I’d buy em, but I’m not rich so I suppose that $3/lb stuff at the grocery store will have to do for now. The real difference I noticed in these pork chops is the flavor of the fatty marbled parts, it is much more rich and distinct. I read the Mangalitsa breed has the tastiest and richest fat of any hog. This distinction in the flavor of the fat makes me think that bacon and other cured pork product is where these breeds shine. I think I’ll have to go back to Wooly Pigs and at least try the Mangalitsa pork once, it is even pricier than the Berkshire but I need to know.

Spring Training 1

The Ballard Farmer’s Market

Leeks, Radishes and Shannon
A successful season begins with good preparation. I figured that getting familiar with the products available at the Sunday Ballard Farmer’s Market would be a good place to start training. I had never been there before, Shannon and I strolled down there this past Sunday and here’s the scoop.

Parking was super easy. There were 3 or 4 vendors selling pasture raised meats that all looked very good, though a little pricey… Lamb Loin ~$28/lb, Lamb Shoulder and Chops ~$10-$12/lb, Pork $8-$15/lb depending on the cut. Beef was $6/lb for ground up to $20/lb for T-Bone Steak. We settled for 1 lb of hot Italian pork sausage for $6. Shannon was interested in some eggs and there were a handful of poultry and dairy vendors. When we mentioned the words “cage free” a saleswoman scowled at us and said “Cage free doesn’t mean they[hens] see the sunlight, ours are truly free range”. We bought a dozen “organic truly free range” eggs for $5. I should say we have since ate some of these eggs and they are “truly fricken delicious”, even $5/dz delicious. Cheese is also amazing here, you could go to whole foods and pay probably around the same price but buying goat cheese out of a cooler from a woman in an apron standing in front of a huge poster of goats frolicking in a large grass field is way cooler.

Produce is really the star of the farmer’s market. Buckets of apples, pears, piles of onions, wonderful green garlic – I’m so amped up about this garlic, there like green onions, but garlic and they stink so good. I can’t wait to cook with this shit. You can get your veggies at decent prices, not as cheap as the grocery store but still pretty good. We bought a bunch of kale and a bunch of flowering arugula 2 for $5. Many of the produce farmers there were plugging their membership programs, if you sign up with the farmer of your choosing, then for about $25 a week you can go to the market each week and pick up what they claim to be a bountiful harvest of the week’s selected produce (selected by the farmers I mean). The catch is you gotta pay the whole 20 weeks up front. I’m seriously considering this because It would be a bit cheaper than buying everything separately and my Uncle Mike did this last year and he was extremely pleased.

A couple warnings though, there’s tons of kids at the market so if you are afraid of kids I wouldn’t recommend it. Perhaps worse if you are a big lumbering and clumsy walker you might step on a few of them so keep an eye out. Also beware, Shannon tried a sample of some local organic handmade fresh free range pasture raised pasta in a hazelnut cream sauce and she said it was the worst thing she ever tasted. I can’t remember her exact words but I think she said it tastes like lighter fluid.