Martha’s Vineyard is a place rich in agriculture and community, which means food can be a lot different here. We have such great access to foods that have been grown here or lived here. Think about our farmer’s markets, our fish markets, The Farm Institute, and how so many of our restaurants focus on using local ingredients. Because of this, there is almost an intimacy with many of us and our food, almost a sense of pride, of ownership, and satisfaction.
Pig – Almost the Perfect Animal
It only seems natural to start to offer people the opportunity to be even more involved, learn more, and be an active part of their food procurement. This week, Chef Jan Buhrman, The Kitchen Porch, and her right hand man, Aaron Oster are bringing us that opportunity with Swine & Dine, November 11th – 18th, a week long culinary experience with many people’s favorite four-legged animal, pigs.
Unlike any other event that I know of ever offered here Martha’s Vineyard, with these two at the helm, and their passion for local ingredients and the food they make, we’re guaranteed some seriously good food.
When I met with Aaron to learn more about Swine & Dine, I was impressed with his enthusiasm about this event. Aaron has had a lot of exposure to what are considered “old world” techniques involving food, procurement and making foods. Loving the closeness he felt with the food he was working with, he wanted to be able to do even more.
Aaron had worked in the restaurant world in NYC for a number of years, but took the plunge and moved with his wife (a baker) to Martha’s Vineyard last Spring. He was ready for a more hands-on relationship with food, and he found that, working with Jan at The Kitchen Porch.
During one of Jan and Aaron’s many conversations about food, they discovered their love of the pig, which has endless opportunities as a food source. Think about all the pork products available, a personal favorite — bacon, ham, pork tenderloin, pork chops, sausage, salami, prosciutto, the list goes on and on.
The pig is perfect for a week long culinary experience for so many reasons. So came about Swine & Dine where there is something for everyone, whether you’re a chef, a cook, a farmer, or a food connoisseur (like I sort of consider myself).
For a number of years, Jan Buhrman has been raising pigs. For Swine & Dine, she is offering a number of them to be slaughtered for the meat that will be offered at the events. Normally, I would not even want to think about pigs being slaughtered for anything. However, Aaron opened my eyes to why this is an important part of Swine & Dine.
For many involved in the more intensive aspects behind Swine & Dine, this is the first time many of the participants, chefs, farmers, cooks, will be actively involved in the procurement of their own pork. “Students” will each be given a half of a pig to use for ingredients.
As Aaron says, this is an opportunity to “close the circle.” They will know the animal, breakdown the animal and transform the meat, learning the craft of butchery. I can imagine that those who participate will have a deeper appreciation for the meat, and will have a greater commitment to making delicious foods from their pig.
I learned that almost the entire pig will be used in some fashion. Hooves become dog chews, the head becomes head cheese, the blood becomes blood sausage, the ears fried up, which are supposed to be delicious. Who knew? Basically the only unusable items are the stomach contents and the animal’s hair.
Now I know a lot of you are saying yuck or perhaps some other expletives, but I actually tried some head cheese while at Jan’s and it was pretty good. Once I got over the thought of what I was eating, I could enjoy it. From hooves to head, these pigs will provide an amazing amount of food for the events of Swine & Dine.
A Rare Opportunity
Something that Jan & Aaron are both so excited about being able to offer is a week long class, Porks & Knives, November 11th – 18th, with Master Salumi Artisan and expert on all things four legged Francois Vecchio. For over 50 years, Francois has been apprenticing the art of salumi (yes that’s spelled correctly).
A man in his 70’s, he is highly sought after, and he is here, now sharing his techniques. This legend is very selective about who he shares his craft with. When he came to the Vineyard in the late winter, he knew that his knowledge would be valued here in this community.
Can you imagine how scrumptious the cured meats will be from these classes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Years ago, I worked with the most wonderful man from Calabria, Italy. He would bring in homemade sausage at least once a week, various types and flavors — unlike any I had ever tasted before.
I am sure that Francois Vecchio will help his students make the most amazing cured meats. Interest piqued but not for a whole week? You can take a one class if the topic interests you.
So, we’ve talked a bit about some of the events that might be for those who have a strong interest to get more involved in their food sources but now let’s discuss the events that will offer us the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the students’ labor. It’s time for Swine & Dine! All these pig-filled culinary events are happening at the Harbor View Hotel. You won’t even have to worry about parking!
Pig Out on Friday Night
On Friday night from 6 – 8 p.m., there’s the Pig Out with Local Smoke. Kick off the weekend of celebrating pork with pulled pork sandwiches, slow-smoked all day from locally-raised pigs. There will be beer, country music,and even face painting for the kids! Dare I be so cheesy to say, fun for the whole family, and it’s only $35 a person.
BLT – Beyond Loving This
Now onto the event that I am most excited about, the BLT Bonanza happening on Saturday from 12:30 – 3:30. Yes my friends, I am preparing myself for tasting the best Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches ever at the First Annual BLT Bonanza.
Chefs and cooks will be serving up their twist on this great classic, using bacon from the locally -raised pigs. How exciting is this! Who doesn’t love bacon, and homemde, fresh bacon – YUM! An added bonus – you’ll get to vote on the best. Who will have bragging rights on the Vineyard? The cost is only $15 to be a BLT piggie, and that money goes to Relief Effort for Hurricane Sandy Victims.
For the Foodies
Saturday night, from 6 – 9 p.m., celebrate the efforts of those who participated in the art of pork butchery at the Grand Gala. This five-course menu will include pate, cured meats (which I imagine are amazingly good), sausage and a full pork dinner, accompanied by wine. All the ingredients for this dinner will be locally sourced.
There should be some delicious and creative food served this evening. All this for $80, and you’ll get to dine with those who helped prepare the meal. You’ll be able to have your own Q & A.
What a great event for harvest season on Martha’s Vineyard. A creative, educational, fun way to learn more about what we eat. With our strong agricultural community and commitment to local food, this is sure to be a delicious success, and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for next year’s event.
Thanks for reading On Point – I hope you enjoyed it, perhaps I’ll see you at the BLT Bonanza. You can find Swine & Dine on Facebook. And speaking of social media, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, on follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and YouTube.