Where to Start

First off it's been a while since my last post and I apologize. We have all these great pictures, videos to post, new menu items, new charcuterie with the addition of our local mangalitsa, and there is just not enough time in the day to spend blogging. Since getting back from the bahamas we have been doing 300 cover a night consistently, throw in a menu change, special dinners, personal issues and some unfortunate recent events it will still be a while before I can really get back into sharing all that we do.
The new menu was postponed but is finally rolling out Thursday 4-1-10, a little late but with the weather so cold we haven't really missed much of the spring veggies. Just in time for consistent english peas, fiddleheads, nettles, morels, and so on. It's been a tough couple weeks with ridiculous business levels, short on cooks, and now even shorter with the absence of Aaron from the kitchen.
For those of you who don't know Aaron he is the chef de cuisine of the restaurant and an integral part of how this kitchen functions. He is the comic relief, a seasoned manager, creative culinarian, spec enforcer, a friend above all and truly dedicated to the restaurant. He was hit by a drunk driver early Saturday morning after a punk show here in Orlando and has been in the hospital since. He's banged up but still in good spirits, cracking jokes even as the fire department and paramedics freed him from being pinned between a car and his motorcycle. I have it on good report that he was giving the Evil Knievil thumbs up on the stretcher as he was being loaded into the ambulance to a crowd of cheering friends that were present. We got a chance to visit with him today and wish him a speedy recovery. After meeting with the chefs on property we figure that we will only need 3 hourly employees to try to replace the work load that Aaron carried day to day. So as you can see this blog will be taking a back seat to the job at hand. We wish Aaron all the best. It's going to be a long road for both he and I in different respects but I would do it a hundred times over for someone in his position. Good luck Aaron, I think a little death metal playing in the kitchen while we prep for the new menu is in order.



Going to be a bit of a delay on the Mangalitsa video. Had some editing and format issues and not enoigh time before I have to go on this trip to get it done. It will be done next week when I get back from my buddy's wedding in the Bahamas.
Other than that our little friend was delivered to the restaurant today. The head alone almost takes up a whole hotel pan. The jowls are ridiculous, the loin has been cleaned, tenderloin removed and was used for an amuse earlier. The ham is giant, skin has been scraped and will be getting an 82c bath for 24 hours then scraped again and dehydrated for cracklin's, the fat back will enter the cure for lardo, belly going into cure as well for a smoked house bacon. Have pics but no time to post, gotta to find my passport which apparently has grown some legs and is not in the usual spot, awesome.


Wooly/Pasture Prime Pigs

We had the honor of being present for the slaughter of the first ever Florida raised Mangalitsa pig yesterday. We met Torm at South Marion Meats in Summerfield, Fl. This is one of the only USDA certified slaughter houses left in Florida and it just so happens it's about 10 minutes from Torm's farm, Pasture Prime Wagyu. He said he was coming here when he was a kid with his father to have their cows processed and the original owner is still in and out but leaves the everyday operation to his trusted employees, some of who have been there 20 years+.

The proximity of Torm's farm to South Marion Meats reduces the stress on the animals when they are brought in to be processed. There is a staging area where the Mangalitsa had a chance to relax and get one last wallow in the mud. He was then moved into the chute where a .22 caliber round ended it quick and clean. Here is Torm with his Mangalitsa.

This is us lining the wall in the slaughter house watching the hair removal process after being bled, washed, then steeped in a hot water bath @ 150F for 7 minutes, then put into the hair removal machine that rolls the pig around and the hair falls off. Then it's the blow torch treatment, and a final touch up for the feet, ears, and any other bits of hair that need to be removed. Heath Putnam from Wooly Pigs, basically the father of the american mangalitsa movement, let me know what Torm was doing a couple of months ago and we have been looking forward this ever since. Check out Heath's blog and there is a picture of us with the pig, of course Heath is ragging on us for going to this place with our clogs on, really could have used some rain boots. Notice Torm on the end, the only one with boots and a butcher apron, I think he's done this a couple times before. Next time we will be prepared.

The pig started out at 300lbs and ended up at 223lbs after being processed. We moved on to the cold storage area where we got a peak at South marion Meats inventory. There were rows of split cattle, racks of offal, basic production pigs, and lots of curing pork belly and hams waiting to be smoked. When you put 4 chefs in a meat locker this is usually what happens. And yes, Aaron's crappy mustache is back.

We took a lot of video as well that we are in the process of editing. For those of you interested in where your food really comes form this will be posted in the next day or so. Other than the kill shot you will see the entire process from start to finish.