Friday, November 30, 2007

New Gig

I've been a busy cook these past few weeks and hope to be a lot busier. In no small part inspired by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polycyn's excellent book "Charcuterie" my passion for the craft that used to be my specialty back in the '80's when fear of animal fat amongst the dining public quickly limited my repertoire to confited duck legs and emulsified sausage, is reborn.

A few weeks ago I reached an agreement with Trent Hendricks of Hendricks Farms and Dairy to help him produce a line of American, Italian and French style charcuterie products. I've got to split out for the farm now, so I don't have a lot of time to blog about this now. But here are a few photos of some of our output. There's a lot more stuff working that I have not photographed. We've got legs of lamb brining (for air dried "lamb ham") and beef eye rounds in cure for Bresaola. After I took these photos I hung 8 more rolls of pork pancetta and 4 versions made from lamb bellies.

Until we build out a special room for air drying we are doing it in the cheese room.


tyronebcookin said...


Scotty said...

I am soooo jealous! Best of luck on the new endeavor!

IdahoRocks said...

That is sooo cool! I wish I could observe all the activity. I look forward to future posts.

fiat lux said...

Go Bob go!

Crazy Raven Productions said...

Rockin! Congrats!

(Heehee... lambhamlambhamlambham...)

mirinblue said...

Michael, Bob dG, Chef Pardus, Anyone...
I have a burning question that has been rolling around in my head like Tony's proverbial pachinko balls. It's off topic for this thread and I hope this venue is ok to pose it.

What defines a palate? Especially in children? While I know that some tastes are inherited (bitterness) and some certainly seems to be cultural, and I believe some aspects can be media influenced (my now grown son who steadfastly refused to eat eggs for almost 2 years when he was 5 after seeing that insipid commercial "this is your brain on drugs" with the egg frying in the pan), is most of the palate acquired? What makes one 3 year old happily slurp up oysters on the half shell (with hot sauce,no less), while others refuse to eat anything that isn't white?

As adults, why do I open my mouth to never before tasted foods and (mostly) like them, when I know other adults who still refuse to even try anything new? Is the palate of a person directly related to the idea of food (eeewww, raw fish, ewww tongue!) and if so, while we all recognize that raw fish, why will some try it and love it (or hate it) and some won't even try at all? Is the palate of a child determined by exposure to food? Will Tony's new daughter grow up eating everything? Something she inherits from her Dad?

And lastly, why are some (like myself) endlessly fascinated by food in all ways while for others eating is just something they do to stay alive? What constitutes this basic difference? I am hoping someone out here has ideas about is driving me crazy!
(I posted this also at MR's site..just looking for insight!)


Posted by: mirinblue

Jennie/Tikka said...

Mirinblue -

I don't have any science but I do have personal observations. The most eye-opening moment was provided by my hubby, who has the palette of a six year old at age 41.

Once upon a time, I caught him in the kitchen wolfing down all the pastrami in the fridge. It was located next to some roast beef that I bought because he specifically requested it (the pastrami was for me). Ordinarily this wouldn't be interesting - but I asked him why he was eating so much pastrami when he had been so ADAMANT that he ONLY ate roast beef and NEVER pastrami. He responded by saying - I HATE pastrami....I'm eating roast beef. I paused and repeated to him, "You HATE pastrami?" "Yes." "Asbolutely won't eat it??" "No." "Do you like what you're eating RIGHT NOW?" "Yes, I LOVE this." "Well, guess what - you're eating PASTRAMI!" "Nuh uh - I'm eating roast beef." Then I opened up the fridge and had him look at the labels the deli had put on the packages. His eyes got as big as softballs when he realized that he THOUGHT he hated something but actually LOVED it....and that he was guilty of that with other things, too. His opinion was based on some ijit's having mistaken one for the other once upon a time - and that opinion stuck with him. In his head he hated pastrami (because somebody ELSE hated it) - but in his actual experience...he loved it. If I'd presented him with a pastrami sandwhich as such, he'd have rejected it. If I told him it was roast beef - he'd love it.

Since then there have been NUMEROUS foods he's since stopped saying he hated because, as it turns out - he actually loves them!!

In several of these instances he'd actually never even tried them before.

When I worked at Caltech here in CA the Chefs would tell me all the time, "The higher the I.Q. the more bland they will want their food...with few exceptions to that rule." We saw it all the time.

All I can guess at is that it might come down to brain structure/chemistry/personality differences at the physical level - and psychologically, impressions ABOUT food versus actual experience with it. Or in other words - the more prone we are to take other people's opinions on as our own, the less likely we'll be to try the food ourselves and see if it's true for ourselves.

redman said...

You Rock
I too am jealous
keep us posted on this endeavor, including details about temp/hum. for the geeks among us

The Foodist said...



Tags said...

Good to see you empty your sandbox and replace it with salt. And lucky me lives less than an hour away!

Jennie - have you considered being a screenwriter? The strike's over now. That was one of the most entertaining stories I've read in a long time. (and well-written)

Just write the way you talk and it'll be very readable.

Bob del Grosso said...

Thanks everyone! I'm touched by all the well-wishes. I've been angling for a gig like this for a long time. For many months I've been looking for an opportunity to work my craft without having to start from scratch (i.e. start my own business) and without having to go into a restaurant.
I'll do my level best to post about what's going on, but it's going to be a challenge.


Jennie, bless her, did a great job of trying to address some of your many extraordinarily profound questions (Sheesh, what did YOU eat for breakfast today? Whatever it was, I'm jealous.)

The only question that I feel competent to address asks about the meaning of the word palate as it refers to taste. One's palate is a set of expectations about how food should look, taste, smell, feels and, in some instances sound. I suppose that we could add the dimension of time to it so that the definition includes some expectation of how long all of these other characteristics should endure. That seems right to me.

Don't get me going about kids. I've got two. I made adult food into baby food for both of them. Now that they are adolescents one would eat the hair off of my head if given the chance and the other refuses to eat anyhting that isn't sweetened, salted or fried.

They both drive me nuts.

Charlotte said...

I'm so jealous of your new gig -- I loved my foray into pancetta (have to make another one soon as the last one has mostly been given away) -- and I really want to learn to make cheese --but I need to rig some kind of humidity-control room. It's so dry here -- we only get 12 inches of rain a year. But I want to make lamb ham! Breasola! Fermented sausage!

Bob del Grosso said...


Really all you need to create a space with the right humidity is a room with an air conditioner to keep it cool, and a humidifier. Granted the AC will such humidity out of the air, but if the room is well insulated it does not have to be on very much at all.

That's how the cheeseroom at the farm is set up and it works pretty well. Of course the best pace for cheese is an airy cave...

Ed Bruske said...

great looking stuff, Bob. tell us more

Charlotte said...

Hmm -- I have a canning closet in the basement that is nice and cool, maybe I'll have to see if I can find a good humidifier --

Bob del Grosso said...

I'll be happy to tell more when I get caught up. I'm doing a lot more than making sausage. The kitchen has to be fitted out properly, machines need to be spec and bought, I've got to write a mission statement and NPR is coming on Wednesday to do piece for Science Friday on the science of cheesemaking... things are cooking!

If that closest stays close to 60 degrees, has good air flow then it sounds like it might be a winner. Good luck!
The cheese room is proving to be inadequate mostly because there are too many species of fungus in there. So we are going to build a special room for meat only, scrub it out and introduce the right kinds of fungus.

Kevin said...

I'm making duck confit tomorrow. I have a New Year's Day openhouse planned featuring preserved meats.