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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Butchery and Bacon-Spiked Bourbon: Bloodhound Pig Roast Turns Hacking into a Spectator Sport

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2009 at 7:01 AM

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One of the evening's victims, in mid-takedow
Last night's pig roast at SOMA bar Bloodhound saw two superstars of the city's pig culture go head-to-head in a hack-off. Call it more a demonstration of competing butchery styles than an Iron Chef smackdown: Chicharrones king Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats and Fatted Calf's mortadella meister Taylor Boetticher showed off radically different ways of dismembering. By the end of the evening, it wasn't clear who won. Though, clearly, the losers were the pair of 200-pound pigs, butchered and grilled for the delight of dozens of spectators, who'd each paid 25 bucks to watch an event that felt part ritual, part WWE-style asskicking.

"Can you believe this thing was alive four days ago?" someone in the crowd yelled out, as Farr used a small hatchet to behead his pale, waxy-looking victim, a 4- to 6-week-old pig raised in the Capay Valley. "I'm gonna send this to all my PETA friends," said a guy snapping pics. "It's like surgery," said another, "only it ends up tasty." Farr's approach was methodical: prying open the ribs, cutting the bones away from the spine. He jimmied out the red backbone and held it up for the crowd. "That is so fucking great," someone said. "It's like Mortal Kombat."

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Taylor's bacon-flavored old fashioned

Meanwhile at another table across the bar, Boetticher was dismembering more than deconstructing. He removed the legs, still attached at the pelvis. From an array of containers before him, the charcuterie maker seasoned the various cuts, some of which he rolled and bound with butcher's twine. Cheryl Magat, who'd come from San Bruno to watch, waxed philosophical. "It's interesting how this has become entertainment. Like, suddenly it's cool to stand around a bar, drinking, and watch this while hip-hop music is playing," Magat said. "I think it really speaks to how urban we've all become."

click to enlarge Boetticher butchering
  • Boetticher butchering
Jacob Alioto, chef of Luka's Taproom in Oakland, showed up thinking he'd be put to work -- he's friends with many of the chefs who were milling around, drinking or stoking coals. Out in the alley, where a pair of large grills were waiting for the pig parts, Alioto was sipping an old-fashioned made with bourbon infused with Fatted Calf bacon. "I think it's great. We're seeing that people are much more comfortable knowing where their food comes from," he said. "Maybe we can start serving beaks and claws soon!"

click to enlarge The butchered pigs on the grill
  • The butchered pigs on the grill
As the first hunks hit the grill, Magat, for one, seemed to be feeling something very much like empathy. "It'd be great to be a pig," she told her friends. "You're super cute when you're alive, and when you're dead people go crazy over you. It's like someone bringing joy to people after they die. Like, joy," she said.

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