I’ve recently returned from inspiring days at Pigstock, in Traverse City, Michigan, where I and my partner in Salumi, Brian Polcyn, were invited to participate in a celebration of the pig. But we also got to sample wines and spirits made from the abundant fruit that grows in this unique climate. I have, since I first imbibed the crystal elixir, bowed before eau de vie, the aptly named water of life. My first vision of it was in the 1970s when my Uncle Lars arrived at our house with a gift of Poire Williams for my father; astonishingly, there was a pear inside the bottle. I did not get to drink from this as I was 10, and my dad felt that if they could get a pear inside a bottle, it deserved to remain sealed and Read On »

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I had one of the most inspiring days of my life Monday, watching Austrian farmer/butcher Christoph Wiesner kill and dress a hog. See video below of evisceration shot by Austrian journalist Jürgen Schmücking, covering Pigstock TC and Michigan wines and beers. We met on Marc Santucci’s farm, on a warm fall day, surrounded by leaves, apple trees, and tall grass. The pigs were rooting in an open-air pen, where the slaughter took place. Christoph stunned the pig with a bolt. He explained that it was important to do this with the pig in its natural position—less stress on both animal and muscle, which can be harmed by the acidity produced by stress. He was nervous and I could see it, his own heart pounding, taking deep breaths. He petted the pig and made loving noises to Read On »

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While I’m at Pigstock, an all-around Pig Love event in Traverse City, MI, here’s a guest post from my friend and fellow writer Stephanie Stiavetti; I’m not going to say what her upcoming cookbook is about but here’s a hint. —M.R. By Stephanie J. Stiavetti Käsespätzle Many folks believe that macaroni and cheese is a purely American dish. They’re surprised when I tell them that most European countries not only have their own versions, but that some of theses recipes appeared on the culinary map long before macaroni and cheese became popular in the United States. The Italians, stalwarts of all things cheese- and pasta-related, combined these two ingredients into many a hearty dish, such as baked ziti and cacio e pepe. The Swedes have their makaronipudding, a simple, stoic casserole of macaroni and any Read On »

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Excited about our Chicago trip to promote the new book, Salumi, I tweeted for a Chicago cocktail and got a few suggestions (only a few), including one for an actual Chicago (which I’ll save for later). But the suggested Southside proved to be easy to prepare with ingredients at hand and uncommonly refreshing. I was able to make use of a wonderful gin I hadn’t known of, Nolet’s Silver, which truly rivals my beloved Beefeater’s (thank you, Sally Alfis!), slightly more fruity and flowery, but still wonderfully dry. And the mint is still growing in the garden. So, The Southside it is! (Yes, Southside is one word for the cocktail, though the actual area, referred to in the Jim Croce song of my youth, is officially called the South Side.) This cocktail can be made using Read On »

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My daughter was assisting Donna during these videos for Le Creuset cookware (which I love, and am genuinely honored to be working with this company; seriously, not worthy, but I try). After the shoot, Addison said, angrily, real anger, “Why don’t you make that potato cheesy thing for me?!” “Good lord,” I said, “I’d make them all the time if I thought you’d eat them!” [I didn’t say, “Because of all the things you refused to eat when I tried to make good food for you!”] I cherish her but she’s difficult. Fact is, these are the easiest, best potatoes ever, and in this Le Creuset gratin dish, they not only cook perfectly, they’re gorgeous to serve. Watch the video—shallots are key, and I love that you can start the dish on the stovetop. And Le Read On »

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