One of the key places that I wanted to visit during the trip was Olympic Provisions. The online buzz for the company’s products is incredible, and having arrived in Portland, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE keeps on asking “Have you been to OP yet?”. Olympic Provisions is the first USDA approved charcuterie producer in Oregon, they’re a big deal as they’ve invested heavily in some new big production facilities. They started with around 1000 sq ft of production space and have increased to 4000 sq ft so they really mean business. Charcuterie is big business in Portland too, as one person told me today “Portland has a hard-on for charcuterie right now”.
I headed over for a late brunch/early lunch at their new facility which has a very stylish eating area – I opted for four of their salamis and a side of rillettes. The decor is impeccable there, service was excellent and their design and branding is awesome. First up was the rillette, which was very tasty, there were some nice big chunks of meat dotted throughout it, which gave it a great texture. Then came the salami, which sadly weren’t particularly enthusing. From a technical perspective I couldn’t fault them, nicely aged, firm, good colour and the meat/fat ratio and the distribution were good. However, the seasoning was overpowering for me and there was an aftertaste to the meat that really wasn’t pleasant. To be perfectly frank, I was devastated. And I apologise now to the lady who served me, I didn’t mean to be rude, I was utterly in shock. Like art, food is subjective, some people love one thing, others can hate it – I’m obviously in an absolute minority when it comes to the salumi at Olympic Provisions.
I was so devastated, that by mid afternoon I was hoping that I’d just had a bad batch, so I made my way cross town to their other restaurant. This was their original site, and it was lovely, if I ever have a restaurant of my own, that’s a pretty damn good blueprint for me. I only ordered two salamis this time, but that same aftertaste to the meat was present. I had a good chat with one of the servers, she was incredibly knowledgeable about how the salami was made, and answered all of my probing questions. They source from farms with high welfare standards and have particular feed regimes, they process using nitrites/nitrates and starter cultures so I really don’t know why they’d taste different to their European cousins.