The main reason for attending the PSU Farmers Market was to have a chat with Aaron Silverman from Tails and Trotters. Oregon produces over 90% of the US hazelnut crop, and T&T have put their own distinctive identity on their pork by using hazelnuts as a finisher. It’s a distinctive Northwestern approach to the acorn finished Iberian pigs of Spain. The long term plan for T&T is to produce proscuttio, however, in order to establish the business they’ve been selling fresh pork cuts and a variety of charcuterie. I have a lot to learn from them, it’s a sensible approach to starting a whole muscule curing business, building the business bit by bit. My head’s been buzzing ever since I saw Aaron, and I may well take a leaf from their book when I get home – all you charcuterie devotees may have to wait a little longer for my full product range.
The idea of this trip was for me to learn about other breeders and producers, and although I’m not yet half way, the mass of information that I’ve garnered is staggering. Learning about another countries food laws has equally been beneficial – producers here have to work out what they can make under what ruling, and it’s given me a new perspective on the various levels of food production at home whether it be local authority registration, approval or Food Standard Agency approval. I’m really looking forward to putting a presentation together once I get home so that I can pass on some of this knowledge to Welsh farmers and producers – it’s a daunting task setting up a food business with so much regulation but it doesn’t always have to be.
I’d seen some Tails and Trotters produce at Kitchen Cru a few days ago – they were one of the first producers to use the facility and from what Aaron was saying it has worked very well for them. Products on sale at the Farmers Market, ranged from fresh cuts such as coppa steaks and flank steaks, some very inventive cooked meats including a corned pork brisket and porkstrami, a variety of sausages, pancetta, guanciale, pate and a delicious rillette (a tub of which went home with me). The rillette was one of the products that exhibited the hazel-nutty taste that’s so specific to the meat, it was very subtle and a little sweet. Aaron sent me home with some back bacon too – the first I’ve seen on the trip. It’s very popular with ex-pats apparently and I can see why, I tried some for breakfast, it had a nice salt level, a hint of aromatics and the meat flavour came through towards the end. I’m sure the hazelnuts have a very distinct effect on the fat, it was creamy and had a very good clean taste to it.