Pigs. Passion and A Forage Dinner

 10361967_10152852233978890_4433643150111394670_nI remember it distinctly, I first met Mark and Kelley Escobedo at The Pearl Farmer’s Market. The market itself was small and half the bustle that it is today- so it was a bit ago. Kelley had a warm smile and I had some questions about preparing pork belly. My brother, Grant was visiting from New York City, and I wanted to impress him with some local Texas hog. She explained some of her favorite ways to prepare my new found protein. Her advise was simple- salt, pepper, broil, sear, serve. Keep it simple and keep the flavor of the pork, as it surely has enough of it.

Fast forward three years, and a whole life change for me. Moving from full-time mothering to full-time public relating and writing has had it’s fair share of challenges and triumphs, searing pork belly is far from one of them. As much as I yearn to be able to play in my kitchen on a daily basis, my life is more about pitching pork belly to fabulous, national media outlets. I’ll take it. Yet, I will also not forget it. The look in Kelley’s eyes, her passion, her dedication, her love of her product, heritage pork- the only of it’s kind in the state of Texas. South Texas Heritage Pork farm has the only animal welfare approved pork in the state. What does that mean? They love the bejeus out of their animals and treat them like family- the quality of the pork is second-to-none.

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You see, people ask me all the time how I got into this business. Writing about food on daily basis, seems insane to some.  And helping food and beverage businesses thrive, as we all know the reputation chefs have, why? I could be selling pharmaceuticals and making millions. I love what I do, the people I work for and with, and that look, that gaze of pure passionate connection–THAT is why. Why I work long days and crazy hours and sacrifice time with my children. I have’ it’ too. I have that passionate dedication for people like Kelley and Mark- for their hard work makes our meals taste better, makes the energy of the food that we eat come from “that” place, that is “it.” I want them- all of them-to succeed and measure my success based on theirs.

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You see not only does that sparkle ignite something within me- connecting that sparkle to someone else’s sparkle, thus infusing the world with sparkly connections, gets my inspiration wheels turning. Not to mention, anyone who knows me, knows I love sparkles. I first met Matt McCallister at last years Austin Food & Wine Festival, he made a strawberry “soup” with a dollop of labne. I love labne and all things savory, yet creamy. I’ll never forget it, it was the perfect late spring combination- you could taste his thoughtful consideration of ingredients. The season the compliments of flavors and elements of the ingredients. I later learned that Matt and Mark and Kelley were combining forces and passionate flavors, and co-creating a farm dinner. I was in to help out in any way I could.  And thus a foraging on the farm, harvest dinner was born.

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(photo, Matt McCallister, taken from FEAST porland.com)

As of now we have an incredibly talented line-up of chefs from all over the state that are set to venture from their restaurants, their families and all their responsibilities to meet at the South Texas Heritage Farm. This fantastic team will be harvesting many wonderful wild edibles and then from those ingredients and of course, properly raised pork, prepare a wonderful meal.

Chefs like Randy Rucker, who is on the verge of opening his new restaurant Bramble based in Houston, which will feature extensive local and foraged ingredients. Randy is also someone I have been lucky enough to call a friend. Not only can he cook, he has a care for ingredients second-to-none- I can only imagine what he will be making with pig blood, his requested ingredient. Andrew Wiseheart, an Austin based media darling and talented chef, who just recently opened, Gardner a second success to his well-known Contigo, will be traveling for this event and will surely perfect some pig with is mindful ambition.

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(Photo of Contigo team, Andrew Wiseheart on the right, credit: feastportland.com)

Let’s talk about our local talent- San Antonio is full of talented chefs, each that bring something to this culinary city on the rise. You may recognize, Chef Luca Della Casa he has been seen on the Food Network recently. Luca not only has a sexy Italian accent, yes, ladies- worth the trip itself. He lives and breathes passion. He and will be making a nettle infused risotto from foraged nettles. Robbie Nowlin, is one of San Antonio’s top hot new chefs. He has worked under the famous, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, you know my thoughts on that place. He has also worked locally with Jason Dady and the Dady Group empire, and has now found home at The Hotel Valencia’s Citrus. He plays with all sorts of ingredients, one can only imagine what he will be doing with pork shoulder and belly-Tim-The-Girl Mcdiarmid, the token female chef of the bunch, will be working with wild juniper berries, if you are a fan of gin they taste like a burst of gin in your mouth and look like a baby blueberry. Tim is known for her incredible use of vegetables and fresh ingredients, and is the founder of Special Projects Social as well as a host each year to an Italian getaway, Italian Fix. Gabriela Ibarra, Executive Chef as the ever-popular and iconic, Cappy’s will surely showcase something wildly caught, as his firm belief in the from forest to fork philosophy.

Although, no proper dinner would be complete without incredible cocktail accompaniment. Jeret Pena owner and master barman, of The Brooklynite will be creating a foraged based cocktail with Botanist Gin, which is made from foraged ingredients. Jesse Tores, of Mezcalería Mixtli will be making a cocktail for dessert as well, homemade marshmallows included.  My buddies at Alamo Beer will also be there with brews for all of you. It really cannot get any better.

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We will also have a bonfire where a special musical guest, Greg Schroeder from Dallas, who will be peppering our plates with gorgeous sounds. Let’s not forget our master foraging guest, Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen from www.ForagingTexas.com who is known for plucking dinner for himself along his nature walks. He will be joining us for dinner and a campfire discussion after dinner about foraging for wild edibles.

Our all star culinary team:
Matt McCallister – FT33, Dallas, TX
Randy Rucker – Bramble, Houston, TX
Luca Della Casa – Nosh & Silo, San Antonio, TX
Gabriel Ibarra – Cappy’s, San Antonio, TX
Andrew Wiseheart – Contigo, Austin, TX
Robbie Nowlin- Citrus, San Antonio, TX
Tim Mcdiarmid- Tim The Girl Catering, San Antonio, TX

Cocktails:
Jeret Pena of The Brooklynite, San Antonio, TX

“Smokey Smores” a hot coca cocktail, smores style- provided by Jesse Tores of Mezcalería Mixtli

Beverages provided by:
Alamo Beer – Beer
Remy Cointreau – Gin
Titos – Vodka
Blue Ventures Wine Marketing – Wine – Arindo Verdehlo & Honoro Vera Garnacha

River Whey Creamery will be providing their incredible aged raw milk cheese

Special Guest Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen from www.ForagingTexas.com  is known for—-will be joining us for dinner and a campfire discussion after dinner about foraging for wild edibles.

You simply cannot miss this once in a lifetime event. Tickets available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/906118

And as a special thanks to our food and beverage industry folks, we are offering a special discount- please email me directly for your ticket (Emily@definingdelicious.com)

Thank you and if you are what you eat, be delicious,

Emily

Founder of Defining Delicious