Here, Piggy Piggy! La Quercia Pork Comes to L.A.
In the decadent tradition of hand-massaged, beer-fed Kobe beef, a new taste sensation is coming to California: La Quercia artisanal pork. These happy little piggies are raised on an organic farm in Iowa and fed a diet of acorns, just like the famed pigs of Spain's jamon iberico. EaterLA had the scoop yesterday:
These acorn-fed pigs are supposed to produce amazing meat, as they do in Italy and Spain. The company that's responsible for said pigs makes some of the best prosciutto in the country, found on only a few top menus in LA. But more importantly: There were only 45 pigs available, and only 10 SoCal chefs got to participate in the program, which means we'll start seeing this much ballyhooed pork on select local menus.
Even Jeffrey Steingarten himself said that the stuff is "the best American or imported prosciutto I’ve ever tasted.” Los Angeles restaurants like Wilshire, The Beverly Hills Hotel, and Catch at the Casa Del Mar have already signed up to receive their first shipment of the precious porky stuff, which the LA Times says will include "35 pounds of organic fresh pork ribs, trim for sausage and tenderloin, plus 100 pounds of La Quercia-cured guanciale (cured jowl), pancetta, lardo (Italian-style fatback), coppa, spallacia (front leg, cured prosciutto-style) and bone-in whole-leg prosciutto -- which will arrive on your doorstep after the year and a half (approximately) it takes to cure it. Whether you know what to do with it or not, you also get leaf lard, caul fat and offal." Caul fat! Lucky bastards. That looks like fixins for some good sausage to me.
In terms of taking steps towards a more sustainable gourmet future, I like the idea of these acorn-fed pigs (yes acorns are a natural pig food), which are ethically raised and carefully handled. Moreover, if the quality of the meat is high and chefs embrace the American-jamon trend, that means we will spend fewer resources on shipping pork from Europe. Right now, the pork is kind of ridiculously expensive, but if demand continues to rise -- who knows how the organic pork market will adapt?
Full list of participating restaurants is under the jump.
Bar Bambino in San Francisco. Chef Elizabeth Binder
Napa Valley Grille--Westwood in Westwood, CA. Chef Joseph Gillard.
Tiara Cafe. Chef Fred Eric
Tra Vigne St. Helena. Chef Nash Cognetti
Viceroy Palm Springs, Chef Stephen Belie
A16, San Francisco. Chef Nate Appelman
Manhattan Country Club, Manhattan Beach. Chef Clinton McCann
PALATE Chef Octavio Becerra
Ducca at the Westin Hotel in San Francisco. Chef Richard Corbo
The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills. Chef Robert Allen
Boulevard in San Francisco. Chef Nancy Oakes
Wilshire Restaurant, Santa Monica. Chef Chris Blobaum
The Vineyard Kitchen at the Robert Sinskey Winery, Napa Valley. Chef Maria Sinskey
Tracht's Restaurant in the Long Beach Renaissance Hotel. Chef Suzanne Tracht and Chef de Cuisine Randy Montoya
Catch at the Casa del Mar in Santa Monica. Chef Michael Reardon
The Crow Bar & Kitchen in Corona del Mar. Chef Scott Brandon
The Four Seasons Aviara Hotel in Carlsbad, CA. Chef Pierre Albaladejo
Los Angeles locations in bold.