Fundraiser Success!!

Smiles, to me, are what make an event a success. And guests of the Slow Food Asheville fundraiser held at our farm last Saturday were all smiles. The event was also a success in raising funds for airfare to get our WNC delegates to Italy next month for the international “Terra Madre” Slow Food conference. There were just over 150 ticket holders and the silent auction brought in a good share as well.

It was a pleasant surprise that so many folk — nearly half — did not buy advance tickets but paid at the gate (the 80-some-odd advance ticket sales made me a bit nervous about what the final numbers would be). I could understand a lot of gate sales if the event was in Asheville or even one of the other small towns closer to “civilization,” but I had not anticipated it to be so much a factor with an event that is about an hour’s drive from where most folks hail.

Fresh Rosemary sits beside the stuffed chickens being sewn up in the pig.

Fresh Rosemary sits beside the stuffed chickens being sewn up in the pig.

It was really cool watching the Porcetta prep process on Friday. Porcetta is an medieval dish where a whole pig is deboned, then stuffed with whole deboned chickens, which are themselves stuffed. Chef Mark made a yummy stuffing for the birds out of some of our beef and bacon from last year’s meat harvest. The beef and bacon were finely chopped by hand and mixed with fresh herbs from the garden, creating a wonderful sausage. By deboning the birds and pig, the final roast can be sliced clean through to reveal all the nested layers.

The final porcetta with stuffing layers revealed

The final porcetta with stuffing layers revealed

We left the head, hooves, and tail on, but because the pig was all trussed up into a cylinder (everything tucked against the body), the final assembly didn’t look very pig-like past the head area.

Speaking of the head area, the expression on the pig’s face was rather serene … as it should be … Wilbur had a great life eating wonderful slop containing fresh milk, eggs, corn, and table/garden scraps, he ran and played, had a clean death while sucking down some more fresh milk, and then had people fawn over him for hours and hours to prepare him for others to enjoy and sustain. All meat should have it so good!!

Mike retrofitted a homemade spit to use with the borrowed VFD cooker. It was elegantly simple in its functionality … as all great designs are. Notched wood blocks on the end cradled the homemade handled spit. We wanted to rotate a quarter turn about ever quarter hour and needed a way to lock the spit in place so that the weight of the pig wouldn’t rotate itself out of the desired position. So, Mike added a screw to the block on the handle end. With vice grips clamped onto the handle and the screw riding inside their handle, the spit was locked in place. I think I may have to call him Mike-gyver from now on.

The guest chef, Mark Rosenstein, got very attached to the pig after so many hours of preparation. At one point, we got word that someone had approached the pig-serving area and was about to start carving it. I had to run out and stand guard to reserve that honor for Mark … an honor he well deserved!!

Mark was fabulous throughout. He had this great, calm, even temper and was totally flexible. He was funny when someone would ask him to clarify some nit-picky thing like, “Mark, should we rotate the spit a quarter turn or some other increment?” … Mark would respond with some obviously exaggerated answer like, “I think we should turn it exactly 7 and a half degrees every three-point-two minutes” … which seemed to be his way of saying, “Hey, relax, it’s not an exact science, it will be o.k., we can modify as we go.” I worked in the restaurant biz (mostly waiting tables) for about 10 years, and I can say, a chef with a relaxed attitude is a rare and wonderful thing!!

Lots of folks helped to make the event a success. Of course, all the delegates pitched in time and materials, but that’s to be expected since they were the beneficiaries of the event. But many more folks came to help too, just because they love and support Slow Food and wanted to help promote it’s philosophy linking food, community, and environment. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!!!! And the cherry on top is that all the volunteers were these really fascinating people who I hope will become longterm friends. After all, Slow Food is as much about community as it is about food…just another way in which the event was a success!!

Volunteers press cider on event day.

Some of the many wonderful volunteers, shown here manning the cider press: JD Blethen, Phillip Kendall, Barbara Swell, Theta Drivon, and Julie Mansfield

To view all the pictures for prep days and event days that I managed to take myself (not enough, I know … more coming from others soon I hope), please click through to the event photos post.

This entry was posted in apples, beef, chicken, community, dory, events, john, lasa, pork, produce, raw cider, slow food, spring creek, vanessa, work. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Veronica
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Great food! Glad to see the pictures up since I missed the “pig prep”. Have fun in Italy!!

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