April 20, 2006

Pig Tails

Tamara Murphy of Brasa is the most courageous chef in town. Like many restaurateurs, she wants to feel more connected to the sources of her raw materials. Like her Belltown colleague Chris Keff of Flying Fish, she's particularly impressed by the humane and sustainable practices at Whistling Train Farm, the family farm in Auburn that supplies the suckling pigs for Brasa's signature dish, roast pig with chorizo and clams.

Murphy's passion goes well beyond the fashionable quest for heirloom vegetables. Back in January, she starts a blog, "The Life of a Pig," that follows a litter of piglets from birth to ... well, we know where this is going: to slaughter to kitchen to table. Weekly entries chronicle their lives as they romp, feed and grow.

Tamara w piglets.JPG Pork loins on the grill.jpg
Murphy down on the farm with piglets ten days ago; loins on the grill tonight.

She writes: "As a chef I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to actually feed them product that will change their flavour. Not only do our pigs get to root in the dirt for bugs, and plants, but items such as sweet potatoes, apples, nuts and berries will be a part of their diet, This is a good life for a pig."

As the piglets approach 100 lbs, it's time for their trip to an approved slaughterhouse in Puyallup. Murphy follows, watches, snaps photos (which she doesn't publish), pokes their livers. An hour later, the piglets are in her walk-in cooler at Brasa. And tonight, 130 guests sit down to a banquet celebrating the piglets' lives.

Nothing is wasted. Trimmings, fat, hearts, livers, kidneys and tongues go into an "everything pig pate." Shoulders, heads, trotters and hocks become a traditional posole. Loins are grilled, riblets smoked. Cracklings from the fatty skin accompany the salad course. Pork belly becomes bacon brittle, served with dessert.

There's even a perfect wine, a pinot noir from Oregon's EIEIO & Co. called, would you believe it, Life of a Pig. $35 a bottle, autographed, simply, "Tamara."

Brasa, 2107 3rd Ave., 206-728-4220

Life of a Pig wine.jpg Brasa on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at April 20, 2006 7:42 PM

That's the point, as I understand it. You can choose to ignore what goes into your dinner, and most of us do, but you appreciate dinner more if you consciously acknowledge the dedication & energy of the farmers who grew it and the lives of the animals that went into it.

Posted by: Ronald at April 21, 2006 1:58 PM

Some things it's just better not to know.

Posted by: David Lonay at April 21, 2006 1:23 PM

Takes a man with a lot of heart to write like this!

Posted by: paris pal at April 20, 2006 11:56 PM