Last night, while I was treating myself to dinner at Seattle’s first and only sustainable sushi bar, Mashiko, West Seattle was digesting its first taste of Seattle’s first and only sustainable butcher and meat shop, The Swinery.
Seated next to me at the sushi bar were a couple who’d just come from a reading by Seattle author Robert Spector. And when I asked to take a look at his new book, “The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy are Surviving and Thriving,” I had no idea that several West Seattle businesses — including Mashiko and the Husky Deli — were profiled within. (The author discusses the book again tonight at Town Hall.) Reading Spector’s intro between bites of kona kanpachi and rainbow trout sashimi, black cod chawanmushi and matsutake tempura, I learned he was the son of a New Jersey butcher who, along with extended family, worked in the family store.
I’ll bet you a sustainably raised pork chop that had The Swinery opened sooner, he’d have included West Seattle’s latest entry into the world of mom and pop-shops in his book. What a story Spector could have told!
The Swinery is owned and operated by galvanizing chef Gabe Claycamp and his wife, Heidi Kenyon, whose impact on the Seattle food scene with Culinary Communion, their underground-restaurant Gypsy and a seemingly relentless stream of trials and tribulations helped make them one high-profile pair.
Chef Gabe and his wife and business partner Heidi at a 2007 casting call for “The Next Food Network Star.” Seattle Times photo/Tom Reese
And what makes this butcher shop different from others? According the the Swinery Web-site:
When we say sustainable we are talking about our commitment to buying animals from within 300 miles of our shop, buying whole animals instead of boxed meat, buying from small farmers instead of large agribusiness enterprises, and both paying and charging a fair, real price for our products. We are committed to using organic products wherever we can, and products raised and made with organic practices where certified organic is not possible.
The Swinery carries properly aged, hung, and prepared meats to delight your taste buds. We’re using “old school” practices such as buying only whole animals and using the whole thing. We want to bring back the flavor that’s been lost with mass-produced factory meats. Old-world influences and modern practices combine in our shop to produce incredible meats and sausages with amazing flavors.
Clearly, things have come a long way since The Swinery was just a gleam in Claycamp’s eye. And I, for one, wish them best of luck.
Swinery product prototype: Gabe’s prosciutto, taking the cure at the (late) Culinary Communion House on Beacon Hill, May, 2008.
So, anybody been yet? And?