meatpaper event at camino 4/27....i don't get it
last night i went with two friends to the meatpaper party at camino, for the release of their pork issue. i had never been to camino before, and while it wasn't their food being served, i'd like to describe the layout of the restaurant, as it seemed to play a part in the way the evening turned out.
the dining room is fairly large, and the event was sold out. while there were several rows of tables, quite full, all of the action was at the back of the restaurant, where a large wood burning oven/grill was roaring. there is a long counter and a wide workstation, where a pig had been butchered and its various parts were being either roasted or grilled. on the right, there were long tables with wine, huge bowls of what i believe were ryan farr's much debated chicharrones (very delicious when free, or at least included in the price of admission). the other wall had a buffet fatted calf terrines (lovely), an asparagus snap pea and potato salad, and perbacco salumi. none were really identified, though a dark, almost purple variety stuck out. i'm assuming pork blood was involved. they also had bacon marshmallows.
after wading through the buffet, i stood by the wood burning oven where all the butchering was happening, and where everyone else was. hovering and jostling for front row access, as if at a hot ticket rock show. when platters of food came out, they were jumped upon and devoured, and then more waiting.
this is where i think the night got weird. all those tables, yet it didn't seem that any food was able to make it out there. i saw one plate of corn dogs mobbed and disappeared in seconds. when i realized that in order to get any food, i would have to play along, i pushed as close to the counter as i could, but felt weird about it. all the food i was able to eat was juicy and delicious, sure, but...so after awhile most of the pork was sliced up and served atop ripped up flatbread, grilled over the burning wood with a dollop of a green herb sauce, but i never really knew which part of the pig i was eating. loin? shoulder? leg? heart? it was all just passed to the masses and devoured. the man directly in front of me was great about passing the platters into the crowd, and he did explain some of the things i was eating. i wouldn't have been able to identify the chopped up trotters bathed in a smokey, barbecue-like sauce without him. and i had my first pig tail (lovely texture, and fun to spit out the nib sized bones). but the whole thing was just such a mess, and disorganized. was any of that food reaching the people seated at the tables?
the deal-breaker was when i took advantage of my height and arm length to try and snag a rib from a platter that people went mad for, and realized that the rib i was holding was being pulled away by a man that coveted it fiercely. his face told me that he would fight for it. i thought, "this is ridiculous," and released it. i enjoyed a couple lardy cookies and then my friend and i snagged a couple of the beautiful citrus fruits on display and left to go find our third who had had some horrible experience i still don't understand and left in search of a bar.
i hope that any of you that may have been in attendance had a much better time. i felt like i was surrounded by yuppies that think of premium pork as a revered rock icon from a long forgotten youth, ready to thrown down for a bit of rib . i had some notion i might feel this way before i went, but was just curious. and i didn't go to socialize, but to graze, but still...it was weird.
the word i thought of today while thinking it over was "uncivilized." but my friend thought of it as "undignified," which is kinder and probably more accurate. arena rock foodie worship. don't get it.
Those were indeed Ryan Farr's / 4505 Meats' chicharrones.
The dark item in Perbacco's spread was blood sausage.
What we had in smoky BBQ sauce was tail. Maybe they did the trotters the same way.
I liked the festive atmosphere and the way the pig and chefs were being treated like a rock band. It's the way people usually take pork for granted that bothers me.
The stage-like layout was definitely a major obstacle for shy or short people. I eventually realized nothing was going to get passed around and pushed my way to the front a couple of times and got them to give me plates to take back to my friends, and close to the end of the evening when people's appetites were flagging I managed to snag a corn dog.
This is exactly why I've stopped going ot most of these "all-you-can-snatch" events.
I went to 2 other pig roasts this spring, neither of which heavily promoted as the meatpaper event. One event sold food by the plate and the other was an "underground" $20 & a covered dish event - both of which are a much more civilized format, at least to me.
I hope the Meatpaper organizers read and take these comments to heart. Their Camino and last year's Perbacco events both were extremely weak from an event flow standpoint. I found the food frenzy at Camino to be odd, frustrating, and weird. People were jumping and shoving for their food. I am tall and used my height to snag a corndog but my friend and I also kept talking about how Roman or 15th century England it felt. Waiting twenty minutes to get a cocktail is ridiculous, and it happened at Perbacco and Camino. Make your drink components in batches, or work faster, folks, please!
Actually the line at the buffet table wasn't bad at all and they sent out a lot of the open-faced sandwich things. And there was never a line for wine or beer, and later in the evening not much of a wait for cocktails. It was just the whole pig and corn dogs that were a problem.
Big improvement over the last event at Acme.