Three of four arsenic drugs used in animal feed have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Yes, that's right -- that means that up until now, arsenic was used in animal feed.
The drugs -- roxarsone, carbarsone and arsanilic acid -- were added to feed for chicken, turkeys and pigs to prevent disease and promote growth and a "healthy" pink hue. (Unfortunately arsenic does not kill salmonella.) However, recent studies showed levels of arsenic in chicken exceeded amounts that occur naturally, The New York Times reported. Meaning that the arsenic in the feed was doing more than just its job. Wouldn't ya know it was making its way into the animals' tissues, thence into your mouth, your tummy and your tissues.
Sometimes roasting a pig well, so that the skin is crisp and the meat unyieldingly rich, is best left to a trained professional. On Sunday, Aug. 18, there'll be not one but two highly skilled chefs -- both Top Chef alums, no less. Suzanne Tracht and Nyesha Arrington will collaborate on a family-style Sunday supper of roasted pork with the trimmings at Tracht's West Hollywood chophouse Jar.
This year, the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and on Friday, Aug. 16, the celebration comes to Los Angeles.
What's the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma? It's an organization formed in 1963 to establish a set of guidelines that would protect the ham that had been produced in the area surrounding Parma for hundreds of years. In 1996, the Consorzio's efforts lead to the recognition of Prosciutto di Parma as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
From certain angles, the pig looks like he's smiling, though the empty eye-sockets give him a macabre appearance. Like a porky jack-o-lantern, he's presented to the table -- to ooh's, aah's, and maybe an eww or two -- then whisked back into ink.'s kitchen. When the dish is served again it's nearly unrecognizable: chopped, shredded and served with lettuce cups, pickled radishes, and maple vinegar for DIY, Asian-style pig head tacos.
That's right, folks, Michael Voltaggio's restaurant serves pig head...And you get to look the beast in the eye before digging in. The kitchen goes through about six whole pigs every week for their various dishes, and on several weekends a month -- call ahead to see if it's your lucky day -- they'll sous-vide the heads and fry them up whole for this $45 special. It's rare, but it's worth it.
With Los Angeles voters deciding on three ballot measures today (D, E and F) regulating marijuana dispensaries, here's some food for thought: Pigs fed marijuana stems, roots and leaves on a farm outside of Seattle grew 20-30 pounds heavier. (And happier, too?)
"They were eating more, as you can imagine," Susannah Gross, the farm owner with the porky pigs whose feed was supplemented with potent pot plant scraps, told Reuters. Also, they just wanted to wallow in the mud all day.
In November, the state of Washington made recreational marijuana use legal -- medical marijuana was already legal there. A medical marijuana grower named Matt McAlman provided Gross with the detritus of his business. He said he hopes the idea expands to other forms of animal husbandry, including chickens and cows.
Kinda gives new meaning to the terms "pot-belly pig," "herbed chicken" and "grass-fed beef," no?
Cochon 555 is a feast for the senses. From the piggy small plates to oysters, to cheese cubes, to tartare, to ice cream, there are irresponsibly epic mountains of food. Some of it is really good. And from Anchor Steam bottles to wine tastings to single-barrel Four Roses Manhattans, there's enough drink to cripple an army of Keith Richards clones.
On Sunday, rap bounced around the rafters of the House of Blues on Sunset for the fifth annual installment of the touring food-and-drink festival. Women over 50 bobbed their heads to vintage Lil Wayne. Perfume collided with the smell of stewing meat. Slides depicting the faces of contestants and the logos of sponsors flashed across the projector screen. As you squeezed from table to table, your sustainable cardboard dishes and wooden utensils held aloft to avoid collision with another attendee's head, your body was constantly under assault, pinioned by elbows, brushed by shoulders. You felt not unlike a pig in a pen.
After Cochon 555 2011, we surrendered. Fattened up like one of the hogs that the crowds of attendees had, locustlike, swirled around, oily-faced and intoxicated, we swore off the thing. We were almost politically opposed to the maniacal level of indulgence that the event seemed to encourage. This year, we're ready for another shot at the lard-soaked affair, promising our conscience we'll have just a few fewer bourbons and perhaps graze more selectively than on previous excursions into the porky paradise.
Porchetta, as we recently discovered, is having its moment in Los Angeles. Or maybe it's having another moment, as the glorious Italian ode to pig is hardly a recent discovery. The roasted pork dish had been gracing Italian menus, Italian food trucks and rustic Italian kitchens for a long time before it hit the restaurant scene in L.A. And of course chefs here have been cooking the stuff for years. Don Dickman has been making porchetta for over a decade, at his now-shuttered Santa Monica restaurant Rocca since it opened in 2003, and at Barbrix, which debuted in Silver Lake four years ago.
Dickman's porchetta, he recently told us in Barbrix's tiny open kitchen, is easily adapted for the home cook -- not least because it is not made with a whole pig, suckling or otherwise. (Although he did make the dish with a 100-lb. pig at Rocca.) These days, Dickman uses a Niman Ranch pork shoulder, which he seasons, ties, covers, then puts into an oven for about four hours. That's more or less it. There are a couple tricks -- not because porchetta is a tricky dish, but because there are always tricks to the best dishes -- most of which involve fennel pollen. Find it, buy it, use it, and do so very liberally. That's about it for tricks. "The simpler it is," says Dickman, who has logged many hours as a culinary instructor, "the more likely you are to cook it."
When Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques, Tavern) announced late last year that they were closing their wine-and-small-plates restaurant A.O.C. to reopen in a different location, we might normally assume a months-long transition period, while we all waited for permits and whatnot and dreamed nostalgic dreams about Goin's black rice and saffron aioli. Not so for Goin and Styne, for whom daily low gear still probably means more than most of us do in a month. Tomorrow the new incarnation of A.O.C. opens its doors, conveniently right down the street from the old location, in a space some might remember from its days as Orso or, more recently, Il Covo.
A.O.C., which opened in the original location in 2002, will still be much the same in many ways, with the same charcuterie, cheese and wine that made the restaurant one of the best in town. In the kitchen: chef Lauren Herman, who was chef de cuisine at the previous A.O.C., pastry chef Christina Olufson and bartender Christiaan Rollich. The wine list (150 labels, 24 wines by the glass) is of course Styne's.
There will be small plates and large dishes to share, as well as new things on the menu: focaccia; a whole roast chicken ("Ode to Zuni") with panzanella, fennel, Meyer lemon and green olives; and lamb shank with white bean bruschetta, tapenade and feta salsa verde. There will also be a variation of Goin's suckling pig, a dish she's been serving at Lucques for years. For more on that, turn the page.