“Taste our meats?” was an invitation I gladly accepted. I was at the Milwaukie Farmers Market, being offered locally made sausages. Sous chef Colin Stafford of Olympic Provisions was staffing the booth and as I tasted the sausages I was hooked. I love exploring the expanding world of local foods, and made an appointment to meet with Colin to learn more.
Colin met me where he works at 107 SE Washington in the historic Olympic Mills Commerce Center. Their production facility, which includes a second restaurant, is located in NW Portland, where their salumist, or salami-making expert, Eli Cairo guides the process of turning locally produced pork into an amazing array of salamis.
Colin has been with Olympic Provisions for just over six months and said, “I enjoy taking all the products and making something new with them.” Menu highlights include a pork rillette hand pie, Saucisson d’Arles salami with pickled onions, butter, and dijon on a baguette, and a pork and pistachio terrine. Or you can snack on fried almonds.
Making salami is a traditional method of preserving meat. Salami, which is made by fermentation, can be kept indefinitely without refrigeration. Olympic Provision’s product guide gives two salami storage tips: don’t freeze, and don’t seal in plastic. The salamis are living food products and need to breathe. White mold that forms on salami is edible and is added as part of the preservation process.
Since I wrote about a hog head cooking class not long ago, I was particularly interested in Colin’s explanation of coppa di testa, a salami made from the whole hog head, minus the bones. Yes, that includes the lips, ears, tongue, neck, skin, and so on.
The boned head is rolled up and braised in the oven for twelve to twenty hours. Colin said, “The textures and tastes change as you slice through the various parts. The cheeks are especially delicious.” He added that the other parts have their own appeal and that the coppa di testa is one of his favorites.
In addition to the restaurants and meat sales, they recently held a lamb butchery class and have started a “salami of the month” club. They also make their own pickled eggs, which Colin assures me is a customer favorite. For more information check out www.olympicprovisions, or drop by one of their two locations.
About Susan W. Clark
Susan W. Clark is a freelance writer and photographer focusing on sustainability. She lives on an organic farm near Canby, Oregon. Her blog, publication list, and clips are available here.