Monday, November 1, 2010

Sausage and Sympathy

If you offer me sausages, I will come.

And tonight Sausage Craft, Chris Mattera's artisanal food workshop, was throwing a party to show off their new space and bring together sausage loving fools. So I went. It turned out to be much more than just sausage, although that alone would have been enough given the delectability of Chris' ground meats.

Also represented were local cheese-makers Meadow Farm and Caromont, Buzz and Ned (with their sliced pig) and Free Run Wine Merchants. There was beer, too, but I couldn't tell you what kind.

What I can tell you is that the sausages I ate were positively addicting.

There was the San Miniato, Carmelina's and the braising sausage, probably my favorite. It was a sausage that is cooked all day until its pig flavor is one with the braising liquid and vegetables; I went back three times for more of it over Billy bread.

Sublime does not begin to describe it.

Abi of Free Run Wine merchants, whom I'd just seen at the Matt & Kim show and the Metric show, was pouring some of their off-the-radar Northwestern wines, most of which end up at select Seattle restaurants. The few that escaped are now available in RVA.

I tried the Impuls Chardonnay, the "71," a Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend and then, for a palate cleanser, the M. Lawrence "Us," a sparkling blend of pinot noir and chardonnay done in the Prosecco method. I finished with the Left Coast Cellars "Cali's Cuvee," a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

All worth tasting again, but the "71" spoke most directly to me.

The Jason Jenkins Trio was providing the jazz and I ran into a few people I knew. Okay, lots of people I knew. The surprise was being discovered by those I didn't. One guest guessed my identity by my tights ("You must be Karen!") and another, once he learned I blogged about going out in Richmond, by my enthusiasm ("I sensed that was you").

Mattera's new work space was impressive for its variety of meat grinders and the sheer size of the refrigerators/freezers. As a friend and I discussed, it would have made a great setting for a Halloween party.

Meat Grinder #2 was my official base of operation, allowing me a full view of the room, a straight shot of the band and a surface on which to place drinks and plates while chatting with old and new friends.

When I'd done all the damage I could, I left for greener pastures, which is to say a glass of wine and dessert. And a small rescue mission.

Earlier today, I'd been out front re-potting a plant when a friend and neighbor walked by. Upon asking her how she was, she answered "Fine" but with such a quiver in her voice that it was clear she was anything but.

She said she'd been dumped last night and, to add insult to injury, she had discovered this on Facebook when her ex changed his relationship status.

Talk about a cold way to end things.

I gave her a hug and asked what she was doing to deal with it. Her plan was to spend some quality time with friends at Six Burner tonight to distract herself from being so sad. So I stopped by to be one of the feel-better missionaries. Even if I couldn't offer any encouragement about getting over being dumped, I could at least be there for her.

For a Monday evening, it ended up being a good crowd of people I knew and didn't. My farmer's market friend told me she was getting a divorce and that that was a good thing (I congratulated her).
I met a girl who wanted to talk music, so we discussed M. Ward and Mumford & Sons (whom I can't stand) and surprisingly, she'd not yet explored She and Him.

I saw a favorite DJ who, just last week, had led off with an awesome trio of music at Balliceaux (retro to the max: Tainted Love, Melt with You, Young Turks) and needed to be told thatHe beamed when I complimented his mix.

Another friend, one of those I run into almost every time I'm out, upon seeing me announced, "Okay, one of us has to leave." Neither of us did and for a change, we had a good, long discussion of make/female dynamics, Jack Kerouac and the uses of basil (I grow, he cooks).

Normally we're ships that pass in the night and tonight we entertained each other.

Another eight or so sausage party attendees came in and sat down to be wined for the evening. The new Belle magazine was on the bar, so I could show off my cover story. I ate part of my dessert and shared the rest with a friend.

But mostly I listened and consoled my friend and neighbor who is still stinging from her unexpected discharge. I almost made a crack about our block of J-Ward becoming known as "Dumpee Row," but decided against it.

As I recall, humor is in short supply during the early stages.

I wish I'd had some of Chris' sausage to cheer her up. Sausage that good makes everything feel better.

Or nearly everything.


  1. hiya - i gotta start payin attention when i read yr site - fer the past minute ive been wonderin why you were "out front reporting a plant"

  2. Nah, you don't have to pay attention. It's probably just as funny if you don't!

  3. Glad to hear you enjoyed the event, Karen! It was a pleasure to have our sausages alongside some other great local products. Would you mind if I put a link to your blog post under the buzz section of our website? Thanks again,

    Brad Hemp
    Sausage Craft, Co-owner

  4. I'd be flattered to be in the company of such stellar sausage!

    And thank you for not looking askance at me when I kept coming back for sausage...again and again and again.

  5. It's up on our website under the heading "Buzz", check it out! Thanks again for attending, I'll let you know that I did sorta look askance...but I kept any concerns I had between me and the sausage. Oh, and if you aren't already doing so, check us out on facebook, we've posted pics from the party.

  6. You should have just told me to stop! I follow direction fairly well.

    Besides, I saw a vegetarian friend of mine there, so I figured her share of sausgae was up for grabs. That's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it.

    I saw the pics and there I was. It was a really enjoyable evening all around.

    Long prosper Sausage Craft!

  7. Woo... Sorry I missed that one. Sounds like it brought new and welcome meaning to the term "sausage fest."

  8. That's TOO funny that you mentioned that! Since Monday night is Ipanema's cheap draft night, everyone refers to it as a "sausage fest" cause of the disproportionately male attendees.

    I started to use that term for my evening and decided it might not be clear what I meant. But I was thinking it, just like you.