Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lowcountry Adventures: Part 2

Day 2: Charleston, Good Food, Goats, and More

After saying our goodbyes to the Lockwoods, we headed to Charleston. There is a chef in downtown Charleston working with Guinea Hog meat. Guinea Hogs are critically endangered and we are just now getting to a point where there is a large enough population where we can market them as a food source. The chef's name is Craig Deihl and he is the Executive Chef at Cypress Restaurant about 4 blocks from the Old Exchange in downtown Charleston. He's not your average chef, in fact, he's been nominated for a James Beard award which is like the Oscars of the chef world (more about Oscars later).
We had a few hours to kill before our meeting with the chef, so Jeannette and I toured the Exchange Building. The current building was built in 1781, but for many years it was the site of other important buildings in the early colony. In the basement of the Exchange, you can see the old walls that used to surround the city. The dungeon area was used as a prison for pirates, Revolutionary War prisoners, and more. We tried to catch a glimpse of the old images in the building to determine if any historic or rare livestock breeds were depicted.
At noon, we went to Cypress to meet with Chef Deihl. The restaurant isn't open for lunch, but he agreed to meet us, give us a tour, and cook us some samples of Guinea Hog meat. Since he's one of the first to cook with this meat, our goal was to learn his thoughts on the Guinea Hog meat. ALBC is trying to understand how these products handle in order to help market them. Chef Deihl is really excited about the project and he was delighted to share some of his treats. We enjoyed Guinea Hog liver patte, Guinea ham, shoulder, tender loin, and belly. It was all quite impressive!

While we were trying samples of the meat, Chef Deihl’s next Guinea hog carcasses arrived at the restaurant. It was interesting to see the process come full-circle. I’ve seen the live animals, seen the carcasses, and now tasted the delicious meat they provide. This type of experience provides a much deeper appreciation for the complexities that producers and chefs face when working with rare breeds – but the result is very rewarding!

After lunch we headed to Walterboro to meet with a woman affectionately known as “the goat lady.” This woman has had wild goats on her property since 1985. She lives in a marshy area and the goats survive on the island with little to no input from humans. ALBC believes the goats are traditional, brush goats from the area which would likely mean they are Spanish goats or are of Spanish descent. Phenotypically, they sure looked like Spanish goats! We photographed and documented the goats for further investigation. These isolated pockets of breeds could prove to be a valuable genetic resource that could help add increased genetic diversity to the current Spanish goat population.
After our visit with the goats, we headed to Beaufort. Beaufort proved to be a good stopping point since the following day involved several investigations near the Beaufort area. Along the way, we stopped at Hunting Island State Park. It's a maritime forest of ancient palmetto trees. It looks almost tropical. In fact, the Vietnam scenes from Forest Gump were filmed here. After finding a place to stay, we turned in for the night and prepared for another long day of field investigation and documentation on our way to our final destination.

More to come in the next post.....

1 comment:

  1. good~ keep sharing with us, please....I will waiting your up date everyday!! Have a nice day........................................