Duck-fat popcorn and more: West Seattle Swinery plans, closeup

July 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 56 Comments

Story and photos by Christopher Boffoli
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

It requires a healthy dose of imagination to envision what Gabriel Claycamp has planned for his upcoming butcher shop/deli on California (first reported here last month) when it opens late this summer.

When I visited the site recently, he walked me through the space, pointing out where there soon would be gleaming stainless steel and spotless tile. But for the moment the future Swinery is still a ramshackle warren of odd spaces that don’t look as though they’ve seen a fresh coat of paint since the Bush administration. (The elder Bush.)

After the spectacular fall of his mini-empire last spring, imagination is just about all Claycamp has left these days. With his past business in shambles and his family barely making rent on Vashon Island, he is gambling on a new retail store in West Seattle. It is a venture that he hopes will put him back on course and perhaps will restore the luster on his decade-long career in food. In the meantime, several layers of decrepit flooring exist between him and his dream. And the flooring looks as though it doesn’t intend to be pulled out without a fight.

As we shouted in his new shop, over the buzzing of saws and the clanging of crowbars, workmen labored to cut and pry off layers of vinyl flooring and plywood concealing the original Douglas Fir floors below. By his estimation, the structure began as a humble little house that was set back from the road with a yard out front. “As far as we can tell, the original residence was built in 1909, “ Claycamp explained.

“Around 1920 they built a shop along the edge of the street and then built a bunch of small, non-permitted structures in between to connect everything.” Apparently the last building permit registered with the City dates from 1951, when the owner sought to convert the entire structure back to a single-family residence. But then it was converted back to a retail shop in the 1980’s.

Most recently, the space housed Muttley Crew Cuts, which has relocated to a new storefront on Admiral. “From the looks of it, the dogs were basically free-range in the back of the space. So we’ve been working hard to remove all traces of the previous tenants in the conversion from doggie to piggie.”

Claycamp is removing decades of bad cosmetic alterations and, with the blessing of landlord John Bennett (who Claycamp says is also property owner of other favorite culinary venues like Hotwire Coffee [WSB sponsor], Luna Park Café and Georgetown’s Corson Building), he’s aiming to restore the look of the space to its origins. He plans to have the ceiling, floor and walls of the the new retail space sandblasted, before polishing and then buffing, to restore the golden color of the natural wood.

The myriad structures that occupy the site feature a couple of small stairways and elevation changes that make for some odd angles and differing ceiling heights. If there are any right angles on the premises, Claycamp hasn’t found them yet. “The landlord has owned this building for 15 years and even he doesn’t know if there is an attic above or how we’d even get to it if there were,” he says. The demolition has revealed some interesting archaeological surprises. The process of removing hastily built partitions and layers of old wallboard has uncovered a bunch of charming little windows that were long ago covered up and forgotten. They’ve even found a transom of small panes along the front wall of the store that echoes the language of many classic old retail spaces along California Avenue.

“The architect is doing as much research as possible because we’d like to be able to restore the appearance of the store to a 1930’s look,” says Claycamp. “We’re going to keep the red color outside but we’re probably going to add some awnings to provide shelter for people out front who are waiting for the bus. I’d really love for this place to become an anchor for the neighborhood.” He says the city will soon be rebuilding the sidewalk out front in response to the complaints of the previous tenants. In the meantime, Claycamp has been scouring the region for interesting doors, light fixtures and other salvaged architectural elements which he hopes will refine the space and add character.

Back in early June, Claycamp had announced he would be opening a shop-within-a-shop in the under-used space at the front of Seattle Fish Company in The Junction. But when a new space became available, he abruptly changed his plans, as he says he immediately perceived the advantages the new space offered.

In the main room of what will become the new Swinery, Claycamp will have a row of refrigerated cases from which he will sell artisan house-cured charcuterie and deli meats (including his famous bacon) along with more of a butcher’s selection of meat and Salumi-type sandwiches. The emphasis will be on fresh and local. He will continue to source heirloom pigs from a farm in Port Orchard.

Claycamp says he plans to focus on filling a niche as opposed to overlapping with what is currently available in West Seattle. “I’m a long-time fan and customer of Husky Deli, so we don’t really want to encroach on their business. What I’m doing will be different.” Reasonable prices and value are important to him too. “We’re committed to serving as close to 100% locally produced meat as possible. But I want to be sure the price is right. Local and high-quality but not super-boutique-expensive.”

Though the Swinery has not produced an ounce of meat for a while now, this author had the opportunity to sample some of Claycamp’s charcuterie last summer. The “coppa” I tasted was made with the same local Berkshire pork that he uses for his bacon. Ringed with a delicate edge of glassy lardo, its flavor profile had a richness that reminded me of some of the finest Iberian hams (a type of Spanish cured, aged ham made with pigs that are fed a diet of mostly acorns), but locally made and at a fraction of the price.

The Swinery will also be a new source for serious cooks and foodies to purchase house-made stocks, soups and glaces. He plans to sell whole lobes of foie gras and may do terrines for the West Seattle Farmers’ Market. And Claycamp plans to offer a selection of cheeses from both local farms and from a new European importer who will offer a range of cheeses that are new to this country and not available anywhere else in Seattle.

During the day a small courtyard outside will offer slow-cooked barbecue-pork sandwiches. A small seating area will preserve an existing window that will soon reveal part of the food prep area at the rear of the shop. “It will be all tiled walls and stainless steel in there. Clean people working in clean spaces.” The new shop will offer a small retail selection of bottled wine. There will even be a popcorn machine dishing out duck-fat or bacon-fat popcorn to those who might just want a quick snack. “We will probably try some breakfast sandwiches too,” he adds, “because the high school is practically right across the street and crowds of people will be getting off the bus right in front of the store.”

First, the building work has to be completed.

“The biggest project as part of the renovation will be our re-build of the door at the back of the property. It is a tiny little opening we call the ‘hobbit’ door. Our walk-ins will be located out back, so we’re obviously going to need a much bigger door if we’re going to be bringing in half a cow.”

Though he’s not certain, Claycamp thinks that the new Swinery may be one of only a few shops left in Seattle that will actually be butchering large sections of meat on the premises. He explained that, until recently, USDA rules required meat to be both slaughtered and wrapped at a certified USDA facility. These requirements added considerably to the retail cost of a cut of meat. But the USDA has recently updated those requirements. Meat will still need to be slaughtered under the watchful eye of the USDA but the wrapping can now be done elsewhere. The new Swinery will have a USDA inspector’s office on site. “King County will certify us so we can purchase large cuts of meat directly from USDA certified houses and then do the rest of the breakdown here.”

Claycamp is planning to incorporate space in the new design to try a bit of dry aging of beef as well and will be collaborating on it with some formidable local talent: “I’ve recently been talking to Chef Kim Smith, who has a huge pedigree from some of the best restaurants here in Seattle and who is currently on the faculty of the Pastry and Specialty Baking program at South Seattle Community College. Kim was telling me about her grandfather who was a butcher back in Finland. They have a system over there for dry-aging meat in cedar boxes. Apparently the cedar has something to do with the way the fat changes and it nicely influences the flavor of the meat. It becomes more tender than it does with our process of dry aging. So we’re looking to do some of that.”

Claycamp also plans to collaborate with Chef Brian O’Connor, who made a name for himself back in 2004 as Chef de Cuisine at the Madison Park Café, before enjoying subsequent acclaim at Sutro’s in San Francisco, and at the former Laurel in San Diego, the only restaurant in town to earn Mobil four-star ratings 2006-2008. “Brian will be coming back to Seattle to be the other half of the culinary team at the Swinery. We’ll be challenging each other and keeping each other enthused culinarily,” Claycamp adds.

A flavor of his previous enterprises will also live on in the new venture. Though his old staff has moved on to pursue new opportunities, Claycamp will be re-purposing a considerable amount of old equipment from his previous commercial kitchen on Beacon Hill. And a computer kiosk will be available at the new Swinery with the complete archive of recipes from the Culinary Communion, the teaching enterprise that Claycamp and his wife Heidi started in West Seattle in 2002 and that closed amidst much controversy last spring.

The old equipment and recipe archive are not the only things left over from the Culinary Communion. If some of the spirit of the previous venture lingers, so do some of the ghosts. The end of the old business resulted $250,000 in remaining debt and a swirl of lawsuits.

Things were much rosier in 2007 when the Culinary Communion decamped from where it had been located since its founding in a house near Morgan Junction. The enterprise relocated to a new space on Beacon Hill that offered expanded capacity for commercial teaching kitchens as well as residential space above for his family. They added to their staff and expanded their roster of classes, including popular foodie trips in the autumn and spring to Italy and the South of France.

Then last year Claycamp announced new ventures, including the first iteration of the Swinery (producing bacon and charcuterie) and a lunch counter at the Beacon Hill facility featuring Swinery-produced cold-cuts. On the side Claycamp had also been the founder of the so-called “secret” underground traveling dinner club known as Gypsy (as well as its companion enterprise called Vagabond), which featured an ever-changing roster of well-respected local chefs. The venture had once incongruously attracted the attention of celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain, who featured Gypsy on his nationally syndicated television show.

Despite his reputation as a talented chef with a growing family of Culinary Communion students and collaborators, Claycamp also attracted a small but vocal minority of detractors who claimed he was cavalier about health-code regulations by running an unlicensed restaurant without inspections. After years of flying under the radar, Gypsy was abruptly shut down in 2008 when a disgruntled diner apparently dropped a dime on them. Almost simultaneously, the state Liquor Control Board clamped down on the practice of the Culinary Communion dispensing wine during its cooking classes. When Claycamp sought approvals for the Swinery, the City began to throw down a gauntlet of penalty flags, which some speculated might have been retribution for years of flouting the rules in such a high-profile manner.

The on-again, off-again nature of the Swinery plans played out in the press at length until it seemed the City was ultimately satisfied that Claycamp was prepared to turn over a new leaf. But just as the Swinery was fully permitted and approved, Claycamp says, the Fire Department came along and trained a fire hose on the entire operation. During the inspections process, a fire marshal noticed that the rented Swinery prep space did not have a required second exit. Claycamp says he knew nothing about this and referred the complaint to the landlords. Solutions were limited due to the layout of the property and easement issues which would have made a retrofit prohibitively expensive. He says that the landlords assured him that the City could not force them to make the modifications. But their application for a variance was apparently denied. And Claycamp says that when the City took a closer look at the property they determined that the ceilings weren’t high enough and told the owners the floors would need to be torn out as well. When the landlords refused to comply with the City, the building was completely shut down. “So we weren’t going to be able to do April classes. And then there was no cash flow. And all of the employees had to go. It just became a mess.”

Claycamp says that, though the building was forced to close by no fault of his own, he had no choice but to turn off the burners and fold the Culinary Communion and Swinery. As the drama unfolded in the local media and foodie blogs, Claycamp was stung by what he says were personal attacks by a few anonymous posters. “I wish I could say I had a thick-enough skin that it didn’t bother me but it was pretty devastating. It came to a point where my friends were calling me and telling me just not to read it. A good portion of the anonymous posts were all in the same voice so it was pretty clear that it was the work of one or two posters. It is amazing what a couple of people can do on a blog like that. The interesting thing was that the criticism was never about the meat or the Culinary Communion classes. It was just about me. They hated me.”

Several months on, Claycamp is in a much different place. His apron and boning knife have been replaced with work boots and a hammer as he does much of the demolition himself.

As he works amidst the dust and noise, stripping away layers of the past, he says he is already encouraged by the warm, positive reactions he has had so far from people in West Seattle. “It seems like things have calmed down now or people just don’t care any more. The drama is in the past. There is something about this kind of hard work that is cleansing. I’m really looking forward to opening up and inviting the community to their new butcher shop.”

Claycamp says he would love to find a way in the future to reintegrate his love of teaching into the new enterprise. He may do limited classes on curing meat. He also hopes to have space in the back for a chef’s table at which he could host a “Gypsy-style” dinner much like Armandino Batali does at Salumi.

The Swinery rises like a phoenix from the ashes of the Culinary Communion as lawsuits and unpaid debts persist. Claycamp says he is committed to seeing his debtors repaid, including the students who pre-paid for culinary classes that were cancelled. “We used the last of our funds to pay our departing employees. To everyone that is still waiting to be repaid, we’ve offered a 100% refund (in charcuterie credits) at the Swinery deli. It is dollar for dollar and they can draw that out as long as they need to.” Claycamp says that most of his former students have agreed to accept bacon in lieu of currency. In fact, even the architect and contractor for the new store are working for bacon, he says.

The few who are holding out for cash refunds, he says, will have to wait for the outcome of his lawsuit against the landlords which may not have a resolution until next year. But Claycamp seems to have confidence that the matter will be remedied before then. “The thing is, we did and do still like the old landlords. The situation has become vitriolic and ugly but they’re not bad people. I’m confident we can eventually resolve this.”

As to his reputation as an underground restaurateur who flouts the rules, that is apparently in the past as well. When it comes to running his business according to the letter of the law, Claycamp has been born again, hard. “For me personally, now that I’m digging deeper into it and understanding it, it’s not so scary any more. I can follow the rules.” He says in his own defense that in the past it wasn’t always so easy to determine what the rules were, as the answers were often different according to who picked up the telephone on a certain day: “When we first called about a liquor license for the Culinary Communion 8 years ago, the first guy we got on the phone assured us that what we wanted to do was impossible. The second guy we got also told us it wasn’t possible. But on the third call we got a guy who said it wouldn’t be a problem. We learned to not call on things.”

Not only have Claycamp’s recent experiences made him more conversant in the language of playing by the rules, but he has become something of an expert in compliance. He is now the Health Department liaison for a new street food venture that he is spearheading with Skillet’s Josh Henderson, which he says is coming to South Lake Union in early August. “It’s crazy because I go down to the Health Department now and all of the inspectors know me by name. In fact, one of them was telling me the other day how I’m in a position to influence all of the other chefs who aren’t toeing the line by showing them how easy it is.”

Though he and his family put everything they had into the Culinary Communion, sacrificed and lost a lot, he says that it is a surprising relief to be on his own again and not to have a big infrastructure to support. Claycamp grew animated as he showed me a classic piece of kitchen machinery that he bought second-hand and tells me of his plans to use it to make bacon-fat infused hot dogs. “It’s exciting. I can’t wait. This is a new start. It feels good to be in motion again.”

The Swinery’s future location is at 3207 California (map). Online, watch swinerymeats.com. ADDED 12:33 AM: A bit more about Swinery’s role in the forthcoming Street Food Market is revealed in this item published late Sunday night.

56 Comments

  1. Welcome Swinery! We can’t wait to see/sample the finished product. It will be nice to have something a little different in West Seattle to try out.

    Comment by neighbor — 8:51 pm July 26, 2009 #

  2. Good grief, I like local news as much as the next person, but 3200+ words on this is a bit much. That’s more than twice as long as the current front page story on healthcare on the New York Times site.

    Please don’t just say “don’t read it then.” I’m really interested in what Claycamp’s doing here in WS. When you say “With his past business in shambles and his family barely making rent on Vashon Island…” that’s a huge understatement: Culinary Communion was quite literally a bridge that was left burning as his friends and customers were attempting to cross it. This guy has the potential to bring something great to our neighborhood, and I want to know what it is. But I don’t want

    Comment by Evan — 9:55 pm July 26, 2009 #

  3. (oops).

    …to read a novel about it. :-)

    Comment by Evan — 9:56 pm July 26, 2009 #

  4. Within walking distance of my house! I can hardly wait! Awesome!

    Comment by Megan — 10:05 pm July 26, 2009 #

  5. Wow! What a great & thorough story WSB. Thanks, now I *really* can’t wait til Swinery opens. :-)

    Comment by Cheryl — 10:20 pm July 26, 2009 #

  6. Ev – Darned if we do, darned if we don’t. Some criticize online-only news organizations’ work for not being in-depth enough, and here we have criticism for going on for too long.
    .
    As WSB editor, I had final say on the piece, and as I reviewed it this afternoon, tweaking a tiny bit here and there, I didn’t see anything I wanted to cut out. It could have been two parts, but frankly, multi-part series don’t work much any more – we even abandoned those in tv years ago, when it became clear people were no longer habitually watching every night, and might see part 1 but miss part 2.
    .
    Of course I appreciate you voicing your opinion. From my standpoint, I appreciate the fact the ‘net has infinite room to run long pieces as well as two-liners, and we do both … I am assuming the NYT piece you mention also ran in print and therefore did have a space “hole” to fit, while for better or for worse, online, with no print component, we do not … TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:26 pm July 26, 2009 #

  7. I’m waiting for someone at WSB to be honest and post the fact that Mr. Boffoli is a close personal friend of Mr. Claycamp. This was never revealed in the story, and makes it suspect.

    Comment by meredith — 10:42 pm July 26, 2009 #

  8. Great story, Christopher, and WSB!

    .

    I really enjoyed the part regarding the layers of the past of the building. I have a great interest in the histories of older buildings, especially local ones, including homes. It’s fascinating to wonder about what it was like to have been at a particular location, in it’s various incarnations.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 11:01 pm July 26, 2009 #

  9. Loved the article and am looking forward to it’s opening..and YAY it’s in my ‘hood :)

    Comment by JanS — 11:02 pm July 26, 2009 #

  10. Evan: Thanks for reading and for your comments. The length of this piece was something that Tracy and I discussed. And in the end I felt fortunate as a writer that, in this instance, she provided the support and flexibility to let me tell a longer story. The interview produced a lot of interesting information that seemed worthy of passing along. I realize that not everyone may be interested enough to read it to the end. But some readers may enjoy a lot of the details.
    .
    FYI, the average length of an American newspaper feature is 800-3000 words. Magazines often go longer with a range of about 3000-5000. The Stranger currently has a feature on the top of their website (about a horse) that clocks in at 3,600 words. So surely West Seattle’s best new source for artisan bacon is worth 3,200 words! :-)

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 11:08 pm July 26, 2009 #

  11. really intrigued by the place. Will definitely try it out when its opened.

    as far as the length of the piece, a little to much for my taste as far as the topic, so I skimmed through some of it.

    BUT, this is why I have forgone the newspaper. Way to little information in print. But with sites like these, no limit on the story – and very in depth. Would rather have that than the truncated stories in print. I would rather have a story lengthy that I can skip over, than a story that peaks my interest but doesn’t give more story.

    thanks for the updates.

    Comment by jamminj — 11:16 pm July 26, 2009 #

  12. Meredith, I know that Christopher and Gabriel Claycamp are acquainted and that doesn’t rule out his ability to tell the story. I know many people about whom we report. In 30 years of journalism, I have managed many people reporting on people they know, without having to run a disclaimer that says they’ve known them for X years, had dinner with them last Tuesday, or whatever – unless you are assigning an investigation, which this is not. His prior status as a customer of Gypsy is described in the article linked in this story.
    .
    If there is a monetary or family/business relationship, I would expect that to be disclosed, as we do when we so much as mention a sponsor in any context here on WSB, and there are none that I know of. We have worked with Christopher for 2 years now and I have never known him to be anything but honest, which is also a quality we continue to guarantee that we embody, ourselves – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:17 pm July 26, 2009 #

  13. Bacon fat infused hot dogs. Contractors working for bacon. Swinery may become our little slice of heaven.

    Comment by Denny — 11:33 pm July 26, 2009 #

  14. Meredith: To say Mr. Claycamp and I are “close personal friends” would be really stretching it.
    .
    I attended one of his classes in 2007 (a Valentines gift from my girlfriend). I ate at one Gypsy dinner that same year. And I visited the farm where he sources his pigs last year (with about 50 other people).
    .
    It is true I rose to his defense a couple of times in response to what I thought were libelous attacks against him in the PI. And I bought 90 pounds of his bacon and distributed it to WSB readers (completely as a volunteer and at no benefit to myself) last December. Otherwise we’re not close friends.
    .
    Personally, I think he’s a talented teacher and a gifted local chef and I admire him for those qualities. And as a food lover I’m excited about what his creativity adds to the local food scene. But I take my responsibility to the WSB and its readers seriously which is demonstrated in my asking him unpleasant questions about lawsuits, business failures and his alleged issue with code compliance in this article.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 12:07 am July 27, 2009 #

  15. Good article; I really appreciated the details!
    I hope he considers PCC Cooks for the educational/cross-promotion business.

    Comment by DrD — 12:35 am July 27, 2009 #

  16. This is going to be an exciting store to have locally; I’m already salivating!

    Comment by alkiguy — 2:17 am July 27, 2009 #

  17. I too was taken aback by the length of this piece but would rather have the detail than not…and I don’t even live in WS anymore! Between the arrival of the Blue Angels, The Porterhouse and now the Swinery I so miss WS.

    And complain all you want about the above normal temps in WA…come on down to AZ and see what a record breaking July is like!

    I miss WS…be kind to each other my friends.

    Comment by RIH — 2:49 am July 27, 2009 #

  18. good article.
    .
    i appreciate evan’s point too though, if only because it helps us think and debate about what the public wants in news stories and what we don’t. keep up the great work!

    Comment by bridge to somewhere — 7:28 am July 27, 2009 #

  19. That space has had dog groomers in it since at least 1973 that I solidly recall–anyone remember what was there before? Think it was dog groomers for quite a while before that, but have no firm idea when it started.

    Will be interesting to see the building restored.

    Comment by Gina — 7:58 am July 27, 2009 #

  20. Impressive! Bring it on, can’t wait to see Swinery in action!

    Oh and RIH, yeah…we get soft up here. That’s why the heat is so bad. When you’re not accustomed to it, it can be dangerous. (Heck, 100 degree temps are dangerous anyway.)

    Comment by Dreamland — 8:10 am July 27, 2009 #

  21. I loved reading this article. I am so happy to have the source for Gabe’s amazing bacon and saucisson up and running again. And in walking distance from my house. LOVE IT!

    Comment by Jennifer — 8:40 am July 27, 2009 #

  22. I can’t wait until this place opens! What a great resource this’ll be for people in W. Seattle who appreciate great fresh, local food. If more places like this keep opening in W. Seattle, we’re going to give people a reason to cross that bridge for our food.

    Then everyone can start complaining about that…

    Comment by Patrick — 8:44 am July 27, 2009 #

  23. In response to Evan and the WSB comments–I couldn’t disagree with Evan any more. It’s refreshing to see a non-newspaper news source that is willing to write more than 800 words on a topic. And though this topic or restaurant may not be of great interest to everyone, Seattle has a lot of foodies and WSB readers certainly seem to be interested in this sort of thing, based on all the comments generated by restaurant postings. Long articles are perfect for a blog format; only a small portion of the article shows on the front page and you can click to the read the rest of the article, or not. A few headings sprinkled about the article would make it easier for skimming, but I much prefer having a lot of information vs. not enough. And the detail in this article gives a lot of intimate knowledge about the history of our neighborhood and its proprietors that we wouldn’t get elsewhere. That’s what the WSB is all about–thanks WSB!

    Comment by MoreLongArticles — 9:32 am July 27, 2009 #

  24. Christopher and WSB: Is the Swinery still on schedule to open in August? Or is there a new date?

    Comment by MoreLongArticles — 9:48 am July 27, 2009 #

  25. Though I HAVE been critical of Gabe and his somewhat lax business oversight in the past, I have never stopped admiring his abilities and vision. I am really looking forward to this opening with as much, more, anticipation than I have had for any business.
    I’ll bring my resume and will be able to defend my critiques; hope my talents can be of value to Gabe and his burgeoning enterprise.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:08 am July 27, 2009 #

  26. Richard Ibaldry, that bacon was a favor Christopher did for other people. Five pounds of it went to my household alone.

    Great article Christopher! I for one can’t wait for the swinery to open a walk from my house, and am now quite hungry.

    Comment by austin — 10:09 am July 27, 2009 #

  27. RIH, if you are really from W. Washington (no reason for me to doubt. Maybe you’ve been away for too long to remember) you will recall the way it is supposed to happen here is three days of upper 80′s-90′s, hot, rising air draws cool ocean-surface air inland, temps drop back into the 70′s, everyone is happy and stops talking about the weather. Peace and harmony reign.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:17 am July 27, 2009 #

  28. Richard Ibaldry: Now that I think of it, 90 pounds of bacon was the biggest meat purchase of my life (to date). And let me tell you something…that much bacon is a mitzvah in itself! I’m kvelling now just thinking about it.
    .
    But I still like to think that the experience speaks more about my friendship with West Seattle Blog readers than my appreciation for Gabriel Claycamp.
    .
    Let me walk you through it: 1. There was delicious bacon. 2. It unfortunately wasn’t located in West Seattle. 3. WSB readers wanted bacon. 4. I have a car. 5. I took bacon orders. Fortunately, I did have enough cash stuffed into my piggy bank despite my clearly Dickensian situation as a writer and photographer :-) 6. I met up with the bacon aficionados and hooked them up. 7. I accepted no gratuities (except for the delightful bottle of wine that JenV brought me. Holla JenV!). 8. The bacon lovers of West Seattle slept soundly with stomachs full of delicious bacon.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 10:26 am July 27, 2009 #

  29. Taking note of some of the grammatic, syntax and spelling errors in some of the complainers posts, maybe MORE reading is in order.
    Like exercise and vegetables, it sounds abhorrent, but once you understand the variety available, (something for every taste!) and you start doing it, you really start to enjoy it.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:31 am July 27, 2009 #

  30. Welcome to the neighborhood! My business is right across the street. Can’t wait for your grand opening!
    Also, great article. No conspiracy theory here, just a small, honest local business enhancing our beloved West Seattle. Who cares how many pounds of bacon have you purchased? Geeez…

    Comment by Manuela — 10:33 am July 27, 2009 #

  31. Disclaimer: Christopher is my neighbor and he rolls out our garbage cans.
    I don’t mind lengthy articles if they feature rich content and are well written. Both I feel applies to this piece and the other articles Christopher contributed to WSB. If Swinery’s sandwiches can come close to what Salumi is handing out then I think we’re in for big treat!

    Comment by Andre — 11:54 am July 27, 2009 #

  32. Can’t wait till this opens. After I pick up my new comics at Arcane Comics on Wednesday evenings I can just walk a couple of doors down and pick up meat and cheese. Sounds good to me.

    Comment by D — 12:00 pm July 27, 2009 #

  33. I think the important question here is… How many pigs does it take to get 90 pounds of BACON?

    Comment by fluorescent carl — 12:11 pm July 27, 2009 #

  34. How nice to have the kind support of my neighbor Andre, a German National who has a command of English superior to that of most of my American friends! Thanks Andre!

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 12:41 pm July 27, 2009 #

  35. Duck-fat popcorn? Barf.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 12:52 pm July 27, 2009 #

  36. It was a good article.. clearly written by someone who is a fan…

    There is definately a market for ethically produced food here in WS.. especially if it is tasty..

    but this may be an unfortunate quote considering the heavy traffic on the forum for all things bacon..

    “So surely West Seattle’s best new source for artisan bacon is worth 3,200 words!”

    Comment by JoB — 12:56 pm July 27, 2009 #

  37. Please oh please offer fresh lamb meat!!

    Comment by Andrew — 12:58 pm July 27, 2009 #

  38. Maybe one day a vegetarian restaurant will open?

    Comment by gidget — 1:04 pm July 27, 2009 #

  39. “I think the important question here is… How many pigs does it take to get 90 pounds of BACON?”
    No, the real question is: How many trolls would it feed?

    Comment by KBear — 1:48 pm July 27, 2009 #

  40. A reminder that it’s against WSB rules for one commenter to use multiple aliases in the same thread. When that’s detected, the subsequent comments will be deleted (or, if our system had held them for moderation, not approved) – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:15 pm July 27, 2009 #

  41. Great story, can’t wait to try it, I know what its like to put your entire life and then some into your own business, and lastly I am laughing because people are counting the number of words…

    Comment by coffee — 2:44 pm July 27, 2009 #

  42. MoreLongArticles: (Nice handle!) This interview was conducted a few weeks ago and at that time Gabriel was saying that they were shooting for a late August open. But as I think we’ve seen with other new West Seattle food-related ventures, these opening dates can be a bit fluid, often owing to events that are out of the restauranteur’s controls (contractors, materials, permits, etc.) In the time since the interview I’ve also seen some photos of the advancing demolition that gives me pause. You tend to have some surprises when you open up old walls.
    .
    With that said, Gabriel seems super motivated and focused. I thought “late summer” would be a safer bet for what was posted in the article.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 3:38 pm July 27, 2009 #

  43. Christopher and Tracy: Thank you SO MUCH for the article. As I kept reading I began to realize that it wasn’t the all-too-typical blurb, but a real piece of journalism. Thank you for this blog and the content you provide.

    Shame on the city for carrying on a vendetta against this guy for past actions, instead of focusing on getting another employer open in West Seattle.

    And shame on the Liquor Board for their actions regarding Culinary Communion; when are we going to have an Initiative to abolish this state-run monopoly and free up our choices in Washington? I’m in.

    And thank you, Mr. Claycamp, for forging ahead despite the abusive government practices. You will have loyal customers once you open, and hopefully lots of them.

    Comment by Jose — 4:23 pm July 27, 2009 #

  44. For those who would prefer me to use less words — I like the article, the Swinery, Gabe, and Bacon! (Are 9 words too many?!?!)

    Not that anyone should HAVE to read my opinion…but “great article!” The great thing about it was, if it were too long for you, you could skim or even stop reading it.

    EGADS, you mean that it is okay NOT to have the attention span of a hyperactive hamster going to the first day of circus camp after having a bowl of sugar frosted flakes soaked in a double-tall espresso!!?!?!

    I would love to see a few more articles like this – insightful, articulate, interesting, comprehensive. It is a wonderful story. I enjoyed the writing and look forward to enjoying the new shop! I have lived in West Seattle only 4 years and am a relatively new “foodie.” I geninuely appreciated the background and the sense of story-telling…

    Comment by Peter — 7:00 pm July 27, 2009 #

  45. Maybe a title noting the article is a special feature to the WSB, setting it apart from the quick read, up to the minute news posts would help … and quiet the critics? Love WSB! Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Eve Reonesacritic — 9:37 am July 28, 2009 #

  46. Kayleigh…I’m not sure what duck fat popcorn tastes like, but I have made popcorn using bacon fat, and it’s heavenly, truly heavenly…a smattering of sea salt on top, an ice cold beer..and call me happy :)

    Comment by JanS — 10:15 am July 28, 2009 #

  47. Yeah! The popcorn is cooked IN duck fat, not soaked in duck fat. Don’t be shy with fat; fat loves you, and your body loves (and needs) fat.
    Everything in moderation. Except for pork.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:43 am July 28, 2009 #

  48. Another thing, however many hogs it takes to produce 90 pounds of bacon, there is a lot of other delightful pieces on the piggy that we like to eat. I’m certain that nothing went to waste. Snout to tail, everything but the squeal!

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:47 am July 28, 2009 #

  49. If they could deep-fry the squeal, I’ll bet it would be tasty too!

    Comment by KBear — 12:07 pm July 28, 2009 #

  50. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t Kayleigh a veggie? She may be more against the concept of the duck fat popcorn more than the actual flavor.
    .
    Duck fat french fries seem to have been hitting a lot of menus in recent years and they’re incredibly good. As if the french fry was something that needed improving on anyway. You could probably fry them in kerosene and I’d still probably eat them.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 1:23 pm July 28, 2009 #

  51. I was wondering how many posts it would take before the ‘someone open a vegetarian restaurant post would appear :)

    ok..seriously… Short of Cafe Flora…I can’t think of another strictly veg place..I”m sure there are more. and..fwiw I _ADORE_ Cafe Flora. And I adore Gabe’s bacon.

    Gidget…plenty of small business loans available these days. Give it a go!!!! The original Ovio space is available.

    Comment by grr — 9:42 pm July 28, 2009 #

  52. Great article, full of flavorful insight and even at its length – no filler!

    Comment by Keith — 12:15 am July 29, 2009 #

  53. I hate to bring this up, but Claycamp’s “famous” bacon is essentially a ripoff of the recipe for fresh bacon in “Charcuterie” by Ruhlman and Polcyn. That book was one of the key reference books used at Culinary Communion and a number of recipes used at Culinary Communion are clearly small modifications of ones already published in that book. I don’t wish ill on Claycamp and his family, but hope that someday he can “come clean” and live completely on the up-and-up.

    Comment by eastlake — 1:29 am July 29, 2009 #

  54. So anyone who ever used a recipe to make anything is ripping it off? Why would they publish it in a book if they didn’t expect people to use it? The fact that I use my great-grandmother’s recipe for pasta sauce doesn’t make it any less delicious or authentic.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 7:04 am July 29, 2009 #

  55. GREAT ARTICLE! Keep up the good work.

    Unfortunately some waste everyone’s time complaining about it’s length – they need to get a life.

    And meredith, geeez… :-(

    Comment by Fred — 1:23 pm July 29, 2009 #

  56. you bet, Fred. it was a PLEASURE reading such a well written, in depth article. MORE please.

    and, pass the bacon.

    -

    Comment by grr — 12:20 am August 1, 2009 #

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