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Charcuterie - Books & Purchasing

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My neighbors' father cures his own hams for his version of prociutto. After visiting Barcelona this past week and chickening out on smuggling a Serrano ham back, (the prices were so inexpensive), I would love to somehow make my own version of a Serrano ham. Though my husband just may leave me this time if I turn the wine cellar into a place to hang these hams. :lol:

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Are there any women chefs at DC, MD, or VA restaurants who make their own charcuterie? I hope so. If not, why not?
Out of curiosity, why does it matter if the chef is male or female?

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It doesn't. Alot of restaurants are doing charcuterie-- as in more than a couple of years ago; I haven't heard about alot of women chefs doing their own and I was just wondering why. Now that Pam the Butcher isn't at Brookeville, I was wondering if any women are, either on the market end or in restaurants.

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It doesn't. Alot of restaurants are doing charcuterie-- as in more than a couple of years ago; I haven't heard about alot of women chefs doing their own and I was just wondering why. Now that Pam the Butcher isn't at Brookeville, I was wondering if any women are, either on the market end or in restaurants.
If you want to know the reason why many women chefs aren't I think it's a question of history. Butchering and especially smoking and curing have been exclusively male jobs for a long time prior to now- I'd say that it's only been in the last 30 years or so we've even seen numbers of women approach this field. I'm not sure that this is like other professions such as being a lawyer or a doctor where the skills can easily be taught to the masses- good curing and smoking are close kept family secrets and require families to open their minds rather than individuals striking out on their own. I don't think there should be this gender barrier, but I think it's kind of a reality. I'll say, though, I'd like to see more women able to do this should they wish to, but I can understand the reluctance to let "outsiders" into the trade.

This said, I place some level of importance on women as chefs and food artisans. My growing wine collection is increasingly more focused on female winemakers.

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If you want to know the reason why many women chefs aren't I think it's a question of history. Butchering and especially smoking and curing have been exclusively male jobs for a long time prior to now- I'd say that it's only been in the last 30 years or so we've even seen numbers of women approach this field. I'm not sure that this is like other professions such as being a lawyer or a doctor where the skills can easily be taught to the masses- good curing and smoking are close kept family secrets and require families to open their minds rather than individuals striking out on their own. I don't think there should be this gender barrier, but I think it's kind of a reality. I'll say, though, I'd like to see more women able to do this should they wish to, but I can understand the reluctance to let "outsiders" into the trade.

This said, I place some level of importance on women as chefs and food artisans. My growing wine collection is increasingly more focused on female winemakers.

Thanks. That's very enlightening. Now, if we're talking closely guarded secrets, I wonder what it would be like to do a taste test of charcuterie from local restaurants? My food memory isn't particularly sharp. While I can tell the difference between homemade and not, I'd be interested to taste the difference between four or five next to each other. . .like a wine tasting.

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Other than being hysterical progenitors of cooties, Jane Grigson alludes to women as being responsible for most of the domestic cooking and processing of pork products in “Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery” based either on historical tradition or feminine solidarity. There is a historical distinction between the domestic traiteur (pâtés, rillettes, terrines, fresh sausages) and “professional” (dry cured, smoked) charcuterie purveyors, which, not only requires differing mastery of technique, sanitation and measurement, but was strictly regulated by medieval royal edicts to ensure health standards, proper distribution of raw vs. cooked pork pieces, and Lent sales. I would wager that French ménagères likely executed most if not all domestic kitchen tasks for generations prior to WWII when women were expected to perform household duties, whereas professional charcutiers and traiteurs who practiced their phalocentric trade outside of the house were almost exclusively predisposed with XY chromosomes and hairy asses. In Bordain's Cook's Tour “Where Food Comes From” vignette, the pig is slaughtered by the patriarch and the women rush to collect the blood and innards for sausages or whathaveyou.

The formulations in Ruhlman's Charcuterie are rushed and based on confusing and illogical English measurements. Salt proportions for brines are too high and suggested brining times too short. Metric measurements are much simpler, especially when calculating percentages, but all quantities in the book are rounded up or down. A percentage breakdown of ingredients would be preferable so that recipes could be adapted to any amount, as Len Poli does. Most exhaustive of all, the $300 15lb 1000 page 2 tome opus Encyclopedie de la Charcuterie.

Ann Cashion has been known to get whole hogs which invariably leads to a variety of cured/forcemeat preparations.

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...

They have rillettes at Whole Foods. I've never tried them.

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They have rillettes at Whole Foods. I've never tried them.

And Arrowine usually has a basic selection of good-quality charcuterie, etc. I'm looking to see if anyone can push me past that.

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From a cursory glance, La Tienda sells neither terrines nor rillettes. And all the iberico sausages are out of stock until spring 2008.

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Would Cheesetique have something like what you are seeking? The website mostly lists cheeses (obviously), but I've seen enough of a variety of products there that it might be worth a call.

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...
I might be willing to part with some. Depends on how much you're willing to pay. :(

And I can say without reservations that the pates and rillettes at Whole Foods suck suck suck. If you don't want my homemade, then I'd probably order something from D'artagnan.

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I might be willing to part with some. Depends on how much you're willing to pay. :(

And I can say without reservations that the pates and rillettes at Whole Foods suck suck suck. If you don't want my homemade, then I'd probably order something from D'artagnan.

Dean and Deluca carries Dartagnan's line and some other quality terrines and rillettes

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I've heard some rumblings about this for a little while now and I'm still not sure whether or not they're just rumblings; so I'm sort of obligated not to let the cat out of the bag on this one: In the next 90 days(maybe)two forces will join(probably) and produce/sell some of the best(definitely)charcuterie D.C. has to offer.

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I just got out of Garde Manger so I've been all into this stuff the last three weeks. Just wish I had any reason to believe my family liked rillettes, terrines, etc. Maybe hit them with some and see how it goes. Grand Buffet pictures up on the blog (Which....I notice is down, so I'll have to see about) maybe this weekend.

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

Well sodium nitrite's culinary name is "pink salt" if that makes you feel better about using it. It is added in pretty small quantities so you don't have to load your sausages. I believe that Ruhlman gives a good explanation on its use in his book, but I would have to check when I get home. As a novice it is probably advisable to follow his instructions to be safe, then as you understand what is going on decide where/when you need to use it. If you want to save yourself a few bucks let me know as I have a good amount at home that I can share.

That said, I think its use really depends on what you are going to make and how (and how long) you plan on storing it. Its use is extremely important when making things like salami and such that are going to be hung at cellar temperatures for extended periods of time. Making sausages that will be consumed quickly or frozen do not really need it. Cold smoking is usually done for a long period of time and at temperatures (between 40F to 140F) where bacteria thrive.

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

Aside from the preservative issues--if you are going to cure and store it in the refrigerator and consume it immediately or keep it in the freezer, it's not necessary-- sodium nitrite also maintains the pink color in bacon and ham. Otherwise, the meat gets kind of grey, and looks less appetizing.

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I've been making several items from Ruhlman's Charctuerie book and most of them involve various curing salts. The amounts used are fairly minute and he does address the health issues. I do believe the curing process is important in developing the flavour and colour, so I'll continue to use it. Besides, considering the amount of alcohol, nicotine, cholesterol, etc I take in, I think nitrates are lower on the list of worries!

The key thing is moderation. I've been pretty good at making a single 5lb slab of bacon last months (even after giving away a lot of it). Admittedly, I'm not so lucky at making the pastrami last - my wife demolished an entire 4 lb brisket in under a week. I got maybe two sandwiches out of it. In her defence, it was pretty damned good!

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Hung up the hams in the curing fridge a couple weeks ago. No nitrate/nitrite. In general, I'm not that concerned with the color/attractiveness aspect, and I've just never felt the need to use them for botulism control. I bought some to use with salami but I haven't used it yet (stand mixer broke halfway through salami production). I drilled the holes through the freezer compartment into the fridge compartment and luckily didn't seem to have hit any snags. Humidity was hanging up at 85% initially but a tray of CaCl pellets in the bottom of the fridge has brought that down to a consistent 70-75% since. I might try to add a fan back into the equation at some point to see if I can coax it down a little further.

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more pics...

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Hung up the hams in the curing fridge a couple weeks ago. No nitrate/nitrite. In general, I'm not that concerned with the color/attractiveness aspect, and I've just never felt the need to use them for botulism control. I bought some to use with salami but I haven't used it yet (stand mixer broke halfway through salami production). I drilled the holes through the freezer compartment into the fridge compartment and luckily didn't seem to have hit any snags. Humidity was hanging up at 85% initially but a tray of CaCl pellets in the bottom of the fridge has brought that down to a consistent 70-75% since. I might try to add a fan back into the equation at some point to see if I can coax it down a little further.

post-1464-1213223126_thumb.jpg

more pics...

Well? It's been almost two months... how does she look?

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Well? It's been almost two months... how does she look?

Oh, yea. About that. Apparently the humidity being up that high initially was enough for some buggies to get in there, and despite the CaCl, both legs were covered with bad-looking mold after about a month. I pitched 'em. Will try just one leg next time to try and not overwhelm the fridge. It was a sad day when I decided to give up on them, but every failure is a lesson (maybe I should've used some nitrite/nitrate in the cure, and I definitely needed to be more proactive on the humidity). And on the upside, I finally tossed them out one night after a shift at Rustico, at like 1am: the thought of one of my neighbors witnessing me carrying two huge pig legs out to the curbside trashcan still makes me laugh :lol:

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I just pulled off my first batch of cured salmon following the recipe in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. I used a one pound slab of center cut wild salmon, took about 3.5 days to fully cure. For a first time curer the results were pretty damn good.

This is a basic process which anyone can undertake...no fancy chemicals, jerry-rigged fridges or ham legs involved (sorry Ferment!)

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This is a basic process which anyone can undertake...no fancy chemicals, jerry-rigged fridges or ham legs involved (sorry Ferment!)

The great thing about charcuterie is that you can get involved to whatever level you want.

As for me, I'm confit-ing a pork shoulder tomorrow and cooking up some marinated pig organs on thursday.

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I'm confit-ing a pork shoulder tomorrow.

Details, please details. Sounds like something I would like to try soon.

Ignacio

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Details, please details. Sounds like something I would like to try soon.

Shoulder meat is cut up into chunks and put into a cure that contains some green herbs, pepper, salt, pink salt, garlic and shallot. After 24 hours in the cure, chunks are submerged in fat and the whole lot brought to a simmer. Pop the uncovered pan in the oven for ~4 hours and remove to cool. To serve, head the fat up so it's no longer solid, remove pieces and cook in whichever manner you prefer for optimimum crispiness (these will be going on kebabs with chunks of organ meat to be grilled). I use the recipe from Ruhlman and Polcyns's Charcuterie. PM if you want the detailed recipe (as pink salt amounts should definitely not be eyeballed).

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"Irrationally, some meals mades by stuffing intestines still command a certain prestige in Western gastronomy, wheareas puddings cooked in stomachs are now regarded as food unfit for gourmets--rustic dishes which betray primitive origins. In some versions of andouilles and andouillettes, a pig's large intenstine is stuffed mainly with chopped bits of the small intestine, without sacrifice of cachet. Boudins blancs are tidbits of geat delicacy. A gourmet might relish a melting morcilla but think a goat's paunch gross, such as the roasted one stuffed with blood and fat with which Odysseus was rewarded for his prowess in wrestling."

--Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Near a Thousand Tables

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My S.O. has been making things from the Ruhlman's _Charcuterie_ and I have been a happy beneficiary. Bacon, Pancetta, lots of different sausages (about half emulsified type). This weekend a massive mortadella stuffed in natural casing, yum.

As we don't have a meat slicer, slicing the Bacon is messy, even with decent knives. We found pre-cut pork bellys at H-Mart and GrandMart and they make fine bacon with the same techniques: the thickness is just right.

I'm on the hook to modify an undercounter fridge with a thermostat that will sustain 50-60F temperatures she needs for longer curing.

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Wild Salmon Terrine with Inlay of Great Lakes Whitefish and Mustard Seeds. Gravad-laks and Vermouth Aspic.

Picses Eclipse.

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Why is the orb in the middle so amazingly green?

White balance and settings on the camera were askew. The inlay is pasty white with a dusting of lucknow fennel seed. With proper eyewear however, it appears in the compulsory 3-D.

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Jambonneaux. Pressed, boneless pork shanks.

Shankscicle.

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Shanks are brined, simmered, picked and packed into spring loaded cast-aluminum molds found in a friend’s restaurant’s basement in Épernay, France. A hole at the bottom of each cavity allows a whittled ulna or fibula bone to be inserted into the "ham" to mimic a larger bone-in ham. The pressed shank is then rubbed with lard and coated in toasted breadcrumbs. Best enjoyed cold with condiments.

The press to impress

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Sly & the Family Bones.

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Can anyone recommend a sausage stuffer that moves at a faster clip than 1 inch/minute?

$94 including shipping. It is the best retail price you will likely find for a new 5 lb stainless steel stuffer and well worth it.

Stuffed trotter.

Apricots, pistachios, smoked belly, fatback and cardamom. Best when gently seared in lard and basted with animal juices.

Up yours Manolo.

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The next best thing to embalmment.

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EXCELLENT! Notice that, other than somebody from Belgium, Julien is the only non-French person in the finals. We're pulling for you!

And the list of restaurants is a formidable one, too.

Everyone used to think Julien was Michael Landrum. It was absolutely killing me not to tell a soul that this mad genius was the sous chef at Palena!

It is so nice to see someone of pure substance being recognized for their work. Truly.

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The aforeposted pictures and a detailed recipe were assessed by the Confrérie du Pâté Croûte committee and was deemed up to snuff by Le President des Toques Blanches (Christophe Marguin), securing me a place among the 12 finalists. For those of you keeping score at home, I am the first (and so far only) American to have qualified for the competition (the 4th edition) and will have the undesirable handicap of having traveled the farthest with 3 pâtés and accoutrements stowed at the mercy of baggage handlers on both sides of the Atlantic. I will compete (on behalf of the soon-to-open Range restaurant in Friendship Heights) against chefs from tiny kitchens and Michelin rated brigades then be judged by MOF’s and experts in the craft. At the very least, after $1300 worth of travel & lodging, I am guaranteed a complimentary apron.

CMPC 2009

CMPC 2010

CMPC 2011

2.0 version. Special Cocoa Edition.

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Scrimmage Nipple Argyle Edition

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Julien, you deserve to win first place. nonetheless, you are already a winner, and a master of the art of charcuterie. best of luck!!

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So the prize went to a chef from La Tour d'Argent - Yohan Lastre. Some photos of his winning entry are here and news coverage (in French) is here - check out the first video at the :58 mark!

The blog says the trays were presented about every 10 minutes and were judged on: the presentation of the entire piece; the presentation of a slice; cooking and seasoning of the forcemeat; taste and baking of the pastry; and taste of the ensemble.

Congratulations, Julien, you represented well - what an honor to be in the top dozen in the world! Looking forward to hearing what your experience was like.

(did you get one of those cool brown leather aprons?)

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Yohan's 1st place "farm themed" pâté croûte

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The farm as viewed from above.

Here is a close approximation of my performance at the 2012 World Pâté Croûte Championship. I was exposed to dizzying level of professionalism and experience and feel that I fell short. Having to bring my wares from so far away put me at a considerable disadvantage, perhaps more so without the ooh-la-la garnishes & flair (though presentation accounted for few of the 200 total points) and I picked #12 at random, placing me last in the tasting, at which point the judges may have had their fill. Judges included Regis Marcon (Le Clos de Cimes ***), 2011 winner Eric Desbordes (Le Bristol ***) and numerous MOF’s. My mistakes were significant, but at least my slices stayed together –another contestant’s aspic was too loose and the pastry collapsed when cut. First and foremost, my pastry (80pts) did not achieve enough color, likely a result of baking 3 at once, thereupon lowering the temperature of the oven. Had I cooked it longer at that temp, I would have risked overcooking the forcemeat. I did not have a consistent gap for the aspic either.

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Cyril Malard. Elle Ixir, Lyon

Upon speaking with Patrick Henriroux (La Pyramide **, MOF) he said that the judges prefer a chunkier forcemeat, and that I should have kept the gizzards whole. Keeping pace with the gin flavors I finished the slice with fleur de sel mixed with lime zest and ground juniper berries. M. Henriroux explained that juniper is not a flavor that the judges crave. Pickled cauliflower lightly dressed with an orange zest & confit fat soffrito didn’t compare to some of the Bocuse d’Or inspired garnishes put forth by other competitors, but wasn’t worth many points anyway. Lastly, I should have pulled the pâté out of the fridge earlier so that it would have been served at room temperature which otherwise mutes the flavors. Now I know better and being exposed to such work has been invaluable.

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Frédéric Cote. Au Colombier, Lyon

This is the high water mark of cookery; the confluence of discipline, theory, practice, technique, artistry and finesse. It is an absolute honor and pleasure to have been selected. Any and every cook should aspire to have the substance of their work judged blindly in such a format that transcends the stylistic pandering to photogenic tattoos and irritable congeniality. The gentleman whose work I witnessed and tasted are legitimate craftsmen*.

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You're welcome Green Party.

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My squab, currants and almonds.

Yohan’s pâté had been in the works for almost a year and was stunning, though I thought the liver flavor was a bit strong. The theme was “the farm” and included something from every farm animal. The black dough fabrication & application of the lettering was clever and the detailed flower inlay nicely centered. Virtually all the forcemeats were chunky to the point where they fell apart after cutting the slice (mine had a firm yet moist texture) and more than half featured exceptional quality foie gras, not the excessive 2 ½ lb+ David Crosby sized lobes generated here which loose too much fat. Very rich and significant amount of care went into layering and inlays. One criticism from the judges is that they fear the aesthetics may begin to trump the flavor. Other inlays included especially savory ballotines, intricate designs and even whole cèpes with an intensely mushroom flavored aspic. All other pastries were cooked closer to perfection than I have ever seen and nothing short of delicious. An absolutely remarkable event with plenty of Mumm bubbles and M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers to wash it all down. We plated in 10 minute intervals and I was not able to see the first 8 pâtés plated.

More pics

*The romantic suggestion that cooking at this level is art is nonsense. I do not know of any artist that must consistently replicate such a varied standard of work on a daily, weekly, monthly basis (we each had to bring 3 identical pâtés). These cooks are in the rare league of polished tradesmen like woodworkers whose creative artistry is seen through clean dovetails and moldings. Artists make one-offs. Craftsmen don’t.

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A tasting.

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