She grew up in Pittsburgh and has cooked since “forever.” She has lived in the District since 1985. Her participation in Food52.com’s weekly recipe contests, started in August 2009, quickly upped her status as someone to watch. (Three of Barrow’s cookie recipeswere featured in the Food section’s Dec. 8 all-cookie issue.) A month later, she took two days of charcuterie classes from chef Bonnie Moore at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, and that ignited her interest in charcuterie and augmented her preservation skills.
After the story about Barrow aired on NPR, she was contacted by Wendy Melvin, a farmer’s wife in Pulaski, Tenn. They traded e-mails and phone calls, then Barrow got an offer. Melvin and her family were coming to see the sights in Washington; could she bring Cathy a bushel of pears and, say, 40 pounds of pork bellies from their Berkshire hogs?
“She is every bit as lovely in person as I could have hoped for,” Melvin said in a phone interview. “She makes food fun and accessible and, to me, you read her blog and you want to cook.”
Barrow canned the pears and froze the bellies.
She sent the last 10 pounds of raw bellies home with Foster, and the rest of whatever Barrow hasn’t given away has been cured or smoked in some fashion and stored in her basement freezer, along with Stonyman Farm lamb, duck carcasses and cornmeal. Jars of whole fruit, pie filling, salsa, sauces, soups, sauerkraut, apple butter, tomatoes, pickles, relishes, chicken stock and grape juice fill the shelves nearby.
Under the stairs, two slender rolls of pancetta spiraled with juniper berries and black pepper hang in a compact wine cooler Barrow found through Craigslist. She was having trouble maintaining the proper humidity, then del Grosso suggested that she wick in heavily salted water through a clean cotton towel. That did it.
They will take their rightful place alongside hundreds of others from around the world, perhaps in the Flickr hall of fame. And then the next piece of meat will join the Charcutepalooza.
Find the details for Charcutepalooza at MrsWheelbarrow.com. Barrow and Foster will join today’s Free Range chat at noon: washingtonpost.com/