Remember last weekend? Not your weekend, mine. Remember, it was me, locked in my house, alone with three cute yet exasperated and grumpy children, 33% of whom were ill?
From early on, I knew what I was facing. Husband leaving town: check. Baby getting dreadfully ill: check. Weather system moving in for entire weekend: check. I knew that my opportunities for contact with the outside world would be limited; knew that I needed to use my venturing-out time wisely. Figured out that, if I played my cards right, I could get just a couple errands done without having to jeopardize the fragile state of the Wee One.
One of those errands was a trip to the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market. And before you question my judgment, envisioning me, unable to restrain myself from strolling about said market, browsing while waiting for my handmade French breakfast crepe and picking up a fresh-cut bouquet of flowers for the breakfast table while dragging a feverish 18-month along for the ride, let me defend myself: 1) I had not been to the IWFM in about a month, 2) I owed cash money to the good folks at Big City Farms for our summer’s CSA, and those guys can be found there, 3) I needed chicken, and 4) It was the VERY LAST SATURDAY for the Winter Market. Yes, the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market starts up this Saturday, but not all vendors will make that transfer. So, you see, I simply HAD to go. (And no, crepes and bouquets were not a part of the experience. One friend told my husband later in the week that he had “seen [me] at the Market on Saturday, and I looked like I was all business.”)
The next stop is the one for which you might wisely choose to judge. You see, the IWFM is downtown. That’s a bit of a hike for us, and when I go that way I try to hit more than one stop to make it worth it. Is it my fault that Goose the Market is located conveniently on a street that I can choose to must travel to get home? The kids were doing fine — it was going to take a mere extra five minutes to stop and get something to make my Saturday night a little more than forlorn.
So I walked in, past the espresso and cookie counter, past the gelato case. I was looking for cured meat. Pizza was on the menu — it was, after all, a Saturday, and I’d been wanting to try out a new sourdough crust (details on that later). The kids would get their usual: Trader Joe’s pepperoni and prosciutto, with and without cheese. But my pie was going to be 100% grownup, and I wanted some crazy cured meat to show for it. My friend behind the meat counter (she’s not really my friend, but she helps me almost every time I’m in there, and always gives me good suggestions. I suppose at some point I should learn her name and make it official?), upon my request for good pizza toppings, pointed me in the direction of two items: a Spanish chorizo and lardo.
The chorizo — I was sold, that’s a no-brainer. Tons of paprika, sliced pepperoni-thin. Enough fat to let the edges curl up and get crunchy, enough spice to give a kick without knocking you to the floor. But what in this meat-loving store is lardo? Never heard of it. It is, apparently, something like bacon fat. As in, take some bacon, and trim off the fat. Then discard the meat part, and what you’re left with is lardo. Sort of. It’s really a bit more glamorous that that — the pork fat is cured with herbs, making it slightly more intentional than my description sounds. I mean, what’s not to like about a fat meat product that comes from the same area of Italy that brings us carrara marble?
My nameless friend at The Goose told me she’d slice it super-thin, and that if I just lay it on top of my pizza, some of the fat would melt onto the surface of the cheese, and I’d be left with little shrunken pieces of deliciousness. That the flavor would — did I say this already? — melt into the cheese. Need she say more? I requested my 1 1/2 ounces (she did in fact slice it quite thin) and set my sights on a date night: me, some fat, some sausage, and some good beer.
It wasn’t exactly the solo date night I was hoping for: I enjoyed said pizza and beer while my kids scarfed down their own versions of the same. And while the before and after of that dinner’s consumption was filled with chaos, tears, many time-outs, and the heartbreaking realization that I would be cleaning up a destroyed kitchen all by myself — that half-hour of sitting down with my lardo pizza and Two Hearted Ale was a glorious thirty minutes. The stuff did exactly what she promised — and while before last weekend I would’ve never considered topping a pizza with bacon fat, I am now a believer.
So satisfying, I didn’t even want dessert.