Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alex Pope's Local Pig opens on Monday

Alex Pope's Local Pig opens on Monday.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 9:47 AM

The Local Pig is nearly open.
The East Bottoms will have a new butcher shop on Monday. The Local Pig (2618 Guinotte Avenue), co-owned by chef Alex Pope and Matt Kafka, is set to open February 27. And Pope wants people to know that even if you come in looking only for hamburgers and hot dogs (both made on-site), everything is on the table.

"This is an interactive shop. The butchering table is right around the front corner [of the deli case]. We may be gutting animals when you walk in. It will be very transparent," Pope says.

The deli case is the heart of the shop, and the stars are likely the sausages. Breakfast sausage, cheddar brats, mozzarella and basil chicken sausage, roasted garlic and fresh rosemary pork sausage, and a duck sausage with orange and star anise will be among the initial offerings.

"I hope that people understand that it's going to be a bit more expensive than a grocery story here and won't be taken aback by that," Pope says.

The higher prices are a result of the time it takes to make everything from scratch and Local Pig's sourcing practices. They've pledged to try and seek out livestock within 100 miles, and while certain meats like lamb will come from Colorado [Update: Pope notes that the lamb in the shop is currently from a farm in La Cygne, Kansas, and that Colorado is where he'll turn when he can't get lamb from any of the six local farms he has contracts with] all of what they sell will be what Pope calls "happy animals," meaning they are hormone-, antibiotic- and steroid-free. To that end, Pope is planning to put up a large map of the United States with pushpins or flags to indicate the source location and farmer for all of the products in his shop. But he also believes the shop will be able to offer a different level of service, educating customers on how to prepare different cuts of meat or even printing out recipes on-site. He intends to offer a weekly weekend class on breaking down a whole pig or cow — the first was this past Sunday for Slow Food KC members — where participants will learn about butchering and leave with several bundles of meat.

"We're doing everything. Our cows are coming in about six pieces, each of which weighs 150 pounds. And then we break it down from there," Pope says.

In addition to chops and cuts, Local Pig will have chicken stock and truffle head cheese, as well as pork rillettes, guanciale and pate. A hand-ground burger will be available, and Pope will also stock patties stuffed with smoked blue cheese or foie gras. The butcher shop will package burgers, along with everything else in the case, in weekly or biweekly butcher boxes, available for pickup on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Pope estimates they'll be between 8 and 10 pounds and cost $75 for a biweekly subscription ($70 for a weekly subscription).

"It's a chalkboard menu, both literally and figuratively. We'll always have product; it just won't always be the same product," Pope says.

In the front of the shop will be dry goods. Local Pig will stock 10 kinds of salt, fresh eggs, fresh egg pasta, black walnuts, Missouri pecans and local raw honey (smoked, coffee-chili-infused and a take on an old-fashioned: spiced with tangerine bitters, bourbon, and cherry). Pope is also excited for this summer, when they will actually be grilling or smoking meat and sausages that can be eaten at Local Pig. He envisions something casual, along the lines of McGonigle's, with tables under a gazebo in the back parking lot.

"I'm hoping that people who might look at eating this way once or twice a week will instead look at doing this four or five days a week. I think we can make it a little easier to get more local in your diet," Pope says.

Local Pig is hosting an opening block party with Boulevard beer and a whole-pig roast on Saturday, March 3, from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 — a portion of the proceeds benefit Children's Mercy Hospital — and are available online and at the door.

Local Pig will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. The phone number is 816-200-1639. The shop will send out updates about what's in the case via Twitter (@thelocalpigkc).

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