John Foss, meat manager of Chimacum Corner Farmstand is proud of his meat selection. From bison to rabbit, wild boar to Center Valley grass-fed beef, John has developed an outstanding selection of healthy and humanely raised meats that has made our Farmstand the place for Jefferson County meat lovers to shop. Although he tries to stay impartial, when pressed, John admits his personal favorite are the Link Lab sausages and bacon made by Seattle’s David Pearlstein. Judging from the amount of Link Lab meats flying off our shelves, many of you concur.
There’s much to like about Link Lab Artisan Meats, starting with its mission: “HELPING CONSCIENTIOUS MEAT LOVERS SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS… THROUGH SAUSAGE”. That’s not just cute marketing but something dear to David’s heart and something we are seeing in action first hand. The Link Lab “Inter-Dependence Day Brats” that we’ll be serving July 6th, David just finished grinding from Chimacum Tamworth pigs raised by Barb and Dan Cutts on BarDan Farm. BarDan Farm is typical of the many small humane farms scattered throughout Washington from which David sources his meat. Helping connect farmers to local producers, then selling the product back into our community is exactly what gets us at the Corner smiling as we “Help Build Local Agricultural Economy”.
We like Link Lab for their ethics, but also for the flavor. There’s a reason David sells a large proportion of his product directly to 20 cutting edge restaurants in Seattle, and that would be the scrumptious factor! Some of his many sausage flavors include: Freemont Beer (Pale Ale) Bratwurst, Rosemary Lamb, Juniper Garlic, Chipotle-Tequila, Beef Pepper and the list goes on. David is a perfectionist and strives to balance the flavor of the meat itself with spices that are fresh and don’t overwhelm.
Four months ago, David began producing bacon in addition to sausage. John, convinced it’s the best he’s ever tasted, had greedily tried to buy up every slice since for the Corner. Rather than relying on curing and smoking for flavor, David rubs the pork bellies with garlic, smoked black pepper, smoked Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, coriander, and mace. Today is a “landmark bacon day” in that for the first time, the bacon we pick up from David will be made from Chimacum pork (the same Cutt’s Tamworths that are being ground into the “Inter-Dependence Day Brats”)!
Who is this David Pearlstein? It turns out that David did not come from a home cooking tradition. Growing up in the Washington DC area, he was raised on a typical 1970’s diet. But when he moved his family to Seattle in the 1990’s, he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and its deep food traditions. He took a cooking class with Bruce Naftaly of Ballard’s Le Gourmand restaurant and one night a garlic pork sausage fired David’s imagination, changing the direction of his life forever.
For the first 10 years sausage-making was a side hobby David enjoyed while toiling away at Microsoft as a “usability engineer”, linking engineers who built software with customers who used it (David has a master’s degree in “Librarian and Informational Sciences”). A librarian at heart, he of course researched the USDA, every aspect of sausage making, the artisan food movement, potential business models, and so on. A plan crystallized, and in 2010, he decided to make the bold move and start producing sausage commercially.
He began with the unheard of: converting his home Wallingford area single car garage into a commercial food processing facility and getting it USDA certified. It caused quite a stir and was commented on by many food writers. He developed two lines of business. One – selling directly to local restaurants interested in selling artisanal meats and two – wholesaling his sausages to retail establishments like Chimacum Corner Farmstand.
So much for Microsoft. Business has grown steadily and David now finds himself with employees making over 300 lbs of sausage per week with an eye on expanding further. In mid 2012 Link Lab had to relocate to a new facility in Seattle’s Maple Leaf district — great news for the Pearlstein family in that they finally get back their garage!
And there you have it. Treat yourself to a BLT!