Dai Due brings the butcher shop to the farmers' market
Not too long ago, I wrote a post on a popular food forum regarding where to get caul fat; a user suggested a place called Dai Due. After looking at their site and signing up for the weekly newsletter, I immediately forgot about my initial objective and focused instead on the company’s drool-inducing offerings: several kinds of sausage, liverwurst, patés, terrines and a large assortment of unique condiments.
Here they were: the kinds of things that’d make me wake up before noon on multiple Saturdays in a row to go to a famer’s market, and that’s something to be said. With every weekly newsletter, there was something new that I just had to try.
Five years ago, husband and wife Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield started Dai Due as a supper club, with the former and latter serving as back and front of house. This nucleus of an idea has developed into a much more complex operation: the Dai Due Butcher Shop. They gradually hired a small staff, found a commercial kitchen in the West 6th Street area and began selling offerings at the Republic Square Park Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.
Subscribers to the newsletter can place orders via email for pickup at the farmers’ market, and Jesse and Tamara also keep a griddle on hand in their tent to offer hot breakfast items like wild boar chorizo and duck egg tacos, among other constantly changing dishes. I’ll say this, however; you can generally count on some of the hot breakfast lasting until noon, but don’t go expecting to get your hands on all of their weekly butcher shop offerings if you don’t make a reservation online or get there early. As with all good things, they sell out quickly.
A tour of Dai Due’s downtown kitchen with Griffiths provides insight into what led him to create such a company. Working for years in Austin at restaurants such as Vespaio sparked his interest in whole animal butchery, eventually prompting him to strike out on his own with a venture focusing on the things he cares about: local ingredients ranging from organically farmed vegetables to heritage breed meats from vendors like Richardson Farms. Respect for animals, general resourcefulness and preservation of traditions are consistent themes. “I think it’s just a really important part of local food— the whole animal utilization,” Griffiths says.
He adds that Dai Due is not just about meat, saying, “Especially this time of year, we’ve got a lot of vegetarian things on our menu— a lot of mustards, ketchups, chutneys, pimiento cheese and things like that— I love that. We call ourselves a butcher shop, but we’re just making anything.”
He’s also a bit of a rough-hewn guy, and his food reflects it. He enjoys making patés and terrines, but they’re decidedly rustic, such as the pictured whole hog terrine made with Full Quiver pork, pork liver, poached pig’s ear, pork tongue confit, smoked ham and brandy-soaked figs. His favorite items are of the simpler variety, such as fresh sausage, which he makes very, very well.
Dai Due still offers the occasional supper club event, so have a look at the website. You might also come across other interesting things like “Whole Hog” classes, in which attendees learn to butcher a pig and process it into all kinds of delicious, porky things. There’s even the occasional weekend when one can sign up to go out into the woods with Jesse, hunt and kill some feral hogs and learn to appreciate meat right from the source. Above all, sign up for the mailing list and marvel weekly at the great things you read about.
Dai Due can be found at the Republic Square Farmer’s Market on Saturdays at 4th Street and Guadalupe from 9a.m. - 1p.m. In a summer where it seems we’re already going to have to pray for rain, it also couldn’t hurt to, in the case of Dai Due, pray for brick and mortar.