A quick glance through our places and spaces column and one thing is certain: at Miami Alive, we love food, And when it comes to food we love, no doubt bacon takes a top spot on our list, as it probably does on many of yours. See the allure of bacon seems to have no bounds and, unless health or personal choice keeps them from trying it, bacon’s fatty, smokey flavor appeal to even the pickiest of eaters, and draw the choicest of chefs. Now, following with the trend of craft, homemade products brought about by the insurgency in the popularity of craft beers, charcuterie aficionados throughout the country are looking for ways to create artisanal smoked meats that surpass mass-produced alternatives in health, flavor and quality. Portland, known for it’s trend setting artisanal communities, was amongst the first to make locally raised meats available to the general public and offer classes and spaces for those interested to learn the ins and outs of meat curing.
Since then, a few other cities have seen the birth of community meat curing facilities, including New York’s Brooklyn Cured, and Austin’s Salt and Time, that not only retail quality products, but offer local culinary artisans and local establishments access to their facilities to produce their own product. Restaurants are then able to create their own recipes, using locally sourced meats, smoked in locally run facilities, for a truly unique local culinary experience for diners of local establishments. That’s what makes this Places and Spaces so special. It’s not about a place that exists just yet, but about a place that could exist.
Miami Smokers, who first gained public attention in 2012 when they paired with the Wynwood Cigar Factory and local craft brewers to present the Basel Beer Garden. Since then, Founders Andres Barrientos, the Miami-born executive chef of Aaron’s Catering and sous-chef James Bowers have spent the past year perfecting their curing methods and testing the local restaurant industry’s demand for locally sourced and cured artisanal meats, with favorable results, leading Barrientos and Bowers to establish a physical location in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana area. Bowers states
“Miami has no charcuterie/smoke houses and there are very few bacon producers in Florida. The demand for Miami Smokers Vintage Bacon has provided Andres and I the opportunity to build Miami’s first custom meat curing “Urban Smoke House” located in the heart of Miami. Stage 1 construction is complete and we have begun delivering to some of Miami’s top restaurants including, The Federal, MM74, Eating House, Marriott Biscayne, Azucar and Blue Collar.”
Now, the two self-proclaimed ‘smoke whisperers’ have even loftier goals; to turn their storefront into Miami’s first urban smokehouse, which as they describe, will be “a scaled down curing facility that can be used by chefs and local artisans to produce delicious charcuterie in a controlled and monitored environment, the Artisans Curing Center (ACC).” To achieve their lofty goal, The two chefs have launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of securing enough funds to get the next phase of construction underway. While they are still a staggering $20K short of their goal, there are still 6 days left to make the difference.
This writer, for one, wishes there was some way to offer every local foodie a taste of the bacon these two chefs are able to produce, because that’s all it would take to make up your mind. Consider it a late Christmas present to your stomach, since every dollar earned puts you one dollar closer to getting retail access to the magic the Miami Smokers produce. For now, we’ll have to sate ourselves with the images from our visit to the soon-to-be completed home of the Miami Smokers, crossing our fingers while we drool.