Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On Writing: Bear Stew at the Pigpen Penthouse

Today, the New York Times Dining Section published a story I wrote about The Pigpen Penthouse. I absolutely loved writing this piece -- it felt like such a celebration of life and eating, and the communities we develop around food. Several readers have emailed asking where they can find more information about the Pigpen Penthouse, including photos, and asking how in the world I stumbled on this place (which is a very good question). So I decided to post that information here, along with photos, which aren't available online anywhere (click on these photos for a larger image, which is the only way to really do them justice). The photo to the left shows the hog barn with the octagonal penthouse on top. It also shows the wooden deck Gary built on top of the barn (he nearly killed himself making it -- he fell 35 feet from the roof and fractured his back).

In the future, the Pigpen's owner, Gary McIntire, plans to rent the place out for parties, weddings, retreats. I can't imagine a better place for that (I imagine he'll set up a website for the place when the time comes). When I was at the Pigpen recently talking to Jeff Potts, the man who made the bear stew I wrote about (and ate) in my story, he said, "Go up on that deck, open your eyes wide, and you can see forever." He's absolutely right. This photo (right) is the hot tub on the deck, and the view beyond.

I first found Gary while doing research for my NY Times Magazine article on Baristas, a pub and cafe in a nearby West Virginia town. I spent a wonderful day at the Pigpen talking to Gary about local food, The Pigpen, and what he hoped to do with it. He only made a one-sentence appearance in the Baristas story, but at that point, I knew I'd write a whole story about him someday (I often stumble on my best stories while doing research for other pieces). In the following months, my boyfriend David and I visited the Penthouse as guest chefs ... We made beet soup using fresh beets from the garden; I made my infamous Caesar salad (with real anchovies and coddled egg, none of that creamy Caesar stuff). David made his unbelievable grilled pizza, and we ate at this table (above) on the deck, with the most incredible wine, and view. It simply doesn't get much better than that.

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Blogger TopoTail said...

Where's the barista article? That link takes me to Pigpen Penthouse again.

--Richard Reynolds

11:28 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Skloot said...

Richard: Thank's SO much for point out that problem link! I'll fix it ASAP in the main post, but in the meantime, here's the link to the Barista's article:

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Neil said...

Is there a secret message to "David" in this post about this location being a perfect place for a wedding?

Great site!

10:04 AM  
Blogger Rebecca Skloot said...

Hah! Good one, Neil! But no, there's no hidden message about me wanting to get married at the penthouse (or anywhere else for that matter). I've done the marriage thing once already -- not in a hurry to do it again ;-). But, if I were going to get married again, I'd probably do it there!

10:21 AM  
Blogger TopoTail said...

Silly me. I saw the word "baristas" and went looking for an article about the people who make lattes and espressos. But it was right in front of my eyes: "Baristas, a pub and cafe."

The funny thing, though, is that your description of the two restaurants is totally analogous to what happens in the cafe world. Somebody opens a really high quality cafe serving espresso drinks that actually taste like coffee, and people still line up at the Starbucks down the street for weak, scalded milk lattes.


12:35 AM  

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