My first encounter with Martin Raubenheimer was at a local food market. He was cocky, self assured and totally vulnerable – in a word: adorable. But it remains the passion he has for his product that finally drew me in. Martin brings home the bacon by curing only the finest pork bellies and backs and selling his delectable bangers, comfit and cured meats throughout the city.
Cape Town born and bred, Marty (like most artisanal producers) operates from a clinically converted double garage at his home in Bergvliet, Cape Town. A graduate of the school of ‘Logic and Magic’ (Red & Yellow advertising school), he spent a few years working with Justin Bonello on the television series ‘Cooked’ as well as on the ensuing recipe books. Jaded by the cut throat world of the media, he reverted to his childhood dream of working with meat and Cure Charcuterie was born.
Martin credits his parents with his love of food. As a child he’d visit the local butcher with his father, marvelling at the specificity of his dad’s requests and the butcher’s ability to comply. This led to a youthful obsession with dissecting chicken carcasses culminating , as an adult, in makin’ bakin’!
He dry cures his meat and then smokes it in his Heath Robinson smoker in the yard. It may be primitive but it’s highly effective. Slabs of bacon hang alongside bulging pork legs – meaty thighs protruding through netting like aging burlesque dancers. Scented smoke permeates the cured flesh turning it from faded pink to a rich, deep burgundy. It looks good enough to eat… and it is!
The pork comes from the Happy Hog farm near Ashton on the road to Swellendam – a piggery committed to free range pork devoid of antibiotics and stimulants (hormones). Since Martin dry cures his bacon and adds no preservatives or water (to pump up the volume), it sizzles in the pan the way bacon should.
Bacon has become the modern day gastronomic symbol of both indulgence and abstinence. Devotees swear by it as they mock their Vegan brethren while religious doctrine forbids it for others. Love it or hate it, few can deny the effect a rasher of sizzling bacon has on the nose.
This olfactory jolt is not just a happy coincidence; it’s attributed to the Maillard reaction: the result of amino acids in the protein and sugars in the fat reacting at temperature to form a mixture of molecules that determine the flavour and odour. Smoked bacon is the poster child for the Maillard principle, being the perfect marriage of flavour and aroma – what you smell is what you taste. (Not to be confused with caramelisation which is merely the charring of sugars)
Cured pork is one of the oldest meats in history dating back to 1500BC. The Romans enjoyed their bacon browned and served with a wine and pepper sauce. I enjoy mine made by Martin and fried to a golden crisp.
Cure Deli products can be found at the following outlets:
Oranjezicht City Farm Market (OZCF), City Bowl
Earthfair market, Tokai
Saucisse deli, the Biscuit Mill,Woodstock
The Food Barn (deli), Noordhoek
Order online from Cure Deli
Follow Martin on Twitter @curedeli