There are some of you out there who will no doubt recognize Fidel Gastro‘s name from the Foobooz Honor Roll. He has been in charge of all our Top Chef coverage, occasionally spouts off about various taco-shaped junk foods and manages to find other ways to cause trouble as well (like just by expressing his opinion in the Foobooz comments section). More of you might know him from his own blog, fidelgastro.com, where he records his many adventures with tacos, beer, burgers, beer, unwise food choices and beer.
But if all goes well, soon you will all know him as a purveyor of fine dried meat products because Fidel Gastro has gone and done what so many of us have only ever dreamed about: He’s started his own beef jerky company. Aptly named Side Project Jerky, he aims to bring an air of modernity and culinary sophistication to the ‘ol jerky game by making “The jerky for Gentlemen.” And man is he off to a good start…
The first samples of Side Project Jerky made their way to Foobooz World HQ just the other day, providing a fine afternoon’s repast for Art and I. Currently, Side Project is offering three kinds of jerky: Original (your basic dried beef which Art ate before I got a chance to try), Mongolian (which was sweet and savory, deep with flavors of soy and graced with ginger, garlic and the nuttiness of sesame seeds) and Southwestern (glazed in a roasted green chile wash before drying and finishing with a solid punch of spice backed by the solid saltiness of the beef). Best thing about them? The texture, which had none of the sawdust-y/rubber-dog-toy feel of that crap you buy at the gas station. Side Project’s jerky was chewy, slightly yielding, and had none of the sense of having spent the past three years sitting in a glass jar on the counter of the local Gas-N-Sip, being sneezed on and fondled by every syphilitic knucklehead and meth-smoking long-haul trucker in West Philly. It seemed, if anything, fresh–which I know sounds like a weird word to use to describe beef jerky, but just trust me.
Or, if you don’t trust me, you can always just read the batch-date written on the label of every bag and trust Fidel instead.
Anyway, it was damn fine jerky–truly fit for any gentleman. And while currently, said jerky is only available (in a brick-and-mortar fashion) in Brooklyn, the place that’s selling it is the perfect venue for a roll-out of this caliber: Hickoree’s. Don’t know Hickoree’s? It’s a men’s store (recently voted one of the “25 Best In America” by GQ) which features well-made brands from the U.S. and Japan, and exists to supply only the most discriminating gentlemen with things like chocolates, hand-made shoes, handkerchiefs, wallets, interesting hats, slingshots–and now jerky (which can be bought online through the shop’s website).
Side Project will be available soon in more local retail locations (and bars, which is an excellent place for sophisticated jerky to be sold–hint hint) and online at the Side Project website. But for those of you just can not wait one more second to get your hands on some, the company is currently taking orders the old-fashioned way. Contact Marcos Espinoza via email (at sideprojectjerky.gmail.com) or over the phone (at 610-842-1429) to demand some jerky of your very own, or to arrange the details for massive wholesale transactions.
UPDATE: The Side Project Jerky web site now has online ordering.
Side Project Jerky [Official website]