If there ever was a holy animal I think it would be the pig. Chefs Michael Hudman & Andrew Ticer of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen took that holy animal & gave us a truly spectacular meal that drove my porkaholism to a new disturbing level. These guys have done this dinner 3 years running to celebrate the pig slaughter in Italy. Last year's meal was impossible to top...or so I thought.
#1 Snout: Frito Misto, Deviled Egg, Popcorn paired with housemade Bacon IPA What we have here is a lesson in rustic snack food made with pork love. Fried snout is now my new obsession. I want it in salads, chocolate bars & with my eggs in the morning. The housemade pork rinds were crisp, light & perfectly seasoned. I'm not even kidding, these guys made a bacon infused IPA & it was really good. More elegant than you would expect & with just an undertone of smoky, bacony goodness.
#2 Head: Pastrami, Crouton, Brown Butter paired with Cooper Mountain Tocai Friulano 2009 Willamette Valley The pastrami was made with some super tasty part of the head & the croutons were made with head cheese. I could have popped those croutons in my mouth all night, crunchy yet unctuous & perfectly crisp with the right amount of salt. I love the Cooper Mountain Tocai with its bracing acidity & hint of nuttiness which sliced through the tongue pastrami. So good.
#3 Shoulder: Pork, Pot Pie, Offal, Apple paired with Coltibuono Cancelli 2008 Tuscany This course was the closest thing to "cute" that we ate that night. It looks like an egg doesn't it? The rich filling of shoulder & various organ meats was a nice contrast to the brightness of the apple based sauce on top. Of course the pasty was made using lard. Delicious, delicious lard. What is needed with the boldness of offal is acidity & the Cancelli had that in spades.
#4 A/M "Ramen": Pork Belly, 63 degree egg, brodo paired with Boroli Barbera d'Alba 2008 Piedmont Two words; skin noodles. Yep. The "ramen" was made from pig skin. Ingenious. I don't know how they got those noodles to be so tender & succulent. The broth was some serious stuff. I wanted to jump in the bowl & swim around. The pork belly needs no words because of course these guys rocked out some good belly. The egg was sublime. Creamy, rich & soooo luscious. The barbera brought spice & darkness which played nicely off the asian spice laced brodo.
#5 Pasta: Smoked flour, Lardo, Tomato Sugo paired with Taurino Salice Salentino 2006 Really? Smoked flour? Really? Who thinks of this??! If it wasn't evident before its obvious that Michael & Andrew are quite creative. When the plate was set down what I saw was a simple plate of ravioli. Therein lies the beauty. Simplicity gave way to earthy porky flavors with an undertone of smoke, luscious risotto filling & rich tomato sugo. The wine brought a figgy quality to the party & matched up nicely with a smokiness all its own.
#6 Ham: Hay, Polenta, Red Eye Mustard paired with a housemade Smoked Porter The sweet, savory, ham was cooked in hay which lent it a grassy note that played off the sweet-salty nature. I love ham & this was truly a new way of looking at it. The creamy polenta contrasted the firm ham. Again, they rolled out a housemade beer. Where the Bacon IPA was elegant the Porter was bold & super tasty.
#7 Tail: Risotto, onion ash, leeks paired with Marchesy di Gresy Nebbiolo 2008 Piedmont Braised....pig...tail. Whoa. It's fatty, rich, hardcore. Imagine pig flavor times 20. This showed a lot of guts. To me it was as if they threw down the gauntlet & said "ok guys, you like pig? Show me." It was very rich & was a gorgeous match for the heft, spice & tannin of the nebbiolo.
#8 Zeppole: bacon, chocolate paired with Tenuta Sant'Antonio Ripasso 2007 Bacon & chocolate is a combination that is one of my weak spots. Kelly gets me the Vosges Haut Chocolat Bacon Bars at Christmas in my stocking because he knows how much it gets me. The zeppole was crisp yet fluffy with salty little bits of heavenly bacon. I'm not sure but I think there was bacon fat in the chocolate sauce. This was a pig lovers dessert but more importantly a really damn good finish to a great meal. For me, cabernet & chocolate is kind of boring. Doesn't really work. However, ripasso & chocolate? Heavenly.
Thank you Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen for a meal that I will be talking about & salivating over for a very long time.