It's no exaggeration that Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen's annual Swine & Wine event is my most favorite meal of the year. Pig & vino. Need I say more? Each year I always leave thinking "how are they going to top that next year?" & each year they do. Swine & Wine is not just a delicious meal but its also paying respects to the pig. To use only part of an animal & throw the rest out is disrespectful of the life it gave for us to be fed. It's truly obscene. Chefs Andrew Ticer & Michael Hudman not only pay respects to such a delicious animal, they elevate it.
Starting a meal with charcuterie sets a nice tone. Everyone reaching into the same platter of porky goodness sparks conversation, a convivial attitude & its just plain fun. Burning River Meats' Aaron Winters produced some deliciousness on this butcher board. Blood sausage, guanciale, lardo, mortadella, corn nuts, pork rinds....wow. Every bite was fantastically porktastic.
I loved the whimsy of pairing the charcuterie platter with PBR. Sure a wine could have gone with it but honestly an ice cold beer & piggy treats are a perfect match.
I was so in love with the pig ear salad that I wolfed it down before I could snap a pic so I'm jumping ahead to the cannelloni. What you see here is spinach soubise wrapped in braised pig skin with trotters in a ham brodo. Yes I said pig skin. It was rich, succulent & almost creamy. Paired with the Cooper Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 Willamette Valley, wow. The wine exploded with fruit, earth & acidity after a bite of the rich cannelloni. The savory porkiness of the dish really paired well with the pinot noir. I'm so glad the guys were wide open to pairing non-italian wines with their dishes. I was really proud of this pairing.
I also unfortunately didn't snap a photo of the garganelli with offal ragu. Damn. That dish was so delicious. After that course we had crepinette of pig heart & snout over a sauerkraut puree with whole grain mustard "caviar". There was sweet, sour, spice, brininess that was bracing against the rich texture of the heart & snout. I am not a fan of sauerkraut at all. However the puree really worked here as a counterbalance against the pig. The leathery, dusty earthy darkness of Montecillo Rioja was brilliant with the mineral nature of the heart & snout.
Next was jowl of pork with a blood & beet risotto. It was a gorgeous plate. The bright red color was so vibrant against the rich jowl. Some may find this dish strange but honestly it was just like eating bacon or pork belly. The fat was creamy & succulent while the risotto brought an earthy sweetness.
The last course of popcorn gelato with pork fat caramel, chocolate blood torte with peanuts was rich, sweet & just plain fun. Paired with the sweet unctuous Felsina Vin Santo was like a dream. I wish more people were into dessert wines.
2012 Swine & Wine. Wow! Thank you Chefs Andrew Ticer & Michael Hudman. Thank you Nick Talarico & the entire staff at AMIK. I'm already salivating for next year!