Monday, April 23, 2012
Mangalistsa Mayhem-a conucopia of pork at James Beard House with three super chefs(4-21-12)
Last night I returned to James Beard House in NYC (www.jamesbeard.org) where three chefs were in the way overcrowded kitchen cooking up a storm: Michael Clampffer-Chef & VP of Mosefubnd Mangalista (organic pork producers in NJ) Joe Macchia-AvroKO Restaurant Group NYC Lee Ann Wong-Chef/TV personality As we arrived and gathered on the outdoor terrace SPRING CHERRYBOMBs were served to us. These drinks are made from Maker's Mark Bourbon, Alchemical Cherry Infused Vodka, Perrier and dashes of Grenadine and Vinegar Sugar. It was a refreshing and not too sweet drink, but not something I would order again. The hor's d'oevres were varied from Liverwurst with Black Pepper Cream Cheese on mini Poppy Seed Bagels which was the least exciting to Speck & Eggs with Asparagus on Garlic Toasts with soft just scrambled eggs just melting in our mouths. Pork Cheek-Ramp Raviolini with Smoked Ricotta and Toasted Bread Crumbs was another treat with a slightly spicy tomato sauce in each spoonful Spring Peas & Prosciutto were yummy and sevred like bruschetta (to much bread in all of these, though!) and the Mangalitsa Lard-Fried Doughnuts with Lardo were gobbled up by so many, but a bit too sweet for me as a before-dinner treat. These superb donut "balls" each had a piece of warm melted lardo on top which mimicked icing and was indeed fun. I switched to the white wine served before hand and tasted the Slovenian Malvasija which I have to admit was just weird. The staff explained how the Mangalitsa pigs are raised and hence are basically "lighter" in actual weight of the meat we eat. They get only organic feed and NO corn. It's an interesting process and indeed, we were not stuffed by the meal below which in writing sounds UNREAL. Michael's Cured Meat Plate with Spring Fruit Mostarda had another small piece of Lardo which I could have skipped, but I would not have missed the blow your tastebud sausages and the delicious light airy and almost lacelike Prosciutto. The wines came from a winery near Buffalo in the Lake Erie Appellation of Upstate NY and they, too, were odd choices. They guy from the winery had to leave early, so we had no clue what we were drinking save for the labels! Our first wine-XERO White Sensory. It was also odd that the wines were al non-vintage. The second wine was Quincy Cellars Chardonnay which I thought was awful, but once the food came, I have to admit, it paired quite well with the Marinated MACKEREL in Sauerkraut Broth, Braised Bacon, Pickled Mustard Seeds and Carrots. This dish was loaded with flavor and my only mistake was to chow down on one large piece of bacon (I thought it was mackerel) rather than cutting it in two. Next came what most folks agreed was the highlight: PORK SHOULDER LASAGNA with Charred Spring Onions, Pickled Chanterelles and Sottocenere Cheese. The lasagna was rich and divine, and the truffles melted cheese on top was a special treat. The spring onions were a shining star of the entire meal and the pickled chanterelles were really strongly pickled and cut the richness of the dish. SENSORY Cellars Vexation was a red wine that went quite nicely; while thin (think weak Pinot) it had some punch and we all wanted more. There was none. The Herb-Marinated NECK ROAST with Fava Beans, Turnips, Strawberries and Toasted Fregola Sarda(lentil?) was one of the best pork dishes I have ever had. The meat was sublime from the neck side of the shoulder and spiced on the edge to a perfect crust. Quincy Cellars Cabernet was nice. Spring Fruits came wit a Pork Fat Sabayon that was slightly sweet and also a big point of discussion. Sticky-Bacon-Toffee Pudding with Whipped Cream would have pleased any toffee lover. I asked for one to take home with my morning coffee, but that was a waste of time. We returned to the mixed drinks with dessert and got a "Mr Nibs" Alchema Chocolate Vodka with Hella Bitters that was indeed chocolaty and bitter and a nice sipper, but again, no prize winner for me. It was a fun night with some nice new faces and great food....
Posted by Alan Savada at 5:27 PM