Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pork-tastic! A Look Back on a 2010 Favorite

As I wrote my "Best of Boston Eats 2010" post deeming it the year of the appetizer, I realized that might have been a gross understatement. When I went to award the winners of my favorite pork entree this category gave me even more trouble than the aforementioned appetizers. From there things spiraled out of control and an entire post was developed re-living my year in pork dishes.Interestingly enough, Pork is deemed a "Lucky New Years Food" in many cultures. Wealth and prosperity are signified by the high fat content in pork; plus, when rooting for food, pigs push their snouts forward, which represents progress. (Supposedly, source) In honor of the year past and in celebration of the new, I present: 12 Months of Pork.

In late February I celebrated my 26th Birthday with dinner at Craigie On Main. A memorable evening with Adam at this upscale bistro in Central Square, it was here where Chef Tony Maws peaked my interest with his inventive entree of Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit, Spice-Crusted Rib and Grilled Belly. Accompanying the trio of pork would be red quinoa, autumn olives, pear puree and winter farm vegetables. And after this meal, I started a food blog. It was pork belly that I craved thereafter, satisfied by Chef Barbara Lynch at her modern Italian trattoria, Sportello. A double date night with a bottle of red wine and good company, in March I embarked on my first Restaurant Week review post featuring the Pork Belly. A crispy brittle rind exposing delicately chewy fat, the belly showcasing was all I imagined it to be. The other components of the plate were a delicate fennel and parsnip salad and salsa verde. In April I cooked Lemon Parsley Pork Chops for Adam and I, a re-creation of a hit meal served earlier in the year to some dinner guests. The chops came out juicy and zesty served with roasted fennel and a side of sauteed brussel sprouts with crunchy pecans. In May I was drinking pork themed beers (what?) at Kenmore Squares best kept secret (from the Fenway Tourist scene that is) The Lower Depths. Butternuts Porkslap, a Farmhouse Pale Ale. Not even halfway through the year and the pig obsession, unbeknown to me at the time, is in full swing. I eat with friends at Delux on a regular basis even though I don't always photograph my seasonal comfort meals in the dimly lit bar. Luckily, the Citrus-Aciote Braised Pork Tacos I ordered in June did not escape the camera! With pickled red onion, napa slaw and cilantro, this was definitely a Delux summer menu winner. But July, wonderfully hot July lent an all time favorite dish created as a special at Ten Tables in Cambridge by Chef David Punch that very evening. Tender flavorful bites of thinly sliced Berkshire Pork Chop were intensified by a saffron and chipoltle butter emulsion. Sitting over of a bed of velvety sweet creamed corn that was not too rich for a summer dish nor too light to hold up to the pork, I do believe it gained a permanent spot on the entree menu and my heart. This dinner holds a special memory above and beyond the pork, for this night was my first ever blog related dinner event. I met local bloggers who were once strangers behind a screen, and from this dinner on I was immersed into a culture related to blogging I didn't fully comprehend existed. From events, to dinners, and even a road trip - I became friends with those dining companions and many more bloggers since. Myers + Chang's Asian inspired Tea Smoked Pork Spare Ribs took things to a whole new level in mid August, at yet another blog related dinner. Fall off the bone tender with a sticky sweet glaze I decided then that I needed to branch out and eat more ribs. Come Labor Day, that's just what I did. The weekend bridging summer to fall and August to September was spent down the Cape where Gretchen's Southern food night featured Sweet and Smokey Spareribs. They were flavored with a rub of smoked paprika, brown sugar, ground clove, ground ginger and chipotle chili powder and slow cooked all afternoon, then accompanied by a meal of peanut lime slaw, white wine braised kale, root beer stove top beans and biscuits! Seriously one of the most impressive meals anyone has ever cooked for me. During the Fall season I was eating pork for Breakfast like it was going out of style (coming into style?) At Lord Hobo for brunch in late September I tried Pork Belly Hash topped with sunny side up eggs. A particularly hungover morning after a Bachelorette party, I joined the ranks of other had-one-to-manys-the-night-before at the first official Boston Brunchers meet-up! During the month of October I attended an event specifically focused around showcasing the pig at Back Bay Social Club. Kielbasa Meat Candy, Ham Crustini, Head Cheese and Pretzel Wrapped Sausages were all featured. I learned I have a strong distaste for head cheese and to this day I recall it as the only food I don't like. While the parts of the pig in October are more diversified than I've typically been focusing on in this post, how could I not include this Citysearch Boston sponsored event in such a recap! True to falls theme, pork for breakfast was served East Coast Grill style in the form of Banana Rellena. Tender, smoked, pulled and stuffed into a mushy Banana, then covered in signature Inner Beauty Hot Sauce, this dish brought the heat, the sweet and the savory on a brisk November morning. In December I was treated to Brekky at KO Catering & Pies where Sausage Rolls at 10am are not uncommon. Delicious even for breakfast, seasoned with herbs and spices and rolled in a flaky puff pastry, who knew the Australians would round out the year full of pork based eats in such fine form. Recap
January:
Who knows what I ate, I didn't even blog then
February:
Craigie On Main | Vermont Organic Pork 3 Ways | rich and decadently indulgent
March:
Sportello | Pork Belly w/ Fennel & Parsnip Salad | simple and perfectly executed
April:
My Kitchen | Lemon Parsley Pork Chops | not bad if I do say so myself
May:
The Lower Depths | Butternuts Porkslap Farmhouse Ale | fun can, tasty beer
June:
Delux | Citrus-Aciote Braised Pork Tacos | juicy and flavorful enhanced by pickled onions
July: Ten Tables | Berkshire Pork Chop | saffron chipoltle butter & creamed corn
August
: Myers + Chang | Tea Smoked Pork Spare Ribs | fall off the bone sticky & sweet
Labor Day:
Gretchen's Cape Cod Kitchen | sweet and smokey spare ribs feast
September:
Lord Hobo | Pork Belly Hash | sunny side up eggs
October:
Back Bay Social Club | Piggy Wiggy Social | Meat Candy, sausage pretzels, head cheese, oh my!
November:
East Coast Grill | Smoked Pork Stuffed Bananas | Muy Caliente!
December:
KO Catering & Pies | Sausage Rolls | Australian Brekky

My deepest gratitude to the pig and to all the chefs who cooked it in various beautiful forms. Apparently, 2010 wouldn't have been what it was without it!

15 comments:

Emily said...

Ha - this is great! We definitely brought Portkslap beers to a pig roast this past year. I couldn't get over the label!

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I totally don't consider myself a pork-eater but seeing as how I ate about three or four of the same dishes....maybe I do like pork! What a great blog post!

Jen said...

Ok, I completely forgot to tell you but guess where I'm going the 14-16th of this month??? BOSTON!! A friend and I are going to visit as we've never been. I'm not sure where we are staying yet (probably in the downtown area) but if you can help at all with things to do while I'm there and great bars to visit, I'd be soooo greatful!! I'm so excited about this weekend trip!

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

I have eaten a few of these dishes over the year, and I love that beer! I love that chefs like Tony Maws are so inventive using as much of the animal as possible and sourcing local pork. This is a fun post!

Sarah said...

When you visit NYC head to Porchetta for an amazing pork sandwich!!

xo

MelissaNibbles said...

I've never had pork belly. I think that needs to change in 2011.

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

This post is making me hungry....lol. time to make dinner!

Happy 2011!

Gretchen said...

The year of the pig! Love it! So glad we were able to share some of these piggy meals this year :) Weren't there some pork empanadas at Delux, too?

Dahl said...

Wow!! This is a great post! Personally pork isn't my favorite part of the pig, I prefer ham, but now my mouth is watering...mmmm :) http://thearcenciel.blogspot.com/

Megan said...

I still dream about that pork chop at Ten Tables. I love that you ate so much pork you could devote a whole post to it!

Lizzy said...

Pork= the other white meat and the best meat out there! I always joke I could live on bacon... great post as always- love you had so much pork you could dedicate and enitre post to it!

Kerstin said...

Haha, love this post :) I still think about the pork dish we had at Craigie too - and it was over a year ago! Happy New Year!!

this free bird said...

that's it. you gotta get to socal. chef's opening a restaurant (hopefully late feb or march for open date) and he makes the most WICKED pork belly!! you neeeeeeeeed to taste it!!

happy new year!
xo,
c

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Well this post made me want to pig out. Get it?! Pig...out. All of these porky dishes look so good!

Corinne said...

i never knew that pork was considered a lucky new years entree! so fun. i absolutely love the fact that each dish in this post is unique! pork 11 ways :) and of course the mention of your very first blogged meal makes me smile, what a fab year its been for iii!