Friday, March 13, 2009

Buns and Boulud

Last Saturday, we paid an early visit to The Fatty Crab in the Village. We were attending a concert at the Highline Ballroom, and wanted a fun, tasty place to eat before walking to the venue. Along with pickled veggies (spicy), we ordered three Steamed Pork Buns, mostly to compare with Momofuku Noodle Bar. Well, they were good but did not come close to Momofuku's. The sauce was a simple Asian brown sauce, compared to the lovely sweetness at Chang's restaurant. And the bun also lacked the crisp counterbalance of the cucumber. Surprisingly, it may have been the least impressive offering of the meal, as the rest was incredibly tasty and interesting (Fatty Duck, Chicken Clay Pot, Wonton Soup, Coconut Rice). I will definitely return to The Fatty Crab.

And while the Pork Buns from last week did not live up to my expectations, I was blown away last evening with Daniel Boulud's Pork Belly charcuterie at Bar Boulud. We were walking around the Upper West Side after a listening party at Jazz at Lincoln Center, without much focus on where to eat. And across the way I spotted Bar Boulud. We weren't planning on visiting a restaurant of that "caliber," but since we were there, and the menu looked tasty, we said "Why not." And I am so glad we did. The whole meal was quite wonderful, served at a wine-focused communal table in the back of the restaurant. One of the highlights most certainly was the Rillons Croustillants au Poivre: Hot, crispy and tender pork belly with cracked pepper. Served with a bit of mustard sauce and some refreshing leafy greens, a rather large portion of pork belly was presented in two long strips. Alternating between crispy meat and tasty fat, the thick strips were almost too much. I said almost. The taste was just incredible -- I probably could have made a meal out of that dish alone. I must admit that nearing the end it did tend to come across as just slightly dry -- I kept looking for some of the remaining mustard to help with that. But overall, one of the best dishes I have had in quite some time, pork or not. Looking forward to when I find myself across from Lincoln Center, looking for a restaurant.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coffee Braised Pork with Mango Relish

Another from Bravo's Top Chef. I'm definitely trying this sometime, but I'll most likely skip the swiss chard and the truffle oil.

Pork Confit and Tomato Marmalade

You have to like a recipe that begins with "cook a pork shoulder in pork lard." This is from the Bravo Top Chef clips at I'll be posting more of these as I find them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

John Stewart vs. Baconnaise

Here's a good example of a Porksperiment Fiasco. John Stewart dipping a Jimmy Dean's blueberry pancake wrapped sausage into a jar of Baconnaise Light.

To be fair to the Baconnaise makers, Stewart had me (puking) at "blueberry pancake wrapped sausage." It's one of two product signs I can't bear to look at in a grocery store. The other, with thanks to George Carlin, is head cheese.

Baconnaise is made by the folks at JD's Foods, whose motto is "Everything Should Taste Like Bacon." That's "like bacon" without any actual bacon. Their two flagship producets - Baconnaise and Bacon Salt - are so pork-free, they're even kosher.

They also have a blog with a formidable display of porksperiments, even if no pork is involved.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crock Pot Fiasco (sort of)

Last week I tried cooking a pork roast in a slow cooker, along with a mix of sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks, and a cup of broth. There are also these other potatoes I thought would be sweets, but looked like regular spuds on the inside.

I put everything in the crockpot as shown in the "before" picture above, but I think I did something wrong. After 4 hours, the pork was fully cooked, but dried out like I cooked it in the microwave.

I was able to salvage it by slicing it down and mixing in with the cooked broth and veggies. It was absolutely delicious, but it looked like an unappetizing mush. You should have seen how my wife's face transformed from excitement to scorn when she finally saw what smelled so good. Sorry I didn't take an "after" picture.

  1. So what did I do wrong?
  2. Was the pork sitting too high atop the vegetables?
  3. Should the pork have touched the bottom so it could cook partially immersed in the broth?
I'll try that next time, but I'd appreciate any advice.

P.S. - Leeks are my favorite new ingredient. They add a lot of tart, bitter flavor. I like to chop up the whole leek, using as much as possible down to the bottom of the stalk until it's totally white.

Leeks are also, by far, the best vegetable for drumming up and down the produce aisle when you're pretty sure no one is watching. They're like big brushes, perfect for Mitch Mitchell's solo at the beginning of "Up From the Skies."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Momofuku Pork Belly

I made my fourth or fifth trip to Momofuku Noodle Bar a few weeks ago. I was debating whether I should order the roasted tri-tip again (complete with kimchi butter). Instead, I doubled up on the pork. Of course we had to savor Chang's famous pork roll -- that soft little bun, slice of cucumber, that lovely sweet sauce, and the perfectly done slice of pork -- but I needed to go one step further and order the rolled pork belly ramen (from pig farmer Bev Eggleston). Flavored with toasted garlic and miso, it was as good a ramen as it looks . . .