Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our best tasting yet.

A couple of days ago, we had some friends over for TM's best tasting ever. It was made even better because all I had to help with was the bread! My starter, which has been going for several months, is in a good place so the bread turned out well, even though it was slightly over-risen because of the drama with the pig (story to follow).

I had to pick up the pig from the butcher, which was terrifying for me as anyone who has heard my Bouley hazing story knows. Suffice it to say, seven years of avoiding contact with meat as a vegetarian ended at the ears of a suckling pig, whose head (complete with cigarette in mouth) was stuffed onto a shelf on my low-boy refrigerator by some very mischievous line cooks during my first few weeks in the kitchen. The suckling pig I picked up on Wednesday was a three hour ordeal because I had to gather the courage to touch what looked like the Bouley pig's long lost body.

TM prepared the pig very simply: upside down to start with EVOO, sliced onions, salt and pepper, and a couple cups of water. Presumably, the skin won't stick to the bottom of the pan with the water. And, you start the pig upside down because the skin gets crispy faster than the meat cooks so you only want to flip it about half-way through. The finished product was indeed quite beautiful:

Here's a close-up of that beautiful crisp, astonishing for an old crappy home oven:

The pig was served with its roasting juices, which was a concentrated version of itself: clean flavors, slightly gamey, very robust. I could only eat a piece because of my earlier trauma, but I'm pretty sure our guests were blown away. For me, the star attraction of the night was a lamb carpaccio with poached blueberries, marinated goat cheese, and an almond olive crumble. Not only was it a beautiful presentation, but the flavors were playful and had tremendous range, a combination of sweet, sour, savory, briney. Basically, all the flavors that are pleasant in this world. I could have done with more lamb since the lamb we got (thanks, McCall's!) was so mild, but all-in-all an stellar dish.

Our final dish was a marinated seafood dish with tuna, white anchovy, calamari, Spanish olives, and pickled radishes. We found these beautiful olives from a gourmet food stand at the Atwater Farmers' Market called Christina's From Spain. The olives were from a small artisanal farmer in the La Mancha region of Spain, an up-and-coming region for wine as well! The fish we got from LA Fish Company in Little Tokyo, our go-to fishmonger.

We didn't serve dessert at this tasting, but our guests dug into some beautiful stone fruits we picked up from the farmers' market. It was a perfect end to a meal where we really let the ingredients drive the recipes. Our philosophy moving forward: spend less time cooking and more time eating.

Thanks for the photos, Tim!

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...Is this why you guys called me? I called back and T never called me back again.

    Looks like fun...and I'm glad you were so brave about the pig.