Friday, December 18, 2009

Ibérkshirco Pork

First, a humble apology to my two loyal followers, I am crap at updating my blog. I can never make the pictures go where I want them to, and formatting is such a hassle, I know I will never be asked to be on the Martha Stewart Show.

Tonight, though, tonight I am compelled to post, if only to preserve the memory of this meal for a time when I can't remember it. Unfortunately, I am sans photos, as I accidentally left my camera sitting on the counter while I was re-charging the batteries. So as Chef Nick says, I will just have to paint a picture with my words.

For the past two days, the twitterverse has been abuzz with the news of a new meat in town. I first saw it from Live to Feast ( http://livetofeast.com/?p=450 ) and was instantly intrigued. I mean who doesn't want to know how Berkshire hogs, fed in the style of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, taste when served as fresh pork, not ham? Certainly not me, so I drove all the way down to Parish in Inman Park ( http://www.parishatl.com/home.php ) in the nasty, cold, rainy weather to get me a plate.

Even though I only had one thing on my mind, I couldn't resist trying a few other bites from the menu. I porked out on a savory pork and sweet potato cheesecake with homemade worcestershire sauce, as well as these dreamy little cloud-like parmigiano dumplings sauteed in sage butter and stuffed into a roasted acorn squash. Both were so delicious, I had to ask my fabulous server, Monica, to take them away or I would have eaten every last bite and been too full to eat my pork.

Then came the pièce de résistance, the pork. It was beautifully presented on a bed of garlicky mustard greens with a sweet/acidic/clovey sherry reduction on the plate to perfectly complement the rich fatty meat. A golden brown turnip & chestnut gratin sat in its own little Staub saucepan, crowned with perfect buttery bread crumbs.

But really, aren't we here for the pork? It's almost indescribable, it's nutty, a little sweet, a little gamey and meltingly tender after its sous vide bath. If I could have somehow grafted a few thousand more tastebuds on my tongue to better appreciate and describe the flavor, I would have done so in a heartbeat. This easily ranks as the best meal I have had in a restaurant in 2009.

Chef Nick Melvin has set the bar high, now I can't wait to hear what the other four chefs in town who got some of this amazing pork are going to do to try and match him.