April 18, 2014

Pork belly for Fat Donkey

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It's been a while since I last caught up with Fat Donkey, and I wanted to make sure this dinner happened before we both go off on our respective Easter breaks.  This was a celebratory dinner, and I told him that I'd take him out for some pork belly (and a bottle of wine, of course!). You see, Fat Donkey and his partner just completed the ABSA Cape Epic, one of the top mountain bike races of the world.  I followed their progress through 8 grueling days, more than 700 km and almost 15,000 m (that's 15 km!) of climbing.  They did an amazing job, finished ahead of their expectations, and deserve enormous respect.

Which was why I took him to Harlan Goldstein's Comfort .  I figured the food is good, the atmosphere is casual, and it would be perfect for our little get together.

Frikandel, mini Dutch sausage, curry ketchup, mayo and chopped onion - these skinless franks were deep-fried and tasted pretty decent, especially with the curry ketchup.

"Melt in your mouth" pork belly bao bao, hoi-sin glaze - if it's pork belly he wants, then pork belly he gets.  Even though he's been eating a lot more healthy these days, I figured Fat Donkey has earned the right to have a thin slice of pork belly...  The sauce on the side was actually a little spicier and more tangy than expected.

Slow cooked Spanish Duroc pork ribs - not as mind-blowing as the last time I had them, but still incredibly tender and falling off the bone.  Very, very tasty.

"My tai tai's" beef brisket curry, rice and pickled vegetables - I had heard about this and wanted to try it out.  I wasn't exactly expecting heavy peanut flavors here, but I guess that would work, too.

Japanese wagyu beef croquettes - the deep-fried exterior seemed to be a little tougher and more chewy tonight, but the minced beef on the inside was still yum.

I didn't need any dessert, but was happy to watch Fat Donkey take down something that he liked...

What wine would I bring out to help celebrate Fat Donkey's victory?  Why, Grange, of course!  And only an Aussie like Fat Donkey would recognize the irony of drinking Grange on a day such as today, as Premier of New South Wales Barry O'Farrell resigned today over a corruption scandal involving a bottle of... you guessed it... Penfolds Grange.

1983 Penfolds Grange - decanted and served 45 minutes after opening.  Didn't like the first whiff I got... instantly detected that green pepper, vegetal, wet cardboard nose.  Was this bottle corked?  Definitely possible, but I'm not very sensitive to TCA and this wasn't badly corked.  Initially the nose was a little muted, and when a Grange doesn't explode in your face, that's usually a sign of trouble...  A little smoky at first, and eventually after a long while, the familiar sweet vanilla finally showed up.  Acidity was a little higher than expected.

Despite my disappointment in my last bottle of '83 Grange, this was still a fun evening... and it's always good to see Harlan and talk shit with him.  Now I'm looking forward to my next meal with Fat Donkey.

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