December 9, 2012

A crispy, porky, buttery dinner

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Less than a week after singing the praises of my good friend Susan, I received an invitation for dinner at her home.  One of our mutual friends is in town, and she had decided that she would cook for our little gathering.  It's been a while since I last visited Susan in her natural habitat, and I was looking forward to the smells emanating from her kitchen…

The first thing I saw upon stepping foot in the kitchen was the pile of desserts on the countertop… but more about that later.  She was also working on a humongous piece of pork belly, which had been rolled and was well-roasted.  She was trying to get the skin crispy, and we watched as bubbles/blisters started to form on the skin…

While the pork was resting, we found ourselves with a place of three different types of saucisson.

One of them was labelled "andouillette", but it didn't look like a 5A andouillette to me.  Doesn't matter, though, as it was still very yummy.

Soon it was time for our hostess to prepare the pork for serving.  Our hostess wore one of her favorite T-shirts for the occasion…

We sat down at the dining table, and started to dig into all the side dishes.  These included the kimchi which had been made that very same morning…

some beets

Very delicious sweet potatoes baked at low temperature.  I wish I had more space to have more of these.

Of course, the main event tonight was the roast pork belly. I was served a pretty big piece, and it was absolutely heavenly.  The crackling was crunchy, while the layers of pork tasted really yummy.  Seasoning was perfect, and I took the first piece without any gravy.

I did have a thinner second piece, but hit a wall after just one bite.  I struggled to finish the rest, but ultimately failed.  This was partly attributable to the tartiflette, which was really delicious but completely unnecessary.  It's been about 2 years since I last had this heavy winter dish, and I think that's about the right interval for me…

I was uncomfortably stuffed, but of course that just meant it was time for dessert!  Our hostess' famous kouign amann - the recipe of which is her cookbook A Celebration of Food - came stacked on a plate.

If I only had room in my stomach, I'd polish off a half dozen of these babies…

…and why should I be surprised when, despite having served us 3 times the amount of food that we could reasonably consume, a plate of pistachio green tea financiers arrived.  Of course the wonderful perfume had alerted us to their presence long before they hit the table.  Yum!

A wonderful evening needs a little wine, and I was dissuaded from bringing a nice little magnum tonight.  Instead, I contribute a bottle of 1997 Tignanello.  Nose was fairly muted, with notes of mint and black fruits.  Nice concentration and lovely on the palate.  Slightly disappointed as I thought this would show much more.

Clearly one measly bottle just wasn't gonna cut it, so our host opened a bottle of 2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.  Chocolate, leather and forest notes.  Not much complexity here, but not bad at all.

Have our hosts ever let me leave their house without being completely stuffed?  I think not.  And I don't think it will ever happen, either…  So when am I invited over for dinner again?

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