This little piggy went to market. This little piggy went home. This little pig had roast beef. This little piggy provided us with a ridiculously tasty dinner at the James Beard House.
A few months ago, the usual schedule e-mail from the James Beard Foundation arrived in my inbox. Scanning through the myriad choices, a dinner leaped from the page at me, "Swine and Wine". Keep the brown paper packages tied up with string, swine and wine are a few of my favorite things. My hand reached for the phone as if it had a mind of its own and I soon had a spot reserved.
I arrived at the James Beard House and made my way to the backyard for the reception. Soon Chef Christopher Rendell from Double Crown was making his way through the crowd with a roasted baby pig, his golden brown skin glistening. Oh yes, this evening was shaping up to be a very special meal.
The quicker the cooking crew made the suckling pig steamed buns, the quicker they were devoured. The pig was perfectly cooked and the sauce on the meat proved to be the perfect foil to the meat. The other hors d'oeuvres soon made their appearance. The hot and sour pig soup and the twice cooked pork belly with chili caramel were standouts from an array of stellar starters. Chef Brad Farmerie and Chef Christopher Rendell were on their game tonight. The Kings Ridge Riesling 2007 from Oregon provided the perfect wine quaff along with all this heavenly hog.
We made our way into the house and found our seats for the dinner proper. I was sitting with esteemed company, the wife of one of the chefs, the man who was in charge of the wine pairings, and the renown hamburger expert George Motz. While I have heard of him, I have never met him or seen a picture of him. His identity was revealed when his wife had us try to guess his occupation. My guess of pickle maker was not that far off.
All the courses ran from really good to out of the ball park great. The one dish that really rocked me back on my heels was the pork liver creme caramel. It was one of those dishes you initially approach with trepidation. Pork liver creme caramel, really? Yes really! It had such a rich, creamy consistency joined with the slightly sweet, luscious flavors that it just rocked. Rocked in a 1970's full on KISS concert with flames, explosions and lasers kind of rocking.
The wines served with all the courses were equally noteworthy. All the wines were from Oregon and they all matched the food perfectly. It's really had to highlight one of the wines here as the star of the evening, but the pinot noir was very interesting. It was a very earthy and complex pinot noir that really piqued my interest. It did serve as an excellent accompaniment with the spiced pork loin.
All to soon, the desert plates were being cleared. The caramelized brioche with wild blueberries that Pastry Chef Ryan Butler created was well received and put the proper exclamation point at the end of this dinner. The chefs and the rest of the cooking crew came upstairs and were given a well deserved round of applause. After a Q & A session, we were sent off with full bellies and the aura of having been in the midst of porcine perfection.