It's interesting how food trends seem to permeate all media at once in what seems to be a bizarre widespread synchronistic event. I've been waiting for a few weeks to cook this piece of pork belly and while I waited, everyone else was digging in. The Statesman ran a piece on pork belly and this week's Top Chef featured Pigs and Pinot, with two cheftestants doing belly.
Interesting. Of course, pork belly is nothing new, but it has been getting a lot of play over the past year or so. If you've ever enjoyed it then you understand why. This is one of things that lets you use the word unctuous in a positive way. Yum.
Last week I ventured down to the North Buda Bungalow to feast with Shaddley & Co. I already had this nice piece of Niman Ranch pork belly so we were going to go about the evening in the usual fashion of multi-course Dionysian decadence. After a brief stop at a centrally-located market, it was off to the newly revamped kitchen of Shaddley and YogaMarketingBrownieGirl.
I was really excited about the pork belly and even the late start time couldn't deter me from braising it in the loving way it deserved. Yes, we had a late start, around eight or so, which made for an extended evening of dining and drinking.
There was much prep to do for all the other dishes, so I got the belly in the oven as quickly as possible, reserving a small amount for use in other dishes. The belly was the fourth course of this small plates feast. I had time to drink some wine and go about my business preparing the rest of the meal as the pork belly sat in the oven discovering itself.
There was a gap of time between the third course of lamb and tiny dutch potatoes, and the belly. A gap that was long enough, apparently, for one of the guests to suggest that they watch The Dark Knight. I think this time out of the eating and drinking pocket was the demise of two of our feast mates. Shaddley came back from the realms of dreamy floor land just in time to eat this dish. Of course, being that some of the inspiration for this plate was a play on bacon and eggs, it's almost appropriate to eat it after waking up. Then again it was one thirty a.m. and not noon.
Pork belly, I love you.
The braised belly was lightly fried, then coated in a sweet and sour Shochu glaze and served with rutabaga puree, egg white, an egg and apple emulsion and parsley puree. The pork was fun to eat, sticky and sweet with grounding, earthy flavors of pork, star anise and cinnamon. Like the best bacon you could eat. There was something reminiscent of sweet and sour pork as well, which is often made from this cut. The sticky Shochu glaze paired well with the pork belly's unctuous nature.
Unfortunately, only YogaMarketingBrownieGirl and I were able to feast on the desert of bacon toffee and panna cotta. I crisped some of the reserved belly for use in the toffee, which came out nicely, redeeming my last overdone batch. Shaddley was forced to enjoy the dessert after coffee the following morning.
I've never even heard of Eater. Maybe that says something about me or how little I care for the foodienistas out there in the abyss, but I do find it to be a bold move to put a call out for bloggers to hang up their keyboards "in order to make way for stronger reporting of the food world."
Sure, not all blogs are created equal—I actually don't read more than a handful and haven't had the time to keep mine up and running over the past few months—but there is something disconcerting about a food related website asking bloggers to shut it down for a nominal fee. Poking around on this Eater website, I found the usual poorly written foodie crap that I personally don't care about or write about (who cares about Rocco DiSpirito's newest pitch on his long road to selling out?). So, this leaves me poised to ask why—why ask us to stop writing about our passion? Sounds wack.
I'll ramble about whatever mundane shit I want to motherfucker.
Food bloggers out there, don't do it. Resist the temptation of making a quick $25 bucks and don't stop writing about food. Food bloggers in Austin seem more apt to cover locally produced foods, locally owned restaurants and the scene than some shitty national website that thinks it has its finger on the pulse. This move is nothing new. Eater seems to have a lot of advertising dollars coming in from the Food Network and the like, folks who have turned eating into a sport and homogenized food trends and styles into neat little marketable packages with frosted blonde tips, like Guy Fieri. The idea that they will be releasing an 'Eater's Bill of Rights' today, and that it should be in any way taken serious, is a joke.
Keep writing and cooking and eating and loving food the way you want to, not the way the Big Foodie in the Sky tells you is cool. Fuck that shit.