Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Pig's Life...

I know what you're thinking but I'm actually not referencing myself with this blog post title.

On the literal plane, it describes my Sunday evening exploits, as I experienced a Cuban pig roast courtesy of my buddy and supplier, Juan Prieto. Juan and I have been traveling to Burgundy for five years running (actually going back again in October) visiting his terrific stable of producers. So while we certainly are biz associates, our relationship is very tight and I consider him one of my closest friends in the wine business and in life. Juan just passed a milestone birthday over the weekend and his family decided to celebrate that momentous occasion and the Labor Day holiday all rolled into one, Cubano style!

One thing I can assure you is that Cuban's will not let you go hungry. There was enough food on hand to solve the Somali crisis. Three kinds of rice: one white, one yellow with red beans and one with black beans, salads, oysters, clams, mussels, lobster tail, corn and pork empanada, croquetas de jamon. This list was exhaustive and truly delicious. But the Yucca con Mojo was devastating. It's like a somewhat mild-n-sweet version of a white potato, boiled and covered with a light garlic and olive oil sauce that just brightens the Yucca with a blast of sunshine. I couldn't stop eating it. And then there was the pig...

Juan relayed to me the process of selecting a pig for a roast. He goes to a local farm and actually looks for the right pig. According to Juan, you want one that is lively...one that seems alert and mobile. Sluggish pigs won't do. After selecting the right one, they butcher it for you and butterfly it, cleaning out the nasty bits so you don't have to. Juan has this tremendous wood box lined with metal that cooks the pig to perfection by placing burning coals on top of the box. Ours was a small pig...50 lbs small in fact. Overnight marinating in bitter orange, garlic and other seasonings and 4.5 hours of roasting in that box and you have the most succulent, tender meat with a beautiful crispy skin. We all just started picking on it, pulling pieces of what are essentially cracklings off the pig. It was heavenly. When it came time to dig into the meat, as per Juan's suggestion, I went right for the cheek...the guanciale so to speak. I dug my fingers in and ripped the cheek off, leaving me with a feeling of primal manhood, a little caveman-esque rush came over me. And I'm not the only one. A six year old, very adventurous neighborhood girl came over to the pig and immediately asked to eat the ears, both of them! After walking away from the table for less than a minute, she came back to request another ear....sorry, darling -- pigs just like humans only have two.

My barbaric inner Cro-magnon soul was quickly followed by a wave of civility as I sat down with a knife and fork to eat this plate of loveliness with a glass of 2001 Domaine Leroy Pommard Les Vignots. The wine was spot on, as the Brits would say, as most 2001's are in position A at present. The moist tender and flavorful meat melded with the Pinot Noir in the most natural of ways, like each existed only to serve the other. Truly a heart wrenching (as well as artery clogging) experience that will stay with me for quite a while...in more ways than one.

All in all we enjoyed some Rose by Mas de Cadenet from magnum, a textbook 2002 Puligny-Montrachet AC magnum by Domaine Bzikot, and a life-altering bottle of 2001 Lamy-Pillot Le Montrachet Grand Cru that just kept stretching its greatness with such class as time went by among other wines. The party going on late into the night, more and more pork, magnificent wines, salsa music providing much of the backdrop, it was a great evening celebrating the life of a very good friend. Happy Birthday, Juan!

Come to think of it, maybe the title references me after all...

JCB the 4th

No comments:

Post a Comment