Showing posts with label pork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pork. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style McCall's Meat & Fish, Los Feliz - Nathan McCall and the Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

"One man's junk is another man's treasure."

By now in Los Angeles, it's not uncommon to see the words 'pig ears', 'jowels' or even 'trotters' on the menu. With this current dining trend, it's almost bizarre to find a restaurant that doesn't offer a beautiful offal. Just wait for the wonderful people at Olive Garden to offer the braised pig tongue ravioli with pig blood tomato sauce for $8.95 with coupon. Based on a ritual practiced for nearly centuries by almost every race in the world but Americans, a pig is finally consumed to the last piece of meat and thankfully it does not die in vain. When I had heard that Nathan McCall of McCall's Meat and Fish was offering a whole butchered pig that had been milk and acorn fed, I had to go in and see the butchering process. We've all tasted animals that had benefited from being milk-fed or acorn-fed. The latter being best exemplified through the mastery of Spanish charcuterie chefs – jamon Iberico de Bellota (Iberico ham). I had never tasted anything better than that.

On Thursday, I received a text from Nathan and I quickly drove over to meet him. The pig had made its way from the Sandberg Ranch in Lake Hughes, California – about an hour outside of Los Angeles. Nathan told me the 18 month old pig weighed in at 350 lbs., and had to be sawed in half in order to be carried by TWO people. I remembered vividly the scene in Food Inc. where a man in protective gear took a chainsaw down a carcass in less than 2 seconds. Just like that, it was halved.

I've known Nathan and Karen for about 7 months now and on this day, he showed me his true skill and passion for what he does. On top of waking up everyday at 5 am to go to the fish market almost everyday, ensuring that his customers get super fresh seafood, he works until about 10 pm, only to experience Groundhog Day again. He says that he and Chef Nozawa of Sushi Nozawa are homeys. Nathan has also done a lot for me as well.

I walked in with my camera and he had already been working on the first half of the pig – we'll name him "Benny Hill". He didn't even bother saying "hi" to me, he was at work. And one look at his focused face, I knew I shouldn't get near him and his hacksaw. If you happen to see Dylan's Ranch whiskey-fed, taco-fed, noodle-fed pork belly for sale, you'll understand my fate.

With a hacksaw, he cut through the limbs as far as he could, and then finish off with his meat knife. Before each incision or cut, he moved around his worktable like he was on a billiards table. He'd lean to the side and eyeball, murmuring to himself different measurements. I, along with two other gentleman stood and watched him go to town – the town of Porksville. The color of the flesh was a very light pink, yet deep and rich. The same richness you see from the Iberico ham... almost a crimson red. If trichinosis didn't exist, we might've jumped upon the pig like one of those freaks from Twilight and taken a bite of the meat to taste that milk and acorn. In about 20 minutes, he had finished off the first half. And still had the rest of the pig to go.

All I could stare at was that long rack of light pink rib meat. The pig was so fresh that the marrow was oozing out of the ribs, almost looked like vaseline. I took a few photos of the head. The eyes ever so resembling that of a humans. It was clear and stared at me, and I could tell it was only dead for about a day or so. I grabbed one of the trotters and it felt like human flesh. Bizarre but beautiful. I reserved a nice section of the belly.

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

10/14/10 - McCall's Re Ride Pig from dealinhoz on Vimeo.



Over the weekend, I went into McCall's to pick up some fish. The first thing Nathan did was show me a photo on his iPhone – a line about 15 deep before the shop had even opened.

Me: "Did you sell everything?"
Nathan: "Look down. Only one trotter left."
Me: "Nice. I love that nothing goes to waste."
Nathan: "Nothing."

Nathan doesn't know when he'll get in the next pig from Lefty Ayer's farm. But you can bet it'll be gone faster each time. This time, I'm going for the 'buche' and pig jowls. Thanks for reading.

ReRide Ranch (Lefty Ayer's)
32633 Pine Canyon Rd.
Lake Hughes, CA 93532
(
661) 586-7411
Website

McCall's Meat and Fish
2117 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027-2003
(323) 667-0674
www.mccallsmeatandfish.com

Eat Drink Style Yatai Pop-up Ramen, Breadbar West Hollywood

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

When it comes to creativity in soup noodles, you've got to hand it to the Japanese for their undying passion for creating bowls of ramen fit for the gods. It was almost as though the Japanese replaced the arts and crafts class in elementary schools with Ramen 101 courses. Contrary to many soup noodles from all over Asia that follow standards in taste and preparation like Vietnamese pho and Chinese beef noodle soup, ramen is one dish that has no boundaries or hard-carved rules. When the Japanese adopted the art of ramen from the Chinese, ramen was in its simplest form. You had your soup base of pork bones, flavoring such as salt, soy sauce or miso, fish and seaweed with toppings – a style of lighter soup noodles referred to as assari-kei. But after many conversations with ramen enthusiasts like Rickmond of Rameniac, I learned that that arena expanded with the long and arduous techniques in cooking pork bones, chicken bones and even seafood, including shrimp shells, to produce a richer broth – a style of heavier, fat-rich soup noodles referred to as kotteri-kei. If you've eaten tonkotsu ramen, then you've eaten kotteri-kei style ramen.

The sky's the limit, and so is the waistline, when it comes to the innovative variations of ramen. When I was in Japan back in 2006, I saw so many kinds of ramen. If ramen were a living and breathing thing, people like Darwin could spend years appropriating the noodles with a similar genus-species classification. No matter which ramenya (ramen shop) or yatai (food stall - 屋台) I ate at, it was good. And it all started with the basic recipe of boiled bones, soy sauce, mirin, sake and seaweed. But because the Japanese are technical like the French, differences were subtly noticeable based on looks but the differences in taste were monumental. You might get a ramen shop that braises their pork another +4 hours on top of the usual braising time. You might get a broth so thick from 16+ hours of cooking that it has become a beautiful goo. You might get a ramen shop that produces a boiled egg so perfect that it oozes out yolk like molten, golden lava. You might get a ramen shop that has brought in a 139-year old, Yoda-like Chinese man with one eye, one leg and one tooth that can hand-pull noodles faster than any machine out there. I'm just saying, these are the differences in ramen that the Japanese pride themselves on and what sets apart all the shops and chefs from one another. It's important to note that there really is no "right" and "wrong" bowls of ramen.

Unfortunately, you won't see the amazing variations unless you're in Japan. In Los Angeles, our ramen selection is slim pickings, like "good" pho in the Eastside area. But thanks to Breadbar and its routine rotation of chefs and themed concepts at Breadbar in Century City and West Hollywood, we've got a limited time to try some different styles of ramen from Noriyuki Sugie and Chef Kazuo Shimamura, who run a company called Ironnori Concepts. On June 8, they began offering both classic and experimental ramens known as "twist ramen". And will continue to sell bowls of ramen until the last drop on July 24. Sugie received Japanese and French culinary training and I'm gonna guess Shimamura, who is from Saitama, Japan (just north of Tokyo) has been making ramen since he was 2.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

At Yatai, they offer Classic and Twist ramen.

Shio Ramen - seasoning with Indonesian sea salt, corn butter
Shoyu Ramen - seasoning with aged soy sauce
Miso Ramen - seasoning with blended miso,brown butter sauce
Spicy Miso Ramen - seasoning with blended miso, spicy sauce

Spicy Pork Curry Ramen
Tomato Ramen - tomato consommé soup, sautéed mixed vegetable
Vietnam Ramen - Pho style, raw beef tenderloin, asian herb
Ox tail Ramen - rich ox tail soup, truffle oil, marinated poached egg
Foie Gras Ramen - rich master stock consommé soup, chopped chives

For the three of us, we ended up ordering the Spicy Miso, Spicy Pork Curry and Foie Gras ramen. I had a heard the Ox Tail ramen was so good it was soldout.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Pork Feet Gyoza
In addition to kale gyoza and cold tofu, you'll probably be most interested pork feet gyoza. The gyozas are fried beautifully and filled with braised pork feet. The pork is super tender and has a nice pasty texture much like fish or shrimp patties used in Asian cooking.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Spicy Pork Miso Ramen
The Japanese seldom, if ever, use spice for their dishes. According to J, the Japanese find the seven pepper spice you see in almost all izakayas and ramen shops to be a mischievious contributor of the "sting ring". But when it comes to ramen, the chefs let it hang out and spice it up. Looking at this, it reminded me a lot of Korean seafood soup noodles known as jjampong. The noodles swam in a beautiful red broth, topped with juicy cuts of berkshire pork, marinated egg, wood ear mushrooms, seaweed and thinly sliced scallions. It smelled as beautiful as it looked. The wooden platters from Breadbar really made this bowl look super homey. I really enjoyed this bowl of ramen.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Although $11, it felt hearty with the right portion of noodles and toppings. The berkshire pork glistening in its own fat, of course, was delicious. The egg yolks were tasty but I think could've been cooked less. After you have oozy lava-like egg yolk from ramen in Japan, you're addicted.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Spicy Pork Curry Ramen
This reminded me a lot of Singaporean or Malaysian food. The curry was different than Japan's style and was more of a tasty mush. The flavors were there but it was just too heavy for me.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Foie Gras Ramen
After forever ruining my appetite for all things foie gras at Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon, I wasn't up for the swollen liver. Especially in my ramen. And again, Chef Kazuo nailed it on presentation and detail. The generous portion of foie gras was cooked right and how you would expect it to taste. To my surprise, the broth was on the sweeter side. Almost like a lighter version of the sweet, honey/palm-like soy sauce used in Thai cooking. And there was a slight aroma of burnt garlic which did add some nice depth to the broth. But not worth my $17.99.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Foie Gras Hiatus
For those that have been to Au Pied de Cochon, it's easy to understand the meaning of true foie gras overdose.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Noodles
The noodles weren't bad and I'd actually recommend having it cooked more al-dente if you're an al-dente-whore like me. But something tells me this might be the only noodle they can get locally. Real ramen shops sometimes go the extra mile and make their own noodles. God, imagine how good that is.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

We were curious about the shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) broths and asked the server for some Costco samples. And to our surprise, a man in plain clothing, trucker hat and apron came hustling out behind the counter with a small steaming bowl of broth. He looked like a Sam Woo chef. I know you've seen Chinese chefs behind the restaurant – sitting on a parking block digging into a huge bowl of whatever leftover food scraps and smoking at the same time. They look ordinary but you know very well they can kick some ass in that kitchen. We enjoyed talking to Chef Kazuo Shimamura as much as he was interested in watching us eat his ramen. I fell in the love with shoyu broth. It was seriously done very well. Dark in color, the right salinity and topped off with the tongue slap of burnt garlic. If you've been to Ippudo Ramen in New York, their flagship ramen shop in Japan is known for serving kogashi ramen, a ramen with broth made from wok-burnt soy sauce and garlic. Oh man! I had begged and pleaded with the chef at the New York location to make me a bowl and he politely declined my ass. Trying Chef Kazuo's shoyu broth, I imagined that this is what kogashi ramen was. And I'll definitely be going back to eat this one. The shio ramen uses Indonesian sea salt and was a bit on the saltier side. But there was a nice lingering tone of celery or maybe it was onion that was delightful.

Breadbar Yatai Pop-up Ramen

Until your next trip to Japan or the annual Mitsuwa Ramen shop festival, this may or may not be worth your money and time because it depends on what you're looking for. In my opinion, the "twist ramens" are novel yet fun for those looking for something different. But Kazuo's real craft is in the bowls of basic shoyu, shio or miso ramen. As a lover of soup noodles, it's very hard for me to turn away something that could possibly be found in Japan. Was this life changing ramen? No. Ramen with a sense of humor and fun? Yes. I enjoyed the Spicy Miso ramen and Shoyu ramen, and hoping to try the Oxtail ramen next time. Vietnam ramen? I know it sounds as puzzling as Xoia's pho tacos – which are actually quite interesting. Thanks for reading.

Yatai at Breadbar
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 205-0124
http://www.breadbar.net/

Eat Drink Style Banh Cuon - Vietnamese Rolled Rice Crepes

Banh Cuon - Vietnamese Rolled Rice Crepes

When I was commuting for the nearly 2 years to work in the Marina area, I made a point to stop over Chinatown for the Phu Huong roach coach (Alpine & Spring), a standard catering truck run by three very nice siblings – two brothers and a sister. They offered goodies such as Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi), charbroiled pork noodles (bun thit nuong), dried shrimp steamed rice cakes (banh beo), egg rolls (cha gio), charbroiled cured pork meatballs (nem nuong) and my favorite, fried Vietnamese sausage (cha chien). Though not the best representation of Vietnamese food, I loved the concept of one of my favorite foods served from a truck – just like tacos and Kogi BBQ. I know sooner or later, someone will be taking it back to Vietnam's true roots by setting up tiny plastic chairs and wooden tables and serving piping hot pho right out of a roach coach. What a beautiful thing.

I had come here so often that I had the guy's number on my phone. If I wanted a banh mi, I would simply call him 10 minutes before and do a drive by transaction. "Extra Maggi please, com ung!" But what I enjoyed most out of here was something my father first introduced banh cuon to me back in the late 80s, when the same truck was owned by another generation of Vietnamese people. I gladly chose this over a gross Happy Meal.

I had also come here so often that I knew that the purveyor of the banh cuon was always late or super lazy. Sometimes they'd be there at 8:45 am. Sometimes 9:45 am. Sometimes, not at all. This inconsistency drove me nuts as it STILL continues after 6 years. You would think this manufacturer gets the idea by now. NOPE. It was time to make it at home.

The recipes are adapted from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, a book I really enjoy reading. Nguyen's recipe calls for prepartion in a skillet or pan. The best way to have these is through steaming, but not everyone has that equipment or the BTU's to do this. Watch it being made.



Banh Cuon - Vietnamese Rolled Rice Crepes

(1) Put the dried wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of warm water. If you can find fresh mushrooms, then avoid this process of reconstituting the dried version. Should take under 7 minutes. Dry and mince it up. Same with shallots. If you like garlic, feel free to add a clove.

(2) Sauté the shallots for a minute or two, then add ground pork with a little S&P. Add fish sauce to taste and sugar to balance out the salinity. This should take no longer than 5 mins. You don't want to overcook this as you will be letting it sit out to rest.

(3) Make a well in a bowl with all the flour and starches. Pour the water into the well slowly, using your other hand to slowly mix in the flour starting from the center, then outwards. You should get a mixture that is watery – it should not be goopy like pancake batter.

(4) In order to make this less frustrating, have a separate chopping board glazed lightly with oil on it ready. This is a lot of work as it took me at least 8 crepes to get it somewhat 'right'. Add a little oil into your pan on low-medium heat, and add about 2 tbsp. of the batter. Slowly swirl the batter around in a circle so that all of the mixture is being cooked. When it stops moving around in the pan, they are being cooked. Then cover the pan with a lid and let it steam for about 1-2 mins. You know you're ready when you can peel the edges of the crepe off, and you don't want to overfry this – it's supposed to be smooth in texture and resemble something steamed. Here's a trick to make your life a little easier. Using the end of a wooden spatula, bang the sides of the pot from the outside and see if the crepe shifts easily. This method prevents any tearing that may happen from using your fingers to grab the crepe.

(5) This is the hardest part. If you watched the video, you saw the lady geniusly use chopsticks to hoist the crepe over to a cutting board. Unfortunately, we are not in Vietnam. If you flip the pot over directly, you may not get a clean fall. You kind of have to come in at an angle, like from 3pm to 7-8pm. Now you'll know why it took me a good 8 times.

(6) This is the easy part. Refer to my egg roll diagram. It's pretty much the same, only the crepe is more delicate. When you do the main rolling, any extraneous parts, you can simply cut off or tuck underneath the crepe for aesthetics. The 'belly' of the crepe should be exposed, not the wrinkly 80 year old grandma skin.

(7) Serve with dipping sauce, boiled/steamed bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and fried shallots.

For this recipe, I found myself adding a little more water to dilute the batter as I tasted too much flour/starch. Otherwise, the recipe is very basic and can be done with patience. No holes in the kitchen walls this time. It tastes good but still doesn't beat the original steamed version.

***Note: The Phu Huong truck is now owned by new people, but they are actually offering more store, including Chiu Chow food like Fried Turnip Cakes with Eggs. Good when fresh, not under saran-wrap.

Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Smoked Ham Hock & Rosemary Leek Hash

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

The other day at McCall's Meat & Fish Company, which was probably the third time in a week I was there, I saw that Nathan and Karen started offering smoked ham hocks. Oh joy. This reminds me of a particular ham that the Chinese, particularly Hong Kong, use in their stir fries. It's called "Virginia ham" and it's absolutely delicious. Think of it as an Asian version of spam-on-a-bone. The Chinese use the bone primarily for flavoring soups and can be treated like bacon. According to Wikipedia, "Virginia ham" is reminiscent of Jinhua ham from Mainland China. This is all new to me. At a few bucks a pound, I bought one smokey hock.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Instead of using it to flavor a split pea soup as Nathan suggested, I decided to make a "hash". I cut the meat off the bone, including my favorite parts, tendon and connective tissue. The meat is completely smoked through so you can start sampling the tasty meat. It really is tasty.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Since a hash taste best when cooked in a skillet, I busted out my favorite pan by Lodge. For $35, this thing will live longer than me. A note to Jeni, please include this in my coffin - along with my knives, whiskey and my iPod. My underground party has to continue right? Have the pan on low heat for at least 10 minutes to really load up the skillet and sauté the ham cubes till they are nice and brown. Thanks to the White on Rice Couple for their super helpful video on shooting food with the flash. Check out their work, it's solid.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Once the ham hocks are browned, take them out. Don't even think about washing that skillet. Sharing is caring, so you're going to share that ham hock fat with the potatoes. I halved these baby yellow potatoes for easier chewing as well as making it easier to cook through. Fry the potatoes with a few sprigs of rosemary and add salt & pepper to taste, maybe even some cayenne pepper for a kick. Or you can Asian-ize this dish with the lovely Maggi. Because we were in a rush to check out the Thirsty Crow bourbon bar in Silver Lake, I threw in some chicken broth and covered the skillet with a baking sheet to do some hot sauna action. In a few minutes, your potatoes are now cooked through.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Add your choice of veggies. I love leeks and chopped them into 'rings'. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then add the ham hock cubes back in. Do a final taste test for seasoning and you're good to go. A very simple dish that took less than 20 minutes to cook.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

The smokiness of the ham hock with fresh leeks and rosemary potatoes is nice. If you've cooked with ham hocks before, would love to hear your recipe. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Porchestra - A Symphony of Swine

Porchestra - A Symphony of Swine

Last week, gluttony was in effect. We had some guests over to film a documentary they are working on based on food of course. Instead of meeting at a restaurant, we invited them over for dinner. We figured it would be most organic and comforting for us to do this at home, since we enjoy cooking. Subject of the dinner was my favorite meat: pork. I was stoked to do a whole dinner based on one theme. It was quite interesting running back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, answering questions and cooking. I felt like a Jamaican with 9 jobs.

For an animal that spends most of its days wallowing in mud, taking in the sun with no source of employment, you would regard the pig as a fruitless mass. But, man, it's lovely how much good food is yielded from this animal.

Porchestra Menu

Porchestra Table

Porchestra Pig Nipples

Crispy Braised Pork Bellies with Cannellini Beans & Quail Egg
With a box of Cracker Jacks, you never know what surprise gift you'll receive. Same thing applies when you buy a package of pork bellies... with the inclusion of fully intact nipples. When you open a package of pork bellies and see this, you can't help but stop in your tracks and take a closer look. The resemblance between pork flesh and human flesh can be somewhat uncanny if you're a Caucasian male haha. But do the courteous thing and grab some scissors for your guests. There's nothing more jarring than seeing a braised nipple. Jeni joked that this could be the new appetizer of haute dining as long as you come up with a new name like... Pork Pez?

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly Le Creuset Pot

There's nothing I like cooking more with than my Le Creuset dutch oven that I got for a freaking steal at Tuesday Morning many years back. These pots are supposed to last longer than your lifetime, as I hope my grandchildren will find a good use for it besides heating up Prego sauce or making Korean Kimchi ramen. These pots can handle 550° in the oven and will heat your food evenly. I've never made a bad braised dish with this pot. Anyway, I did a slow 200° braise for 3-4 hours for the pork belly using the common ingredients – mire poix, chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, salt and peppercorns. I also included my new fave chili pepper... aji, which is an Argentine spice used for things like empanadas.

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly Fat

Pork doesn't taste good for no reason. After the braise, you'll want to refridgerate it overnight. Remove the fat once it has coagulated. Or don't. *impish grin*

Porchestra Quail Eggs

I've been dying to fry a quail egg sunny-side up and apply it to some dish. This couldn't be a more perfect dish to make it with. It's just as enjoyable raw as it is cooked. I am trying really really really hard not to use the "c" word so i'll misspell it. Key-yoot.

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly with Quail Eggs & Cannellini Beans

Before serving the braised pork belly, I seared it fat-side down in a skillet for a good 7-10 mins so that it would crisp up a little. For the cannellini beans, I sautéed them with a little butter, cinnamon, red apples and chicken broth. Although a more hearty dish, it made sense to my stomach.

Porchestra Bacon-fat Seared Scallops

Bacon-Fat Seared Scallops & Shrimp with Greens
As I cooked the scallops and shrimp, I forgot that I had cooked off all the bacon for something you'll see in a bit. One thing I always do, JUST IN CASE, is reserve the bacon fat as you'll never know what you'll be needing it for. I added a few tablespoons of it to the skillet and the oil started popping as though it was an applause for a good deed done by me.

Porchestra Bacon-Fat Seared Scallops

Mmm, bacon-flavored seafood. There's something so wrong about pairing two different animals from surf and turf, but yet it tastes so right. How would you like to know that your destiny puts you in a skillet with a pig, shrimp and vegetables? Weird.

Porchestra Asparagus

To achieve super-green vegetables, according to Chef Thomas Keller, you have to get your watering boiling super high and adding a LOT of salt to the water. I think for these asparagus spears, I probably dumped in one huge handful. You won't taste too much salt afterwards because you have to shock the vegetables in ice water, which also rinses the salt for you.

Porchestra House Cured Pork Chops Zuni Cafe Style

Zuni Cafe House-Cured Pork Chops with Prosciutto Asparagus and Creme Fraiche Mustard
Probably one of our top five cookbooks, the pork chops from Zuni Cafe are killer – and very simple to cure.

For 4 pork chops (10 to 11z each and 1-1/4" thick), or 2 tenderloins (about 1 pound each) A few crumbled bay leaves dried chiles crushed juniper berries (optional) 5 cups room temp. water 6 tbsp. sugar 3 tbsp. salt (a little more if using kosher salt)

Pat these guys dry after marinating for 2 days and sear them on high heat in a skillet about 3-4 minutes each side, depending on the thickness. For the asparagus, simply sauté them in a little butter, olive oil and S&P. Wrap some prosciutto around a bunch of spears and top it with some of the creme fraiche & mustard if you like. To make the sauce, simply add whole grain mustard to some creme fraiche with S&P to taste and some lemon juice. I added a little smoked paprika and ají chili pepper to it. So simple and good.

Porchestra Bacon Ice Cream

Scoops' Bacon-Infused Salt & Caramel Ice Cream
Well Tai Kim didn't actually offer that flavor that day, so we just made our own bacon ice cream for dessert. Jeni asked Mr. Kim what would go best with bacon and he suggested his Salt & Caramel. I fried some bacon and soaked up all the fat with paper towels. I then cut the bacon into small bits and threw it in the ice cream. Mixed it around and froze it again. My god this was so good. I felt guilty, but it was fabulous - especially with the bacon garnish ha.

After about 4 hours of eating and talking about food, we had concluded our evening. Hopefully our filmmaker friends knew that we didn't 'act' or anything because this what a usual dinner party at our place entails. Sometimes, we get people passed out on the couch like Thanksgiving.

A few days later, we forgot that we were cooking Easter lunch. Easter means one thing... ham. And ham means more pork consumption for us. Sure, why not. We had thought about doing an all-rabbit meal but it would have been too expensive. Maybe even too cruel ha.

We lucked out and found a 9-lb Farmer John ham for only SIX DOLLARS at Ralph's. Score.

Porchestra Ham Basting

Jeni found a great recipe off Epicurious for the glaze. I highly recommend it if you want to veer away from the standard pineapple slice, red cherry and clove-style ham that just feels soooooo antiquated. I can see that on the cover of every food magazine during the 80s. Ugh.

Porchestra Glazed Ham

Porchestra Easter Lunch

Porchestra Gruyère Thyme Gougères by Tartine Bakery

Jeni has been on a baking frenzy and produced these tasty pastries from Tartine Bakery. This was definitely an overload on pork and hope everyone had a good Easter. Thanks for reading.