The benefit of blogging about a meal that only happens once a year (and is a custom menu) is that I guess it isn’t a big deal if I forget to actually post the piece for a few months. Things like that are the collateral damage of having your local eat local blog writer also be your local lacrosse coach. I know you all want our fair city to have good lax, so I appreciate that you bear with me during the lulls of the spring.
Besides, we’ve all been hitting the gym to lose a few pounds to get ready for “Suns out, Guns out” weather, right? This post wasn’t going to help that, at all. But, since it is Barbecue Fest weekend, and I’ve got pork on the brain, what better time to get this out? So, with no further ado, here is a photo journey through Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen’s 2012 Swine and Wine Dinner.
First thing first, get inside and get a beverage to start off, then find your seat at the community tables. K and I were across from each other and in between two pretty fun groups. We had a bromantic man-date on one side, two married guys, whose wives watched the kids, so that they could come out to the Swine and Wine fest. Basically, they traded in a guys poker night or football game afternoon for a trip to Andrew Michael. By the end of this blog, you will realize that they chose wisely. On the other side we had a fun loving crew that involved a local chef, which was cool as he was able to explain a lot of the flavor combinations in detail, and I am now a major believer in micro-greens.
Let’s say you skipped that paragraph, the short version is that community seating allows people to meet each other and interact in a way that isn’t as prevalent in our world of linkedbooks and pintergramming. Try it, you might like it.
The menu laid out our seven course dinner and the wines that would be paired with them. Here we go.
First up was the boucherie plate. It was made of blood sausage, berese, mortedella, lardo, liverwurst, pork jerky, and homemade corn nuts. Here’s another view with the rest of the plate.
It doesn’t get much better than putting a sliver of lardo on a homemade pork rind. This course was served up with a nice cold PBR.
Here we go, on to the second course. This pig ear was awesome, especially the thicker pieces, which hold a surprising amount of flavor. This dish included bomba calabrese, roasted peanuts, and a basil vinaigrette. One of the coolest parts of the dinner was that this wasn’t a bacon and pork chop kind of pork dinner, it was a showcase of all the different parts of the pig that can be used to make fantastic dishes. This was served with a arneis.
On that topic, this was a pork skin canneloni, served with spinach soubise, ham brodo, brisket, and egg yolk. Like everything, this was awesome. This was one of the early highlights of the meal (remember, we aren’t halfway done yet). It was served with a pinot noir from the Willamette (“It’s Will-am-it, damnit”) Valley.
Next up was a gargenlli with offal ragu and a Sardinian goat cheese fondu. Highlight of this course was when a guy a couple seats down asked the server what “offal” meant, followed quickly by him saying, “oh lord,” This was a rich course with the meat and cheese together. This came with a syrah.
This was a crepinette, aka a small flat sausage, made of snout and heart, served with sauerkraut, lentils, and mustard seeds. It was kind of the most fancy reuben ever. It was awesome. This came with a rioja.
This was it. This little slice of pork jowl changed everything. This was like the flavor that the fatty part of bacon has times one thousand. Every small bite was an explosion of flavor. It was just magical. This rested on a blood and beet risotto, which balanced the fatty flavor of the jowl, and had mushrooms and a rhubarb agrodolce. I was talking to Michael after dinner about this dish, and he said that people are nervous about ordering jowl when it is on the menu, and I’m here to tell you to just do it. You don’t need a lot of it, but you do need to get it sometime. Insane! They served this up with a chianti.
The last course was the ice cream cone. This wasn’t vanilla by any means. The cone was full of popcorn gelato topped with pig fat caramel and smoked sea salt. As you got further into the cone there was a chocolate blood torte, which was like the worlds richest peanut butter cup. This is one of K and I’s favorite desserts ever. A variation of this was on the menu when I went for dinner a few weeks ago, so I’d strongly advise you to try it out. It was served with a chianti as well.
As you can see from the pictures, the annual Swine and Wine dinner is not to be missed. It is an awesome venue for Andy and Michael to show of their creativity and the care with which they use the entire pig. They really put a lot of heart into what they do, and this dinner is a great example of that. I guarantee I’ll be there in 2013. See ya there!
You want to go to there:
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
712 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117