Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: pork

New York City 2012: Porchetta

DSC_1616Porchetta – the single, most carnal name ever allowed to grace a meat dish.

So if you happen to name your establishment after the hallowed Italian Roast Pork Of The Gods, I’m going to expect choirs of angels trumpeting my entrance into the shop till kingdom come.

Needless to say, my divine encounter didn’t happen, but I had this greet me, which was pretty darn close:

DSC_1615A bronzed, crackling Belly of The Beast.

I didn’t manage to sink my teeth into any while I was on real Italian soil (remember my shame for not asking for some while at Dario’s?), so this was the nearest thing to redemption, or perhaps the closest thing to self-pity. Either way, I’d rather not ponder further on that.

Pork belly, with boned-out pork loins stuffed in its core, rolled up in alternating layers of fat, meat, herbs, salt, and skin, is tied up with string and roasted till the moist meat yields to the slightest pressure of a butcher knife, here, in an oven here at Porchetta. I know, I know, I can’t help but feel that I’m still short-changing myself at the end of the day, having never tasted Italian Porchetta the Italian way (rhyme!), roasted over wood and hauled up to a wooden chopping board for a feast. But still, this is salty, salty meat, of the most primeval kind. I’m having it.

DSC_1613The star in all this is, of course, the meat. It doesn’t quite matter what else you have with it, or what vehicle you require to get it into your mouth. I went wild for the crackly chunks of skin, like salty nuggets of treasure among fantastically seasoned and flavourful meat. The herbs used were suitably earthy, presumably a mixture of some thyme, sage, rosemary, and garlic. Perfect.  I would have liked more skin. A lot more skin, and a lot more meat. Perhaps a larger sandwich.

Oh just give me the whole hog.

We shared a Porchetta Sandwich ($12), yet given the choice again, I’d pass on the dry ciabatta (which was unfortunate, really) and order up a Porchetta Plate ($15) instead. I also didn’t quite hear a choir of angels, not even a squeak, but I was somewhat pleased nevertheless. I would be content with a healthy serving of porchetta and garlic sautéed greens, which I’m assuming are broccoli rabe or some kind of chard or chicory, of the slightly bitter variety, perfect as an accompaniment to savoury meat.

Porchetta doesn’t have much seating since most locals do take-aways, but there are about eight seats inside. All things considered, this is still a rather pricey sandwich, but it’s probably the closest to Italy that I’ll be.

And if I had the chance to head to New York City again, I’d just live in the Lower East Side. That’s where all the food that you’ll ever need to care about reside. That was an unintended rhyme.

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Porchetta

Address: 

110 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)

Cocotte – French country cooking

Hotel Wanderlust - Cocotte

When people think French, they think stifling fine-dining, measly portions, extravagant black tie affairs for people who have the luxury of time and money. I’m not going to lie that French food isn’t pricey, but I must draw a distinction between the classes of the French cuisine.

In layman terms, you have the fanciful – but no less artful – fine-dining style of cuisine, and then you have the tuck-a-napkin-into-your-collar-and-get-right-in-there peasant-style of French cooking.

Fresh flowers. No-frills decor.

For all those afraid of formality, well, you can chuck out that bowtie of yours because it’s just going to get in the way of the food and your mouth, and if anything, it’ll only be useful as far as that dribble of sauce down your chin is concerned. At Cocotte, you get incredibly rich gravies so thick they don’t splatter, hearty portions of meat and potatoes and all sorts of root vegetables, and flawless (and very liberal) amalgams of butter and wine.

You get down-to-earth, sincere food.

When I heard that Cocotte was nestled within a boutique hotel, named Wanderlust, one with 4 thematic floors, each designed by Singaporean designing agencies, and after chancing across pictures of their quirky, edgy rooms, I knew I had to pop by sometime. Not so much to see the rooms, of course, because that’ll just be odd since I have no reason to spend the night in Little India, but just to, you know, get a feel of the place since the very name of the hotel just reflects my longstanding affliction of not being able to travel much.

And then I actually saw pictures of Cocotte, the spunky yet provincial decor, with splashes of Le Creuset-themed colours (bold reds, blues, yellows, oranges, whites and blacks…) against rustic, unlacquered wooden furnishings, and saw pictures of the kinds of French country-style foods they whip up, and I really should have contained myself, but I didn’t – I made a reservation.

Beouf Bourguignon (supplement of $12 for the $29-per-pax set lunch)

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Diandin Leluk

Mango Salad ($6.00)

Take me back a year or two ago and at the mention of ‘Thai food’, I’d just think ‘Thai Express’, ‘spicy’ and…well, ‘SPICY”.

Fortunately for me, time has done away with my sorry ignorance of cuisines and I now associate Thai food with Golden Mile Complex. Of course I’ve heard plenty of people making offhanded comments about how overrated and overhyped it is, that there are many more authentic Thai places scattered all over the island, and that I shouldn’t just keep going back to Golden Mile Complex because it’s boring! Well, its novelty for me hasn’t worn off yet.

But that’s probably also because I’m a masochist.

I can’t explain it, but there’s something extremely gratifying about sniveling and spilling copious amounts of tears and mucous, clawing at my dining partners in pain for help (who also begin clawing at me as their tongues go numb and are reduced to a blabbering mess) as I consume awesome, spicy, Thai food, like a Mango Salad.

And then having it practically tear through my system and blaze out of my behind the next day.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Read more of this post

Tampopo

Tampopo

I’d passed by Tampopo several times before on my increasingly frequent –and hence the inversely proportionate number of updates  - trips down to Clarke quay, and never once has its presence made an impact on me. You would think it odd, really, that large, bold letters, almost obnoxious with their neon green halo, would have failed to grab a second or two of my attention during all my Japanese grocery shopping indulgences in Liang Court, Meidi-ya.  

You can’t miss it.  

Unless, of course, you enter Liang Court from entrances other than the one from Clarke Quay, because even to park there, you would have to drive by it on the way into the car park.

The only reason why I knew of its existence was because of one fateful Sunday family lunch in which we decided against waiting for twenty minutes for a table and ended up dining at BOTEJYU Okonomiyaki on the second floor.  Then coincidently, the class boys wanted to have a Sunday dinner there on the fifteenth of Chinese New Year, out of the blue. Since my family hadn’t any plans that day, camera in arm, I was dispatched under strict order by Ashley and my mom to return with a review or not return at all. An insane ramen craving does this, I am aware, and if I weren’t curious myself from the numerous positive reviews of Tampopo smattered all over Hungrygowhere, I wouldn’t bother, even if it meant I would be relegated to the corner with liquid food to last me.  

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