As I've mentioned on this blog before, Mangalitsa brings amazing people together. The people who love to eat Mangalitsa and seek it out are often ridiculously quality-sensitive.
I was reminded of that Saturday evening.
My friend Chris had a dinner party. He's been mentioned on this blog before; he does molecular cuisine and is a Mangalitsa fan. If you are lucky enough to get invited to his place for dinner, say "yes!"
- Assorted cheeses, olives, truffle and foie gras pate
- Pacific oyster with rice vinegar and ginger
- Grapefruit cured salmon
- Caramelized carrot soup
- Arugula, persimmon, pomegranate salad
- Pasta alla chitarra with pork sugo and porcini
- Mussels and clams with vermouth, cannellini beans and cavelo nero
- Spiced pork stew with polenta, root vegetables and gremolata
- Pumpkin cake with pecan streusel and maple ice cream
Chris's wording on the menu is modest. In reality:
- The oysters were shucked with liquid nitrogen and dressed with sauce beads produced with liquid nitrogen. The oysters taste better as a result.
- The carmelized carrot soup was produced in a pressure cooker. It tastes incredible, like butterscotch soup.
- All the pork was Mangalitsa, from my personal stash. I also brought some dehydrated Mangalitsa bacon for the first course.
- The ice cream was made with liquid nitrogen, giving it an incredible texture.
The story behind the wine was even better.
Two of the guests, Bill Fleckenstein (Fleckenstein Capital Management) and Chuck Miller owner/founder of Seattle Wine Storage, have excellent wine collections. Bill has an extensive white burgundy selection. Chuck collects reds. If they bring the wine to a party, you are covered, because they won't just "bring the wine", they'll provide an entertaining full-featured "wine service".
It started pre-dinner, with Chuck showing up early, bringing twenty bottles and glasses for everyone. Showing up early gave him time to come up with a plan on what bottles to serve with the different courses.
During dinner, Bill and Chuck opened the bottles, checked them for cork (TCA), explained to the guests the story of the wine, and ribbed each other about the wines. They've been tasting wine together for at least sixteen years. It is great fun to watch them interact.
When they detected cork, they moved on to substitutes. That's one of the reasons Chuck brought so many bottles.
Bill brings his own glass to events and restaurants. Called Les Impitoyables, the uncompromising, its special shape allows him to enjoy wine more, because he can smell it better. It also means that he can detect faults like cork when others can't.
The glass is intimidating; look at it dominating the table!
If I was a sommelier and a guy showed up with that glass, I'd be praying that he brought his own wine: if he drinks my wine, he might find fault with it. If he brings his own wine and shares it, it should be amazing.
My favorites were the dessert wines. Bill brought a wonderful Sauterne.* Chuck brought a memorable Madeira.
Being the first to import and produce Mangalitsa pigs in the western hemisphere has resulted in me experiencing some amazing things. The foodies and paleo people (sometimes paleofoodies) I've met have been incredible.
* I like Sauternes and Tokaji - they are both made from grapes affected by noble rot. Having lived a lot in Central Europe, I drank Tokaji before I had Sauterne. So when I drink Sauterne, I'm reminded of Tokaji. Similarly, when I eat Iberico, it reminds me of Mangalitsa.