Monday, September 13, 2010

Pork-tastic Saturday

This weekend served up a really wonderful Saturday.

The hubs and I slept in, watching a little streaming Netflix, got around to making ourselves clean and presentable, and then trekked down to the East Village to finally partake of the porchetta (por-KHET-ah) sandwich at the deservingly praised Porchetta on E 7th St.
(I had been telling the hubs about this place "he would love" for over a year. Then it was referenced on a segment on Cooking Channel or Travel Channel, or whatever I had on in the background, and suddenly he wanted to go! Well? It lived up to its hype. Better late than never.)
Image swiped borrowed from TONY

We each ordered the porchetta sandwich ($10), as opposed to the porchetta plate which comes w/ sautéed greens and cannellini beans. I have to say, it really was a decadent and yet beautifully balanced sandwich.

I'll start with the roll. Rolls are one of those things that I frequently dissect and avoid eating any excess of, because in my mind, most rolls are boring and are just empty carbs. (I'd rather save my carbs for pasta!) This roll is a proper Italian ciabatta, meaning it is crusty, yet chewy, and you really feel your jaw working as you savor your sandwich. I did not leave any leftover bread on my plate.

Stolen Borrowed from another blogger... I didn't have a camera!
Now the actual meat. Porchetta is loin of pork, wrapped in a mixture of herbs and spices, usually including at the simplest level garlic and rosemary, and this time extras like wild fennel pollen, thyme, and sage, and then THAT is wrapped in pork belly (a.k.a. where bacon and pancetta come from), which is then scored and set to roast low and slow for many hours.
And dang if this one wasn't perfectly done.
The meat was moist without being super juicy, and in alternate bites I could taste roasted pork, crispy skin w/ a fatty underside, flavorful herbs, and even really good olive oil at times. (Possibly from whatever they spread on the bread?) It was in no way a salty sandwich either, which is what I think of when I picture American Hams and such. I only took two sips of water the whole time I was eating because I was just enjoying the sandwich.
That's not to say that a sparkling glass of the Marquis wouldn't have finished it off to perfection, but still, it was a fantastic sandwich, and just the right size so that I (of grazing habits) was completely sated without feeling like I had a lead weight in my gut. The hubs had a black cherry soda, which had a nice sweetness to cut the richness.
(Note: if you get the Bruce Cost ginger ale, be prepared for some SPICY ginger in your soda. I had this once somewhere else and while it was good, it practically burned my throat from the real raw ginger in it. I did not want that overpowering my porchetta experience.)

After wandering in a delightful pork-induced trance and watching the puppies run around in Tompkins Square Park, we headed toward the West Village through a few street fairs and aimed for another of my absolute favorite places in NYC to eat, Alta.

However, we were not going in order to enjoy their delicious array of tapas, as our appetites had already been sated. We were going solely for the sangria. The red sangria, to be specific.
I am not a big fan of sangria in general, because it is usually made with a cheap wine that would not taste very good on its own, and then of all things people add peach schnapps/brandy, and I truly loathe the flavor of peach. Keep your fuzzy navels under your shirts, thank you.
That said, whatever jug of wine they use at Alta, and whatever mystery ingredients (definitely some sweet syrupy stuff going on) may be in the plastic bottle (the menu actually says they "could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you), they concoct one kick-ass glass of sangria. And it really will knock you on your ass if you're not careful, because that stuff is STRONG!
And while I'd rather it be a less costly drink, it really is worth the $12 because it is definitely a glass of happy at the end of the day.

And of course, because we couldn't enjoy a truly pork-tastic day with only one (albeit great) pork dish, so we ordered a plate of bacon-wrapped dates to offset the sweetness of our sangrias. And as always, they were sublime. I could eat buckets of them.

If you're in NYC, I'd recommend either location (tho note that Porchetta is super small and designed more for take-out than eating-in), but as always, try not to be in line in front of me ;)

P.S. - If you're really into walking-while-eating and eating delicious yet dietarily-questionable foods, hop about 3 blocks NE of Porchetta and enjoy a piping hot cone of pomme frites, at a previously blogged location, Pomme Frites!

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