Monday, August 17, 2009
Four Chefs & A Pig: Braise on the Go Pig Roast at Pinehold Gardens
Or at least that's the way it feels sometimes.
By this time of the year, we often find ourselves hurrying to take advantage of all the warm weather activities -- the gardening, the State Fair, the farmer's markets and art fairs. After all, autumn is approaching. And soon, we'll be trading in our shorts for sweaters. And our garden trowels for snow shovels.
Milwaukee may not have the sunniest beaches... or the longest growing season... but, her brief summer bears some beautiful fruit. One of the most delicious of these is the annual Braise on the Go pig roast, which was held at Pinehold Gardens.
We thought that last year's pig roast couldn't be beat. That is, of course, until we experienced this year's feast.
The day couldn't have been more perfect -- warm and breezy, with just a few clouds in the sky. When we arrived on the farm, we were greeted by Aran Madden from Furthermore, who gave us an introductory pour of Proper Ale... which is, in our humble opinions, one of the best all-purpose brews out there. Light, toasty, and a bit sweet, it was just the thing to whet our palates for the feast ahead.
Of course the Proper Ale was just the first of four brews that we'd be sampling throughout the evening. The others included Knot Stock (a hoppy, peppery pale ale), Fatty Boombalatty (one of the best -- and most different -- Belgian wheats we've ever tried), and Oscura (a Mexican lager augmented with the flavor -- and killer aroma-- of freshly ground coffee).The tables were set in full view of Sandra and Dave's gorgeous Pinehold Gardens farm. We took our seats and waited patiently for the first course to arrive.
The first delicacy to make its way around the table was a delicious appetizer -- delicate pastry topped with goat cheese, chives, pork confit, and caramelized onions. If the satisfied groans escaping our mouths after nibbling these delicious bits were any indication, we were in for some serious treats.
The first course was the brainchild of Adam Lucks, the powerhouse behind our favorite local hang-out, Comet Cafe -- home of Lo's favorite artichoke melt sammich and Peef's dream come true, a bloody mary served with a slice of perfectly fried bacon.The art of charcuterie really shone in this dish -- a pork paté en croute. The bright pickled beets and kohlrabi kept this rich dish from becoming too overwhelming. And the addition of a few cooked fresh cherries lent the perfect fruity touch.
A surprise palate-cleanser followed the charcuterie -- a delightful carrot slaw with just a hint of cilantro. Crisp and refreshing -- this is definitely a dish we'll be thinking about recreating here at Burp!, as it would make the perfect side dish for all sorts of delicious summer fare.
Next up, we sampled some of the best satay we'd ever eaten -- thanks to our new friend, Peter Sandroni from La Merenda (a great little spot in Walker's Point where you can get some of the best global tapas fare around).
If it weren't tempting enough watching them prepare the tapas...
We couldn't wait to sample the first round as it got to our table -- delicious, Thai marinated pork accompanied by a spicy peanut sauce.
The pork was perfectly done... and it was a fantastic accompaniment for the peppery Knot Stock that was served alongside.
Chile-heads that we are, we reveled in the amazingly zippy cucumber relish that followed... although the Thai chiles made it a little bit too spicy for some at our table.
Our tongues had barely cooled when they passed around the next batch of satay -- Jamaican inspired pork with fresh mango salsa.
By this point in the evening, we could have hopped back into the car -- happy and perfectly satisfied. But, the third course took us for yet another delicious whorl.
The unforgettably tender fresh ham, plated with (delicious) nasturtium and accompanied by a rich, velvety barbeque sauce (made with a hint of coffee), took every single one of us over the edge with delight.
The corn pudding couldn't have been better. It was light and sweet -- made with fresh Wisconsin eggs and sugary August corn (which tasted as if it had been plucked straight from the field).
And, just as we thought it couldn't GET any better, we bit into the juicy delight of this fresh watermelon and cherry tomato salad. With melon so luscious it could have been a dessert in and of itself, this side was brought down to earth with the brilliant addition of savory goat cheese and fresh herbs. Sheer bliss!
By this point, we were seriously wondering if we'd ever be able to get up out of our chairs. But who can resist the promise of chocolate? (and, Peef would add, BACON)??!!
Chef Dave Swanson from Braise quite nearly outdid himself with this dish. Dark chocolate, freshly cured bacon, whole wheat shortbread, and a pinch of sea salt... it could only be made better with a swirl of dark caramel sauce and a dollop of fresh cream.
By the glow of candlelight, we relished every single bite. And yes -- we swooned a bit. I might have spotted a tear of delight rolling down Peef's right cheek. And Rebecca declared that she might just "have to hug Dave" (matter of fact, I think she actually did!)
A night so perfect. Really doesn't happen every day.
It was difficult, but we bid the evening adieu... walking through the grass, until only the faint glow of candles could be seen in the distance.
We thought last year's pig roast was a masterpiece. But, this year was absolute inspiration.
How can we help but give some serious kudos to everyone who made this event possible? Here's the list. Now, give 'em some love! Better yet, sign up for next year's pig roast and join in on the fun!!
Braise on the Go
Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast
Food Provided By:
Large Black Pig by Dominion Valley Farm
Beets: JenEhr Farm
Butter, Cream: Sassy Cow Creamery
Cherry Tomatoes, Watermelon: Tipi Produce
Cilantro: Afterglow Farm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cipollini Onions, Scallions: Springdale Farm
Chocolate: Omanhene Chocolate
Cucumbers: Piper Farm
Eggs: Jeff-Leen Farm
Kohlrabi: Wellspring Farm
Whole Wheat Flour: Jesse Lambright (Pristine View Farm)
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