Philadining Home

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pork and Beer at Osteria

I find that most visits to Osteria end up turning into a pork extravaganza. Of course they have lots of other things on the menu, but the pig products are often highlights. So the prospect of an all-pork theme dinner was attractive on its own, but combined with beer from Brooklyn Brewery, it was irresistible. And the dinner did not disappoint: the food was delicious and the beers were not only interesting and well-matched, but also accompanied by commentary from brewmaster Garrett Oliver.

I knew things would be good when someone handed me a glass of Keller Helles within seconds of arrival. Moments later, raw oysters with strips of coppa salami were passed, as was pastrami pork pizza and crunchy involtini do moratori. Once everyone had arrived and gotten settled, the food started coming for real.

Potted pork terrine with artichoke mostarda and brioche
Culatello with rhubarb salad
Brooklyn-Scheider hopfen-weisse

The terrine was absolutely delicious, fatty, smooth, intensely porky. It was nice spread on the toasted brioche, but I actually preferred the more rustic toasts that were also provided. It really reached its apex when paired with the sweet artichoke mostarda. The terrine was beautifully presented in a large jar, which was attractive, but a laughably large portion. Even among the six of us at the table, we barely made a dent in it. We saw many almost-full jars heading back to the kitchen, and it was so heartbreaking to contemplate the fate of the terrine, one of our party made the bold request to take the rest of ours home. They were nice enough to oblige, and she ended up with a HUGE heap of the stuff for later. I must find out what she did with it. Of course it would be fine to just snack on as we had, but we'd also contemplated how it would taste fried-up in a pan with some eggs...

The Culatello (pictured at the top of this post) had a pleasing salty intensity, and was especially good paired with the fine julienne of rhubarb scatted on top.

Snail and black pepper salame spiedini with fava beans
Local One

We've long said that chef Michaud has a way with snails, and this theory was confirmed yet again with this dish. Assertively salty and peppery cubes of salame offset the milder snails and sweet onions, the purée of fava beans providing a creamy backdrop.

Wild ramp ravioli with pigs foot ragu
Testina cannelloni with chanterelle mushrooms
Extra Brune

This was a contender for my favorite dish of the night, the mildly garlicky greens inside the delicate pasta wrappers given richness by the tender, almost gelatinous ragu. I love all the ravioli at Osteria, but this might have been my favorite yet.

But then the canneloni threatened to overshadow the ravioli... the pigs-head stuffing was very mild, more disctinct in its decadent texture than by flavor. But the generous pile of wild mushrooms and dusting of cheese on top balanced the subtlety of the filling, making for an ever-changing parade of chewy, soft, melty, salty, earthy, fatty...

Spit-roasted baby pig with patate al forno and toasted fennel seed
Brooklynator doppelbock

We've had the roast pig here as a special, and loved it, but this somehow seemed even more porky than usual. With its crispy skin, juicy meat, an assertive kick from herbs and olive oil, it really was the ideal roast baby pig. I'm embarrassed to admit that I made some undignified moaning sounds upon my first bite, and I think they may have continued for a while. I'm not at all sure how this manages to be so delicious, it could be down to good ingredients, or the particular method of cooking, or both. In any case, I highly recommend trying it if you see it offered as a special.

Black chocolate stout bavarian with raspberry salad
Vintage Black Chocolate Stout (winter 2005-2006)

A creamy mousse that echoed and complimented the flavors of the excellent aged stout that accompanied it. I really need to drink more beer for dessert.

The beers were good throughout, the earlier, light ones were actually a bit surprising in their complexity. The later, heavier ones were very nicely matched with the food, and the explanations about ingredients, history and process that Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster Garrett Oliver gave added to the enjoyment.

Loudest applause goes to chef Jeff Michaud for the consistently delicious food, but thank to the rest of the crew for putting it together. I'd come to another one of these things in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, those ramp ravioli sound fantastic. Sorry I missed this one.