How happy was I to not only sit down for a 6 course tasting of Mangalitsa, but also get a chance to rock my “Pork Chop Express” t shirt again that I had purchased for Cochon 555. Jack Burton anyone? Anyone? Big Trouble in Little China? Anyone? Alrighty then…tough room.
Anyhow, once the word was out that Telepan was offering this bountiful harvest offering for 4 nights this week, I made sure that I had first dibs on it. I eagerly booked a 7:30 reservation for opening night this past Monday. Though much to my chagrin, I noticed that there were only a few tables there that night that were actually participating in the harvest dinner! Nertz to them, but all the more pork for me!
As we were waiting for the hog fest to begin, Chef Bill Telepan emerged from the woodworks to welcome us. Very nice guy…funny, vibrant, and as sweet as can be.
We started off the meal with the amouse bouche trio consisting of split pea soup w/ hock, donut w/ lardo in & out, and fried tete. The soup was creamy, salty and unctuous. Quite a reprieve from the chilly weather we had that night. The fried tete was amazing, of course. It’s fried face meat. What’s not to love? And finally, finally dear friends,the donut with lardo. It was a savory donut hole with a thin layer of lardo resting on top – my absolute favorite. I wonder if Chef would consider putting these on his regular menu as a snack. Ahem! ;;wink wink;;
Served alongside the amuse was the aperitif of bacon infused bourbon sour. It was slightly sweet with a mild hint of smoke from the bacon. Now, this gal isn’t usually a worshipper of the brown liquers, but….but…..if offered to me in say, pig form…I’d be rather quick to convert. Delicious!
The final component to the welcoming treats was the “crispy bitty’s”. Fried pork skin served in a tea cup? I scooped away at it as if it were a bowl of cereal. Wait a minute….fried, pig skin cereal? Now there’s an idea!! Genius!
Then came the first course. The sausage tasting. From left to right were the kielbasa, the boudin noir and the boudin blanc. Though all very tasty and unique, my personal favorite was the boudin blanc. Light, fluffy, and creamy in texture. While I preferred the boudin blanc, Brian preferred the taste of the boudin noir – it was much more up his alley, meaty, rich with a slight tang. Of course, we both loved the kielbasa – it was sweet, mildly spicy and just fell apart effortlessly.
One of my personal favorite courses was the “breakfast” course. It consisted of scrapple (pork scrapings & trimmings), bacon, a poached egg and was lightly doused with maple syrup. The egg and bacon sat on top of a light blini type of cake reminiscent of johnny cakes! I was in heaven – Telepan took my favorite meal of the day and served it up with a heaping scoop of pork fat. MMMMmmm…so so good! Absolutely fan-freaking-tastic!
Our third course was the bolognese bianco with strozzapretti, robiola and greens. The pasta was served al dente, so it had a great toothsome bite to it. The sauce with the pork, the greens, and the creamy creamy robiola cheese was heartwarming and decadent. Portion size was just enough to satisfy you, but left you hanging for more, and more…and more!
But it was probably best that we didn’t fill up on the pasta course, because what came next was absolutely worth waiting for. The “surf and turf” course. The pork belly confit with monkfish cheeks, white beans and red wine. The cheeks were cooked to perfection. They were meaty, yet, delicate in texture. It had that smokey char that I go ga ga over. The pork belly was FATTY and FLUFFY and just plain FABULOUS.
The last savory was the roast pork with sunchokes, scallions and Bill’s signature “ssskkiiinn” sauce, the ultimate labor of love. I had been following Bill’s twitter updates of all of the kitchen shenanigans – and was absolutely pummmpppeedd for it. Friends, it did not disappoint. The pork was luscious – prepared perfectly. The sunchokes were sort of pushed to the background with the pork being the star, but the starch was a welcomed textural contrast. The skin sauce was the icing on the cake. It was thick, hearty, meaty, sticky, ooey, gooey…glorious.
Dessert course consisted of adorable little sugar coated apple pie crescents served with cinnamon caramel, bacon ice cream and bacon bits. The mini pies were warm and lightly crispy. The fragrant of the cinnamon caramel permeated my nostrils and made me goofy with delight. The bacon ice cream provided just enough saltiness to counteract all of the sweet that was on the plate. It was beautifully done.
As an added bonus, we met the pastry chef that night, Larissa Raphael and hubby Vince (funny guy). She was dressed incognito that night as a regular patron at the table next to us. They were also there to partake in the harvest dinner. They actually laughed at all of our corny jokes. ;;smiles;; Larissa was lovely and so was her dessert. It was a lot of fun chit chatting with them. Bill also emerged from the kitchen at that point to not only take a breather but discuss his conspiracy theory about the outcomes from Cochon 555. Though, we’ve been asked to keep that hush hush. ;o)
Of course, no matter how full we were, we managed to stuff one last macaroon down our gullets…a Telepan tradition now.
This was absolutely one of those meals that will live in my memories for quite some time. I hope you dear readers, enjoyed reading this post as much as I did sharing my story.
I also wanted to give a shout out to Mosefund Farm – they’re the only local farm that breeds the Mangalitsa, and is the primary provider of the pigs to restaurants such as Telepan. The owner reached out to me via twitter after having found my aggressive pr/tweet for the event. I hope you enjoyed your meal on Tuesday!! 🙂
72 W 69th St
New York, NY 10023