This weekend is proving to be distracting, but it's all going smooth. The pictures below can quite possibly fall into the category of 'pork porn,' so please be ready to close this window should anyone unexpectedly walk up on you while you are lusting.
I cut into some Berkshire pork belly that Heath Putnam at Wooly Pigs sent to us. We were trying to secure Mangalitsa bellies for this event, but we cannot complain about the flavor and quality of this pork. Removing fat from this belly is something you should be weary about, so I only trimmed a minimal amount and rendered out the belly lard for future use.
... and as if we weren't blessed enough with getting to taste a few slices of this lightly salted and cooked on the grill, we also cut into the Bellota Iberico ham that Chef K brought in (it's being written off because Chef K threw it onto a menu for the hotel owner's birthday... smart move). This ham was around $600 for a small leg and worth every penny. Iberico has only recently found its way into the United States so I will say one thing to chefs across the country... if you can wiggle it into your budget, or fanagle your numbers somehow, or cost it out or credit it to some VIP function, then just do it. Bring it in!
Bring a leg of this Bellota in and savor the flavor. It amazes me how curing processes on meats do so much for flavor evolution. There is almost a 'blue cheesey' overtone in the ham that reminds me of David Burke's 80 day dry aged prime rib. Just look at the crystals from the slow aging, and the fat that melts at precisely the perfect temperature for human satisfaction. That big funky flavor is balances out by the creamy nutty taste of the pork itself (from free roaming acorn-eating pigs) concentrated during the curing. Jose Andres is on the money when he says it's so good you will literally want to cry when you eat it.
Aside from the pork blessings from heaven, my anchovies are somewhat dried but still oily, I've realized that tomato seeds are hard to find in the Greater Miami area on short notice, we did a nice-sized Indian wedding reception (and had a lot of great Indian fare to sample from our friend and Indian caterer and restauranteur, Adish) and I had a few minutes to play around when Chef K decided to put a 'lemon whip' on an action station and left it up to me on how to accomplish this.
Weigh out your fresh lemonade accented with sea salt, thicken it to almost the consistency of heavy cream with xanthan, whisk in 1.25% methocel SG A16, transfer to a mixing bowl with a whip, and let it crank on high speed for about 15 minutes. 3 qts lemon juice yielded about 3 gallons of whip. I might as well throw my Versawhip in the garbage after the consistent results I've been seeing with the methocel... and no bitter flavors. I'm not even sure what the full station was for this... possibly something with shrimp and a few other components.