Jose Maria – the Meal
There have been a few times since becoming a chef that I can truly say I have had an enjoyable and memorable meal
The suckling pig from start to finish, the kind that make you say…Great Meal!!! Two of which are birthday dinner a few years ago at Normans in Coral Gables, they are closed now another would be from a dinner I attended on a recent trip to Spain. It was in Segovia, Spain at the dinner reception for Law without Walls at famed restaurant Jose Maria owned by chef of the same name. This was an evening I most certainly won’t forget anytime soon. I was excited about this dinner because I was going to be having Cochinillo, the roast suckling pig. It is said that the roast suckling pig here is on par to that which is served in Botin, the oldest working restaurant which I visited during my stay in Madrid. Some even have said it could be better. Well, seeing as I didn’t get to have Botin’s suckling pig the jury is out eh.
After having an appetizing glass of rose and sample tapas of fried pork ribs at the bar I joined the table to meet and enjoy the company of new friends. Yep, a few more glasses of wine, reds this time from Ribera del Duergo (pago de Carraovejas). I was starting to feel…Nice. Then the meal started, I’m sorry the onslaught of yummy goodness began with a series of tapas served family style. First up was roasted lamb marinated salad with apple jam. I had forgone any large meals earlier in the day anticipating this dinner so that salad got sucked up in the vortex of hunger. It was good; I think…yes it was good. That apple jam lingers on the palette in a nice way. Before I knew it more platters of new Tapas was on the table for us to share. There were platters of Iberian Ham croquettes with glass of beet and potato chips, Picadillo – three type of pork; lean pork, bacon and cured ham – that’s pan fried and simmered until tender with onions,garlic, tomatoes and pimento (Paprika) with Morcilla and peppers; Iberian cured meats and there was that damn pork soup with butter beans, oh slap me and call me Django. It was insane I tell you. After this righteous savory indulgence one would think the belly would be full and the mouth tired…Not at all.dinner has arrived
Main course of Cochinillo was to come. If baby pig was not your choice, grilled pork and salmon with a vegetarian option were also available. Sorry, I left my vegetarian passport at the door this night. For me, what came next was quite frankly the highlight of my day. I will exclaim right here right now, in Spain the pig is king! Chef Jose Maria is now decreeing the sacredness of the Cochinillo. I’m so busy videotaping that I’m not even listening. The Long and short, the pig is proclaimed to be authentic then a chosen woman is asked to test the doneness and tenderness of the pig by poking in several places then cutting the pig in half length wise, head and all…with a PLATE!!! Shut up I said!!!
There is a certain violence attached to this feat so definitely not meant for the weak hearted. As if that was not
My Cochinillo, dinner is served.
enough, Chef Jose Maria proceeded after this to expertly carve and dissect the suckling pig for serving…with the said PLATE!!! I watched in awe, I wanted to hug him after this I tell you. It’s okay, the chef was most gracious to have his picture taken with me earlier, even remarked that he made a concession in allowing someone taller than he was to take a picture with him. He’s a comedian i tell ya. I was in Chef’s Heaven. No time for frolicking now as I had Cochinillo to devour. A piece of pork on a plate with sauce made from defatted cooking juice from the roasting process served from a clay jar. I felt like a reformed caveman who had gone through etiquette training. I had to enjoy every taste across my tongue, my lips, my teeth, damn, what else is in my mouth. So succulent with an amazing taste seeing as the pig is only seasoned with salt, olive oil and water. Scintillating it was. So satisfied I was that even a secondary flair of flambé, fiery chocolate with Cardomom ice cream was just extra fill stop. For more on Jose Maria click HERE. Tonight, truly…
It was Food on Fiyah!!!