November and December have been the craziest months of my year. In two short months, I moved, completed two insane projects for work, ate my belly full at Thanksgiving dinner, and somehow managed to get my holiday shopping done. CRAZY, I tell ya!
Unfortunately, the craziness meant that there was little time for enjoying the dining scene and less time to blog about it. The craziness also meant I needed something to look forward to, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, which, for me, means an awesome dining experience. Thankfully, my sensational colleague (and friend) Colleen has her finger on the pulse of cool dining events in this magnificent city and found an incredible dining event that could get us through the hustle and bustle of this crazy time of year.
Picture if you will a 6 course dinner, each course paired with a fabulous wine, hosted by some of the city's hottest chefs in one of the most popular restaurants in town. Now imagine that each course was a savory dish using succulent pork as the main ingredient. Admit it, you'd be excited to.
By the time Colleen and I pulled up to Boka for the Cadillac of Pig dinner last night, we were drooling. Literally. The first guests to arrive (fashionably late is so passe), an extremely friendly wait staff greeted us and immediately served us some frosty glasses of Three Floyd's Jinx Proof beer. Brewed right over the boarder in Munster, IN, this light-bodied brew had a crisp finish and was, what we called, "delightful." I took a look around and was mesmerized by how beautifully festive the restaurant looked- poinsettias lined the bar, beautiful candles adorned the wall, and for a minute, I forgot that about the sub zero temps outside.
Since I was starving, I was excited to sit down and get to grubbing on some tasty piggy, piggy. The "Cadillac of Pig", the Mangalitsa pig, is a large (they grow to be 300 lbs!), woolly pig native to Hungary. They are extremely rare- according to our bartender, there are (were?) only six in the entire state. Experts compare the flavor to that of prime beef and, because the pigs are fed wheat, barley and hay (as opposed to the traditional pig diet of corn and soy), eating this decadent piggy is actually good for you!
The Amuse was shaved poached loin with fried capers, which added a fun little crunch that broke up the soft texture of the meat. Chef Giuseppe Tentori from Boka dazzled us with the next dish- head cheese served in the most delicious parsnip puree I've ever tasted. I admit, the idea of eating pig head is pretty gross, but the flavors was great and the Riesling pairing made it an incredible dish. Top Chef Stephanie Izard was a fan favorite with her dish, which I unfortunately did not get to sample (stupid fish allergy). I was exceedingly impressed that the chefs went out of their way to serve me the most flavorful veal cheek over sweet potato puree that I've ever tasted. That dish definitely made up for the fact that I missed out on one of Chef Izard's masterpieces! Next, Chef Paul Virant from the acclaimed Vie Restaurant served up milk braised ham that was easily my favorite dish of the night. Just as I thought the food couldn't get any better, Chef Ryan Poli from Perennial dazzled us with a "pork stew" of sorts that included an awesomely spicy chorizo sausage. All we needed was some bread to dinge up the broth once the meat was gone- I just couldn't get enough!
The dessert, though, is was amazed me the most. Chef Tentori pulled together a Pork Blood Flourless Chocolate Cake paired with blood orange sorbet that was sinful, to say the least. When I first read that dessert would be Pork Blood Flourless Chocolate Cake, my initial reaction was to gag and run for my life. But the GirlThatEats is willing to try anything once, and this was risk with great reward. After 5 courses of pig, I laughed at the idea of dessert....the one bite turned into two, two turned into three, and before I knew it, the whole damn thing was gone and I was licking my spoon, savoring every last bite.
I'm not sure when Chicagoans will be lucky enough to experience such an incredible collaboration of culinary masters as we lucky diners experienced at the Cadillac of Pig event. I am sure, though, that every Chicagoan needs to try out Boka, Perennial, Vie, and The Girl & The Goat (coming to the West Loop this Spring). The holidays can be hectic, so treat yourself to something amazing this season. Enjoy a glass of wine. Indulge in awesome food. And be thankful that you live in such an amazing city!