Last week, Carlo and I went to a cooking class at Stir, an observational kitchen in the South End of Boston, to watch a chef and a butcher cut up and cook an entire pig. We have been to Stir before, three times in total. We went for a Sicilian wine class, a Friulian wine/food class, and a wine and cheese pairing class. It’s fun because you get to watch people cook, learn something, and then eat great food. It’s not fun because it’s small (only holds ten people) and the other people are horrendous.
“Don’t listen to my wife, she has the palate from hell”
“Don’t you just love Lino from [insert charming and authentic-seeming Italian grocer]. I wouldn’t buy my prosciutt [that’s not a typo] from anyone else”
“The Louis Latour is sooooo fabulous when you just have to have that pouilly fuse fix”
These are actual quotes from other patrons of Stir, and they don’t stop there. These people are food snobs in the worst sense of the phrase, and nothing shuts my normally talkative self up faster than hearing these people prattling on about their favorite brand of Himalayan sea salt. I sit in awe wondering, “am I one of them? If not, will I become one of them as I get older? And if so, how can I stop being one of them without giving up my love of food?” It’s almost enough to make me not enjoy the delicious food being presented to me.
Almost, but not quite. At this particular Stir class, the butcher from the Butcher Shop (Mike Puglisi) and executive sous chef at No. 9 Park street (Colin Lynch) cooked up the following menu paired with wine:
Crispy pancetta and soft poached egg, fava bean glace, morel mushrooms
Pan seared spicy italian sausage, peppers agro dolce, parsley
Thyme roasted vermont suckling pork chops, mascarpone polenta, crispy pig’s ear
Slow roasted pork belly, tomato jam, native arugula
Dark chocolate bacon
With the exception of the dark chocolate bacon (which was just bacon with some chocolate drizzled on it, probably an afterthought), the food was excellent. My favorite of the group were the Cracklins, an extra that is not listed on the menu. Cracklins are fried pork fat with a little skin attached. They get really crunchy and chewy at the same time and the chefs claimed they are not difficult to make (hint, hint to Carlo). They are just to die for hot and sprinkled with a touch of Breton Celtic Salt! (available only from your local charming, authentic-seeming grocer)