Beyond Seattle 2011: February (Pig, Nose to Tail)

purple_pig_sign_600
February started with a quick trip to Chicago, and by quick I mean flying from Seattle and then back home the same day. Luckily, this meant a chance for lunch in the Windy (and brutally cold) City, which turned into one of my favorite meals of the year. I pigged out at The Purple Pig. I loved sitting at the chef’s counter, watching all the food come out. It was so irresistibly delicious that I ate much more than I should have ahead of an afternoon lecture. Perhaps this salad of Castelfranco (radicchio), arugula, and sunchokes with hazelnuts and apple cider vinaigrette justified all the pork to follow?

purple_pig_salad_600_277

From the “Fried” section, I had to try the pig’s ear with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers, and fried egg:

purple_pig_ear_600_283

Then, from the “Smears” section, this pork neck bone gravy with Calabro ricotta was heavenly:

purple_pig_neck_600_286

By the way, I was solo, but having no trouble eating everything, including all the bread. The food was THAT good. Next, from the “A la Plancha” part of the menu, this absolutely succulent milk-braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes:purple_pig_shoulder_600_292

Finally, from the same section (for my “dessert”), my favorite dish of the lunch (along with the neck bone gravy): pig’s tails braised in balsamic:

purple_pig_tail_600_295

Maybe my biggest lunch ever, but I kept thinking, “When will I be back in Chicago, and as good as this is, won’t I want to try another of the many restaurants here?” So I ate and ate and ate. Then walked down Michigan Avenue to do some work. Would you believe, though, that before I jumped on a train back to the airport, I stopped at Epic Burger? Someone recommended it, so I got the basic burger with cheese, and it was okay (good ingredients, made to order, and decent price)–though not quite epic:

epic_600_303

After a full day of flying, I had to take off the next morning for a lecture on the Pacific coast in Aberdeen, Washington. There I made a stop at Anne Marie’s Cafe for coffee and a light lunch: tomato soup and half of an egg salad sandwich. Not nearly as exotic as The Purple Pig! But friendly enough folks (including the locals), and a wireless signal while sitting in the window with the sun shining:

aberdeen_600_308

Staying in state, I was off to the Willows Inn where I hosted a Sexy Feast dinner, but first a stop in Bellingham. Without any real food plans, a walk-around led to brunch at Little Cheerful Cafe. At this busy and funky corner cafe, my partner indulged her love of potatoes by ordering a big plate of California Browns with spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and jack cheese (“you don’t need tight shorts, a fake tan, and an 8×10 glossy headshot to enjoy these”):

bham_hash_600_4502

Faced with a list of pancake possibilities, I threw caution to the wind and let my server pick a favorite. Here I present my chocolate chip and peanut butter pancakes:

bham_cakes_600_4503

They were interesting to try and fun to eat–once. Coffee, please, as I needed the bitterness to balance the sweetness.

A few days later I flew to D.C., where some friends and I went to Jose Andres’ Jaleo in Arlington, Virginia. As these friends are vegetarians, Jaleo was a perfect place in offering a number of non-meat items. The experience was much as I expected: swanky and sophisticated, with lots of small plates to share. With good, clean flavors, the food was quite tasty, even if not as gritty as I usually prefer. Here’s some of what we tried, starting with apple and fennel salad with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and sherry dressing:

jaleo_apple_salad_600_4593

Soup (sadly, I can’t remember what type):

jaleo_soup_600_359

Spinach:

jaleo_spinach_600_362

A look at the table, including a Spanish omelet/tortilla in the foreground:

jaleo_omelet_600_371

Potatoes:

jaleo_potatoes_600_373

I had to try at least one dish that wasn’t vegetarian:

jaleo_squid_600_377

For one of our desserts, we ordered flan:

jaleo_flan_600_379

The next day, I was up in Boston, hungry for late night eats. First stop was Myers + Chang. I would have loved to explore the eclectic menu, but this was just for a quick peek and an “amuse” of $1 Island Creek oysters and PBRs. The atmosphere was fun and the food intriguing. Starving, I did succumb to temptation and ordered one dish (can anyone identify this, especially as the photo suffers from the low-light conditions?), which only whet my appetite for a future visit:

myers_600_388

Then it was on to the main destination of the night: Coppa. I knew it would be too late for the regular menu, but there’s plenty on the late night menu to satisfy, starting with crostini with beef tongue and beef heart:coppa_beef_600_395

Flavors were bold and bright, so I knew this would be a great meal. Next up: spaghetti alla carbonara with bacon, uni, and egg:

coppa_uni_600_401

How about some wood oven-roasted pig’s tail with mostarda glaze:

coppa_tail_600_394

My favorite dish of the evening, slightly reminiscent of what I had a week earlier at The Purple Pig in Chicago, was trippa alla Collinsville: tripe, beef tongue, and pork belly stew with squash and mozzarella. Wow. Three of my favorite meats in one ridiculously rich stew:

coppa_stew_600_397

Again, I used all of the bread to scoop up every last bite of that delicious dish. Fabulous!

The Purple Pig on Urbanspoon

Epic Burger on Urbanspoon

Epic Burger on Urbanspoon

Epic Burger on Urbanspoon

Epic Burger (E Ontario/N Fairbanks) on Urbanspoon

Anne Marie's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Little Cheerful Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jaleo on Urbanspoon

Myers + Chang on Urbanspoon

Coppa on Urbanspoon

Tags:

#AnneMariesCafe
,
#EpicBurger
, ,
#ThePurplePig

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply