Friday, July 3, 2009

Epicurean Adventures: Barbeque Done Right, And Not Only On The Fourth

Happy Independence Day, people! As the thunder rumbles on ominously (and continuously, might I add ...) in gray, stupid Long Island, my thoughts roam towards barbeque and smoked meats. Done properly, of course ... the Southern way. Pits of flame, kissing the crispy snout of a suckling pig, ribs rubbed with penetrating flavor and topped in sweet sauces, burgers topped with peanut butter and generous chunks of real bacon, grease dripping down your bared forearms. This is the true American way.

Since Cochon was the object of lust a few days ago, I decided to continue with that, so here are some R-rated photos of my last meal there, before I left. This big quarter-rack of ribs was an appetizer portion, but with two large ($5!) sides, I ate it as an entree. The meat came off the bones like a satin robe off a high class stripper -- easily, provocatively, and tastefully. At $9 a plate, it was like robbing the blind, but I made amends with it and dug in.

They call these ribs "spicy," but they're more sweet than anything else, with a faint hint of a hot peppers, the oil of which separated and melded with the molasses-brown juice and glaze, forming a lovely earthy tone on the bright white plate. The pickled watermelon was refreshing and sweet, and the fresh, crunchy bite was a gorgeous contrast to the tender meat. The slightly blackened edges, charred with a crisp layer of flavor, competed with the luscious pork for the coveted place of last bite (which I am careful to always orchestrate as the most perfect bite of the evening) had a delicious taste that burst through the barrier of senses, the aroma as tantalizing as the taste.

Boy, do I ever know what it means to miss New Orleans.

As New York gears up for its Summer Restaurant Week (July 12-31, [menus here] ... which is obviously more than a week, oddly enough. We New Orleanians just cleverly call our lull in tourist dining COOLinary. I mean, duh.), I'm growing a little less despondent about my forced exile from the city of my heart, as well as the hell they call house and job hunting (as the longest aside ever, getting up at 6 A.M. to spend $30 to get to NYC in a suit? Not fun. Crazy real estate agents that get lost, cuss out their kids on their cell phone in traffic, and show you places you can't afford or feel dirty just LOOKING at? Even less fun. At least the job hunt is productive and you see interesting people and things ...) in anticipation of spending my quarter-century birthday and shortly thereafter, crisis, at either renowned chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli's trendy Butter or iconic New York steakhouse Smith & Wollensky. We'll see.

I love you, New Orleans. I really, really, truly do.

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