Friday, August 25, 2017

A Pig's Tale

One of the delights of Wellington On A Plate is getting to the special dégustation events put on by some of the best restaurants in Wellington. Tickets for some of these are very hard to come by – you need to have your browser tabs set up at 12:00 and start clicking away as soon as they go on sale – and even then, you miss out on some. For example, we didn’t get in to The Larder this year.

One that we have managed to get, though, is Zibibbo’s A Pig’s Tale. We’ve been to Zibibbo dégustations for the past five years now, from Quack Around The World to Sustainable Seafood. This year, we’re being treated to a festival of pig. Chef Adam Newell has explored all the parts of the pig to bring us five courses of porky delight. The menu was definitely meat-heavy, with barely a vegetable to be seen. He didn’t make us a dessert out of pork (unlike Jacob Brown at The Larder, who managed to give us a sweet elk dessert when we ate an elk a couple of years ago), but all the other courses included a pork element:

Before we started, Nicola Newell, wife of the chef, stood up and gave a short talk about her adventures with raising pigs for meat. The pork we were eating today was not from her pigs, she hastened to point out, but from Longbush, a well-known Wairarapa free-range pig farm, who supply a lot of the pork used during WOAP – you’ll often see their name on the pork burgers which are a mainstay of Burger Wellington. She gave a quick update between courses one, two and three, before handing over to husband Adam to give his chef’s-eye view of dealing with pork, detailing how every part of the pig is used.

We started with a terrine of smoked hock with trotter, matched with a sparkly rosé from Central Otago. As starters go, this was actually fairly substantial, together with the herb focaccia.

Next up was a more delicate item: a slice of crispy pancetta, served with a Hawkes Bay viognier.

The third course was a raviolo of pork shoulder with truffles, served in a consommé also made from the pork bones. It was served with a chardonnay from Gisborne. This wine had no nose (“how does it smell?” ba-dum, tish!) at all, and at first tasted quite bland, but after taking a slurp of the soup, the flavours were released in a fruity bloom. Some clever wine matching going on there…it’s almost as if they know what they’re doing!

Those were the three courses that could reasonably be called entrees. Now for the main event: first of the two main course items was pork belly, with black pudding and a red wine-glazed apple. This was served with a 2014 Fleurie. It is remarkable how different French wines smell compared to their New World counterparts.

The final meat course was pigs cheeks, with artichoke heart and chorizo croquette, and a Martinborough pinot noir from Nga Waka vineyard.

There was a distinct lack of vegetableness amongst the courses – a leaf of kale here, an artichoke there – which may have helped…although there was plenty to eat, as most of the courses where very rich. That’s what you get when you serve non-stop pork.

The final course was petits fours, which, as Adam explained earlier, did not contain any pig. They, too, were tasty.

So that’s the Zibibbo offering for this year. I’m sure we’ll be back to dine before next year’s offering, which I look forward to already.

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