All posts by annasinger

Carnivorous Cravings: Porchetta

Porchetta. Need I say anymore? Head down to the village, and you will find the black and white tiled hole in the wall that is Porchetta.

What is Porchetta?  Porchetta is a delicious Italian speciality of roasted pig deboned and stuffed with herbs, entrails, and garlic. This may not immediately draw your attention, but it should. Porchetta should be fatty, juicy, and delicious, and Porchetta (the place) does it right. The owners of Porchetta were taught the ways of the pig by the famed Italian celebrity chef Dario Checchini. He may not be that famous in America, but in Italy he is known as the master of meat, so I trust Porchetta in providing the authentic Italian fare. As Porchetta puts in, they provide “pork three ways…fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin and of course plenty of aromatics.” Now have I caught your attention?

Porchetta is a small place. It has one room with a large spit holding the pork loin and a counter for patrons to sit at. Other than that, there isn’t much. Nevertheless, this does not stop the patrons who keep coming back for the aromatic and delicious pork.

I have no shame in admitting that I have been to Porchetta on almost a weekly basis since school started. The first two visits, I ordered the sandwich. It is delicious, fatty pork packed into a delicious ciabbata roll. The juicy pork and the crunchy, fatty skin complement each other perfectly, and the sandwich needs no additions. It is simplicity at its finest. While the flavor is perfect, my only issue with the sandwich is that it left me wanting more porchetta and less bread.

So, on my third trip, I switched things up and went all out. I got the porchetta plate. This is even better than the sandwich. It is a heaping plate of porchetta accompanied by two sides. I stuck with the roasted potatoes with burnt ends and the sautéed cooking greens, which make everything seem a little bit healthier, even if they are drenched in olive oil. The greens are fine, but they aren’t essential to the experience. The potatoes are really the excellent supporting role. Roasted potatoes don’t sound very interesting, but it’s really all about the burnt ends of porchetta that the potatoes are cooked in. The burnt ends are basically just big chunks of bacon, and what goes better with pork fat than more pork fat?

I rest my case. Any carnivore, or actually, anyone at all who walks into Porchetta will not be able to resist the delicious simplicity that they provide.

 

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Carnivorous Cravings: Peking Duck House

Peking duck. Most of my other carnivorous indulgences are classics like barbeque or burgers, but Peking duck–this is my favorite. For my 20th birthday, I took a group of my friends, most of whom were unfamiliar with Peking duck, to indulge in what is supposed to be some of the city’s best peking duck. This mecca is more commonly known as The Peking Duck House. It is a nicely decorated and small spot on Mott Street in Chinatown.

Now, for those of you who have never had Peking duck, it is the best. Someone even told me once that it is globally known as the most balanced meal. You have your protein, the duck, your greens, the scallions, and your carbs, the pancakes. Ok, the most balanced meal may be a bit of an exaggeration or just wishful thinking, but it is pretty damn good. The dish is composed of a thin, crepe-like pancake filled with plum sauce, duck, and sliced scallions and then rolled up like a burrito.

Peking Duck House, of course, specializes in this Chinese treat. Almost everyone at the restaurant had ordered at least one duck. However, in addition to the duck, they provide all of the classic Chinatown treats like dumplings, lo mein, and fried rice.
The dinner began with a slew of appetizers, including steamed pork buns, chicken dumplings, barbecue spare ribs, vegetable dumplings for the vegan at the table, and spring rolls. My favorites were the steamed pork buns. They are no Joe’s Shanghai, and the dumpling dough is a little too thick, but they sufficed for my pork fix. The little barbeque spare ribs were even better. While all of this was good, we weren’t there for dumplings, after all, but for the duck.

After the duck has been roasted, the waiters carry it out head and all to the customers for our approval. After giving the go-ahead, the waiters returned with two platters filled with sliced duck and its crunchy skin, huge bowls of plum sauce, bowls of scallions, and a huge pile of pancakes.
I immediately dug in, ignoring the plates of chicken, lo mein, and rice surrounding me. The duck was delicious. The pancake is a little thicker than I am used to, but it was still perfect. The duck is rich and the skin crisp and fatty. It is complemented perfectly by the tangy plum sauce and the crunch of the scallions. I think I blacked out because of pure joy as I scarfed down one duck-filled pancake after another.

As a palate cleanser, I dug into the delicious and simple vegetable lo mein, again for the vegan, the pork fried rice, and the chicken. Again, every plate was good Chinese food, but I’m sure you could get equally comparable versions at any number of the restaurants surrounding Peking Duck House.

The duck may be a little pricy at $48, but splitting one between four people makes it only $12, so don’t feel bad, just enjoy!