Year of the Pork Belly: What I learned in 2011 About Eating and Cooking

Just because a “chef” is on the food network it doesn’t mean they’re restaurant is any good.
By far the worst meal I had all year was at Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi in Sacramento. Worse than someone else’s leftovers in the break room. Worse than hotel ballroom chicken. Worse than the continental breakfast at La Quinta Inn and Suites.

Cream cheese is excellent on hotdogs.
Seriously, cream cheese is the best hot dog condiment ever. Try it with pickles, cucumbers or your favorite crunchy relish.

Not everyone has figured out the cupcake sandwich.
I was at a lighting and furnishings store the other day and the clerk behind the counter had a beautiful cupcake stashed next to the calculator and canister of pens. She was afraid to eat it because the frosting would get all over her face and once she bit into it, it probably wouldn’t be able to stand up straight, so she’d have to eat it all at once.

I introduced her — like I have to hundreds of other people — to the trick of slicing said cake in 1/2 horizontally and then placing the bottom half over the top, so the frosting is in the middle. She liked the idea so much she called her coworkers around to marvel at this innovation. You should try it, it will change your small personal cake consumption habits forever.

Shark & chips is really good.
I’ve never been a fan of game fish. Give me a nice mild halibut or cod and I’m happy. Across the street from my office is a fish counter. When they get a big catch in, they fry up the extra  and serve it with fries to go. Not too long ago it was shark. It was good. Firmer than halibut, mild flavor and yummy.

There are people who make gravy from a pouch. Yes, really gravy from pouch.
Seriously people, if you are serving meat then you have some type of meat drippings.  Just make a little roux, add the drippings and maybe a bit of stock or broth.  Maybe I was naive to believe everyone did it this way, but until one dinner party I hosted, a couple of the guests said they were surprised I made my own gravy.

Schweddy Balls aren’t that good.
Okay, it’s good, but they’re about 11th on my list of best Ben & Jerry flavors. If you’re not familiar with Schweddy Balls, they are a rum ball and malt ball flavored ice cream based on an SNL sketch featuring Alec Baldwin and created a lot of buzz when Ben & Jerry’s introduced it.

Burgerville does not have pork belly on the menu.
No, pork belly is not on the menu, but everywhere else in Portland has it. How long before Burgerville adds it as one of their seasonal specials? I’ve had pork belly hash, pork belly cubano sandwiches, pork belly tacos, pork belly pho, and maple pork belly ice cream this year.

My favorite food of 2011
Sweetbreads. If 2011 was the year of pork belly, I predict 2012 will be the year of the sweetbreads. Crispy, creamy, delicious. I had them at 4-star restaurants in big cities and road-side asados in Argentina. You can only eat it so often, but it’s always good.



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