Pinoys and pork? Man, this is an easy question.
Note: M.I.Y.O. Monday stands for Make It Your Own Monday, a question thrown out to DCF readers every Monday to jumpstart the week with lively interaction. I also welcome questions and suggestions for future MIYO Mondays. Email me.
An acquaintance from way back has come back into my life and the process of getting to know each other again on a more mature level is thrilling. During one of our conversations, she mentions that she’s converted to Islam and thus, doesn’t eat pork. This is familiar to me. I grew up in Indonesia where the population is almost 90% Muslim, and waking up to chants and wails from the nearby mosque was routine. I also had friends, devout Muslims who shunned pork and fasted during Ramadan. It was this latter concept of fasting from sunrise to sunset that – as a young girl then – fascinated me.
But, as I sit and listen to my friend talk about her faith and her food, the restaurants she can eat in, and how they must serve halal cuisine, I find myself longing – obscenely so – for pork. I consider myself generally accepting of all beliefs but gosh darn it, I’m ashamed to be thinking such lurid, porky thoughts in front of a Muslim. I can only hope she can’t read my mind!
That night for dinner, I have what is currently, my favorite pork dish. I love crispy pata, can eat embarrassing amounts of lechon, and I admit to an implacable attraction to pork belly. For right now however, I profess undying devotion to the Peppered Pork Chop at Bistro Mondo.
I first had this dish almost a year ago on a cool, rainy evening. The restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizza which is quite good, thin-crusted and with the requisite char. The pastas and desserts are passable but it’s the pork chop that remains ingrained in memory. A bone-in chop from the shoulder, it possesses presence when presented at table. Plated with precision, it rests on a scalloped wave of garlic-smashed potatoes and a bevy of grilled veggies.
The same Peppered Pork Chop, one year ago. The fancifully fashioned mashed potatoes are as delightful to eat as they are to look at.
Pebbled with peppercorns, slicing into the pork chop yields steam and moist meat. First, there’s fat and it should be eaten right away. Masterfully grilled, my teeth crunch down onto a crust of fat, it implodes with smoke then oozes oil. Knees weaken, back goes limp, eyes close. The meat itself is just shy of being tough. Tightly-grained and itself devoid of fat, its juiciness is amplified even more when spooned with Chef Steven Scudder’s signature sauce. A magnificent example of the marriage between red wine and brown stock, it’s a boiling down of two components whose interaction with heat and time produces a sauce that demonstrates remarkable flavor. A pork chop couldn’t ask for a better partner.
So tell me, what is your favorite pork dish and where is it served?
Peppered Pork Chop at Bistro Mondo
4893 Durban Street corner Ebro St.,
Bgy. Poblacion, Makati