Let there be pig.
It was my birthday last week and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with a whole porchetta.
I'd spied this dish on my last visit to Signorelli Gastronomia and had vowed to return. The pig, I swore, would be mine someday.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate a birthday than with dear friends and good food.
Seared tuna with orange
We started with an amuse bouche of seared tuna served on porcelain spoons with orange segments, a delicate and refreshing mouthful that awakened the palate.
Mac's Sassy Red amber ale $7
A few of us had met for pre-dinner drinks, and after a glass of sangria and a shot of cachaça, I stuck with beer to accompany dinner. Mac's Sassy Red is an award-winning amber ale from New Zealand, and I relished its malty nuttiness.
Wagyu bresaola $5.50/20 grams (a la carte)
When I'd made an initial group booking enquiry two months ago, I was misquoted on the price per person for porchetta, antipasto and pizza. Commendably, this quote was upheld ($50pp) even though the porchetta with vegetables alone is currently priced at $55pp.
Capocollo $3/20 grams (a la carte)
Making the pizzas
Perhaps one of my favourite things about Signorelli Gastronomia is the immediacy of the pizza kitchen and the deli counter. Regardless of where you sit, there is something interesting to look at, whether it be the walk-in wine room, walk-in cheese room, shelves of neatly stacked gourmet groceries, a grand antique cash register or ones of the chefs expertly tossing a disc of pizza dough in the air.
Margherita pizza $19.50 (a la carte)
The pizzas here are cooked in a wood-fired stone oven, the bases crisp yet still pliable, and topped modestly in the traditional Italian style. Margherita pizza is fresh and simple with cheese, tomato and basil; the Prosciutto di Parma is a luscious combination of prosciutto, ricotta, provolone cheese and wild rocket.
Prosciutto di Parma pizza $22.50 (a la carte)
Garlic pizza $19.50
To my surprise, the garlic pizza is my outright favourite, stretchy with molten mozzarella, sweet with garlic and doused with plenty of zingy lemon juice.
The pig is the main event, and conversation stops as soon as the porchetta is spotted leaving the main kitchen.
It's an impressive sight. The pig, we're told, weighed 9.5kg before it was deboned of its ribcage, and then rolled up again with pork neck, garlic, pepper and herbs. The chef says his name was Trevor (!!).
Carving the porchetta
Nearing the pig's head
Pig on a plate (one of three plates)
"The pig's head is for the birthday girl!" staff declare. What they don't realise is that everyone is keen for some pig head action, with an ear broken off here, and a cheek scooped out there.
Meanwhile I am far too busy enjoying an entire pork trotter, resplendent with crackling, if a tad salty. John and I share the snout - half each - a delicious crunchy treat.
Mixed leaf salad and brussel sprouts
Everyone digging in
A 9.5kg pig yields an incredible amount of meat. We get through only about half of it - the remainder packed up into the best kind of party bag one could hope for. The pork is tender, although I would have preferred larger slices so the meat didn't shred as much, and the stuffing imparts quite a strong herby flavour to the delicate flesh.
Complimentary birthday dessert
Staff surprise me with a complimentary birthday dessert, a slice of warm chocolate cake that has the sweet crust of a brownie. It's plated very prettily with flowers and candied walnut pieces, and a shard of white chocolate encrusted with popping candy.
The Hungry Caterpillar cake by chocolatesuze
Later that evening chocolatesuze unveils her secret birthday cake - a Hungry Caterpillar cake made with cupcakes! One of my favourite books as a kid, I even have a t-shirt depicting this loveable creature with the notoriously voracious appetite.
My favourite feature was his legs, made from licorice and speared with toothpicks.
Thanks everyone for a fantastic birthday, and special appreciation to you, Trevor. Oink! Oink!
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11/22/2010 02:05:00 a.m.