This past weekend was a transformative experience, and the transforming agent came in the form of pork. But perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. In a way, this all started last year.
Last fall, my boyfriend told me we’d been invited by a good friend to attend an underground food party – a barbecue party, specifically. Now, this wasn’t one of those sit-down deals where the hosts essentially create a restaurant in their home or another convenient space, but it had some similarities. Namely, it was invitation-only, and the chef in question, while amateur, had considerable talent. In fact, he’d come in second place in a barbecue competition in Virginia. Our friend was fortunate enough to be the uncle of this young talent, hence the invite.
Here was an amazing opportunity to take part in a subculture that I’d been fascinated by! Also, an amazing opportunity to eat my favorite food, barbecued spareribs, until I burst! There was only one small catch – I was away for the entire weekend.
The boyfriend elected, rightfully so, to go anyway. I was devastated.
When I returned from whatever god-forsaken errand I was on at the time (actually, I think it was a trip to the Finger Lakes for an amazing bachelorette party that I enjoyed very much), I was regaled with tales of the magnificent feast I’d missed. The ribs were wonderful, of course, but my man could not stop raving about the sides, in particular a vat of butternut squash soup. I swore that I would not be left out again.
When the time rolled around this year, I was ready. And, because I am with a thoughtful guy, he asked if I wanted to bring my good friend Nandi along for the ride! Nandi and I are food dates, so this was a big deal.
When we arrived at the party, a quick peek at the spread verified that we were in for a treat. There was a pile of ribs higher than any I’d ever seen, cornbread, brisket, and some truly lovely sides, including a beautiful warm salad of white beans topped with roasted tomatoes and onions. Even the cole slaw was fantastic – light and crunchy with red onions and only the tiniest hint of mayonnaise.
And then there was the pulled pork.
Reader, there are no words. This pork, which the chef casually mentioned had been smoking since 6pm the previous night, was a dream. It was tender, and juicy, and just the right amount of fatty. Sweet, but smoky. It melted in the mouth. Barbecue bliss, indeed.
It turned out that the chef and his partner have been perfecting this recipe, and plan to enter it in a barbecue competition happening in Harvard in couple of weeks. We gushed and let him know that it was outstanding. Were we judging at that moment, he’d have won.
The only sad part of this amazing experience is that all other pulled porks, including Red Bones and Blue Ribbon, now pale in comparison. I’ll still eat them, but some of the bloom has fallen off the rose. Oh well. There’s always next year.