The magical animal
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
Last night, we met that magical animal. We met him and we et him.
The event was Craigie Street Bistrot's "Lyons in Winter" dinner, a one-night-only menu showcasing the hearty goodness of the city's cooking traditions: pig, pig and more pig.
So we began with "Les Cochonailles," which loosely translates to "in heaven, the things they leave on your hotel pillow instead of mints."
Instead of a photo (which will just make some people all complainy, no doubt), here's a nice diagram:
A: Pork terrine--delicately textured with a light, intricate flavor
B: Lardo. The last time we ate at CSB, The Boy responded to our waiter's description of a dish containing this wafer-thin slice of pork fat with "You had me at lardo."
C: Chicharrón. You can never, ever go wrong with deep-fried pork skin. Okay, so it wasn't as insane as the stuff you get at La Viña, the corner coffee-shop/social club near The Boy's parents' house, but it was still acceptable (snif).
D: I didn't catch their name, but they were lightly fried cubes of the most melt-in-the-mouthingy sweet pork fat. I'd go so far as to say they'd knock bitterballen into a cocked hat. And you know how I feel about bitterballen.
The cochonailles came with a glass of a brut rosé from Burgundy, which was a brief reminder of summer: hints of hay and strawberry.
Next up: a salade lyonnaise for The Boy--frisée and salty lardons and a poached egg--and a creamy salt-cod soup decorated with cockles, as well as the world's sweetest, juiciest shrimp, for me.
(Sorry the image quality isn't great--we were at a romantically underlit table).
And then The Boy had fried pork tripe, crispy on the outside and soft and salty on the inside; I went for the ragout of kidney beans with boudin noir and pork sausage. Because they had me at "boudin noir."
Next, the dish that was our main reason for making a reservation: pied du cochon for deux.
It was a good eight or nine inches long, plump and round and generously stuffed with hammy goodness, sitting on a bed of lentilles de Puy. Though we'd had a fabulously porky feast, this was the only dish that was verifiably, recognizably piggy. And it was glorious: salty-sweet, moist and tender.
And finally, dessert: crème caramel for The Boy, because that's his thing, and a rich, intense chocolate mousse pour moi. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't made with bacon chocolate, but it was still lovely.
Oh, and we left with a parting gift: a beribboned jar of herbes de Provence. Which is good, because we're almost out. And I might do a pork tenderloin this weekend.