Without a doubt, my favorite movie of the year was Toy Story 3. It was a perfect way to end the trilogy, and pretty much signified the end of my "childhood" if that's what you call it. I saw it at midnight, the day of it's release, with all of my friends. And the next morning, around 8, I packed up my dad's car and moved to Madison.
I think everyone has their own "Woody". The toy in the movie. Not the dirty kind.
Think of something that you've owned for all of your life. It might be a toy, it might be a book, it might be a pet, or even a blanket or something like that. For me, it's Pig. Pig is a ratty old stuffed pig that I've had pretty much since the day I was born. He was the subject of countless "Show and tells" in pre-school and kindergarten. He is responsible for hours of daily entertainment when I was a kid. He is probably the reason for my irrational obsession with all things pork. And he is tucked underneath my arm right now as I'm typing.
It's funny how cyclical life is. For a while, the awkward years, you try so hard to break free of your own personality and be something different, something cool. For about five years, between the ages of ten and fifteen, I was the weirdest little shit on the face of the earth. I had the spikey hair, I wore the baggy shorts, I listened to the backstreet boys, and I even played football. Looking back, these are all things I probably should never have done. But if you were to look at me now, and look at me when I was five, you'd see pretty much an Identical match.
When I was back home for the week or so between Madison and CIA, I noticed a portrait on the wall that I;d never really taken any notice of before. It was a drawing of me and my sister, done by a family friend. We were little. Anna was probably six or seven and I was probably three or four. But I look the same. I've got the same fat head, the same haircut, relatively similar wardrobe, and I'm holding Pig, just as I am now.
I was obsessed with trains when I was a kid, and now one of my favorite things to do is ride the Subways in New York City. Or when I'm on the train from Poughkeepsie from Grand Central, I sit with my nose pressed against the glass looking over the Hudson. Just like I would do when I was in the car as a little kid. Every morning as a kid I would pee in my babysitter's front lawn... Things don't ever really change.
I am writing this today, because I just took Pig into my menu development class, a sort of "Show and Tell". People joked about it, as I sat there with a Pig on my desk. They teased me, but I just sat there and took it. I then stood in front of the class, presented my restaurant concept, described my obsession for pork, (that's where Pig came in), then went through my pig-centric menu. People teased me at first, but then they saw there was quite a bit of validity for Pig being up there with me, tucked under my arm. The class voted my menu, and my restaurant concept, as the best one, so now my work is going on showcase in the McCann center. And It's all because of Pig.
Here's my menu, in picture, but due to the shittiness of the camera on my phone, I also have the text copied underneath.
Blood “cake”, buttermilk biscuit, fried egg, cholula butter
Roast shank bone marrow, grilled bread, parsley and caper salad
Smoked-spiced jowl, pickled shallots, whole-grain mustard, rye
Crispy ear, iceberg wedge, lardons, smoked chanterelles, buttermilk bleu cheese emulsion
HEART AND KIDNEY PIE
Spiced heart and kidney turnover, spicy ketchup
CRISPY PIGS’ TAILS
Braised-flash fried pigs’ tails, whole-grain mustard aioli
PIG’S FEET AND EGG
Soft-scrambled egg, pickled pig’s feet, chive, parmesan-brioche croutons, summer truffle
braised tongue, lard-fried fingerlings, confit shallot, cheese curd, foie gras pork jus, summer truffle
Braised cheek-potato-pleasant ridge reserve filled pierogies, caramelized onion, black garlic, house kielbasa
Potato gnocchi, sautéed liver, heirloom tomato ragout, garlic, capers, yellow-foot chanterelles, double cream
Crispy boneless trotter, sage pork stuffing, potato puree, foie gras cognac jus, chanterelles
BACON SCENTED SWEETBREAD
Bacon fat confit-sautéed sweetbread, anchovies, orange-braised Belgian endive, truffled pork jus, summer truffle
Thick-cut house bacon, heirloom tomato, iceberg, brioche, aioli
House-cured coppa, burrata, olive oil, warm ciabatta
House-cured lardo, egg yolk, French bread, sea salt
Braised pork shoulder, wild rice, whole-grain mustard
Crispy confit shank, Tabasco, buttermilk bleu cheese emulsion,
Smoked, boneless spare rib, uni-creamed Indiana sweet corn, lardons, chive, crème fraiche
Smoked-cured ham, red and yellow watermelon, pickled red onion, Capri farm goat cheese, balsamic reduction
Pan-roasted-bone-in loin chop, Indiana sweet corn and jalapeno pancake, haricots verts, Black cherry and ghost chili sauce
Roasted, pancetta-cured belly, black mission figs, pistachios,
ciabatta panzanella, charred cherry tomatoes, grilled radicchio
Spit-roasted, lemon-sage-rosemary rubbed porchetta, confit onions, dripping-sizzled potatoes
HAY SCENTED HAM
Hay-roasted ham, rutabaga and turnip hash, cider reduction
Roasted-garlic pork sausage, bacon and trotter braised navy beans, Swiss chard
Cayenne spiced- crispy skin, maple Ice cream
AL PASTOR UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
Sour cream and jalapeno shortcake, grilled pineapple, carnitas
Rum-caramel simmered belly, poached banana ice cream
Apples, fennel sausage, hook’s 10-year cheddar crumble
Lard-fried beignets, maple sugar, bacon-scotch coffee semi-fredo
Who knows... maybe ten or fifteen years down the road you may stumble across a place called Tongue and Cheek. If you do... walk inside. You might just see the pig that started it all, painted on the wall.