Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Perfect Pair: Whiskey and Pig

Knob Creek bourbon has been trailblazing the country introducing its Big Flavor Dinner Series to lucky cities like D.C. Recently, The Pig (1320 14th St NW) hosted this traveling whisky band and Chef Michael Bonk put on a show.
If you’re not familiar with Knob Creek, it is one of (Jim) Beam Inc’s small batch bourbons in a collection that, along with Basil Hayden’s, Baker’s and Booker’s, outdoes any other liquor holding company lineup. Guests were serenaded with a cocktail hour overflowing with a Knob Creek Mint Julep, a Ginger Old Fashioned with fresh ginger root, and a Knob Creek Rye Ward 8 (kissed with lemon, OJ and homemade grenadine).
Chef Bonk started the festivities by expertly breaking down a Virginia pig from snout to tail. Impressive knife-work and even more impressive mastery of how each part translates into both a restaurant’s bottom line and damn tasty food.
After cocktail hour/pig demonstration, guests were blown away with a four-course orgy of pig and whisky. The first was the best, a mind-blowing invention called “Face Bacon” – basically a bacon so tender it can be cut with a butter knife, culled from pig jowls (the fatty substance roughly between cheekbone and jaw). I can say without exaggeration that Face Bacon (it deserves to be capitalized) is one of the most delicious substances I have ever put in my mouth. Chef Michael deserves a standing ovation for introducing D.C. – and the world – to this sacred treat. The Perfect Manhattan (Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve) accompanying it was great too, but honestly, the Face Bacon was so overwhelming that I had to look back at my notes to remember what I was drinking at the time.
Next up was Compressed Crispy Tail, comprised of trotter, lobster, potato and egg. This too was excellent and here the drink was more memorable, if a bit on the sweet side: the Bacon Cherry Knob Creek, with straight bourbon washed in bacon and touched with cherry syrup and ruby port. The heavy bacon infusion made a classic, well-rounded bourbon even better.

Then came the Belly Stuffed with Everything Else – basically pork belly wrapped around all sorts of pig innards. I can’t recall exactly which (kidney? heart?), but it doesn’t matter – it was dynamite. As you might imagine, by the time I got to my Knob Creek Smoked Maple Old-Fashioned, I was almost under the table. 

Finally, the PB and J Cake with Bourbon Butter-cream proved a sinful sendoff. My favorite drink of the evening, a Knob Creek Rye Sazerac, was the perfect way to wash down an incredible evening that left me grateful but rather slow the next morning.
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