By their very nature, foodstuffs are fleeting. And now more than ever, to keep up with fads, trends, and the times, chefs and food purveyors are forced to be ever faster and ever forward-moving to secure their places in the hearts and stomachs of camera-phone-toting Yelp reporters.
In the face of all this, it takes great intellect, robust craftsmanship, and strength of will to take the slow food path, to spend literally years just getting something right and getting it into the marketplace, with the hopes that it will spend decades, and maybe longer, there. For all of this, not to mention the flavor, Red Table's triumph of true culinary artistry gets top billing for our favorite dish of the year. See also: 2: Soup in Soup at Travail[jump]
The creations are many and varied, at about 16 and counting, from a delicate, mild, and herbaceous pork loin (Lonza) to a powerfully spicy finocciona (Big Chet's) filled with fennel, red pepper, garlic, and wine. We highly recommend six or seven, a crackling baguette, some spicy mustard, and several beers. You need nothing more than some friends and this, and you've got one memorable party.
But the true magnum opus among all of this achievement is the Royal, a smoked, cooked ham that Red Table calls "quintessential." The smoke is delicate yet assertive -- a pitch-perfect level that doesn't fight with the inherent wholesomeness of the hogs that Mike Phillips and Tyler Montgomery source via intimate relationships with their farmers. No amount of tinkering can make up for a shoddy product, and dedicated farmers with deep care and respect for their animals are as much to thank as the gentlemen of Red Table.
This timelessly elegant product should find a place at your table, and soon. Or not so soon. This exquisite classic probably isn't going anywhere, so take your time. Slow food is best.
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