Friday, June 21, 2013

Cooper's Hawk: For The Love Of Pork

I've recently returned home from a phenomenal week with my friends and family in the South.  Naturally, I'm experiencing some mad PEDS (post event depression syndrome).  PEDS is just a funny little made-up term my friends and family have coined to describe the debbie downer effect one experiences when having to get back to reality after an amazing life event.  There's also PADS (post alcohol depression syndrome), but you basically experience that after say...a boozy night of drinking too many shots of tequila and cutting all your hair off.  Wait...what?!  Let's move on. 

There's only two things that could get me out of my post-vacation PEDS, and that's pork and pinot.  Luckily, my friend Lisa signed us up for a pork and wine tasting event at Cooper's Hawk the night that I returned home to Columbus.

I stalked their website prior to our pork fest and was thoroughly impressed.  Their founder, Tim McEnery, opened his first location in 2005 at the ripe old age of 29.  Seriously...29?!  He has since opened eleven additional locations, with four more in the works set to open in the next year.  Each location has an in-house winery in addition to serving modern cuisine. 

I must say, Cooper's Hawk had a little bit of competition, considering I had spent the previous eight days eating out at some pretty fabulous restaurants.  I'm happy to say that they far exceeded my expectations, and when those expectations involve bacon, they're pretty damn hard to beat. 

Timothy Mahler, the general manager, was our host for the night.  I gotta say, I like this guy!  He clearly enjoys his job and has a passion for food and beverage.  We also got a detailed rundown of the four course meal from the chef.

Alright, it's time to stop rambling and get down to the good stuff. 

Course One:

Antipasti Plate
Prosciutto, Mustard Seed Salami, and Soppressata with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Bacon Epi' Baguette
Paired with Blanc de Blanc

What an amazing antipasti selection! The marinated tomatoes and mozzarella were a lovely compliment.  As for the baguette?  It's bacon, carbs, and butter.  Who the eff is going to complain about that?  It was straight bacon heaven.  The Blanc de Blanc was a perfect pairing, as it did not overpower the fairly heavy first course.  I was dying to see what was next.

Course Two:

Pork Nicoise Salad
Mesculin Greens, Potatoes, Green Beans, Nicoise Olives, Sliced Egg. and White Marble Farms Braised Pork Belly
Paired with Pinot Noir

I've had a lot of pork belly in my day, but this had to be one of the best.  The standard composition of pork belly is 92% fat and 8% protein.  I'm thinking this cut was more like 99/1.  Lightly seared straight fat...sounds like my kind of meal!  I was a little bummed that the pork wasn't sourced locally, but oh well.  The salad, eggs, and potatoes were mixed with the house vinaigrette.  Pretty much amaze overall.  Pinot Noir is my favorite red, and I was impressed with their house variety.

Course Three:

Seared Jumbo Scallops
with Pork Roja Vieja and Sweet Potato Corn Succatash
Paired with Merlot

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical of the pulled pork and scallop combination.  Scallops are generally light in taste, but they actually balanced out the heavy pulled pork quite well.  As if this meal wasn't hearty enough, a delish succatash completed the plate.  Clearly a red wine is necessary for a meal like this, and Merlot was a great selection.

Course Four:

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Pure Maple Syrup
Paired with Nightjar

You HAVE to be kidding me!  I've fantasized about this dessert for the last three nights.  Chocolate, bacon, maple syrup, ice cream, AND port wine to boot?  How in my 27 years have I not thought to combine cookies and bacon?  I clearly need to get my priorities in order.  I will never again eat another chocolate chip cookie unless it's topped with pork.  I mean...WHOA.

I truly have no complaints about this meal.  I would recommend this place to anyone.  The ambiance is great, the food is to die for, and the wine, well, I had six glasses, if that says anything.  I will undoubtedly be attending the next wine tasting on July 16th.  Keep a lookout for the review!

Bacon Heaven!



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