Thursday, March 1, 2012

Slobblog: Amada - Dine on Swine

I can't explain how much lamer this guy is than the guy that cut our pig up.

Welcome to the terrible twos. Slobfest turned 2 years old this past go 'round. That's two full rotations around the sun of us slobs enjoying what kind of food debauchery Philadelphia could offer. To celebrate we returned to a previous Slobfest pick, Amada. But unlike last time when we wanted to go, yes, have the suckling pig, but also try out one of the most heralded restaurants in Philly, we all mounted our steeds and road to Amada with a singular focus...take down the pig.

Previously we were only a group of 6, with two slobs going for the tasting menu. Now we were hungry and had 7 slobs ready to go (one slob had to pull out last second due to unspecified circumstances although we are led to believe it was due to money, women, gambling, or possibly all of them).

Sure, we may have drank a little before, and ultimately ordered like 5 pairs of tapas for the table, but we were totally focused on the pig.

The thing with the suckling pig at Amada isn't just the feeling of eating an entire animal, one that only had the privilege of feasting on only it's mother's milk for 2-6 weeks before it's massacred and devoured by us slobs, but it's also about the experience you go through and are about to put all of the people at adjacent tables through.

You have to order the pig days in advance so the chefs at Amada can prep the swine properly. Lots of marinating and seasoning before it is roasted to a moist, crunchy skined perfection. Even when we arrived the pig was still about 45 minutes from being ready to serve. After destroying tapas and having some second guesses as to whether we have overdone ourselves already, it soon became apparent the pig was about ready to go.

Also, to pass the time a certain v-neck wearing Slobfest member had a direct line of sight to a girl he could not take his eyes off of all night. Sadly, this was not reciprocated as she was enjoying a meal with her boyfriend. There was a fleeting hope that seeing us slob out on pig meat would catch her eye, but not surprisingly it didn't exactly work.
My brother may be dead, but I'm here to carve your pig.

As the tapas started to settle and our appetites began to return, it began. A large marble table is rolled over to the side of the table. Then out comes the pig; head and all. Along with the flashes from cell phones, the site of the pig on the table itself garners a lot of attention from fellow diners. In charge of carving up the pig is a guy that can only be described as Karl from Die Hard.  Much, much cooler than the guy pictured at the top of this page. If only Hans Gruber could join us in our feast.

The precision at which he systematically tears apart the pig is something awe inspiring. Just quick, clean cuts that release the meat from the bone and then is placed into a serving tray. Now, of course, seeing someone that looks like that, with a strong acumen for knife works makes the mind wander. What else does he dice up? How does he let off steam after a stressful day of work? Would he ever stab a homeless person? These are some of the things that go through your head while you're waiting for several pounds of food.

The work of 3 slobs.
Cutting the pig table side is for show, and a good one it is, but turns out we ordered the whole damn pig. The second half was cut up in the back and brought out on a second tray for us slobs. Also there are several sides that come along with the pig. Needless to say, these were tasty, but not integral and ultimately jeopardized a slobs ability to eat as much white meat as possible.

As soon as the pig is presented, we go to work. There wasn't much talking going on during the initial eating period. Like I said, we were focused on a common goal. We would not be defeated like last time when we brought home probably 75% of the pig as we were unable to finish it. It was evident early on that when hungry, focused, and with a new member we were going to put on a show.

The table was split into two sides each responsible for half of the pig. To be fair, the sides were uneven at 3 slobs and 4 slobs respectively. There were some that failed to live up to their end of the bargain, but others that far above and beyond what could be expected out of one human being. A type of effort that could only be described as obsessed. Obsessed with the idea that this pig will be eaten. It will be defeated.

The work of 4 slobs.

The meat itself is delicious on several different levels. You have the skin, which is crispy and crunchy with a salty taste from the prep. It's comparable to natural pork rinds. It adds a a great difference in texture to the salty, sweet, and tender meat.

Due to the roasting process, each layer of the pig offers a different kind of meat. Near the skin, and my favorite, is a more dense meat that has the salt from the skin meld perfectly with the richness of the meat.

Further down, the meat loses some of that salty flavor, but maintains an even more tender texture that is sweet, but still savory. It's a great flavor and a diverse flavor the pig is able to provide.

Probably the last step in the suckling pig process are the other items Karl is kind enough to carve up. It is a whole suckling pig, so the head is included. Expertly carved as usual, the ears, cheek, snout, tongue, brains, and top of the head are set aside on a separate plate for some of the more daring eaters. From what I recall last time, most of those other items were eaten. I had the brains, which was worth the experience, but horrible. This time I was able to have cheek and snout. The cheek was tender and almost gelatinous to the taste. While the snout was crispy and throughly cooked, which is probably for the best.

Tongue and snout (obviously).
After the dust settled and bellies were full, we put on a hell of a show. Understandably better than last time, but stronger than I anticipated after all of the tapas dishes we had earlier. While I had only a small sampling last time and thought the meat was heavy and greasy, as a participant, I thought it was filling, but not heavy like say the Brazilian beef at Fogo de Chao, which will turn your blood into Ragu.

Yeah, we need to hit up an ATM.

The tab ended up being probably the largest in Slobfest history, but it was all worth it. A delicious meal that brought together everything that Slobfest has become over the first two years. Gluttonous, fun, and an adventure.

Just when you think you've seen it all at Slobfest, we did have a first on our two year anniversary. One slob paid by check. Now as bizarre and irrational as this sounds, the motive behind it is truly slob worthy. The slob lost his wallet that day. No idea where it is. But instead of canceling, he looked at all available resources and went with the old lady payment method of check. We don't know if Amada or any place even accepts checks. And instead of being sent to the back to wash dishes, there was a compromise and a check was made out to a fellow Slob and he paid the tab amount on one of those plastic things. Of course, like most things, even this kind gesture was met with a joke as the check was made out to the Slobfest member's significant other.

Last night must have been something.

It's worth mentioning that as we looked into dominating the pig again for the first time, we happened to find a rival party. Our mirror images, if you will. A group called Slothstreet. They too have a love for scarfing down food, and they even took a swing at the Amada suckling pig. Now, while people may suggest we should show reverence to our unknown forefathers, that would not be true Slob fashion. We know we're the biggest and baddest food eating team in the city, and we wanted to challenge them to a pig eating contest at Amada in a loser goes home type match up. However, after looking at their, ahem, site, it appears Slothstreet has been out of business since 2009 with few traces to their existence, let alone dominance of food like Slobfest has documented. Going into our second year, it's obvious who the true champs of the caloric cup are, however, should any remaining Slothstreet members come across this and have the waistline to take us on, well that'd be the second dumbest thing you've done. The first is starting your little tea party club.

Just another day in the life. Happy 2nd Birthday, Slobfest...And many more.

-Slobs out.

217-219 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA

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