Have you ever eaten so much that you needed to get up and walk around to feel better? Or had something so good that you literally forced yourself to eat more, even when you were beyond full? Alli and I experienced those feelings last Sunday at the Bistro Europa 3rd annual Snout To Tail Dinner. It was a nine course meal (plus snacks!) that was centered around an amazing T-Meadow hog and was one of the better meals I’ve ever had. The meal was prepared by four of Buffalo’s most talented chefs, Chefs Steve and Ellen Gedra (Bistro Europa), Chef Carmelo Raimondi (Carmelo’s) and Chef Bruce Wieszala (Tabree). Somehow they (along with their sous, cooks) fit into the small, hot Elmwood kitchen and delivered nine delicious courses in 2 1/2 hours.
The restaurant was packed for the event, every table was filled and there wasn’t an empty bar stool in sight. When we arrived to the restaurant, snacks were already being served outside on the patio. We started the meal with seasoned cracklins, skin braciole and some trotters. The cracklins were perfect, a crunchy exterior while still light and air-y on the inside. I could have eaten the entire platter with a couple beers. The first course was a BBQ pork croquette on top of a lemon sauce with a side of ramp kimchi, prepared by Steve. It was a fantastic way to start the meal. Second course was a chilled pork loin with tonnato sauce, asparagus and kohlrabi. The presentation was very pretty and could have been found in any fine dining restaurant.
Third course included a bowl of grits topped with pork belly, smoked peanuts and a T Meadow egg (pictured below). Side note: T-meadow eggs (along with Green Heron and Painted Meadow eggs) are some of the best eggs you will ever eat from happy healthy chickens, we highly suggest picking up a dozen at a farmers market (i.e Williamsville, Elmwood-Bidwell) this summer. When we broke into the egg, a dark orange yolk filled our bowls and mixed beautifully with the creamy grits and crispy/fatty pork belly. I’ve eaten a lot of pork belly over the last two years and you’d think I’d get sick of it by now, but the sensation of it just melting in my mouth is something I’ll always enjoy. The fourth course ventured into the offal category with a salad of heart and tongue. I thought the heart was fantastic while the pickled tongue was a little difficult to eat (even for me).
The fifth course was Feijoada, a South American inspired stew of pork and beans. The bowl had a nice fatty piece of pork with some black beans and pickled ramps (can never have enough ramps). It was about this point where Alli and I were starting to hit a food wall. Somehow we powered through to enjoy the sixth course of House Made Cavatelli with Sausage. The pasta was cooked perfectly and there was a very generous amount of ground sausage; this was Alli’s favorite dish. There was even a little ramp pesto on the pasta, because, well, ramps are amazing.
The seventh course was a Crispy Pig Ear Salad. Alli and I had an amazing pig ear experience a couple months prior and were really excited for this dish. It didn’t let us down. The eighth course, simply called Meatbrawl, included three pork meatballs that were served in three different styles from the chefs and provided a range of textures and flavor profiles. It was the final course from Ellen Gedra that really pushed our stomachs to the limit, a Leaf Lard Brioche that was filled with rhubarb jam and coated in sugar. It was stupid good, and we can’t wait for the day she opens her own bakery.
It was entertaining to watch the other diners leave the restaurant; everyone had visibly reached their stomach’s limit but still had big smiles on their faces and were already reminiscing about the meal. Simply put, it was nine courses of awesome. I had incredibly high expectations for the meal, in my opinion these are three of the best chefs in Western New York and they were using some of the best pig in the country. The meal of course exceeded those expectations and was well worth the $150 price tag. The next Snout to Tail dinner won’t be until 2014, but Bistro Europa has a Oles Farm Dinner in June and will hosting Midnight Mass events all year long.