Sunday, December 11, 2005

This little piggy went to Norman's

piggy in his caja china
...and cried oink, oink, oink all the way home. Norman's on the Sunset Strip has decided to extend the Friday night Pig 'n Paella nights into the winter, even though it's too cold to eat outside on the patio. That's ok, because then you won't be able to get to know the nice little piggy too well before you dig in. Vegetarians, time to stop reading.
So anyway, we were invited to taste the pig 'n paella, and we took Billy and Amy along to try it out. We started with mojitos for the others and a Pisco sour for me, all very refreshing. The pig plate threatened to be a lot of food, so we just got two appetizers for the table -- the shrimp ceviche and the amazing conch chowder. The chowder was served with a pile of conch meat, corn and other chopped items in a bowl, and the server then poured a decadent mixture of slightly sweet cream and coconut milk into the bowl. It was wonderfully seasoned with star anise, but so rich that one bowl was plenty for four people.
Peter, the wonderful sommelier, whose descriptions of wine are like comforting bedtime stories, brought us a carafe of Pasanau, a Spanish red made predominantly from cabernet with some garnacha. The wine's smoky character stood up well to the succulent roast pork. The pork is roasted in a caja china, the traditional wooden roasting box, right outside the restaurant. I don't want to know what happens after that, but soon we were presented with plates brimming with roast pork, crispy pork skin, paella, coleslaw and fufu (mashed plantains and sweet potatoes).

roast pork with crisy skin in foreground, paella in background
The pork was incredibly moist and I'm afraid I devored every bit of the crunchy skin as well. The horseradish-flavored coleslaw also helped cut the richness of the pork, but the fufu was too starchy and filling for me to explore with so many other flavors. We were glad we opted for the paella pairing, since an entire plate of roast pork would have been a lot. We finished with a cheese plate and their small complimentary plate of cookies. Our server Andrew was extremely attentive and friendly, and we all gave the place pretty much our highest compliment: "We would return here on our own dime," especially since the pig 'n paella is only $19.


Luswei said...

That looks sooooo yummy!

The Centrist said...

Chef de Cuisine Craig Petrella is destined to be a legendary chef of our time. I was fortunate enough to dine at Norman's in Miami while he was there and couldn't be more excited to have him here in LA. My wife and I make it to Norman's as often as we can. Do yourself a favor and get the tasting menu with wine pairing by their amazing somalier Peter. It will be the best meal you've ever had.

The pastry chef at Normans Sunset is another home run hitter.

Anonymous said...

Just a Gourmand....
Chef Craig Petrella's talent is so obvious in every dish he prepares that my wife and I can't stay away from Norman's. We are addicted to his food and the restaurant.
It is the best meal you will have in Los Angeles, no doubt about it!

Car Wiz said...

The room was beautiful and very inviting, "accolades to the interior designer".The menu was sparce, portions were miniscule, fillet mignon was overcooked,
and the waiter amateur. I went there because I come from Miami and I know of Norman...but whoever was running the kitchen needs to apprentice at Spago or The Ivy and learn what great cuisine is.I do not mind paying a lot of $$$ for a great meal(I picked up the tab for 5 of us)but this was a major rip. Normans will not make it at this rate...sorry.