It's savory, it's sweet, it's pork belly cotton candy, and it's everything you never knew you needed to eat on a stick. Yes, this is real life, and you too can experience this gourmet-cut-meets-carnival classic hybrid for just $3 a pop at Carnem Prime Steakhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Inspired by Jose Andres's Foie Gras Cotton Candy, Executive Chef David DiSalvo wanted to make his version of gourmet Big Top to be a bit more familiar and accessible. Skin it, score it, brine it, braise it, crisp it, spin it, cue “Entry of the Gladiators," and voilà — pork belly cotton candy — a perfectly crisped morsel of succulent pork belly veiled in spun sugar that, within one bite, quickly melts into savory-sweet harmony. Intrigued? Confused? Need a frame of flavor reference? Think syrup and bacon, but... delicate.
Allow me to elaborate. Each serving consists of one skewered golf ball-sized cut of Berkshire pork belly wrapped in what looks like a handful of pink chiffon. As you give in to curiosity, grab hold of the eight-inch stick and commit to your first bite, the tip of your tongue is met with the delicate texture of fluffy cotton just as your taste buds begin to dance with sweet exuberance. Within milliseconds, that fluffy cotton melts onto the base of your tongue creating a subtle sugar glaze for the crackling cut of hot Berkshire pork you're about to bite into.
And that next bite? A whirlwind of complex texture and emotion. Your teeth first meet the crispy skin of the pork belly, immediately followed by the juicy tender center. The meat is so tender, in fact, there's really no need to chew, but you've learned a social norm or two, so you happily abide before going in for bite number two as quickly as humanly possible, because this texture-flavor sensation needs to happen again, stat.
The only downside to the pork belly cotton candy is that the dreamlike experience is over within two bites. But at $3 a pop, you can easily order two gourmet skewers without breaking the bank. And while you'd love nothing more than to eat an entire meal consisting solely of pork belly and spun sugar, you know your limits. More importantly, you know that you can only handle so many luscious layers of buttery pork belly in one sitting, so let's all agree that this is the ultimate four-bite amuse-bouche, yes?
And just think, since you only spent $6 on gourmet eats, you'll have enough dough left over to indulge in Carnem's inaugural craft cocktail menu. Truffle Shuffle anyone? Come for the pork belly cotton candy, stay for the craft cocktails. Don't mind if I do.
Images: Courtesy of Rebecca Fondren (4)