If an appetite for diversity is on your eating agenda, then Beaufort Street is your answer. From cheap eats and degustations for a pickier palate, to pop up beer tastings and for those a little more daring … a Pig Dinner.
On a chilly Winter’s night on the last day of July, sixty intrigued diners were treated to a swine of a time at el PÚBLICO. We aren’t just talking pork belly, we are talking the whole pig, from trotters to snout to its curly little tail.
Seduced by the streets of Mexico, el PÚBLICO Generales Paul Aron (co-owner of Greenhouse), Cantina 663’s Michael Forde and Alex Cuccovia fell hard for authentic Mexican fare and returned to Highgate to rekindle the love affair. Leaving behind their Head Chef, to be enchanted by the high priestess of Mexican cooking herself. Sam Ward was lucky enough to spend time with Diana Kennedy at her eco-farm in Michoacán learning a thing or ten. It was there he immersed himself in the art of traditional Mexican cooking. Venturing off, eating his way through Oaxaca and beyond bringing him back to Beaufort armed with an assault of recipes and inspiration.
Since opening the doors in March, el PÚBLICO has been educating the good people of Perth on a style that can only be bona fide Mexican. Completed with a library of tequilas and mescal carefully curated by James Connolly, what’s not to love?
Launched with minimal fuss, a poster bearing the words “Pig Dinner $65″ emblazoned the facade stopping many passerbys. A few posts on Facebook and a tweet here and there, had foodies scrambling for tickets, with the event booking out quicker than you can say “Porky Pig!”
Upon arrival the scene was electric with anxious guests milling at the bar. Most not looking past the cocktail cheekily named … “Deliverance”. A concoction of tequila, applejack, pressed apple, lime, honeywater and absinthe bitters complete with the disturbing sounds of a bango twanging in your mind. The Mezcal Trips were a hit, leaving you wishing it wasn’t a school night
The long tables encouraged interaction with strangers soon to be friends. The walls glowed, awash with red light, brooding candles flickered to the sounds of a familiar bango rift, all lending to the mood with nervous giggles dotting the air. The tables were styled simply with white linen and long boards placed down their length, providing the perfect canvas for the myriad of colours and tastes to follow.
I had been dreaming of five courses of pork crackle all day but was not quite prepared for the onslaught ahead …
First course ~ Morcilla Queso Fundido
First up blood sausage and cheese fondue served with house made tortilla chips fit for dunking. When you commence proceedings on an empty stomach, you cannot help but delve straight into the melted bowl of merriment.
Second course ~ Torta Ahogada Carnita
The first course was quickly scooped up leaving in its place a pair rubber gloves. Questioning glances were thrown with jokes bouncing around the table. Wearing puzzling looks with rubber hands outstretched, we received a crispy pork filled roll swimming in a sea of chili de arbol. The sweet damper like roll soaked up the waves of flavour, leaving you in sponge bun heaven. Using the gloves allowed you to pick up the roll from the chilli puddle devouring it like a burger without getting dirty.
Third Course ~ Offal Plate
Tongue Esquites, Heads Cheese and Chipotle Crema House made Heart and Liver Sausage with Salsa Negro a chipotle and brown sugar salsa. At this point I thought, why did I pig out prematurely. As a seasoned sprinter, this kind of banquet called for endurance and stamina so, I slowly sampled everything at least three times. Offal as it should be, thank you chef!
Fourth Course ~ Quaesadilla and Sope
Next up a generous offering of sope of pickled trotter cochinita pibil and house bacon, potato and cheese quesadillas. My friend cried gelatin far too early which stirred up memories of a failed batch of gin and tonic jellies. If you have ever burnt gelatin you would understand why I just could not take a second bite of the gelatinous antijotes. Thankfully, the humble flavours of the quaesadilla quickly erased any ill feelings.
Fifth Course ~ The Banquet
The main event starred a slow cooked achiote marinated pork butt. A “choose your own” tortilla adventure with a smorgasbord of cabbage, lettuce, pickled onion, radish and beans cooked with bacon laid out. By now we were quite weary travellers feebly attempting to conquer the mountain of tortillas, wishing to be back at the beginning of the night, wide eyed and ravenous tearing the pork apart. We gave it our best shot and watched defeated as the long boards were picked up and whisked away.
Sixth Course ~ postres/dessert
Sam announced that the grand finale would take you back to your childhood. An empty glass, a long necked bottle blanketed in paper bag and a scoop of ice cream could only mean one thing, summer. Being mesmerised by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fizzing and floating it’s way to the top of a glass of sweet lemonade. Have you ever had a Pork Spider? A strangely sweet yet fatty ice cream of white chocolate and pork fat bubbling away in a pork soda. The salty soda, basically carbonated pork stock, working in a weird yet wonderful way. This was definitely the dish that pushed the boundaries, pushing your comfortable edge, so I was reassured to lock eyes with the familiar. Hello candied pork crackle, old friend.
Grazing our way from top to tail, Pig Dinner was the whole hog fuelled by tequila, mescal, laughter and 2kg of pork per head. No matter what your hunger Beaufort Street will hit the spot. Keep your eyes peeled and listen carefully over the sounds of your rumbling stomach to ensure you catch all those foodie whisperings early.