Clockwise from left: Aitor Olabegoya prepares a âchorizo ââlollipopâ appetizer to serve before suckling pig entry and black pepper consomme. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Aitor Olabegoya, his “chef whites” still crisp after an hour in the kitchen, stands like an eagle above a pot of steaming soup.
“Black pepper consume,” he says, offering hovering reporters spoons to taste. It sounds simple enough, but the result of a long, slow simmer is so rich that we scan the counter around it to see where the magic is coming from.
Migas’ culinary director doesn’t work in his own kitchen at Sanlitun restaurant, but across town in Wanjing, mixing it up with his friend Rob Cunningham, executive chef at the Feast in East Beijing hotel. Cunningham orchestrates what he calls the Carnivore Club every two months – a special dinner with a guest chef who joins him in making the most of every piece of meat from the animal of the day.
Today, the duo have the pig in their sights. They’re testing the Feast’s cuisine for a dinner on June 25.
The soup will accompany Olabegoya’s homemade blood sausage – dark, cloying, and strangely sweet for the uninitiated. While we munch and sip, the talkative Spaniard moved on to knead a stuffing for his roast suckling pig.
âThis ground pork doesn’t come from this pork,â says Olabegoya, mashing the meat with foie gras and chunks of apple, fennel and citrus. “Suckling pig is very lean, so you need this mince – which is two-thirds fat – to keep it from drying out during roasting.” While he churns and chats, he leads an assistant who prepares a chimichurri sauce with pistachios, olive powder and sweet peppers.