Last week, a January winter storm couldn’t keep a plethora of diners away from OTTO Food & Drink, which played host to Alberta Pork‘s first Swine and Dine of 2019. Chef Steven Furgiuele, creator of FUGE at OTTO, along with his culinary team served up a four-course meal featuring Stonepost Farms pork from appetizer to dessert to a packed house.
Owner Ed Donszelmann professes that at his Norwood neighbourhood pub, ‘there is no pomp and ceremony at Otto Food and Drink, just good food, craft beer, a carefully considered wine list, and friendly staff.
When I asked Chef Furgiuele why he wanted to host a Swine and Dine at OTTO he shared that he felt it just made sense – he wanted to share a pork-packed menu featuring the comfort food that OTTO is known for. Steve explained that while there are a variety of sausage options at OTTO, pork is the backbone of the menu. He also forged a relationship with Becky and John Doherty of Stonepost Farms at the 124 Grand Market, and was eager to showcase their Berkshire pork (as well as teach his crew how to break down an entire pig). Prior to our first course, guests learned first hand about their journey as first-generation farmers from Becky, who was on hand to also experience the wonderful meal Steve created with pork from her farm.
1st Course – 14 Hour Smoked ‘Apple Butter’ Pork Crostini
Our first course of the evening was inspired by Chef Furgiuele’s love of using Louisiana Grills’ products to smoke different cuts of meat -14 Hour Smoked ‘Apple Butter’ Pork Crostini. Steve knew he wanted to serve a light crostini with Bonjour Bakery sourdough to start, so he paired smoked pork picnic cuts with acidic notes from pink lady apples, pomegranate, and arugula.
2nd Course – Cotechino Salsiccia
Steve explained that Cotechino is an Italian dish typically served on New Year’s Eve. The large sausage, made from the leg of the pig, is often served with lentils, which symbolize coins, and are inspired to bring money for the coming year. For our second course, Steve used warm spices, some of the skin, as well as a heavier fat content to create his large-diameter sausage. He swapped out the lentils for Gold Forest Grains farro, and accented the dish with preserved lemon, Franciacorta sparkling wine, and a parsley salsa verde (that I would easily buy by the jar).
3rd Course – Cena Della Domenica
Our main course was on par with the hearty servings of sausages OTTO and FUGE are known for. Steve’s childhood Cena Della Domenica, or Sunday dinners, were the inspiration for the entire meal, especially our family-style main course.
Growing up, Steve’s father bought cases of Pecorino Crotonese from Italy, stacking the family cold room with wheels of cheese. While he hated rapini growing up, his palate has adjusted to enjoy the bitter veg, and he chuckles at how rapini, or broccoli rabe, has become a more popular/trendy vegetable.
The Pecorino Crotonese & rapini salsiccia sausage was smothered in more cheese as well as a smoked tomato-pork sugo (rich tomato sauce with pulled pork) and served alongside a lemon-broccoli salad, roasted parsnip with hazelnut picada, and Bonjour Bakery parisienne bread.
4th Course – Zeppole
A zeppole is an Italian doughnut or fritter usually topped with powdered sugar. Chef Furgiuele decided to make his version 100 % gluten free – huge thanks from this gluten-free girl. Steve shared that his father used to talk about when they would slaughter pigs back in Italy, and they would take the blood and mix it with cocoa to be dipped with bread sticks. Swine and dine challenges chefs to incorporate Alberta pork from appetizer to dessert, and Steve’s serving of sanguinaccio dolce – an Italian pudding made from pig’s blood made creamy and sweetened with chocolate, was a first for many of us in the room.
The sauce tasted similar to Nutella, and had chef Furgiuele not told the room we were going to dip our donuts in blood, I don’t think anyone would have been able to distinguish the flavour. I love being able to try new things, so I applaud Steve for pushing the culinary boundaries with a room full of adventurous diners.
When I spoke with Steve about the meal he was very proud that his team used every piece of the Stonepost Farms pig for OTTO’s Swine and Dine dinner. It may have been cold outside, but the vibe inside OTTO was filled with the warmth of hearty food and shared among good company.
One thing is for sure, Alberta pork sausages are always on the menu at OTTO Food & Drink. Chef Furgiuele is always coming up with new sausage and pork creations – stop by OTTO for a sip and a bite:
OTTO Food & Drink
11405 95 St, Edmonton, AB T5G 1L3
Everyday 4:30 p.m.–10 p.m.
Happy Hour 4:30-6 p.m. Daily
View this post on Instagram
About last night.. it was lots of fun eating & celebrating beautiful @albertapork! The #SwineAndDine events hosted by @passion.for.pork are such a great way to learn more about local restaurants & producers. . . . @otto_yeg & @fugemeat put together a great menu showcasing @stonepostfarms and I loved the salsiccia with crotonese pecorino + rapini! Sausages stuffed with cheese and topped with more cheese… sign me up. #yeg #yegfood #tastealberta