Really, it's not six course of local pork cooked up by Chefs Rob and Allison Levitt of Mado, with the assistance of Jason Vincent of Lula's soon to open Pilsen spot that has me avoiding dinner tonight. I mean I did nosh a bit at the Happy Anniversary party for Cassie's Green Grocer and ate one wee moon cake my family brought home for me from Argyle. Besides, I should treat the Mado family dinners as much more than an exercise in gluttony. After all there was the Slagels talking hog while we ate one of their hogs, but REB on LTHForum does a good job of covering the Slagels. In fact, Ronna covers the meal pretty well, although I found the fritto misto of pork parts crisp and hot when it got to me. Still, what is there to say these days about a Mado family meal than, boy am I stuffed.
Actually, I believe I ate much less at the family dinner. I mean not less as in what a regular person would eat, but maybe less than I did at a previous family dinner. Rob Levitt admonished us early on, save room for desserts. If we did not adequately and fully eat his wife's creations, he would be sleeping on the sofa, he warned. On the other hand, what about me. What about this Rob ending up on the sofa. See, lo, around three in the AM, I awoke from the internal machinations of my organs that sought to process all the consumption. I'm not blaming that on the pork so much as the five bottles of wine and a good dose or two of Michigan pear brandy we all shared. I needed one of those purified seltzer bottles Mado sells for like a buck, but I had to settle for plain old Lake Michigan to hydrate the systems. Next thing you know, I'm watching the early version of Sports Center. I could of course, if I wanted, watch the Australian Open live. And drifting off on the couch.
Platter after platter of pork somehow lends itself to reasonable eating. I'm the kinda guy though to eat much too much of roasted celery root or turnips, well turnips cooked in goose fat. I could settle this time for ones of each. I even limited myself to one trip around the charcuterie table, but I stopped only because I had psyched myself up all afternoon not to each so much pork rillette. I want very much to have a better figure to sell the health benefits of local eating. One can only sell local health on so many slices of house made mortadella.
I took reasonable portions of the next courses. The most non-porcine thing on the menu last night, a fried sardine contained so much sardinial intensity that I was not returning to it anyway. One was enough. I showed restraint on the salad course of lentils, pickled tongue and bacon, but come to think of it, there was not more to eat. I did not have that problem with the meatballs, and several rosemary heavy polpette lay next to my spot, taunting me. I did finally give in and have a second meatball, but I did it the way my grandfather would, who would not, in a thousand years, ever have eaten in a place like Mado, but if he had, would have done like me, taking a forkful and then another forkful until a whole extra meatball had made its way into my gullet. Really, it was not the extra pork I needed, it was the sauerkraut.
We all ooh'd and ah'd over the dumplings, lauded the cookies that combined buckwheat with air and just a hint of sugar and need no urging from Rob to finish his wife's Shaker lemon pie which made the definitive argument for lard crusts. Yet, yet all that, this was a night for lowly ol' cabbage. Dabs of it gave the right buttery accent to the pasta, and the sauerkraut that Rob said he had made and then plum forgot about, I overturned all the extra meatballs to get any kraut lurking underneath. I'm stuffed on sauerkraut.
It goes without saying that I cannot wait until the next Mado family dinner.
1647 N Milwaukee Ave