The word may evoke painful memories of insensitive insults. For that I apologize. But hear me out.
The word may also evoke pleasantries in the form of cured pig fat with herbs. I fall into the latter category, and therefore, was ecstatic to finally try Portland’s definition of the word in the form of hearty, porky sandwiches.
Lardo started as a food cart. Yes, we love those here in the Rose City. And we show our love by sinking our teeth into our favorite morning, afternoon and evening grub so fervently that the little food cart that could explodes into a nationwide media sensation. I know, we rule as eaters. In Lardo’s case, the explosion resulted in two permanent (as far as restaurants go) locations, one for east side eaters, and one for westsiders. Insert: gangster sign.
The location on SE Hawthorne Blvd, right across from the corner foodcart pod keeping lovers of poutine, pizza, crepe and fried handpies fat and happy, has a sort of beer garden thing going on out back. So, you can order your pork sandwich and your pint of local brew and go sit on an abnormally low park bench and pretend to be at Oktoberfest. Except you’ve got a basket of dirty fries and a beautiful porchetta sandwich in front of you. Sorry pretzels and brats, I will take one of these sandwiches any day.
So let’s talk about this porchetta sandwich I ate on Saturday. Back when I first decided that food was really more than sustenance, I was at one of my first food events representing Portland Monthly Magazine. The event was a live pig butchery. No, the pig wasn’t squealing around the room or anything. As I sat around a classroom with other food media peeps, I watched the piggy get broken down into beautiful pieces of loin, chop, and the like. At the end of this presentation, I was handed a plate of porchetta, which is pork belly wrapped around the loin and roasted with a bunch of herbs and cut into thick slices, made by Cathy Whims of Nostrana. The outside is crispy and crackly and the inside is meaty and flavorful, and anyway, I was hooked on pork. And have been since.
The porchetta sandwich at Lardo is really nice. It’s served on a ciabatta bun/roll with a bright green hazelnut gremolata (sorta like pesto) and aioli. The flavors are so fresh and bright, mixed with the sultry, fatty pork that isn’t all that greasy. Damn. It was tasty. I went with a couple of friends, and they ordered the double burger (pork belly, cheddar cheese, and Lardo sauce) and this pork shoulder sandwich with kimchi and sriracha mayo that I can’t seem to locate on the worldwide web. I demanded that they let me try both, for the blog’s sake of course, and I was pleased. More than pleased.
My only complaint: that damn “moscow mule” was A) Not a real moscow mule and B) so unbearably sour I swear it cut the roof of my mouth. Moral of the story: order a beer.