Pork Belly with Kumquat at Play, Food & Wine in Ottawa
The little bistro known as Play, Food & Wine in Ottawa is one of my favorite restaurants to visit when I am in the capital. They regularly come up with interesting new creations and most tend to be very good indeed. The Pork Belly with Kumquat dish you see pictured above was certainly novel, and visually appealing, but it need a bit of tweaking to make it really good.
It is not easily apparent from the photograph, but the pork belly consisted of two thumb-sized pieces that were roasted, then placed on a bed of pureed parsnip and topped with a sauce made with kumquats. There were some snap peas included, as well as a garnish of mustard sprouts.
The Pork Belly was generally well cooked. The skin was nicely crispy, and the meat was juicy and succulent, but the seasoning was very light and the overall result was otherwise unremarkable. As for the bed of parsnip, I have to say that, while usually love parsnip, the puree didn’t do much for me. The sweet taste of fresh parsnip came through cleanly, but I didn’t like the consistency very much. It was a little too much like applesauce and something with a bit more texture would have suited me much more.
The Kumquats were an interesting idea, certainly, but ultimately, they were too overpowering. The fruit appeared to have been sautéed until partially collapsed into a thickish chutney-like affair, and the overly sweet result, coupled with an orange-pith like citrus bite was a bit much for the pork. Something a bit less cloying sweetness might have worked, such as a Cranberry and Apple sort of chutney, possibly, but the overall effect here, while interesting in conception, definitely needed a little improvement.