Jabalí, Culto al Cerdo, the Medellín based restaurant, opened its doors in Bogotá last month offering customers a well thought-out menu where pork takes center stage.
In fact, all dishes, except the Vegetarian Salad and desserts, are made with pork.
A unique take at the bar includes a smoked pork cocktail, Bacon Bourbon ($25,000) prepared by bartender Juan David Zapata.
The specialty drink is made with rose petal tea, lime juice and pork syrup. Embellished with a bacon strip, flowers and pork fragrance, it is served in a clay pot shaped like the animal, and delivered in a smoked infused glass bell. An unusual proposition at first, no doubt. The drink is refreshing, well balanced and tasty, setting the mood for the coming dining experience.
Exposed brick walls, crimson ink drawings of wild boars and meat cuts, Kartell style amber chairs and a frieze of 17,000 pennies placed alongside each of the two bars add to a modern setting, with much attention to detail in the two-story establishment, just a block away from Parque 93. The open kitchen, on the upper floor, with busy cooks moving from station to station invite the guest to explore a shortlisted menu, which changes twice a year, offering uncommon cuts and well-prepared dishes.
Rinds, bellies, ears, ribs, cheeks, collars and elbows – to name a few – are cuts available at Jabalí, and prepared by Chef Diego Rincón, who has made it a priority to include Colombian techniques and ingredients in every single dish on the menu.
“We are in debt to Colombian Cuisine, and we must rescue traditional methods and ingredients, and use them alongside Spanish and French techniques,” believes the 28-year-old chef, who also studies Literature in his spare time, and strongly believes that a kitchen is an ever-evolving culinary laboratory.
“We use different cooking techniques for different cuts because not all techniques work the same. We try to include Colombian ingredients and methods, even if we don’t consider ourselves a typical Colombian restaurant,” he explains.
His determination doesn’t fall short, and the end result is creative and pleasing. For instance, the popular pork rind ($26,000) is cooked in two stages (Sous vide and deep fried) leaving one side meaty and tender and the other side crispy. Garnished with a sauce of pickled onions, coriander and yellow chilies, and served with corn patties or arepas from Santander, traditionally prepared with pork and cassava, the dish is tasty and satisfying.
A single serving of meat, garnish and arepa meets the standard of the most demanding foodies. The Jabalí Ceviche can be a leap of faith for those unaccustomed to eating less commercial cuts, and a revelation for those who enjoy discovering the richness of the gastronomic universe. The raw ingredients of this dish, besides the lime juice, are the onion and the mango slivers, as the thinly sliced julienne pig ears are slowly boiled for six hours, covered in corn batter and deep fried. The salad is served with a potato puree foam, which adds a creamy texture to it.
Each option on the menu is inviting, elaborate and revealing. The curious will be tempted by the Codillo de Cerdo or roasted shoulder ($45,000) served in an artisanal mustard and orange sauce, criolla potato puree, and dried lentil garnish. Slow cooked for 12 hours, the meat is crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. No knifes needed. The meat is flavorful, and the sauce blends well with the potato, making it a comfort dish from start to finish.
If you are still up for dessert, try the Almojábana custard, one of two options on the list. A true delight, and a perfect end to a scrumptious meal. Jabalí’s monothematic proposition rendered a varied and well-prepared dining experience, leaving plenty of dishes to try, and a good excuse to return.
Calle 93B No.13 – 61, Bogotá.
Calle 24 No.48-28, Mercado del Río, Medellín.
Mall Viva Las Palmas, Kilometro 15, Envigado.