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l’escargot blanc bar à vin
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‘l’escargot blanc bar à vin
17 Queensferry St,,
City of Edinburgh,
0131 226 1890
Mon-Sat, 12-2.30, 5.30-10

Pigging out

Earlier this year I attended a ‘Mangalitsa Dinner’ hosted by Frederic Berkmiller owner of l’escargot blanc and l'escargot bleu French restaurants. 

Fred has invested in 11 curly-haired Hungarian grunters known as Mangalitsa and three had been taken from Gorgie City Farm to the abattoir mere days before.

Mangalitsas are a slow-growing breed of pig and consequently expensive to farm. Most commercial pigs take half the time to put on fast lean fat where as Mangalitsas take 12 months to reach weight. It makes sense then to eat and use all the meat of the animal from snout to curly tail. 

Fred comes from near Lyon so is no stranger to offal. A cailette is a traditional dish from Ardèche south of Lyon and is like a massive haggis-shaped sausage of heart, kidneys and liver meat. I first sample it at the spring dinner and then in October at the wine bar beneath l'escargot blanc when the last of the three Mangalitsas have been turned into charcuterie. A board of copa, pork pie, salami and black pudding are the main attraction but we are also given a cailette. Mr Bite thinks it's 'pretty amazing' the meat is so juicy and flavoursome. 

Mangalitsa in Hungarian means "hog with a lot of lard" and the extensive marbling lends itself to charcuterie. Ruby red slivers of copa are succulent and salami has a texture and flavour that puts supermarket versions to shame. I pair my charcuterie with some sharp Chenin Blanc and Viognier both of which cut through the fat nicely whilst Mr B has a malty Scapa Special beer. There are a number of organic, biodynamic wines on the list and the ‘natural wine’ Malbec is standout being soft as cashmere and gently but intensely fruity. 

We can't resist some Hervé Mons cheese. An aged Comte sends us heavenward, a herb wrapped mozzarella and a Père Magloire  calvados encrusted Camembert are so deliciously the real deal they should turn you off of supermarket cheese for ever. 

The Mangalitsas meanwhile are in limited supply so call to find out when they are on the menu next. (S. Wilson)

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