Spanish style suckling pig and more at Sabor Mayfair.
Lunch at Sabor, a Michelin starred Spanish restaurant in Mayfair was an opportunity not to be missed and chance to meet chef Nieves Barragan and restaurant manager José Etura who started Sabor together after a career at Barrafina. And to feast on their special menu of white pork designed to showcase good quality pork on behalf of Interporc.
In defiance of the potential disruption pending between mainland Europe and the UK, Interporc (the Spanish inter-professional Agri-Food Organisation for White Pork) has been working hard to encourage the British public to look beyond bacon and discover more about ‘white pork’. In fact, their team is travelling around Britain and Spain in a customised bus, running a pork lovers roadshow wherever it stops. The idea is to encourage UK consumers to eat more Spanish white pork – the campaign has EU funding and support from Spanish white pork producer Nuestra Carna Blanca, together with Interporc. Spain is the world’s largest exporter of pork, but over here in the UK it isn’t as popular as other meat and poultry. We tend to think of pork as being high in fat and unhealthy, but good quality pork is full of protein and there are lean cuts with lower fat. What’s more, it’s relatively ‘green’ with around a third of the carbon footprint of beef or lamb! It tastes really good too.
Platters of secallona on the table were an indication of what was to come. Secallona is a cold meat originally from Cataluca which has curry added to the meat mix for a pleasant spiciness.
We started with a delicate dish of lardo, Cantabric anchovies and picos. A delicious and suprisingly light way to begin our feast. It’s not the sort of dish I would have picked from a menu and I’m intrigued at how well the salty anchovies are offset by the creamy lardo. The mini breadsticks, picos, added a contrasting crunchiness to the dish.
Next, a tiny croquette of pigs head with a quince alioli and piquant mojo verde, a green coriander basedsauce from the Canary Islands. I loved the meltingly tender and rich meat which contrasted beautifully with the alioli and mojo verde. Apparently the croquettes are made by braising, deboning and picking the pigs head, before making terrines. Once cooked, the terrine is cubed and dusted in flour, egg and breadcrumb before being carefully fried to a crisp.
Middle white pork cutlets were tender and easy to eat, yet full of flavour. The Middle White pig is native to the United Kingdom and provides high-quality well-marbled pork renowned for its excellent taste profile. The cauliflower puree contrasted perfectly with the crunchy almond flakes and the rich reduction. A side of heritage tomato salad added fresh notes to the rich dishes.
The star dish though was the one which El Asador at Sabor is best known for. Segovian suckling pig is a piglet which has only been fed on its mother’s milk. Slaughtered between two and six weeks, when it is 4-5 kg in weight, DO Segovian suckling pig is traditionally cooked whole in a special oven.
Sabor has a bespoke traditional wood-fired oven or ‘asador’, the only one in the UK, which was built specially for them and installed by the Spanish 3rd generation Castillian company who made it.
This is the kind of food that turns a normal person into a glutton. It’s very hard not to devour far too much of the delicious crisp-skinned pork and it really needs no accompaniment.
I’ve eaten it in Segovia on a trip some twenty years ago with a vegetarian boyfriend who was totally appalled at my immediate addiction to the sweet, tender and unique flavour profile of this delicacy. Cooked properly, as it was here, the flesh is soft and tender while the skin is light, crisp and not in the least bit greasy.
What we were served at El Asador was exactly as I remember from that trip to Spain, albeit without the smokiness of the dining room and the look of horror on my companion’s face. In fairness, I had no idea that it would come served whole…
Once we’d all feasted to our heart’s content, we moved on to a (thankfully) light but delicious goat’s cheese ice cream with liquorice sauce.
I’ll certainly be returning to Sabor and El Asador. It was a very special and very delicious treat – and I’m now, definitely, a fully-fledged pork lover!
35 Heddon Street
Looking for an alternative Spanish restaurant in London? We loved Arros QD too, with its focus on paella from Valencia.