The best pig's ears I've ever had, better than the crunchy ones at Spotted Pig in New York, better than the fritters at the Bristol in Paris, better than the ones I first learned to love at Mandarin Deli, were at Church & State: simultaneously crisp and chewy, soft and tasting like the best French roast pork, piled into a metal julep cup with a little dish of béarnaise sauce on the side, as impossible to stop eating as the onion rings on your girlfriend's plate. The roast chicken comes as parts that have been rolled and tied, so that the crackly skin nourishes the flesh. The snails have been baked in butter, herbs and plenty of garlic, in tiny, individual pastry-topped pots. The fries are cooked in pure lard. The charcuterie - house-made terrines and house-cured meats - is presented on a long plank, and a friend declared the ultrasmooth jar-cooked foie gras to be "delicious, delicious cruelty.'' And the pig's ears were sealed in plastic with herbs and simmered at low temperature until the cartilage transformed into a subtle memory of itself, and were then rolled in panko and fried. Is this the most refined bistro cooking in Los Angeles? At the moment, it just might be.
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