My father’s side of the family is on the larger side, since he has 7 siblings with numerous children. My cousin Emily and her husband Anran currently live in Michigan, where Anran attends medical school. After the first part of his Step 2 board exams, they decided to return to the area for a few weeks, which made it the perfect opportunity for another cousins’ get-together. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we met at my cousin Ashley’s (Emily’s little sister, oh god I know, I need to draw a chart mapping everyone out) new house. Let’s not go into how inadequate I feel about my little cousin being both engaged and owning property, while I continue to shell out rent money in the city while living with a secret roommate. Now while I screwed up making a simple salad (apparently 1 cup of balsamic vinegar instead of 1 tbsp really messes things up) and had to rush to Whole Foods to buy dips and pita chips, my cousin Johnny decided to roast 12 lbs of pork belly for us. Different strokes for different folks, everyone. After roasting it for three hours, and letting it cool for another 30 minutes, Johnny arrived in Rockville with this beauty:
He warmed it back up in the oven for 10 minutes, before slicing it up into stunning bite sized pieces. BOOM JUST LOOK AT THAT PLATE. Look at crispy, golden skin, that smooth white mean, so totally ready to go straight into my mouth.
This dish was absolutely perfection. The fatty, crunchy skin crackled as I took a bite, and the mouthwatering fat beneath it melted in my mouth. The pork meat was succulent and juicy, and we inhaled the first plate in a matter of minutes. Johnny kept slicing up more pieces and we just continued to eat until it heart. We took a brief tour of the new house to give ourselves a break from eating but, and this is not an exaggeration, we had all eaten such an incredible amount of pork that halfway through the tour we found ourselves all sprawled out on the floor of the guest bedroom with stomach cramps and meat sweats. I literally lifted my shirt and started rubbing my own belly in an attempt to gain some relief.
What was appreciated, what absolutely did not help the situation, was my cousin Linda’s contribution to the potluck: a dozen cake doughnuts from Duck Donuts, which opened in March in Virginia. Duck Donuts originated in the Outer Banks, and has expanded up the East Coast, opening shops in Herndon and most recently, Fairfax. I had heard of Duck Donuts, but had yet to try them (especially since I rarely cross the river for anything besides Vietnamese food or Hong Kong Palace) so was ecstatic when she showed up with a giant box of these. All the doughnuts are made to order, so they are extremely fresh. Linda ordered eight doughnuts with chocolate icing, topped with peanut butter and bacon pieces, and four other doughnuts that I honestly cannot remember the name of because the memory of that cousins’ lunch is now a sugar/fat-fueled haze. I actually totally forgot to take a picture, and by the time I remembered to snap, I could not even realize how blurry it was (again – sugar/fat-fueled haze excuse):
We cut each doughnut into fourths, since we were all so incredibly stuffed with pork belly, but these bites were so addictive that we kept coming back to munch of more. I usually prefer yeast doughnuts to cake doughnuts, but these were so light, fluffy and slightly crispy, with the perfect amount of toppings. After tasting these, I would definitely make the drive to Fairfax for these bad boys. Of course, I need a few more weeks to detox from this lunch, since I consumed enough animal fat and butter in that one sitting to last me until winter.