Caesar Salad (For One) and Roast Suckling Pig (For Two) at Stella Sola
I'm not a big fan of sharing food at restaurants. There are some exceptions to this rule: family-style dining, especially at Italian-American and Asian establishments and those foods (pizza and fondue) that are designed for communal consumption. But I hate splitting entrees (or appetizers or desserts), which is why I tend to do poorly at "small plate" or tapas places. In addition to the fact that I usually have a big appetite and will most likely be able to eat the entire serving, I don't particularly like a fork other than my own prodding at the plate in front of me. (Yes, I am all about boundaries.) So I usually shy away from any menu entry marked with the words "for two."
But I broke with tradition on a recent visit to Stella Sola, which led to one of my best entree experiences thus far in Houston (and it turns out I am in good company). Entranced by the description of the Roast Suckling Pig For Two ($25 per person), my visiting friend Emma, who's also usually disinclined to share, and I put aside our issues and requested the whole hog. We also ordered salads, appetizers, and about two bottles of wine.
The "twice cooked egg" in Stella Sola's robust Caesar salad turned out to be a boiled egg that was breaded, fried, and halved over the generous allotment of romaine lettuce. I also had requested extra anchovies, and the double protein combined with the rich dressing (and, um, my proceeding pasta course) probably occupied a substantial portion of my stomach.
We were intimidated by our entree's remarkable presentation: a huge, gleaming slab of roast suckling sitting atop a full bed of plump, blooming Brussels sprouts. And by the overwhelming flavors and textures: the meat was dark, rich, and required only minimal tearing to fall off the bone, while the savory, rust-colored skin crackled and crunched like a meat-flavored potato chip. I think plain boiled Brussels sprouts are great in their own right; however, over-sized sprouts wallowing in pork juices are pretty damn amazing.
The onset of food coma came so rapidly to both of us that we didn't even protest when the waitress removed the remains from the table. Too bad, because I could have made a spankin' egg, suckling pig, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise sandwich the next day for brunch. And maybe I would have even shared it with Emma.