Best Use of Pork (Nonsmoked)

Chefs in Seattle are flinging pork belly at the public like LaRouchies flagging New Solidarity. The only way to beg off eating your share is to roll over and play vegan. What makes pork belly such a favorite with the hip-kid foodies is that it sounds formidable and tastes divine. Of the many, many pounds I've eaten of the cut that waiters like to call "uncured bacon," I've most loved what Maria Hines does to it at Tilth. Not only does she slow-cook each cube of meat until the fat becomes creamy and gelatinous and the lean gets tender and oh-so-rich, but she finishes it off by crisping the top in a hot pan, adding a bacony crunch to the whole affair. It's not on the menu every month (if you can't find it at dinner, check back at brunch), but when she's got it, get it.—Jonathan Kauffman 1411 N. 45th St., 633-0801,

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