Pig carving at Cochon 555. Check the flickr set for more photos
You’d think that 300 pounds of pork at one event would be enough to make you never want to think about the other white meat again. But that didn’t happen at Sunday’s Cochon 555, where five chefs each prepared a whole pig to be served with the products of five wineries (and one brewery). Nate Appleman (A16, SPQR) Ravi Kapur (Boulevard), Peter McNee (Poggio Trattoria), Ryan Farr (4050 Meats), and Staffan Terje (Perbacco) all brought their A game, with Krupp Brothers, Hirsch Vineyards, Elk Cove Vineyards, Arcadian Winery, K Vintners, and Magnolia keeping the crowd at the Fairmont Hotel’s main reception hall hydrated.
Peter McNee’s to-die-for trotter tots
We were pretty smitten with Farr’s spread, taking special interest in the Chicharrones with nectarine topping and the strawberries and cream with a pig-shaped lard cookie. Seriously, lard really does taste better than butter when it comes to crust and cookies. Staffan Terje nailed the blood pudding (we went back for seconds) and we thought his roast pork was the best “just pork,” with sauerkraut whipped potatoes adding a nice touch.
Nate Appleman carves his whole pig
We heard the sliders at Kapur’s table were amazing, but we missed out on them probably because we were busy sampling beer from Magnolia. Nate Appleman kept it simple and went for the whole shebang in one dish: Roasted whole pig. On a plate. Done.
But it’s no surprise that Peter McNee took home the win considering that we could not get enough of his “Trotter Tots,” Crispy fried croquettes of pig trotter, belly, neck and skin with pea brain aioli with pig salt. They looked just like tater tots, but the moist, shredded filling reminded us of corned beef. We asked McNee what inspired the somewhat kitschy treat and he said he couldn’t figure out what else to do with trotter and he wanted to make something that looked like a tater tot. Mission accomplished. Also amazing was his salumi platter, a beautiful selection of salame cotto, mortadella, ciccioli, smoked “pigstrami,” and pork liver terrine. Each piece had it’s own unique taste, texture and spice. While the winner was announced, plates circulated piled with “pork crackerjacks” (Bacon fat turned into caramel and poured over popcorn with chunks of smoked bacon chocolate from Taza) from whom, we never did learn. This was one of those days where, at some point, you just have to loosen your belt and pig out.
[All photos via Alexis Wright/flickr