Pig lovers rejoice, and go to The Fairmont this Sunday June 14 (5 to 8 pm) for a whole pig breakdown demo and snout-to-tail pig chef competition to promote awareness and raise support for local and national farms who breed heritage pigs. With over 350 pounds of pig tasties to dole out to you and your friends, lucky reader, be ready to enjoy yourself at this glorious pig-out. (See www.amusecochon.com for tickets; type “baconbits” into the promo code field for $30 off tickets.)
5 San Francisco chefs will go at it, each wrangling his own great dishes from 5 heritage pigs, while 5 family-owned wineries will pour freely. One meat expert will break down an entire heritage pig for your shock, awe, and amazement. A small cadre of celebrity food judges will evaluate the porcine output and crown San Francisco’s “Prince of Porc,” which has a very different ring than “Top Chef.”
Officially, this is a benefit for our heritage pig farms, but with your wine & swine in hand, you’ll benefit just as much.
Cochon 555 Details:
Chef competitors: Staffan Terje of Perbacco; Ravi Kapur of Boulevard; Nate Appleman of A16/ SPQR; Peter McNee of Poggio Trattoria; and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. (Check out Ryan’s chicharrones!)
Wines from Krupp Brothers, Hirsch Vineyards, Elk Cove Winery, Arcadian Winery, and K Vintners/ Charles Smith’s Wines.
Whole pig breakdown demonstration by Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf Charcuterie. (They produce outrageously good meaty goods, including one of America’s best bacons. Check site for retail outlets or order online for delivery at Berkeley and SF Farmer’s Markets.)
Event produced by Taste Network; check out their other events across the US and sign up for their newsletter.
Cochon 555 Official Overview:
A group of top San Francisco chefs will each prepare a heritage breed hog from head to toe for this competition. Cochon 555 is the only national chef competition promoting heritage pigs and breed diversity. Guests and professional judges will determine a winner based on utilization, presentation and overall best flavor. The winner will be crowned the “Prince of Porc”. In addition, five family-owned wineries will showcase their wines.
The Damage: $125 per person ($95 with promo code BACONBITS)
For the finale of his “Bacon Heart Attack Dinner,” the Dissident Chef added a post-dessert lagniappe of bacon chocolate chip cookies, hot from the oven. Talk about incredible: these bacon chocolate chip cookies were among the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Many of my fellow diners made similar remarks about the cookies.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, the Dissident Chef will consider packaging these for wider distribution. (Whole Foods, Delmonico’s, Dean & Deluca, are you listening?)
Laid out like tiny machines of loving grace, or like a Japanese sushi platter, Dissident Chef’s glorious bacon sampler was a fetishistic array of bacon delights. This displayed the spectrum and variety across the field of dreams otherwise called BACON.
Bacon & Rabbit Presse, with pureed turnips, date, and bacon cream.
This is where we can safely say “Over the top, dude.”
Sweet and earthy, fatty and chewy, this dish was ridiculous. By that, I mean so absurdly rich and good you fantasize about it later. Or perhaps weekly, and perhaps for years to come.
To ameliorate the panic: thankfully, there was no heart attack involved anywhere during the course of the dinner. And, we presume, none afterwards.
But if one dish made my blood-thumper expand to a hardening cannonball rubbing like an angry pirate ship against the inside of my ribs rushing towards enemy mast, this was the dish. Breathe deep, breathe deep.
The colors of the bacon here—bright pink flesh, Tide-y whitie fat stripes—were modestly terrifying. I suspected it was slow-cooked via sous vide but my mind saw “raw” bacon….by this time, I was too gone to care. Trust is surrendered at the click, when I signed up online for this blind bacon masquerade.
To a certain extent, underground or ‘subculture dining,’ as the Dissident Chef calls it, is akin to his love of Jean Lafitte and pirates. He literally has a captive audience; nobody knows how many course are coming out, what’s coming next, when it’s going to end. So at this point, I’m feeling very along for the ride and very far afloat in the richness of bacon cream, softness of pureed turnips and very rich and fatty rabbit and bacon. I’ve never been one to put the kibosh on pirate ships, anyway: I had a pirate birthday party when I was 7, decades before Johnny Depp made rogue vogue.
Turnips are fantastic root vegetables and aren’t given the glory of cousins like potatoes or carrots, so the puree alone was great. The rabbit and bacon presse—flesh & fat—was a stunning morsel when paired with the sweet, chewy date, the root-down turnip smoothness, and the crème de bacon. Really, bacon cream? OMG…bottle that stuff ASAP.
Overall, the ‘bacon heart attack’ evening was glorious; this was one of the evening’s singular triumphs.
Beef Heart Confit over Hobbs’ Bacon, Lentils, Onion Flowers
The fifth course of Dissident Chef’s Subculture Dining “Bacon Heart Attack Dinner” was a serious boost; another great dish with more complexity than the Spam (which was awesome). The beef heart confit flayed like a welcoming, flickering Maori tongue atop green garlic, Hobbs’ bacon, and lentils.
Visually, there’s an erotic play happening as well, with the phallic onion flowers atop the open, flattened beef heart confit.
The flavors have stepped up, especially bolstered by the big red swathe of house-made sriracha, the red chile pepper sauce popular throughout Southeast Asia. The Dissident Chef painted a big sriracha swoop across the plate and that hot pepper infuses the lentils and beef heart confit to just the kind of heat that keeps you aware of mild fire in the mouth. Just enough to enjoy the burn.
The Chateau Guiot Rose´has three varietals: mostly grenache and syrah, with some cinsault. The pink is dark-hearted, and the fruit initially bold (strawberry, raspberry) but pretty dry through the finish. It was a great pairing to the rich spiciness of the bacon beef heart confit dish, and would be a great summer wine for anything you might barbecue.
Course three of the Bacon Heart Attack Dinner had a flurry of flavors, but the richness suggested by bacon and marjoram butter sauce were little mouthfuls of subtleties. (Especially compared to the later, richer, and more piquant dishes that followed.) The small halibut was wrapped in Hobbs’ Applewood Smoked Bacon. Braised fennel and a tiny edible flower bisect the plate; the marjoram-butter sauce convenes the flavor-clashes together in a truly sumptuous manner.
The pairing for this dish was house-made rice wine from the Dissident Chef and crew (no bottle shown).
Fatted Calf Bacon Cup with Egg Sous Vide, Frisee, and Fois-Bacon Vinaigrette
The sous vide egg, cooked for 47 minutes at 47 C (116.6 F), has a marvelous soft and creamy texture, unlike any egg I’ve ever tasted. For texture and taste, the egg comes nearest to a custard, and the addition of a little fois gras-bacon vinaigrette over frisee transformed a simple breakfast staple into a little wonder. The egg sits inside a wrap of Fatted Calf bacon with a wicked crunch. The rough crunch vs. the silky custard, plus the greens and unique vinaigrette made this a crowd favorite.
Below is a shot of this dish prior to plating, which looks like a den of snakes. The bacon coils tightly, wound like an asp protecting its nest.
Course 2 Pairing: Kung Fu Girl, Reisling
Light, softly crisp, and easygoing, I didn’t feel much of the Kung Fu Girl’s punch. Punching came later. Nicely balanced wine paired with our breakfast-at-dinnertime special of bacon & sous vide egg. The Kung Fu Girl wine comes from Columbia Valley, Washington.
For course 1 of Subculture Dining’s “Bacon Heart Attack Dinner,” the Dissident Chef served little chicken-fried wild boar bacon balls, paired with escarole, The wild boar bacon’s chewiness and rough smokiness tastes not unlike a softer, more palatable form of jerky. The quick chicken fried style added a bit of texture to the fatty boar, which visually counterplayed the brilliant green salad of escarole and wild sugar snap peas. The slight bitterness of the escarole and the bright, mildly sweet peas were a great contrast against the fatty, smoky wild boar bacon ball. A great opening dish.
The Bergerac Rose is a combination of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. Soft fruit tones here, a nice opening taste that brightens up the dark smokiness of the wild boar. In the glass, it’s a bright, zippy pink. And against the bright plated greens, it’s a pairing made in Laura Ashley / Ralph Lauren / prep school heaven. A visual feast, and great sipping with the escarole, wild snap peas and boar bacon ball.
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