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)
The prospect of eating a meal comprised of many unusual animal parts was exciting. I’m a big fan of Chris Cosentino. who enjoys toying with and serving innards and other ghastlies and crumbs, officially called offal in the culinary world. Chris was born into a winemaking family and was probably custom built to grow into his current status as one of America’s most interesting chefs. He’s not as famous as, say, Boulud or Andres or others, but he’ll probably get his TV show one day and then all hell-fame-and-flame will break loose for him.
Again, the concept alone of eating the oddities thrilled and, while the dinner was even more challenging than I expected, it was still a fun and wonderful ride. Not all the dishes were great, but the entire meal was a great experience (hence the great grade). But, to be sure, it’s not the multi-course meal to suit everyone; not even those who are flesh fanatics.
But hey, how many times do you get to have beef tendon and berries? Or sheep’s bladder bruschetta? So if you think you’re adventurous, I highly encourage you to visit Incanto for the annual Snout-to-Tail dinner. You’ll have a party-starter conversation for the rest of your life.
Course 1: PIG EAR TERRINE
Beautiful presentation; just gorgeous. Pig ear, being really chewy (cartilage), can be a challenge.
Course 2: CHORIZO & DUCK EGG
I enjoy a good spicy chorizo, in combination with just about anything you hit with it. The presentation of this was a bit messy, perhaps because duck eggs are big and unruly. This was pretty good, but excessively portioned and not as well balanced as some of the other courses.
Course 3: TONGUE PASTRAMI (and rye seed) SALAD
I love pastrami, too. This was a super-clever reinterpretation of pastrami on rye, with the tongue pastrami (excellent) and sprouted rye seeds on a light salad. This was a terrific course, perhaps my favorite of the evening.
Course 4: SHEEP’S SPLEEN BRUSCHETTA
Now when you go to the grocery store, I’ll bet you a zillion dollars you have never gone up to your butcher and said, “Hey I’m really in the mood for sheep spleen. Do you have some fresh spleen today?” Incanto is an Italian restaurant and Chris Cosentino’s quirky bruschetta had its high points but, for me, the earthy chewiness of the meat involved made the portions again too large. We ate about half and that was plenty. Gold star for originality, though.
Course 5: GOAT POT PIE
Again, a terrific idea from Chris here, to invert the chicken pot pie All-American concept with goat meat. I’m not a huge fan of desconstructed dishes, especially when the deconstruction takes away the best part of the dish. In the case of a pot pie, a crusty pie is paramount, even beyond what’s put inside. So the flaky top was good, but I needed more. The onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, also good.
Now I actually am one of the few people I know who’ll seek out goat meat. Having chivito (baby goat) in Argentina opened my eyes to how awesome goat can be. Unfortunately, the goat procured for this meal had a bit of dirty funky taste that some goat meat can have. I’m not sure what causes it; one day I’ll find out. I think Chris will fare better in the next batch but again, this was an excellent reinterpretation of a classic, and given a beautiful presentation.
Course 6: DESSERT – BEEF TENDON & BERRIES
My girlfriend couldn’t deal with this. One could say it’s like chewing on a torn prophylactic (and someone did), but I thought it was a pretty good dessert. And fun. You know, considering we were eating beef tendon. It did have a similarly bland, chewy textture that the pig ear did, but not as intense. The beef tendon was a nice textural balance to the berries and cream.
This certainly won’t win over the breakfast at Wimbledon crowd but, who knows….stranger things happen.
Nice to Meat You…delivering you the mightiest, meatiest dishes, vendors, events, and folks.