Cochon 555 :: Napa 2012
Is there anything more beautiful than a pig? Is there anything more delicious than pork chops, or pork tenderloin? But would you eat trotters or chicharrones? Ears? Tails? The people at Cochon 555 believe that every single part of a pig is beautiful and usable… “from snout to tail”. And have set out to prove it to foodies and non-foodies alike.
For the love of pig.
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to join Leslie Sbrocco, wine critic and Thirsty Girl, when she judged this epic epicurean event at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Five award-winning local chefs, five outstanding heritage breeds of pig and five beautiful wineries were showcased as part of the national tour of Cochon 555, which focuses on the education of consumers of heritage breeds and sustainable and local agriculture. Each chef is judged on his ability to use every part of the pig, in addition to taste and presentation. The winner is then crowned the Prince or Princess of Porc, and flown to Aspen for the Food and Wine Festival, to compete against the 10 other winners from around the country.
Whomever is chosen at Grand Cochon is deemed the King or Queen of Porc for 2012.
A whole evening devoted to sustainable, responsible food and gorgeous wine? I was in hog heaven.
My adventure started in the judges room, where we were presented with cocktails, wine, fresh oysters and of course…
Bacon in a Jar!!!
A mix of local farmers, wine and spirit industry leaders and food enthusiasts mingled, preparing themselves for an evening of eating pig.
With our first tasting menu from Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Restaurant & Farm, I knew we were in for an interesting culinary adventure. PIGna Coladas anyone? Peanut Butter cups with Chicharrones(fried and seasoned pork rind) inside?
And the adventure didn’t stop there. From Lars Kronmark of the CIA preparing an elegant and exquisite menu that included Roasted and Stuffed Trotters with Chilled Béarnaise to Chris L’Hommedieu of Michael Mina San Francisco presenting all of us with his version of a PIGnic lunch, complete with mini Coronas, it was an experience I may never forget. And while not everyone is adventurous enough to eat a Red Velvet Cupcake made with pig’s blood and candied bacon (I was), on the whole, all of the menus were elegantly prepared and well thought out representations of these ingenious local chefs and their love for heritage pork.
Oh and did I mention the wine?
Five amazing wineries contributed, with my absolute favorite being Elk Cove’s Rosé, packaged especially for the Cochon Event with a pink pig. A beautiful wine that went SO well with all of the pork dishes, Leslie and I were carrying around a bottle to pour all night long. But if Rosé, isn’t your thing, there was also gorgeous Pinot Noir from Sokol Blosser and beautifully packaged Manhattans, envisioned and brought to reality by Cochon 555 founder, Brady Lowe. Drink with caution!
Elk Cove’s Rosé
But the real superstars of the evening? The pigs and the people who raised them. Red Wattles, Berkshires, Yorkshires and MudFoots. I spoke with farmer after farmer who radiated passion for the breeds they raise, the different flavor profiles, the ability to showcase what sustainable heritage breeds can do to the pork industry. Once you try one of theirs? Everything else pales in comparison.
From nose to tail, the evening was a rousing success.
Sold out again this year, it is quickly turning into the hottest ticket in town. Luckily, there are 10 events around the country, along with 3 specialty events. Look for a Cochon 555 event near you to experience the best your local farmers and chefs have to offer, indulging in all things pig.
Interested in learning more about Cochon 555? Check out their website or hear founder Brady Lowe talk about his love for the pig. And check out the schedule of events for a Cochon 555 near you. Portland, Boston, Miami, DC, Chicago, LA and San Francisco are left on the tour. Get your tickets soon as this is always a sold out event!!!
Disclosure: On occasion, contributors of The Trend Tribe receive products, compensation and/or services gratis or at discounted rates. This practice does not influence the contributor’s point of view or the outcome of the review. All descriptions are factual and accurately reflect the reviewers experience. The opinions are their own. Photos credits: Ashley Fitting