Yesterday at Governors Island was evidence of yet again why New York is such a wonderful food city. The sunny, slightly cool fall day was perfect for the first Pig Island festival, celebrating the area’s food, drink, and music. Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 put together an amazing gathering featuring pork dishes assembled by 20 chefs using 80 pigs from local farms along with beverages from Sixpoint Craft Ales and NY State Wines. Below is a photo that I got at the Greenmarket on Wednesday when the pigs were delivered. Part of the proceeds of the event went to Food Systems Network NYC to support their efforts to bring together the stakeholders in the NYC food community.
Leaving from Manhattan at about 9:00 a.m., I was one of the many volunteers who helped assist with the event. It seemed like everyone who offered to help out was pork- and food-obsessed, which was perfect for this activity. While waiting for everything to start, we could see the chefs firing up their grills and getting their ingredients ready for the hungry hoards. The aroma of barbecue scented the air. I couldn’t wait to try everything there was to eat on my break.
As I was working the event, and bringing plates back to my fellow volunteers, I managed to grab just a few photos with my phone. I had opted not to bring my camera with me, as I wasn’t sure how the day would evolve. The Whole Hog Sausages with Harvest Pickles from Matt Weingarten of Inside Park at St. Bart’s were robust and meaty, served on brown bread with a range of mustards and fresh horseradish. This is the kind of meal my father loves to eat.
Another of the few photos I took was of the spicy cool Malay Style Sausage served with a Crab Salad and a Chili Sauce that Ducks Eatery’s Will Horowitz brought to the event. These were such great small bites that I went back for a second of them when I was on my next break. If they make it on the menu (I don’t see them on the on-line version.), these might just be tasty enough to make me break out my old ping-pong paddle and head to SPiN, where the restaurant is located.
Although I wasn’t able to get to every station, my task to collect tickets determined by the routine of the arriving passenger ferries from Manhattan, I did get to sample quite a few of the other dishes. From Porchetta, someone brought me back one of their famous Porchetta Sandwiches filled with savory chunks of roasted, seasoned pork. The table for Great Performances catering featured a Jerk Pork Rillette with Pickled Peach Relish on Coco Bread which was the perfect marriage of sweet and salty, end-of-summer fruit combined with fall meat.
From Rub, someone brought us over a plate of North Carolina style BBQ with Moravian Slaw, which was good, but didn’t quite take me back to the barbecue dreams of meals I’ve had in my home state of Virginia. Some of the best pork I had was on a slider with marinated cabbage. I’ve already gotten in trouble from one family member who swears that pork and kimchee don’t mix (see Krave’s tacos), but she just hasn’t been able to try the Braised Pork and Kimchee from Mama Oh’s Kheedim Oh.
One of my favorites of the dishes I managed to sample was The Food Experiments Pulled Pork, Braised Fennel Stuffed Porcine, Salt and Vinegar Potato Salad with Chimichurri Aoli. This seemed to be a big hit with the other volunteers as well, as we went back for several plates’ worth. The pork-with-more-pork combo was a great marriage of textures that matched well with the tang of the potato salad and the hit of the chimichurri. Lucky for us that these food competition veterans teamed up for this event.
Not everything was savory, as Heather Carlucci from Print demonstrated. I think her Maple Bacon Sticky Buns might have been the first food item to run out yesterday. They were gooey sweet with a hint of smoky-saltiness from the bacon. My mom’s cinnamon rolls disappear quickly as it is. I can’t imagine the scrum over them if she’d decided to add bacon to them. Unfortunately, I was just able to get a small sample of them from some kind soul who brought a plate back to the volunteers at the front table. This means I’ll have to go track down a whole one for myself at her restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
Of course, there were also some great drinks with which to wash everything down. Red Jacket Orchards supplied some of their wonderful juices, including a fuji apple cider, an apple-raspberry drink, and an unfiltered apple cider. Sixpoint Craft Ales brought with them several selections from their brewery. I had some of their lager and a sample of their Signal label, a smoked pale ale. It would have been great to have had a chance to try some of the other beers that they brought with them, but that will have to wait until another time. For now, my stomach and my heart are happy and content, full of good food and drink and memories of a perfect day in the city.