Tag Archives: Food Karma Projects

Pig Island 2013

1 - Pig Island 2013 entryPig Island 2013

Under gorgeous azure skies with just a hint of a breeze blowing off of the water, Pig Island 2013 took place yesterday on the Red Hook waterfront, site of some of the worst flooding last year in New York City from Hurricane Sandy.  Featuring 25 local area chefs, 80 hogs that come from the surrounding areas, all the food you can eat, and beer, cider, and wine that you can drink, this is the ideal mix for a festival that celebrates all the bounty of the region.  “This is pig heaven,” said a woman who passed by me while visiting the food stands.

2 - Sixpoint Brewery - The CrispThe Crisp – by sponsor Sixpoint Brewery

As usual, there were some absolutely stand-out items, and ones that I thought could have been constructed a bit better.  Before I launch into the pork dishes, several of the sides that were served with the pork also deserve a special mention.  Route 66 Smokehouse had one of the most delicious potato salads that I’ve ever had to go along with their Roast Porchetta Sandwich.  They’re opening up a place down in the Financial District, so that’s a place I’m going to add to my list to stop by for a meal.  The folks at Fort Reno (who are also behind Pig Island veterans Palo Santo) made a crunchy, tangy coleslaw with the exact right balance of seasoning that went perfectly with their roasted pulled pork.  I wished I could have taken a container of each of these salads with me to eat today at home.

3 - Peter Kaminsky announcing judges decisionPeter Kaminsky, author of Bacon Nation, announcing the judges’ decisions

While there was no formal competition for best dish of the day, a group of judges (including me) were asked to recognize some of the more stellar creations. Peter Kaminsky, food book author and writer, Jonathan Forester, Food and Beverage Writer & Consultant, and Mike Edison, from Heritage Radio Network, judged the day’s results.  As you can see from the list below, this wasn’t the most serious of battles, more a chance to acknowledge all the hard work that the chefs and their teams did to make the day a delicious success.

5 - The Good Fork + Ft Defiance - mer-pigThe Mer-Pig

The Best Roast PigThe Good Fork / Fort Defiance

Two chefs + 1 pig + seaweed = The Mer-Pig.  This dish of succulent seaweed-wrapped roasted pig plus and housemade kimchi sauce was the creation of chefs St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance & Ben Schneider of The Good Fork.  Ben had mentioned at the Pig Pick-up on Wednesday that they were going to dig a hole in the ground and roast the pig in it.  From a simple cooking concept to a plate filled with big, bold, smoky-tangy flavor, this was definitely one of my top tastes of the day.

6 - Neuman's Kitchen - Pork Menage a TroisMénage à Trois

The Best MénageNeuman’s Kitchen

This Ménage à Trois was a three-way pork treat for your tastebuds.  Roasted pig plus crispy pig’s ear plus bacon vinaigrette brought a meaty, fatty, crispy combo that was made fresher and lighter with the addition of a salad of frisée and apples.  This dish was definitely a crowd pleaser, with one guest saying to the staff: “That was awesome.  Thank you for that.”

7 - Fort Reno - pulled pork & coleslawPulled Pork with Coleslaw

The “Cue”-estFort Reno

Several participants decided to go with straight-up barbecued pork and fixin’s.  One of these was Fort Reno, whom I mentioned also gets my “best coleslaw” nod for the day.  They served up big pieces of braised pork and let guests dress it with several of their housemade sauces: smoked jalapeno and garlic, habanero with mustard and tumeric, and a fermented chili and garlic, along with traditional vinegar and barbecue sauces.

9 - Jimmy's No. 43 pork taco Mexican styleMixiotes “Mexico”

The “Realest Mexican”Jimmy’s No. 43

There were a few chefs who decided to tap into their Latin American roots for this porkfest.  One of these was David who helms the kitchen at Jimmy’s No. 43.  His juicy marinated pork (something I wish I had more of again to eat today) was partnered with sautéed onions and cactus as well as with spiced pickled onions.  Part of the reason he received this accolade was for his use of avocado leaves, a Mexican ingredient not generally used here.  He manged to capture spicy, sweet, meaty, with a touch of heat and a punch of zingy all in one, making it one of my favorite dishes of the day.

10 - Zarela Martinez serving her pork dishZarela Martinez serving up whole roasted pig Oaxaca-style

The Boldest “Balls Out” pigZarela Martinez / Arrogant Swine

Teaming up with Tyson Ho, creator of the Arrogant Swine North Carolina barbecue events, restauranteur and cookbook author Zarela Martinez chose to display the whole entire pig, stuffed with fruit and vegetable picadillo in the style of Oaxaca.  This was a terrific combination of meat with a tangy-sweet mixture that balanced out the richness of the pork.

1 - Ducks Eatery - Crispy Pigs Ear in Lettuce WrapCrispy Pigs Ear Lettuce Wrap

The “Loudest”Ducks Eatery

Having really enjoyed his dishes at past food events, I have to say that Chef Will Horowitz’s dish of Crispy Pigs Ear with Smoked Pork Pâté, Fermented Chow-Chow, and Black Sesame Seeds all put together in a bib lettuce “wrap” was one of the more interesting dishes that I tried yesterday.  Creamy pâté and crunchy pigs ears paired with vinegary chow-chow all nestled in a crisp lettuce holder made this an intriguing combination.  After lots of sandwich bread, tortillas, and rolls, I was also very glad to see him serve a bread-less option.

2 - Bitter green -trio of saladsA Quartet of Salads

The Most KosherBittergreen

While there weren’t a lot of options for non-pork loving diners, as in past years the organizers had a special featured tent with a vegetarian plate.  Chef Tim Cavaretta created a selection of refreshing, hearty salads that many dinners dove into as a break from all of the meat dishes.  I really enjoyed the cool Watermelon and Radish Salad with Cilantro for its brightness and sharp, peppery snap.

4 - The Chocolate Life - Peach with Peach confit on a White Chocolate Bacon BiscuitBacon-fat Grilled Peach with Peach Confit on a White Chocolate Butterscotch Bacon Buttermilk Biscuit

The SweetestThe Chocolate Life

Didn’t think we’d be talking about desserts, here, did you?  Well, a few chefs decided to tap into their sweet tooths for this event.  Butter made Lardo-glazed Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon.  Davis Famous whipped up a batch of Bacon Brownies and served them with whipped cream and Candied Bacon.  The winner in this category went to Chef Clay Gordon who grilled his peaches in bacon fat, made a peach confit, and served it all up on fluffy, decadent biscuit with chocolate, butterscotch, buttermilk, and more bacon.  Sweet, meaty, bacon-y, chocolatey, fruity – what more do you want?

5 - Parish Hall - Sesame pig skin noodles w SausageSesame Pig Skin “Noodles” with Spicy Sausage, Scallion and Pickled Mushrooms

The Most InventiveParish Hall

I can’t argue that probably the most inventive dish of the day goes to the folks at Parish Hall, who decided to turn pig skin into noodles to serve it alongside their housemade sausage.  With invention sometimes goes risk, and unfortunately, this dish when I tried it was really gummy and unappealing.  I was so disappointed, as I’d really looked forward to trying this dish and to see how they’d pull off the concept.

3 - Ovelia - serving meatKontosouvli (Slow-roasted Rotisserie Pork)

The Best Hunk ‘o MeatOvelia

For most stripped-down presentation of the day, the award should also go to Ovelia, who chose to serve their dish simply from skewer to plate.  I really, really liked the flavors in the marinade and basting sauce; however, I felt, and at least one of the judge concurred with me on this, that the meat could have been much more tender; it was actually kind of on the tough side.  It was such as shame as it tasted fantastic.

7 - Joe Doe - burrito“White Guy Burrito” – Tip-to-tail Pork, Green Salsa, White Cheese

The Best “White Guy”Joe Doe
Before turning your nose up at this dish from Joe Doe as just another burrito, you should have been there to give it a try. Hunks, I mean hunks of juicy pork, were cradled in a thin white tortilla and loaded up with salsa and cheese plus an optional dollop of hot sauce. This was a hearty start to my food adventures for the day.

6 - Fletcher's Brooklyn BBQ dishGinger Soy Pork with Bok Choi Slaw and Chick Pea Salad

The Best “Asian-ish”Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ

A few chefs took their pork dishes for a spin on the other side of the world, including the guys at Fletcher’s.  The ginger-soy pork had a deep full flavor balanced out by the crunchy slaw, which I really enjoyed.  I sort of thought that the dense potato bun didn’t do the combination any favors and could have seen it served on something much lighter with to highlight more of the Asian influence.

8 - Mosefund Farm - Pork n BeansSpice-rubbed Mangalitsa Pork Loin with Spicy Dominican Baked Beans

The Best Rare BreedMosefund Mangalitsa

Have you had a chance to try mangalitsa pork meat yet?  You should definitely treat yourself to some as soon as you can.  It’s tender, flavorful, moist, and just all-around delicious.  Chef Michael Clampffer and his team treated guest to a riff on pork-n-beans yesterday that was full of spice, hearty tastes along with a pop of contrast from the pickled onions, greens, and crushed tortilla chips.  If you want to pick up some of his meat, drop by New Amsterdam Market the next time they are in town on September 29.

9 - Pig Balloon for Pig IslandSee you next year!

As the food was finished and beverage cups were drained dry, everyone seemed to be having a good time, lounging around on the lawn listening to the live music.  Kids were running around doing cartwheels and couples were boogie-ing to the tunes.  I saw several chefs finally sitting down after hours of serving the hungry hoards, tossing back their beers and breaking down their stations.  It was then time to say good-bye to another very scrumptious Pig Island.

A big “thank you” to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and creator of Food Karma Projects for inviting me to participate in this event.  The food opinions stated here are my own and do not, unless otherwise specified, reflect those of the other judges.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island 2013 Pig Pick-up

1 - Pigs waiting to be picked up by chefsMike Yezzi of Flying Pigs Farm with the pigs

It’s T minus two days until Pig Island 2013!  Yesterday, participating chefs stopped by the Union Square Greenmarket to collect their pigs from Flying Pigs Farm.  Founder of the event, Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 coordinated the pick up and made sure that everyone had a chance to meet each other as well as to talk to a few of us writer-types to give us a bit of scoop on what’s in store for this weekend.

11 - Parish Hall - pigs loaded into carPigs loaded into the car

The energy in the air was bright with everyone eager for Saturday to come and to get the pigs in their possession so that they could start cooking.  The wholesale aspect of the Greenmarket also delivered pigs to several of the chefs who couldn’t get to the market to pick them up personally.  Here’s a few of the folks who dropped by:

7 - Tyson Ho, Zarela Martinez, Flying Pigs FarmTyson Ho with Zarela Martinez

Tyson Ho of Arrogant Swine, known for his Carolina-style barbecues and pig roasts, is teaming up with Zarela Martinez, restauranteur, teacher, and cookbook author, to create a Mexican-themed whole pig dish.  They are a few of several chefs who are taking their pigs on a more south of the border spin.

2 - Hecho en Dumbo - Danny Mena & Jimmy Carbone & pigDanny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo with Jimmy Carbone

Danny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo revealed that he’ll be serving up a Yucatan dish featuring Rellenos e Negro on freshly-made tortillas.  The folks from Jimmy’s No. 43 will also be cooking up something with Latin flavors.

5 - Jesse Jones, Matt Fisher & Bill FletcherJesse Jones with Matt Fisher & Bill Fletcher of Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue

Jesse Jones shared that he’s going to be fixing some pork shanks in puff pastry and then serving them with a sauce and sides that pay homage to his late grandmother, giving his dish a Southern U.S. angle.  Matt Fisher and Bill Fletcher of Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue are taking a more Asian route with their offering.

6 - Jimmy Carbone, George Weld, Evan HanczorJimmy Carbone with George Weld and Evan Hanczor of Parish Hall

Another Pig Island veteran chef team tapping into Asian flavors for this year’s event, are the folks at Parish Hall.  I got to eavesdrop a bit while they were talking to Mike Yezzi about getting their hands on some extra pig skin with which to make their crispy pork noodles.  I’m definitely getting on line on Saturday to give that dish a try.

8 - Ducks Eatery - Will Horowitz & his pigWill Horowitz of Ducks Eatery

I didn’t get a chance to find out from Chef Will Horowitze of Ducks Eatery what he’d be fixing for the day.  Given our conversation at the press preview for the event, I’m guessing he might be doing something involving some type of charcuterie.  From what his co-chef who came to the pig pick-up said, I guess a few ideas have been bandied about for what they are planning to make.

9 - St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance & Ben Schneider of The Good ForkSt. John Frizell of Fort Defiance & Ben Schneider of The Good Fork

Two chefs who are going to going to take their pig and prepare it a bit old-school are St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance and Ben Schneider of The Good Fork.  As Ben explained, they are going to dig a pit and cook it.  It’s a bit of an experiment, they revealed, but they are confident that their prior joint barbecuing experiences will produce successful results.

10 - The Darby-Butter - Chef Michael Jenkins picking up his pig

Michael Jenkins from The Darby/Butter picking up his pigs

One team keeping their dish under wraps until the big day is the group from The Darby/Butter.  These folks had one of my favorite nibbles at last year’s gathering, so I can’t wait to try what they come up with this time around.  They also served dessert, which is something their promised to do again this year.  The words lard, butter, and flour were tossed around, so you know they are going to be making something great!

3 - Tim Cavaretta of Bittergreen with vegetables for Pig IslandTim Cavaretta with Jimmy Carbone & Rachel Wharton

For the non-carnivores, Tim Cavaretta of Bittergreen, with whom I’ve worked on a few catering events, will be at the helm of the vegetarian offerings for the event.  He stopped by yesterday to pick up a pile of gorgeous seasonal produce from the stands and the market.  Here’s a peek at his shopping bag to see what might be on the plate.

4 - Pig Island posterA list of the chefs and participating restaurants

Some tickets are still available for this event, but they are going fast.  Tickets are all-inclusive of food and drink, of which there will be plenty, along with live music.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island Press Preview at East Village Meat Market

1 - East Village Meat Market shopfrontEast Village Meat Market

On Thursday evening, the press preview and pig butchering demo was held at the East Village Meat Market to highlight this year’s Pig Island gathering to be held on September 7 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The first time I’d ever been to the market was last year, when Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 invited me to watch the pig he was going to use for the event being divided up to set aside for cooking and brining. This year, several chefs and food writers and photographers got together as two master butchers divided up the two 100-pound pigs that had been donated by Ag Local, an organization that champions responsibly-raised meat.

3 - Sausages in the curing boxSausages curing

We were treated to a tour of the market, including a peek into their sausage curing cabinet. At the East Village Meat Market, they make all their cured meat products in-house each day. They also produce other older-world delicacies like head cheese (also in a chicken version, which I’d never seen before), jellied pigs’ feet, stuffed cabbage, white and red borscht, and homemade soups and other delicatessen-type products.

2 - Beer Sausage & Garlic SausageBeer Sausage & Garlic Sausage

For the press preview, we were fortunate to be able to sample some of their house-made meat products. There was a platter of their velvety-smooth City Ham (they brine and smoke the hams on premises and sell them bone-in and bone-out). We snacked on their hearty, robustly-meaty beer sausage (which Jimmy has on his menu) and their more delicately-fragrant garlic sausage. As delicious as the meat was, one of the highlights was that they served it alongside pots of their fiery-strong, nasal-passage-clearing house mustard.

4 - Extra Strong Mustard - housemadeHouse-made mustard (extra strong)

The real event of the evening was not just in the eating of these products, but also in the process of how the pigs are broken down to be used to make them. “These guys are the real deal,” said Jimmy, taking of Andrew, George, and Vasily, who were our hosts for the evening. They have been butchers for decades and have seen the neighborhood and the clientele change with the years. Now, they said they get large amounts of orders primarily during the Orthodox and Christian Christmas and Easter holidays, with families buying large amounts of their smoked meats for their tables. They do a steady business with the locals as well as with NYU students, as their prices are relatively reasonable and they carry homemade soups.

5 - Butchering tableA well-worn butcher’s table

The evening was a way to show respect for and to celebrate this craft that we all get to enjoy once those meats hit our palates. It was also a great kick-off to one of my favorite food events of the fall season – Pig Island. I can’t wait to see what the chefs bring with them this year, as they can create any dish they want to using the pigs supplied by local-area farms. Here’s the link to last year’s event recap, which will show you in all its porky glory why I like this gathering so much.

Tickets are available now to purchase for this event and get you all that you can eat plus beers from sponsors and Brooklyn brewers Sixpoint, who supplied the beer for the press preview. An early-bird ticket also nets you a digital copy of an e-book being produced about the history of Pig Island, produced by Jimmy Carbone and Rachel Wharton and photographed by John Taggart.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island 2012

Pig IslandPig Island 2012

Yesterday was the big day for Pig Island 2012 on Governors Island.  Forty or so locally-sourced pigs and about 25 New York City-area chefs plus beverages, abundant sunshine, cool breezes, live music, and lots of pork lovers all mixed together for this annual food festival.  Folks sported pig-themed t-shirts, slapped on temporary tattoos that said “King of Lard,” and were adorned with other pig-a-phaernalia in keeping with the spirit of the event.  While everything was delicious, I thought that there were definitely some stand-out dishes among this talented field of chefs.

Butter & The Darby – Whole Pig Wiener with Roasted Tomato Ketchup and Spicy Cucumber Relish

When this plate was presented to me, I was told that Michael Jenkins, the chef who led this team, had used the whole pig to create this wiener.  I believe I also heard something about butter being mixed into the meat and then it all being frozen to hold it together.  One bite and all the succulent porkiness came bursting through, rich and delicate at the same time.  The roasted tomato ketchup and spicy cucumber relish cut through the fat to give this sandwich a refreshing tangy-tartness.  The extra crunchy bits on top were an added textural bonus.  If only all pork-based dogs tasted like this one did I might have become a hotdog convert a long time ago.

Delicatessen – Spicy Korean Roasted Pork Bun with Plum Sauce, Pickled Peaches and Cucumber

For those looking for a pork dish with some real kick to it, the folks at Delicatessen delivered it in spades yesterday.  A soft Asian-style bun cradled shredded, spicy Korean roasted pork dressed with a dash of fragrant plum sauce, crisp pickled peaches and cucumber, and a few leaves of citrusy cilantro.  The heat from the meat and the freshness of the other ingredients kept me reaching for bite after bite of this sandwich.  I could have easily had a few more of these, but I had to move on to try the other dishes at this event.

John Brown Smokehouse – Suckling Pig Pulled Pork Slider

It was almost unfair to start of the day’s tastings with this morsel.  The pulled pork was tender and delicate, almost meltingly so.  Combined with their trademark vinegary coleslaw and a splash of heat from their housemade barbecue sauce, it was the perfect bite to kick off this event.  Their pulled pork ended up being the standard by which I ended up measuring all the other versions that I tried yesterday.  Hands-down, I think that this team made it the best by keeping the meat moist, capturing all the essence of porky goodness.

Mosefund Mangalitsa – BBQ Mangalitsa Collar with Grilled Peaches, Pickled Cabbage, and Carolina Sauce

It was wonderful to see Michael Clampffer of Mosefund Mangalitsa at this event, as we know each other from the New Amsterdam Market where his terrific bacon and sausages are sometimes on my shopping list.  Yesterday, he used the pork collar in his dish, a cut I don’t ever remember eating.  It was smokey and almost bacon-like, topped with sauce.  The addition of the sweet, grilled peaches and vinegary vegetables tempered the fragrant barbecue.  I vote for this dish to pay a visit to New Amsterdam Market in the near future.

Talde & Pork Slope – Pressed Whole Pig

Take a pig, debone it, and then press the whole thing back together into a block to cook and serve.  That’s what Dale Talde and his team did for yesterday’s event.  It was amazing with layers of pork upon pork, meat, fat, crisp bits all stacked on top of each other.  The snap of the mustard gave it a little bite and the pickled vegetables lifted up the dish with a touch of crunchiness and tang.

Enjoying Pig Island

I’m also going to go out on a limb and nominate two side dishes from yesterday for honorable mention.  While the pork in these dishes was cooked perfectly, I would have just eaten the accompaniments without the meat, they were that tasty.  In fact, in each case, I really wanted to go back and ask for another plate of just the sides.

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse – Triticale Salad with Rainbow Chard and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

This salad was hearty and nutty all on its own with the right amount of greenness from the chard.  The sweet-tart profile of the honey-balsamic vinaigrette cut through the fattiness of the pork and tied the dish together.  This is a side dish that I think I might look into re-creating just to have in my recipe files.

Edi and The Wolf – Arugula, Peach, and Rye Bread-Mustard Vinaigrette

A big slab of pork belly, grilled to perfection on a bed of arugula salad.  The rye bread-mustard vinaigrette gave a mouth-puckering contrast to the richness of the belly meat.  The crisp, peppery greens, sweet peaches, and tiny cubes of crunchy, toasted rye bread provided a nice textural and flavor contrast to the soft, succulent pork.

For a complete look at the day’s adventures, click below for a slideshow. 

Slideshow of Pig Island 2012

Congratulations to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and his terrific team at Food Karma Projects for another successful event, and thank you to them for providing me with a press pass to attend Pig Island 2012.  I heard more than a few folks say how fantastic of a time they had there, enjoying the food and the atmosphere, and how they were looking forward to returning again next year, as am I.

Buon appetito!

All opinions in this article (unless otherwise stated) are mine and my responsibility alone.  All photographs and written material is copyrighted and may not be legally reproduced without my express written permission.

Pig Island Preview: J. Baczynsky East Village Meat Market

J. Baczynsky East Village Meat Market

With Pig Island 2012 just a few days away, it’s getting to be prep time for the chefs who will be cooking on Governors Island for this annual porkfest.  On Tuesday, at the invitation of Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43, I showed up at the J. Baczynsky East Village Meat Market, an old-school, traditional-style neighborhood butcher, to see the pig that he’d received from Violet Hill Farm in upstate New York being cut into portions to be brined and cooked, ready for the hungry masses to consume on Saturday.

Specialties of the House

Hearty fare

From the minute you walk into the store, you feel as though you’ve stepped back into another world.  Labels on the products are in Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and English.  White-attired and -aproned men assist customers with their orders in any one of those languages, making you feel like you’ve walked into another era in New York’s history.  Containers of Jellied Pig’s Feet, Red Beets with Horseradish, and Tripe, along with several varieties of sausage, smoked meats, and even head cheese fill the counter space.  In addition, they carry the usual cuts of meat and poultry, and I saw a steady stream of customers dropping by to purchase their sliced meats and prepared salads.  The selections reminded me a bit of Gene’s Sausage Shop in Chicago.

George and JimmyGeorge and Jimmy Carbone

We were there, however, on business specifically with George, their butcher.  A master of his craft, George has been working in this field for 50 years.  Originally from Bialystock in Poland, he was a sausage maker at the shop and made many of the cured meats for which the store is still known.  Now, he does more of the butchery and attends to customers.

George shows us the pig, pre-carving

The pig was already slaughtered, the head removed, and the body cut into half before arriving at the butcher shop.  George showed us the pig in the meat locker, so that he and Jimmy could discuss how it would be broken down and prepared.  The animal weighed about 190 pounds, and they went over briefly what cuts George would make so that each part could be used and very little would be wasted.  Then, George set up his table and began to work.

Getting ready to portion the first side

Cutting the ham portion

Trimming the trotter from the ham

Making the initial cut for the shoulder

Shoulder portion

Splitting the ribs

First side of the pig portioned

In just about as much time as it took you to scroll through the pictures and read the captions, George had portioned out the first side of the pig.  Then, with the same efficient precision and care, he went to work on the second side.  When he was finished, the ribs, belly, shoulder, ham, and trotters were all stacked on the table, along with some of the organ meats and extra fat that he’d removed during the butchery process.  He and Jimmy discussed how the pork would be brined and when it would be ready to be picked up so that the chef team cooking for Jimmy’s No. 43 could continue their work to get this to the grills for Pig Island.

Pig portioned and ready for brining

As Jimmy and I walked from the store to head on to our next errands, we discussed how there are so few of these craftsman left.  “This is real old-school stuff,” he’d told me, “There aren’t too many of these guys left.”  It was really a unique experience to witness someone like George carry out his work, and it gave me a new-found respect for the people who put their skills and labor into preparing some of the great products that we’ll be eating at this event.  I will definitely be thinking of him, along with the farmers and the pigs on Saturday.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island Preview at Palo Santo

Pig Island signPig Island chefs list

Each year, I go to a fair number of food-oriented events, whether they are markets, special tastings, or industry gatherings.  For the past three years, the one marked on my calendar as a not-to-be missed feast is Pig Island on Governors Island, created by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43.  Last year, it turned out I was traveling the weekend this was held, which made me very sad.

Pork Tacos by Palo Santo

I had volunteered for the event the first year it was held in 2010 and had had an amazing time.  Great food, good music, plenty to eat and drink, relaxed atmosphere, fantastic vibe from the fellow attendees and chefs, and a wonderful location, all the key components just meld together beautifully.  Jimmy himself is a welcoming host, greeting folks he knows and introducing himself to those he doesn’t.  It’s like a giant, community-organized backyard pig roast.

BBQ Sauce samples

This year, Pig Island takes place on Saturday, September 1, during Labor Day weekend.  Last night, several fellow food folks and I gathered at Palo Santo in Brooklyn to sample a preview of their pork taco and to participate in a competitive taste test of several barbecue sauces that a few of the invitees had whipped up.  This was a terrific way to get us all in the spirit of the upcoming event and to meet a couple of the chefs who would be there on the island to wow us with their pork prowess (of which I really have no doubt at all).

Chef Jacques Gautier of Palo Santo, JustCookNYC, and Seth Harkazy of Waterfront Alehouse

And the winner of the barbecue sauce tasting was, Justin Schwartz of JustCookNYC.  His Black Plum and Bourbon Sauce was, as one judge said, “very different, very well-balanced on the end.”  He had created a sauce that was spicy, sweet, tangy, bold, and with a nice texture (from only blending the sauce halfway) that clung for dear life to the meat so that you got a bit of sauce in every bite.  Justin won a set of Wüsthof knives, and, of course, bragging rights.  I almost raced after him at the end of the event to see if he had any extra to spare so that I could take it home.

The winning BBQ sauce

Tickets for Pig Island are still available.  Note that the ticket price is all-inclusive of food and drink.  Early-bird pricing ends on August 27.  For readers of this site, I can also offer you a $10.00 discount off of the ticket price.  Type in “Blog Island” in the promotional code space.  I hope to see y’all there!

Buon appetito!