5 pigs, 5 chefs, 5 wineries and 1 cause. All set in a town that knows a little bit about pork…One event will forever tie them together! <Queue dramatic music> Cochon 555!
This was a great event that we were fortunate enough to attend, thanks to Foodbuzz! Cochon 555 was put together by Taste Network to promote Heritage Breed Pigs. I am going to blather on a lot and talk about how fun it was, however the one thing you should remember is that a good pig, prepared well, is damn tasty!
Before the main event there was a reception to help get things started. Market Salamander provided some great appetizers. They had a cured pork chop with melon and bacon dipped in chocolate.
Our favorite local purveyor of cheese, Cowgirl Creamery, was there with quite a spread. They even put out some pork rinds, in keeping with the theme. If you are near their store at 919 F Street around lunch time, stop by for a sandwich. You will not be disappointed.
Domaine de Canton, makers of a ginger liqueur, was there mixing up cocktails. I tried a mojitio inspired one, which was very refreshing.
Before the event kicked off there was a short run down on how things would work. There were separate stations, manned by 5 different local chefs and their team, each given a pig with which to work their magic. There was: Brain McBride from Blue Duck Tavern, RJ Cooper from Vidalia, Nicholas Stefanelli from Mio, Jamie Leeds from Commonwealth Gastropub, and John Manolatos from Cashion’s Eat Place. If you are not from DC, these are all really great restaurants! Each team would serve until they ran out of pig, so you had to be a little strategic. There was a panel of expert judges, and all the attendees got to cast a ballot…but more on the voting later, on to the food!
Oh yea, and in the front of the room Trey Massey gave a demonstration on how to break down a pig. It was actually really interesting. I wish I could have caught more of it, but I was too busy eating.
The first station we stopped at was Mio’s. They are right next to where I work, and sort of new to the scene so I was pulling for them. They did not disappoint, and used almost every part of the pig in the process. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of my favorite dish of theirs…bacon ice cream topped with peanuts. If they start selling this regularly, I know what I will be doing for lunch during the week!
The pig came apart pretty quickly; it is amazing what a pro can do.
Our next stop was at Commonwealth. It is a gastropub that opened a little ways from our house. Even though it is close, we have only made it over there once; we’re a little lazy. Jamie Leeds opened it after opening Hank’s Oyster bar, which is darn tasty.
Anyhow, they were serving up a brioche open sandwich that kicked ass. They also had a slice of head cheese on toast, which was delicious especially if you didn’t focus on where it came from.
After that we swung by Cashion’s Eat Place, which is an Adam’s Morgan institution and literally around the corner from us. They were only serving up one dish when we swung by, a spicy pork salad, but it was good. They may have had more out earlier, but we missed it. They are our home team, so I really wanted to try more dishes from them. I guess we will just have to swing by the restaurant more often.
The whole event was in a ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in DC. I gotta wonder if the room smelled like bacon afterward. The smell should liven up any business conference they hold there tomorrow morning.
Moving along we stopped by the Blue Duck Tavern table next. Carolyn had her birthday dinner there a couple of years ago and the food was excellent.
For the event they were serving an amazing steamed pork bun (the only Asian themed dish we saw) and a roasted pork roll with a great purple sauerkraut. They also had a peach bourbon cocktail, topped with a bacon foam…unfortunately they ran out of the foam by the time we got there.
Our final stop was at Vidalia’s table. Unfortunately all those delicious looking plates that they were preparing were for the judges. It looked like they were racing against the clock to get everything done in time.
Since this was towards the end, they had run out of a bunch of stuff, but we did get to sample a few. One of my favorites was a bacon chocolate chip cookie. Weird, but really good.
This is how we are more accustomed to seeing a pig:
In addition to all of the pig stations, there were also 5 wineries giving pours. There was Patz & Hall, Miner Family Vineyards, Arcadian Winery, Pax Wine Cellars, and Bonny Doon Vineyards. We didn’t really do a great job of trying all the wines, but one we both liked was the Pinot Noir from Arcadian.
After all this sampling it was time to vote for our favorites. I went for Commonwealth and Carolyn went for Mio.
After a dramatic ceremony, they announced the winner…Vadalia! The samples we tried from Vadalia were good, I just wish we had gotten there earlier so we could have tried more!
Cochon 555 was a lot of fun. Having to pay full price to go would have been a little tough, since it is as much as a really nice meal. However if you think of it as getting to eat at 5 different restaurants all with great wine pairings, it is really pretty reasonable. All I know is that we spent 4 hours eating pork… really good pork!
EcoFriendly Foods provided all of the pigs and I will definitely be heading down to the Dupont Farmer’s Market next Sunday to buy some meat from them.