Pig Island 2015
Happy 4th birthday to Veritasty! We are eternally grateful to Jimmy Carbone and the folks at Food Karma not only for inviting us to our first food event four years ago, but also for throwing this wonderful celebration of pig every year! The weather held up, the lines were not too long, and there was delicious food to be had at Pig Island.
I have found some years that there are trendy pork preparations (one year, I recall there being a lot of pork tacos, another had a lot of pulled pork sliders) and this year was all about crunch - and by that, I mean chicharrones!
Many chefs chose to accompany their pig dishes with either a small sprinkling of crunchy pig skin on top; some fried up whole huge chunks for us to break up and eat at our leisure! Alex is immune to the pleasures of chicharrones, but I'm kind of obsessed for some reason.... I think growing up in an Asian household eating these things:
(prawn crackers, in case you didn't grow up in an Asian household)
...got me accustomed to the styrofoam-y texture with a hint of crunch. Actually, chicharrones or pork rinds are like the meat version of prawn crackers! I love the initial crunch on the teeth and then the melting into saltiness and smoky meat flavor.
A few of our favorites returned to The Island this year. Neuman's Kitchen, who last year served up amazing fried pigs ears, had the Seven Deadly Sins of Swine: seven subtly different preparations of pork in one. It like was a rich, savory pulled pork slider with smaller chunks of different cuts of meat and crispy skin. Another standout was Copenhagen Street Dog with a little pølsner with deviled egg cream, spicy ketchup, cucumber, jalapeno, and crumbled bacon on top. What a tasty little dog! The spiciness was balanced out by the creamy deviled egg yolk spread atop. I definitely could have eaten tons of these pølsners.
Another familiar face I've tried was Pig Guy NYC. They just opened up a storefront in Bay Ridge and I've had their pork and coleslaw nachos at MCU Park in Coney Island. Today, they had a Greek-inspired roast pork sandwich with spicy tzatziki and a candied bacon on a stick. Next door was Ends Meat (ha!) that served up really interesting charcuterie. There was a huge salami with a chunk cut out on top and they literally scooped out the meat inside! The chef explained that they process the meat with an extremely high amount of fat in order to keep the inside soft. They also had deep fried pork nuggets that were delicious and actually my perfect comfort food: the nuggets were about the size of chocolate bars, golden brown, and filled with slightly gooey hunks of hot pork. Similarly, Sotto 13 had a cute presentation of Italian "corn dogs" poking out of floral foam, grass, and flowers. I could immediately taste the Italian spices after biting into the light batter!
To accompany the meat dishes, there was also free-flowing booze! This year, one of the special features of Pig Island was the whiskey offerings. I know nothing about whiskey and I definitely coughed and sputtered when I had a sip, but I'm sure lots of folks enjoyed the assortment. I had a great cider from Down East, which we had tried at Ciderfeast. I also sipped a little (warm) rose from Beaujolais wines. Of course, Pig Island favorite Sixpoint Brewery was fully represented, but I didn't want to get too full on beer so we passed. There was, however, coffee from Califia, and as I told the ladies in the booth, "pork is good but coffee is a necessity!" We came back for multiple cups of their pre-mixed caffe latte and espressos, finding them slightly sweet but not saccharine and super creamy, even though they were made with only almond milk. Absolutely wonderful!
There were some lighter dishes as well. I loved the lettuce wraps from Route 66. The moist, tender pork was smothered in a garlicky satay sauce and sprinkled with crispy pork skin. Bittergreen served up a 100% vegetarian dish of watermelon, grilled peach, roasted squash, and kohlrabi (not quite sure what kohlrabi tastes like, but love the name!). I had never had yellow watermelon before and it was delicious!
Finally, it wouldn't be a well balanced food event without sweets. Roni-Sue, who had been selling tons of chocolate covered bacon out of a tiny storefront in Essex Market, was there with bacon chili pretzels. Butter also served up an adorable tiny smore with molten chocolate and crumbled bacon atop.
Alex and I left The Island (basically we walked into the adjacent parking lot of Ikea) with many thanks to the talented chefs and high fiving each other for another successful year.