Pig Island 2016

Happy 5th birthday to us!  Another year, another brilliant trip to Pig Island.  As always, we're very grateful to Jimmy Carbone and his team at Food Karma for organizing this event and being gracious hosts.  I would have loved for it to be about twenty degrees cooler and a bit more overcast; it was sweltering and I came home with a pretty gnarly tan!  But no matter, the plentiful food and drink were still enjoyable.

In past years, I've tried to pinpoint a recurring theme or motif that inspired the chefs: last year we saw a lot of chicharrones and pork rinds, whereas past years there were lots of tacos or sliders.  I think this year's theme was a little broader and more international: fusion pork dishes.

One of the standouts was a sandwich from Hudson & Charles of pickled pork shoulder in a banana calamansi BBQ sauce.  We spoke to the chefs, who told us calamansi is a citrus fruit like a cross between lime and orange, commonly used in Filipino cooking.  The pork was super tender and had a slightly tangy flavor, owing to the calamansi and a pickled papaya slaw.

Another memorable and very attractive dish was from Insa: a Korean-inspired braised pork wrapped in a thin sliver of pickled radish and sprinkled with green onion and sesame.  The pork was delicious, but the highlight of this delicate wrap was the stark contrast of black sesame seeds against the white wrapper, which I had originally assumed was a very pale tortilla.  It was very creative and felt fairly light and refreshing.

Of the most stunning displays, Gaseiro e Bom supermarket probably takes the cake.  They had a huge pig torso rotating on a spit over hot coals.  Their dish was Portuguese roast pork; although they didn't explain exactly what distinguished the Portuguese style, I thought I tasted some citrus and something tangy as well.

Other chefs and restaurants cooked up bahn mi sandwiches, souvlaki in pitas, pork with eggplant caponata, pig bone ramen broth, bratwursts, ground pork on a crisp black tortilla almost like a ultra-thin crust pizza, medianoche sandwiches...the international flavor was certainly everywhere, and undoubtedly delicious!