Last Sunday, David and I pigged out at Cochon 555, the ultimate traveling food fest.
Like the two of us ever need an excuse to live high on the hog.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s pretty rare for me to get to hog the humor and my inner 4-year old is happier than a pig in s%*# with all the porcine punning!
But back to our sublime swine dine: Cochon 555 is a unique culinary tour, sorta a mobile Pig Jig for the foodie elite, founded by Atlantan Brady Lowe five years ago.
Lowe created an annual tasting pilgrimage to ten cities designed to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs; sending a message of “nose-to-tail cooking, breed diversity and family farming” to food-o-philes across the country.
The concept is simple – in each featured city of the tour, Cochon 555 brings together five chefs, five pigs and five wineries (and this year five bourbons too!) along with 400 or so guests for a cooking competition, epicurean tasting and cocktail bonanza.
We were in hog heaven this year to be invited by dear friend, Randall Roberts, purveyor of the fabulous Four Roses Bourbon, one of the event sponsors. As VIP ticket holders, we arrived an hour early and had the opportunity to preview the amazing food and beverage displays before the crowds
hogged the trough descended on the ballroom.
Each Cochon 555 event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from the entirety of a heritage breed pig – serving up everything but the squeal. Judged by both a panel of experts and the attending guests, the favorite chef is crowned King (or Queen) of Porc.
New (and potentially frightening) additions to this year’s event included a cocktail competition called “Punch Kings” featuring Breckenridge Bourbon, with specialty sips prepared by six local bartenders. Combined with a Manhattan bar (tastefully dispensed in mini Mason jars), offerings from aperitif Fernet Branca, Crispin hard cider, a selection of Mezcals, Anchor Steam beer and delectable grape juices from five family owned wineries (including one of our major favorites, Arcadian Winery) there was ample opportunity to get “sow”sed.
The organizers went hog wild with extras this year, adding a TarTare Bar with flavored chips from Alma Cocina, some delightful cheeses from Cypress Grove, Rogue Creamery and Kerrygold, sustainable oysters and pork-spiked desserts, including a pork cannoli. We had a fabulous time sampling all the goodies, comparing notes with the other guests and meeting many charming and informative vendors.
We especially appreciated the jars of bacon, used as centerpieces. They made for nice snacking when the lines got too long.
Among the competing chefs of Atlanta this year: Ryan Smith (Empire State South), Joseph Schafer (King and Duke), Eric Ottensmeyer (Leon’s and Brickstore), Whitney Otawka (Farm 255) and Guy Wong (Miso Izakaya). Having worked for Ford Fry at JCT years ago, I was predisposed to root for Joseph – King and Duke is Ford’s new restaurant opening in April in the old Nava location on Peachtree in Buckhead.
All of the offerings were quite tasty, but we gave our vote, as expected (and along with the predominance of the other guests), to Chef Joseph, who; based on the squeals of delight from the crowd at the end of the night, well earned the crown for King of Porc.
The whole evening went slicker than a greased hog.
If you’re sweatin’ like a pig for missing out on the bacon baccanalia, and wish you, too, could wallow in excellent food and craft bourbon, there’s still an opportunity! Randall from Four Roses is hosting a Bourbon Dinner next month, March 12, 2013 with fabulous local chef, Jason Starnes, at the iconic Sun Dial Restaurant at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, downtown Atlanta.