Those lucky enough to cruise all the way to Pig Island last week had no hard time eating great local food and getting a late tan (it was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, after all).
The beloved and eccentric meat event took place at Ikea waterfront in Red Hook, where 25 chefs from all five boroughs went hog wild (pun intended) with 80 locally-raised pigs from Flying Pigs Farm. It started back in 2010 to support local farmers by offering locally sourced food and drink with the majority of its proceeds going directly back to the farm. Along for the farmers though, organizer Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 was quick to tell me that Pig Island is also a “chefs’ party.” It is not everyday that city chefs get to work with a whole pig, especially in a setting where they’re side-by-side with their peers.
Both a pleasure and a challenge I’m sure, just like it happens to be for an eater (who also has equal stake in the event).
“You have to pace yourself” — how many times did this sentence echo in my ears that day? Easier said than done. The broad range of dishes and techniques used for preparing the pigs made moderation difficult. From garlic pork cemita with green salsa and queso fresco (Joe & Misses Doe), to Italian spring rolls with roast pork (Thomas Perone, a.k.a. Pig Guy NYC), to roast pork salad (Chris Rendell of Flinders Lane), to slow-cooked pork strudel (chef Jesse Jones) — one could sample an entire spectrum of pork preparations.
Additional highlights included:
- For the non-carnivores, Tim Cavaretta and Isabelle Leighton (Bittergreen) lived up to the challenge of being the unique 100 percent vegetarian stand that offered beautiful seasonal produce from the Greenmarket.
- Steve of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies proved a bit of respite during the sweltering afternoon with his delicious and traditional key lime pies. The combination of fresh-squeezed key lime juice and hand-formed crust made with butter is certainly hard to resist.
- Matt of Pizza Loves Emily traded his mozzarella for wood smoked pork. His grilled pizza was absolutely gorgeous.
- Peter Giannakas of Ovelia served Greek-style spit roasted pork. The succulent meat had marinated overnight in salt, pepper, lemon and oregano. I wasn’t the only one saying “simplicity is best.”
While we wait for next year’s feast, we will devour Pig Island’s e-book that’s slated to sum up 25 of the favorite recipes from the festival’s five years and running. Stay tuned for it to go live next week!
Photo credit: Dave Katz