I'm not usually a big fan of the typical food events where a bunch of restaurants set up stations and everyone lines up to taste a bunch of tepid – usually boring – bites. "P.I.G." (i.e., "Pork Is Good"), which Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod has now orchestrated for six years running, defies those generally low expectations. In fact, it's one of my favorite Miami food events of the year.
This all started back in 2009 when Jeremiah rounded up a small group of people at Harvey's by the Bay (a bar in an American Legion outpost which backs on to Biscayne Bay) and served them some chicharrones, smoked pork butt char siu bao, and a whole pig rolled porchetta style and roasted in a caja china (all the pics here; you can also see pics from P.I.G. #2, P.I.G. #4, and P.I.G. #5 – I clearly didn't read the Book of Armaments for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch since I missed #3).
In the years since then, he's made it a collaborative thing, rounding up some of the best chefs in town and some from more far-flung locales, all to riff like on the theme of pig like some culinary supergroup. This year featured some of my favorite folks: Roel Alcudia (now consulting at Fooq's), Aaron Brooks from Edge, Will Crandall from Izzy's, Todd Erickson from Haven, Kurtis Jantz of the Trump Miami, Bradley Kilgore from Alter, Brian Mullins from Ms. Cheezious, Mike Pirolo from Macchialina and Bazi, Patrick Rebholz from Quality Meats, Steve Santana from Taquiza, and James Strine from Café Boulud in Palm Beach, plus special appearances by charcuterie wizards Craig Deihl from Charleston's Cypress and Kyle Foster (Colt & Gray and Rebel in Denver, and formerly Talula here in Miami), plus desserts from Josh Gripper of The Dutch and Giselle Pinto from Sugar Yummy Mama.
Jose Gamez, Executive Sous Chef at Edge, with a combo grill / paella setup that would make Francis Mallmann proud. That's a paella pan in the middle, and butterflied pork shoulders mounted on spits cooking slowly from the radiant heat off the coals.
Chitlins and chorizo paella from Aaron Brooks of Edge, topped with some slices of that pork shoulder. One of my favorite dishes of the day.
David Foulquier and Roel Alcudia of Fooq's serving up some juicy pork belly skewers over bright yellow saffron-inflected jeweled Persian rice.
Some really outstanding charcuterie and a delicious porchetta sandwich (topped with some extra pork cracklings) from Charleston's Craig Deihl. This guy makes some of the best charcuterie I've ever eaten. My only disappointment is that I was really looking forward to a charcuterie showdown between Deihl and Kyle Foster, but didn't even find Kyle until I'd already stuffed myself to the gills.
Will Crandall of Izzy's Oyster serving up a surf-n-turf fried clam belly roll loaded up with chorizo and pickled vegetables and topped with a whipped bacon froth.
A tranche of pork belly lacquered with miso butterscotch, served with a black olive crumble and a dollop of a savory-sweet smoked banana purée from Bradley Kilgore of Alter. A great bite – so intense and rich it could have been half the size and packed the same punch.
A nice crowd happily pigging out at P.I.G.
James Strine from Café Boulud had some reinforcements too, including his sous chef helping him plate a spicy pig skin salad loaded with chiles, mint and crispy shallots and peanuts. (You can see I was losing focus a bit by this point in the afternoon). Even better was his biscuit topped with headcheese and gravy.
It was also very cool that Jeremiah got Philadelphia's Marc Vetri to come down and DJ, even though he's got to be awfully busy opening up restaurants in Urban Outfitters these days. (OK that's not actually Marc Vetri, it's DJ Le Spam of the Spam Allstars; I'm just recycling this joke from twitter because I thought it was under-appreciated).
Congrats and thanks to all who participated in another great P.I.G.