Thursday, November 19, 2015

P.I.G. 6 [Pork Is Good] - a celebration of all things pig orchestrated by Chef Jeremiah

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.

Somehow, this event just has good karma: the weather always holds up, there's always a crowd but it never feels crowded, there's no lineups with everyone elbowing each other to get to the food, the drinks flow freely, the chefs all bring their "A" game, and everyone has a good time. In more than three hours I still didn't make my way around to try everything, but here are some highlights (you can see all my pictures in this P.I.G. 6 flickr set):

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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.

"Guillermo's tacos de chicalada" from Steve Santana of Taquiza. I figured out who Guillermo is – Will Crandall of Izzy's – I'm still not entirely clear what "chicalada" is, though it tasted like a delicious mince of salty, crunchy pork bits cooked in the style of carnitas. A roughly chopped salsa and some chiles de arbol rolled into the tacos added some pop. Great stuff.

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.

Patrick Rebholz from Quality Meats brought some of their house-cured coppa, and also some little nuggets of delicious, sweet sticky pork candy topped with chopped nuts.

Kurtiz Jantz from the Trump Miami, in addition some crispy little "PB&J" bites (pork, bacon, pico de gallo jelly and some "slap ya mama" pickled jalapeños) had an awesome cocktail station going, including a chicharron-washed mezcal mixed with some hibiscus syrup and mole bitters, and a green chile infused vodka cocktail with roasted pineapple bitters and a spice-infused simple syrup. I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of Kurtis with his family out in force to help. Fabian DiPaolo (who was pastry chef at the Trump back years ago when I first met the guys) has now returned to take over the whole kitchen there, and served up a great, palate-clearing Fernet Branca gelato.

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.


  1. I'm still feeling the pain of missing the event.
    Chicalada refers to the tasty bits of pork from the bottom of the pot; like a pork socarrat.

  2. Looks tasty, keep us updated of new Miami foodie events