If you’ve ever driven over Topanga Canyon you have probably seen this little guy. He’s the mascot of Topanga Hauling. Don’t really get it myself but it takes all sorts. That little pig always puts a smile on my face though when I’m driving home.
Oh dear piggies. Tasted quite delicious. Cochon 555’s inaugural Los Angeles event on Sunday feasted and feted all things pork, with five heritage pigs prepared head to curly tail by five fine chefs in a friendly competition dedicated to educating the (monied) public about sustainable farming practices and the wonders of the resulting pork. Ah, if only industrialized factory farming could fall out of favor! In the end, Mozza’s Chad Colby won with his assorted cold and hot porky plates won, sending the other four chefs up the swiney river. Eater LA has a nice recap of what went on in the judging room.
For those who missed the sold-out event, there will be an All-Star competition on July 24th at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, with ten chefs and four “star butchers” (because I guess that’s a thing now) who, between the 14 of them, will prepare 14 different heritage breed pigs. Tickets are available now ($150 general admission/$200 VIP). If there was ever a time to show a client a great time on your boss’s dime, this would be it. Most people I talked to at the event on Sunday completely thought it was worth the price of admission, if that kind of money is a drop in the bucket for you; these are, after all, high quality ingredients prepared by pretty great chefs. One day, young grasshopper, McDonald’s will demand that all its meat come from farms that sustainably and humanely raise its animals and, on that day, things will change and quality meat will be accessible to most. For our sake, though, I hope events like this convince the public before McDonald’s does.
More photos from the event after the jump.
“Cochon” is either a pig, a piglet, or a dirty pig (this last definition is the only non-literal one of the three). Cochon 555 is all about the first meaning: it’s Pork Fest 2011. Five chefs in select cities across the country choose five heritage breed pigs of about 175 pounds each (i.e., the ever popular Berkshire farm pig) and pair them with five wines. The chefs break down the whole pig, from nose to curly tail, ham it up and create pork-tastic plates, and are evaluated by attendees and judges.
The nationwide event aims to raise awareness for these special breeds and encourage sustainable butchering. New York, Seattle, and Denver all have had their go at the swine; this Sunday, May 1, LA gets its turn. Octavio Becerra (Palate Food & Wine), Chad Colby (Mozza), Suzanne Tracht (Jar), Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station), and Joshua Whigham (The Bazaar) each will compete for best in show. In the process of the butchering, watching, and pigging out, you’ll meet the farmers, learn about sustainable practices, why you should, if you can, bypass the huge processor as you travel from farm to table, and possibly have flashbacks of Laura Ingalls Wilder using a pig’s bladder as a little soccer ball. That, people, is an excellent example of using all parts of the pig.
Eating meat from farms following sustainable practices isn’t cheap (unfortunately), and this event isn’t either. But, if you can afford the entrance fee, this seems well worth it: general admission tickets are $125 and sold out a few weeks ago. For the extra $50 for the still-remaining VIP tickets, you get early admittance, private tastings of Sonoma-area vitners, “access to a sustainable oyster station”, and a butchering demo by sustainable butchers Lindy & Grundy (whose shop on Fairfax just opened, and you should go and have a look-see at what they’ve got, because they got a lot, and it’s all pretty great). Hopefully, events like Cochon 555 this will encourage trickle down eat-onomics.
In case you hadn’t heard, Reuters (and therefore, every other news service in the world) is reporting that Roger Waters’ pig has been found. Two couples in the Coachella Valley will split the $10,000 prize and each get Coachella Tix for life. Apparently the pig tore in half; one pile of plastic landed in one yard, and another in someone else’s. Which means we’ll find the wreckage of the plane that hit it in the next day or two on a remote mountainside.
I’m disappointed and confused. Disappointed because I thought that pig had some serious wings when it lurched into the sky I was hoping it would end up in Uruguay, not just down the street. And confused because I’d thought the reward was for the pig’s safe return. Unless this is a new form of the word, a pig in two pieces isn’t safe. It’s more … well, butchered.