Cochon 555 quiz time: Match the chef to his pork-related food products. (See answers after the jump.)
1. The Source’s Scott Drewno
2. Graffiato’s Mike Isabella
3. Art and Soul’s Wes Morton
4. Bibiana’s Nicholas Stefanelli
5. 701’s Ed Witt
A. Chip & Dip: pork rinds and Penang pig-head curry
B. Lard biscuits and gravy, with Dr. Pepper pork shoulder
C. ’Nduja on pork-fat bombolini
D. Pork-face barbecue sandwich with trotter tots
E. Andouille on silken beans and greens
For the fourth year in a row, the porcine bacchanalia that is Cochon 555 pulled into Washington. On Sunday night at the Liaison Capitol Hill, five pigs were served up by five of the area’s favorite chefs.
It was nose-to-tail cooking, for sure, but much more. Five winemakers poured freely. Bourbon Steak’s bartenders shook up some perfect Manhattans. Beer, oysters and Redskins’ Hogettes. Tequila shots. . Murray’s cheeses, bacon jam and homemade pates. Giveaways, raffles and crispy bacon strips in glass jars on every table, instead of flowers.
A butchering demonstration by Wagshal’s Pam Ginsberg made quick work of a heritage American Landrace pig from Leaping Waters Farm in Alleghany Springs, Va. Pam talked the crowd through the entire breakdown, at the same time introducing her new personal butchery chart that recognizes all the palatable parts of a pig (including leaf lard!). The perfectly butchered pieces, silverskin removed, were raffled off to 15 attendees.
Personal favorites? Drewno’s Chinese bacon and deviled quail egg. Witt’s clever “blood and chocolate” ice cream — with scoops made with pig’s blood and chocolate — in a chocolate-dipped cone made out of crackling. And then there was Isabella’s heavenly one-bite jelly “doh-nut,” served up by the chef himself.
Art and Soul’s workmanlike table and large chalkboard drawing set the tone for Morton’s La Grande Boucherie d’Acadie and some Cajun delights. The backbone stew was a revelation of spices, deep pork flavor and textures.
Bibiana’s corner location was a hive of activity, as eager eaters reached for carbonara ravioli (filled with pecorino, pepper and an egg yolk) or a perfect little meatball, or polpette, with chili, pine nuts and raisins.
Witt shared a dramatic video of the butchering process of the very pig we ate, the very pig he proudly displayed on his T-shirt. His charcuterie plate included head cheese and lardo, both exquisite, and a tiny sprinkle of pistachios on the kidney and a dot of mustard on the liverwurst, which perfected the whole thing.
The crowd was all abuzz about Isabella’s Living High on the Hog! pop-up, complete with a large overhead sign, snazzy hats and a concept that looked ready to go public. Mike, will we see this pop-up around town? If spotted, definitely go for the pork tenderloin vindaloo with papaya. Divine.
Drewno’s set up was red and gold, with whitened skulls hanging like lanterns.
His Asian menu won the night. And no wonder, with his cleverly conceived dim sum, delightful Korean barbecue, little piggy pies and the most adorable Piggs No. 1 Cup, a sort of Jell-O shot with pork-skin jelly and smoked jowl creme.
For the second year in a row, Drewno will be representing Washington at the Grand Cochon this June in Aspen, Colo. Will Drewno be the next King of Porc? If last night was any indication, it looks like he’s ready to wear the crown.
(Answers: 1-A, 2-D, 3-E, 4-C, 5-B)