when you want to pig out on pig, get completely redfaced on plentiful dranks and schmooze with some of the area’s most famous chefs, there is one event that can make your lard-and-bacon-filled dreams a reality: Cochon 555. (pronounced “co-shone” if you’re french, and “caution” if you’re the announcer at the event. ha.) this event, which takes place in cities across the u.s., takes “five chefs, five pigs, five winemakers” and throws an epic tasting feast and competition.
so imagine my inner glutton’s tremendous excitement when i saw this on my twitter feed…
— Kimberly V (@yelpdc) April 4, 2013
free tickets to gorge on bacon sticky buns, pork liver pate, lard macarons, chicharrones, various cheeses, beer, wine and bourbon cocktails (too bad i honestly just hate bourbon…) while bumping elbows with mike isabella, bryan voltaggio and other cool local chefs who you might not know because they’re not on tv!!! #tweenyboppersqueals! many thanks to yelp.
held at the newseum’s conference center, the event really was a beautiful overdose of all things pig, with a smattering of alcohol, cheese and oysters thrown in.
since my husband is out of town, i took my sister-in-law who loves to eat delicious food as much as i do. as soon as we entered the building and headed toward the elevator, i was all YEAHHHBRINGITON, and when i heard two women behind me asking the guard where to go, i was all “we’re going there too!!” this remark was met by a weak smile and gaze straight through my forehead.
as we checked in, and i heard them checking in, (“i’m press…. with the blahshingtonian”) the thought crossed my mind that maybe i should’ve remembered to pack my hoochie outfit and haughty city attitude with me too, instead of my cowboy boots and empty stomach. oh well.
confession: despite all the incredible things to eat at this event centered around the pig, my favorite of all were these oyster shooters. i probably had about 4-5 of these things. it all seems so wrong, except that these bad boys were so right. fresh slippery oysters in a mini tub of mignonette and this brand new old bay flavored vodka which i can foresee will be awesome in a number of different dishes and drinks. (p.s. i know these photos are icy blue, but i like em that way.)
after the old bay vodka, everything else was a blur…
just kidding. here are some other event highlights:
mike isabella’s pate parfait. what a strangely delicious treat, with a layer of smooth, rich liver pate on the bottom, an oniony/garlicky layer of grassy green gelee made from ramps, and a dollop of macerated strawberries on top. whaaat? so weird. so good. isabella, of top chef and graffiato fame, went on to win the competition based on crowd votes.
haidar karoum of proof and estadio had some insanely good dishes with an asian flair. i thought i might be biased in liking them since any food with an asian flair speaks to my soul, but i was reassured by white buddies loving on his dishes too. check out the pork cracklin with spicy thai pork relish…
jeff buben, of vidalia and the woodward table, offered this luscious pork jowl hominy soup that was so rich with deep, comforting flavor, i surely would have eaten more if i wasn’t so stuffed already.
kyle bailey and tiff macisaac of birch & barley and churchkey fame had some really interesting things going on at their table, including some badass leather aprons. but the standouts for me were the chocolate blood pudding lollipops and these oreo macarons with lard….
of course, bryan voltaggio and his team also brought some major complexity like with this pairing of pates with pickled lovely things like capers, fig, onions and fish (i assume to be anchovy).
voltaggio’s table also had the most artistic pate en croute and chocolate truffles with — you guessed it — lard!
in case you were wondering, the lard doesn’t make any of the desserts taste pork-like. it only adds a richness and creaminess (or flakiness to pastry).
after about three hours, i was disgustingly full but pleased. while the chefs were cool but not particularly entertaining, hanging out with some good people i know and meeting some cool new folks made for a raucous good time. i even took home a small mason jar with a cherry-infused “perfect manhattan” inside and a nutella cookie with lardo cream. the perfect manhattan perfectly spilled all over the inside of my purse, but hey, i’m not complaining.
in the grand scheme of all things related to tasting events in DC, i would say Taste of the Nation DC still ranks above Cochon 555 for its broader selection of eats, drinks and personalities and better fun-to-cost ratio, but that is not to say that Cochon wasn’t worth it. we definitely got our fill, didn’t have to stand in long lines, and had enough room to mingle and move around. the patio at the newseum also has a killer view.
even if we had paid for our tickets, it would’ve been well worth it… although i would’ve opted for general admission since the only obvious perk for VIP ticket holders was to get in early and overhear a ton of gagworthy moments of industry buttkissing. i know, i’m just jealous.
which is why i drafted this long humblebrag post, so now you can be jealous of me.