Pigging Out on Pig Island!
With Chris & Pete Giannakas from Ovelia in Astoria, Queens
This Saturday, 25 NYC chefs served up locally sourced hogs in Red Hook, Brooklyn for this year’s annual Pig Island! Another brain-child of Jimmy Carbone (who also organized Taste of Tribeca in May), a major player in the NYC food scene and a social entrepreneur, advocates for local farming and sustainability! This time, Pig Island celebrated local pigs from the Flying Pigs Farm and each vendor picked up their hog last Wednesday at the Union Square Green Market.
Of course Jimmy Carbone helped me snag my pig snout!
On the waterfront of Erie Basin Park, weather was on our side as the looming overcast cleared up right in time for the flood gates to open! Sunshine, charcoal smoke, and overall pork-iness filled the air as we made our way to see what the day’s chefs were cooking up.
We started the day stopping by one of the sponsor’s station, WÜSTHOF, a family-run German business forging truly amazing knifes. Ted “The Butcher” Nigro welcomed me with a quick how-to for carving a chicken! Also present was Jack Hoffman, who came in third place on season one of FOX’s MasterChef Junior. This 12-year-old showed off his amazing knife skills, seamlessly chopping through an onion (and not crying!), cucumber and lemon! He is such a rockstar, I know I did not have any of his fancy knife skills at 12!
Before porking out, we met up with Adam Poch, aka the “Heavy Metal Teddy Bear” ( also appeared on Big Brother 13) who is an avid bacon-lover, proposed at Pig Island and had a bacon-themed wedding! Together we stopped by the Revolving Dansk where chef Martin Høedholt served up a Copenhagen Street Dog, a mini grillpølser with danish remoulade, crispy fried onions, and salty Lakrid. Pablo Ventura from Dassara Ramen was also there serving up a Danish-Asian crackling pork, topped with red cabbage and sweet Scandinavian pickles on a toasted baguette.
After those Danish-Asian bites, we headed to Brazil with Pacifico Fine Foods where Shanna Pacifico made us a special Linguiça (Portuguese smoked pork sausage) kale wrap, topped with yuca and peaches. To die for! A cool bite for the hot day!
Then we made our way to the Good Fork where Ben Schneider and St. John Frizell from Fort Defiance teamed up to serve a pit-roasted whole “Merpig” (a roast pig wrapped in seaweed)! Served as a traditional Korean “ssam”, the shredded pork was tossed in a ssamjang sauce, topped with a carrot daikon and wrapped in lettuce! Just enough spice with the sauce yet a refreshing bite with the wrap and crunchy carrot & daikon!
Next up: pizza, pork and pig ear! Yup you heard right! Chef Matt Hyland from Emily Loves Pizza smoked their pig in their pizza oven in Clinton Hill, grilled some of their homemade pizza dough, drizzled with their house aioli and topped with a crispy pig ear slice! What a flavor and texture party!
Then we headed over to the Greeks! Peter Giannakas from Ovelia Psistaria Bar in Astoria, Queens, came prepared (how could he not after competing on Food Network’s Chopped)! Not only did he cook up “kontosouvli” (Greek-style spit-roasted pork), he brought his fishing rods to see what he could catch in the Hudson, totally ready to pop it on the grill later! He even let me baste some of the succulent, spinning pork. And let me tell you, my mother taught me to never ask for seconds, this time I broke her rule! I couldn’t help it, the pork was perfectly smoky and tender, I dare you to try and resist a second bite!
A day chowing down on pork could not be completed without dessert! Butter served up a gift from heaven: bacon banana bread topped with candied praline and bacon! Definitely worth waiting in line for!
Before leaving, we caught one of the judges, “Culinary Renegade” Robert Burmeister, who was making his rounds. While he didn’t want to give away who he was leaning towards for the awards, he was really impressed by the creativity of all the chefs!
This year’s winners:
Chris Rendell of Flinders Lane- Roasted Pork Salad with Rau Ram, shallots, and Hot & Sour Dressing
Michael Jenkins of Butter- Bacon Banana Bread
John Rattliff of Ends Meat- Pork Nuggets
Chef Joe Dobias- Garlic Pork Cemita
Davide Navarro of Jimmy’s No. 43- Cochinita Pibil
Peter Giannakas of Ovelia- Kontosouvli (a Greek-style spit-roasted pork)
Thomas Perone of The Pig Guy NYC- Roast Pork Sliders with Lime Chimmichurri
Danny Mena and Ethan Smith of Hecho en Dumbo- Volcanes de Chorizo Casero
Its safe to say I definitely pigged out on Pig Island! Special thanks to Jimmy Carbone for the invite, I was all porked out by the end of the day, but I can’t wait for next year! But until then stay updated on ILikePig, because an e-book with recipes from the past 3 Pig Islands is coming out soon! I can't wait!