Magical pigs and oysters

I swear I won't make every post about the weather... but this is getting to be ridiculous. As Dave put it the other day: "Typically, it rains every weekend and we get nice weather when we're stuck indoors." Right. Well, the minute I start working outside, the opposite rings true. Sigh. dsc00265

I will take a short break from our regularly scheduled oyster programming to talk about pigs. Dave and I were at Cochon 555 on Sunday night - it's a traveling cooking event where 5 chefs are each given one of 5 heritage breed pigs and cook with as many parts of the pig as they can; they're then judged by a panel as well as the public on what I consider the only criteria worth noting: the most mind-blowing taste experience of the night.

Dave and I were part of the public tasting/judging so we only got to try a handful of dishes from each chef (and watch this really intense pig butchering session from the sidelines) but the consensus on the floor and in the judge's room were pretty spot on: Matt Jennings from Farmstead restaurant in Providence won the prize. We had his stellar pork carnitas tacos which were nicely balanced with pickled onions. So good for a small bite. Another bonus was the VIP reception upstairs. We found a lot of our foodie friends up there who were judging (Tim & Nancy Cushman from O Ya, Ken Oringer, Barbara Lynch, Amy Traverso from Boston Magazine) plus the competitors (Jamie Bissonnette, Tony Maws who was toting around his kid Charlie, Joseph Margate of Clink, Matt Jennings of Farmstead, and Jason Bond of the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro) as well as a pork tasting where each heritage breed was lined up side by side so you could compare and contrast. This was the best takeaway: getting to taste the flavor profiles and differences between the Berkshire (familiar, nutty, creamy, firm), the Tamworth (leaner but still considered a good "bacon hog"), the Red Wattle (darker, tender meat), the Yorkshire (sweet and salty), and the Yorkshire-Duroc cross (good marbling, really rich). They were supplied by farms from around the country, including the Adams Family Farm in Athol. We also got info about the Endangered Hog Foundation; they're helping to preserve 9 endangered hog breeds and probably came up with Dave's favorite quote of the night: "We have to eat these pigs to save them."


As for the oysters, they're still going strong. Yesterday, I started to ask Skip about the origin of our oysters. He told me they come from two different broodstocks (the parents) and that they start as tiny eggs which are then fertilized and actually have the same qualities of fish at this point. They then go into a larval phase and through a metamorphoses that changes their whole digestive system and that's when they become oysters, officially. This is a really simple, dumbed down explanation for what I imagine is a much more scientific process that I'll have to study up on. The seeds are coming in a few weeks and once that happens, the farm will be a zoo. Looking forward to it ... but enjoying the peace and quiet while it lasts.