Pigging Out At Red Hook’s Pig Island

Last month I re-lived Afropunk, one of Brooklyn’s most awesome weekend music festivals. This month it was Pig Island, a giant festival of all that is pork. I must say I’m planning to make this one a tradition.

Just as last year, Pig Island featured 80 hogs prepared in various styles by 25 of the cities greatest chefs. Imagine a taste-test involving all the best cooks in New York plus free beer, cider and wine all for a mere $80. Let me not forget that this is an unlimited event from 11:30-4:30. That’s one hell of a brunch.

Jeanie cuts a hog for Arrogant Swine Photo credit to Shanna Gibbs

Jeanie cuts a hog for Arrogant Swine
Photo credit to Shanna Gibbs

My gang and I made it to this year’s festivities around 12:30, giving us plenty of time to sample the smorgaspork (see what I did there?) We obviously wanted alcohol first thing as we spent the morning moving my cohorts into their new apartment, but we did take time to stop at the first tasting booth, Southern Belle’s BBQ on the way to the Sixpoint tent. Excellent choice on our parts. Featuring five different flavors of their signature barbecue sauce, Southern Belle’s got our pallets going with a blueberry infused sauce as well as the crowd favorite, Pineapple Twang.

Shortly following our quick taste of the south, we headed, beers and cider in hand (Sixpoints and Original Sin, respectively), to one of last year’s most amazing flavors, Ovelia. Back with their amazing “Kontosouvli” slow-roasted rotisserie pork, Ovelia once again landed at the top of the tastes for the day. I can’t figure out why they keep placing Ovelia in the beginning of the festival. It almost spells death for the competitors. Almost.

Intake of cider and excessive amounts of pork render the order of remaining chefs a bit less clear, but the flavors themselves are unforgettable. Holding the top with Ovelia, again, is Fort Reno, Brooklyn’s own Park Slope-based barbecue gurus. They also chose to be repeat offenders with their pulled pork sliders, but you’d be pressed to find a complaint about the re-run. Freaking delicious.

Kuma Inn and Umi Nom were new to me this year, and damn do I love new things. Umi Nom lechon and pulled pork adobo from this table put a brand new pork flavor in my mouth that I can’t wait to try again. Filipino, Thai and Southeast Asian tastes, meet pork. Pork, meet three of your many soul mates.

Let’s not leave out Bob Devine’s combined effort with Vittorio’s to create a sauerkraut that people actually like. Catch your breath. Concocted with maple syrup and paired with a deliciously tender smoked autumn spiced ham, Devine and Vittorio’s kraut never made it to the trashcan, only to the taste buds.

Photo credit to Shanna Gibbs

Photo credit to Shanna Gibbs

I never made it to Jimmy Carbone’s (Jimmy’s No. 43) grilled corn cobs despite my immediate obsession with them, but I did tickle my taste buds with some more exotic fixins’. Case in point, Duck Eatery pig ear. Though I’m from Texas, this was my first time sampling the hearing tool of a hog, but I think I’d come back to it. Wrapped in lettuce it almost even seemed healthy. Again, with the term “almost.”

For those of us with a heavy sweet tooth, no need to get upset about all the presence of savory options. Two of the most awesome foods I tried at the festival were bacon brownies and tiny bacon cinnamon rolls. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t actually taste the bacon in either of these sweet treats, but I did much enjoy them. Whether that is a testament to the power of pork or the insatiable nature of my sweet tooth, I suppose we won’t know.

What I do know is that Pig Island: a. lives up to its name and b. freaking rocks. I will continue to return as long as my tummy will allow. My only suggestion is to keep auditioning bands. Kinda wish I had eaten my own ear wrapped in lettuce. Guess you’ll just have to trust me when I say the pork and bottles were so very worth the pain.

One thought on “Pigging Out At Red Hook’s Pig Island

  1. I would to point out that while The Arrogant Swine did cook my Oaxaca-style whole hog, it was my recipe (available for home cooks at http://www.zarela.com. .I made 3 gallons marinade and46 pounds of fruit an vegetable picadillo with the help of David . Juan Matos helped stuff the pig and sew it up and Tyson’s excellent crew cooked it to perfection.

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