Kicking off the fourth national tour, Cochon 555’s New York edition hosted five of the city’s meatiest restaurants for an hour and a half of tastings on Jan. 22. Judges queued up early and were privy to special selections, while guests ploughed through an array of mini offerings from Restaurant Marc Forgione, Resto, The Monkey Bar, Betto, and Trestle on Tenth before offering their votes. Though Forgione took home the golden trophy for dishes like a dry-aged pork hot dog with tarragon mustard, braised pork and blood tortellini surrounded by pork bone consommé, and hot fat back served with a shot of bacon and banana “Elvis” whiskey, his table disappointingly ran out of food by 5:30 p.m. (tastings started at 5 p.m.).
While other chefs managed to make their offerings last, Forgione's table was many attendees' first (and second and third) stop. Meanwhile, Damon Wise from The Monkey Bar was serving hot dishes like the puerco tacos with salsa verde until the end of the tasting hour, and managed to scrape together some new dishes on the spot like the blood sausage served on top of a turnip sauerkraut that had originally gone on their roasted pork sliders. Some form of blood sausage seemed to find its place on nearly every table, from the boudin noir and chick pea ragu with a skin crisp from Resto to the biroldo on the Betto charcuterie table along with prosciutto cotto and sausage paesana. In terms of charcuterie, the jamón Iberico from Fermín was outstanding.
What else did we love eating? Resto’s whiskey balls made with Templeton rye whiskey, shoulder bacon, pork sugar, and chicharron (paired with a Templeton Manhattan topped with brandy-soaked cherries); Betto’s feet meat hot dogs with sauerkraut, grainy mustard, and Gruyère, as well as their liver mousse topped with a vincotto glaze; Blackberry Farms’ fromage blanc and mushroom mustard; and Trestle on Tenth’s classic ham and cheese sandwich with homemade pickles.
Guests circled the room tasting wine from wineries like Wind Gap and Elk Cove, drinking beer from Anchor Steam, and sampling cheese from Murray’s. After the tastings and mesmerizing whole hog butchering demo from Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s Meats, the Fatty ‘Cue crew rolled out a big barbecue spread — pig done four ways along with sides like potato salad and collard greens. A champagne toast preceded the awards, which Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe emceed. Forgione will be competing with the other cities’ winners at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic in June.
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