The Community of the PIG


Miami gets a bad rap in discussions about “community”.

We get it. We’re a transient city. We’re a point of entry, We’re the ultimate “starting-over” (but this time at the beach) destination. Most of our residential neighborhoods could use an extra dose of neighborliness. When a storm passes through we sheepishly greet our heretofore-unknown neighbors and express that we need to hang out more, “when there isn’t a hurricane”.

Well, that was our reputation...

Now, if you look into any niche, you’ll find vibrant communities of passionate individuals eager to celebrate. Whether it’s craft beer, cocktails, books or coffee, you can discover exhilarating events all over South Florida.

Two Sundays ago, in the backyard of a Wynwood art gallery, a few hundred of us celebrated our membership… in the community of the pig!  Pig #5 to be precise.

The fifth iteration of Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog’s (twitter @chefjeremiah) PIG series was a smash success on so many levels.

The food:

The lineup was a thing of beauty: Each of these stellar chefs would present their version of a pork-centric dish: Brad Kilgore (Alter); Conor Hanlon (The Dutch); Jamie DeRosa (Tongue & Cheek); Todd Erickson (Haven); Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House); Mike Pirolo (Macchialina); James Strine (Cafe Boulud Palm Beach); Kris Wessel (Oolite); William Crandall (Azul); Kyle Foster (Colt & Gray Denver, CO); Jeremiah Bullfrog (gastroPod); Brian Mullins (Ms. Cheezious); Steve Santana (Taquiza)

There were SO many amazing bites. My favorites were Conor Hanlon’s Rotisserie Baby Pig stuffed with foie, seasonal vegetables, greens pickles and so much more (top left photo) and Brad Kilgore’s Pork Rangoon with smoked mushrooms, cream cheese,and spicy mustard (right photo). And Todd Erikson’s Crostini with pork liver mousse, blackberry and pickled pumpkin (middle left photo). And those Cavatelli with Pork Ragu by Mike Pirolo at Macchialina. And Porchetta by James Strine (bottom left photo )And those Anson Mills corn tacos from Taquiza were insane too… okay, they were ALL stellar.

Paula Echevarria from Tasting Table Miami and also a MIAbites contributor had this to add:

Definitely one of the best events I've attended this year. It was such an honor to get a first hand feel of how knit-tight our culinary community is once you strip it of its formalities and you get to kick it with chefs and mixologists' mano-a-mano.

All of the chefs delivered some outstanding bites but I gotta say I was impressed with the love brought down from our Broward neighbors and chef James Strine from Cafe Boulud Palm Beach (which reminded me of my very overdue field trip): The delicate morcilla (blood sausage) was perfectly balanced by the crunchy texture of the black-eyed peas and creamy grits accompanying it. Having been following chef Steve Santana's Taquiza, and being a huge fan of his homemade masa tortilla (which he was prepping on site), I gotta say I couldn't get enough of the caja china carnita tacos. Hands down gotta give it to native favorite Kris Wessel of Oolite and his two types of swine-delight that packed Miami's flavors in a punch: guanabana citrus smoked shoulder melted in your mouth and the guajillo pepper braised behind was everything butt (...pun intended).
I don't know about you guys but that concoction flowing out of chef Jamie DeRosa's punch batch definitely enhanced the ::ahem:: dishes further. 

The sweets:

There were even delicious pork influenced sweets offered by Josh Gripper (The Dutch)and Giselle Pinto (Sugar Yummy Mama)

The drinks:  What is pork with out its liquid pairings? The all-important cocktail and wine pairings were curated by The Liquid Projects Jen Massolo, who is also a MIAbites contributor and reflects below.

When Chef Jeremiah came to me earlier this year to discuss PIG5 and the drinks for it, I was delighted.  We had tried to collaborate last year but our events (mine being CRAFT) were too close together. The opportunity to curate the beverage program for an event that includes some of Miami's best chef's is always highly appealing.  It allows me the opportunity to bring artisan producers to the forefront and show how well not only wine but spirits and beer pair with fine food.   I went in search of craft spirits, a great local craft brewer and some unique wines.  The program came together so well in the form of Jonathan Wakefield Brewing, HIgh West Whiskies, St. George Agrigole Rhums, Arte NOM Tequila and Cyrus Noble Bourbon.  In addition, I've had the pleasure of getting to know Heath Porter from Uvaggio wine bistro in Coral Gables.  Heath came on as our wine sponsor and brought with him a fine selection of unique varieties and styles.

The “camaraderie” (because that’s an even better word than community).

There’s a vibe in the Miami food scene these days that speaks volumes about the breadth of humanity and humility of our chefs. I’m sure that we - like any city - have our share of egos, but the top talent in this town has learned to play well with others. There’s a palpable and concerted effort by so many chefs to support each other. You can’t turn around without news of some new “collaboration”. Social media accounts are full of chefs and aficionados alike giving props to each other, taking the high road and highlighting the good.

When you have folks like Chef Jeremiah putting on events like Pig5, it does even more than just offering incredible porcine bites and a chance to celebrate great food. It creates community.

Enthusiastic, supportive, can’t-wait-for-the-next-one community. And Miami gets even better because of it.