Paul E. Anna: High Points
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Let it be noted that I love to eat pig.
Ribs, rinds, rillettes, butts, bellies, loins, chops, cutlets, sausages, pulled pork, carnitas, chicharones, and of course, bacon, bacon and more bacon.
So when an email arrives telling me that there is a half-ton of some of America’s finest pork flying into Aspen (“when pig’s fly” is also one of my favorite expressions, by the way), I not only take notice but I begin to literally salivate. That was the case this week when a promo came through the webisphere from Grand Cochon announcing their spectacular pig fest that will take place Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome.
The event is open to all, with tickets still available for $150 or, if you prefer a VIP experience that includes an early entrance to the event, you can pay $50 more. To get tickets, call SAS at 888.649.5982 or visit http://www.cochon555.com.
Grand Cochon is the final stop on a national tour that sees the best chefs in America breaking down the most spectacular heritage, or heirloom, pigs and using their culinary creativity and skills to create the most pigalicious dishes imaginable. After stops in 10 cities, the chef winners of each local event are brought here to Aspen for the opportunity to be crowned the “King and Queen of Porc.”
Each chef selects a breed of pig based upon the characteristics of the animal. Some prefer a pig with lots of fat, others like a leaner animal, some want a nutty flavor to the meat while others like a sweeter taste. Seventy-five percent of all pork in America comes from three breeds of pig, but these animals are treasured, and honored, by the chefs who have taken the time and put in the work to get to know the unique flavor profiles of the animals. The organizer of the event, a visionary named Brady Lowe, acquires these prized animals and brings them fresh to the Jerome. In the ultimate farm-to-table example, the 10 chefs cook their 10 specially selected animals from snout to tail, using the entire animal.
If you have been, you know that this is one of the coolest cooking – and eating – events in the country. Not only do attendees pig out on the afore-mentioned 1,000 pounds of pork, but they also get to roam the grounds of the Jerome, free-range style, sucking down oysters, nibbling on caviar, tasting the best wines from California’s coolest (literally) appellation, the Sonoma Coast, and toasting with the bubbliest of French Champagnes. There are also artisan cheeses, craft brews, killer bourbons, single-vineyard mezcals and tequilas.
I mentioned the “King and Queen of Porc.” As a pork lover, I have been provided the opportunity to participate as a judge at Cochon. The judges will render opinions on the dishes prepared by the chefs (while drinking wine, toasting the chefs with the Champagne and bickering amongst themselves about which bourbon is the best) and then rank them.
Well, sort of.
You, the participating public, also have a voice. In fact you have the loudest voice. While the 20 judges votes will count for 49 percent of the total outcome, 51 percent of the decision comes from the collective votes of those in attendance. So see you at the Jerome, where you should vote early and often.
And don’t forget to pig out!
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