Cochon Heritage BBQ: Bloody Mary Tailgate Party, Snout-to-Tail Cook-Off and Piglet Sadie
David Meeks, Erin Sandefer, Whitney Morse, Christina Brown and Thomas Whitehead, right to left, at Sweet Grass Pop-Up Saturday night.
Justin Fox Burks
The best thing for me about the pop-up restaurant at Sweet Grass Saturday night was making new friends. The photo above is the charming group at our table, but unlike a cruise, I had plenty in common with this group.
First, we all have a unified love for Sweet Grass and the dishes Ryan Trimm spins out of his kitchen. On Saturday, Boston chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Will Gilsan joined Trimm for a Cochon Heritage BBQ pop-up dinner served family style. The tables were set with Elk Cove wines, Anchor Steam beer and carafes of gin and ginger cocktails, a fitting prelude to the dinner's parade of dishes that included cured sliced loin with lentils and salsa verde, Ethiopian braised mustard greens with berber spices, cavatelli pasta with BBQ sugo, and a Manhattan snow cone with cherries for dessert.
Like me, our dinner mates started the day at Sweet Grass Next Door for the bloody Mary tailgate party (BBQ oysters and Benton bacon) after Friday night's Peabody rooftop party. Lots of other revelers did too, including Trimm's dad Tom, step mom Pat Prozzi and friend Ellen Sater pictured above.
I asked my table mates to name their favorite plate so far, and here were their answers: David Meeks, swine and bourbon (every table needs a wise guy!); Erin Sandefer, Las Tortugas pork belly taco at the rooftop party; Whitney Morse, the pop-up's Thai pork slider; Christina Brown, another vote for the taco; and Thomas Whitehead, oysters topped with fois gras and a little soy sauce, also served at the pop-up.
I ran into Sandefer and Meeks Sunday at the Heritage BBQ cook-off at the Columns at Court Square where chef-driven teams plated over-the-top dishes using every part of the pig. Here were a few standout moments:
Surprise guest: Sadie, a three-week-old pig, was smuggled into the event by Mark Newman of Newman Farm. But don't worry about Sadie ending up a plate. She's going home with Miles McMath, executive chef for St. Jude's Kay Kafe and head of one of the event's competing teams.
Most humorous ingredient: Vegan rice craklins made by Acre's Wally Joe and Andrew Adams for their Hoison BBQ and green papaya slaw.
Oddist dish I ate: Todd Mussman's pig head gumbo served with dirty rice calas made with pork liver and kidney. (Calas are deep-fried rice balls popular in Creole cuisine.) Judges apparently agreed that Mussman's dishes also tasted great. Mussman, who is the chef at Atlanta's Local 3, was the winner of the competition.
Hannah Sayle of Hungry Memphis also covered the weekend events. Click here to see what she had to say.