Cochon 555 Boston Weekend
Have you ever had a meal where as soon as everyone takes their first bite, there’s a collective silence that falls across the room, then sounds of degustation, rumbles of excitement, sighs, moans, yum’s, oh my god’s.
This is what greeted us on night one of a very epic Cochon 555 weekend. We had our first bite of the Chef’s Course dinner at Harvest, and the first course was prepared by Mary Dumont – host chef and last year’s winner of Cochon 555 Boston, thus holding the title Princess of Porc. She prepared this smoked mascarpone agnolotti al nero with confit pork and sage cream – and it was pure perfection. I loved the smoked mascarpone, the chewy pasta, the salty pork. I wanted more, but I knew that we were in for a lot more that weekend. A LOT MORE.
Cochon 555 is a unique culinary competition held across multiple cities in the US, celebrating family farms, heritage pig breeds, and the chef and food community. The Boston event had five of the city’s chefs in friendly competition, with each chef getting their own whole pig and preparing dishes that utilizes the entire animal, nose-to-tail style. The main event was held on Sunday, Feb. 22nd, but the weekend was kicked off with the private dinner and reception at Harvest on Friday night.
The five courses that night were: 1) Smoked Mascarponee Agnolotti al Nero by Mary Dumont of Harvest (the dish that shushed the room into reverence), 2) Fermented Scallop and Raw Pork Shoulder by Brandon Baltzey of Ceia Kitchen + Bar, 3) Roasted Pork Cheek & Liver by Michael Scelfo of Alden & Harlow, 4) Pork Kielbasa, Grilled Pork Belly, Shoulder Ham by Will Gilson of Puritan & Co., and a Breckenridge Bourbon Semifreddo by Brian Mercury of Harvest (creator of the best chocolate dessert in Boston).
Each course was delightful and paired with some exquisite German wines. I really, really loved the pasta course, but the kielbasa was also so good that I asked the lady sitting next to me, who I’ve never met before and was actually celebrating her birthday, if she was going to finish her piece and if she wasn’t, can I have it? That’s right folks, I asked a stranger celebrating her birthday for her kielbasa. I’m not proud of it, but it was worth it.
I was pretty diligent with taking photos of our dinner that first night, but after many (many, many) glasses of wine, and multiple (MULTIPLE) courses of pork, my photo-taking and documentation had a sharp decline over the weekend. The next night, Saturday, we attended the Large Format Feast at Post 390. This was a fun, family-style dinner, and the theme of the night was “Big Beef vs Heritage Pig”. I have this photo to show off the main entree for the night:
Imagine those tender, sticky, BBQ ribs, plus cauliflower gratinee, Korean beef and noodles, and desserts. My favorite was the maple ice cream with waffles, cornflakes, and bourbon whipped cream (!!) Are your jeans getting tighter yet?
And finally, it was Sunday and time for the main event, Cochon 555 Boston. I attended all three events with my friend Dan from The Food in My Beard, and I couldn’t have asked for a better eating buddy. Dan and I strategized so we could sample everything from all five chefs, plus the “welcome punch reception” and the signature cocktails.
The five chefs competing for Prince or Princess of Porc were: Jody Adams of Rialto and Trade, Kevin O’ Donnell of The Salty Pig, Louis DiBicarri of Tavern Road, Aaron Chambers of Bar Boulud, and Max Hull of Mei Mei (my favorite food truck in Boston!)
One of the first things I tried was the Profiteroles from Jody Adams – made with gorgonzola ice cream, chocolate, almonds, and “bacon crack.” One bite and I was a goner. It was soooo interesting and delicious, the kind of dish that makes you want to go back for seconds. (I did.)
Below are photos of some of my favorite bites that night (provided by the Cochon 555 team). All photo credits go to Galdones Photography/COCHON 555.
Those are the profiteroles from Jody Adams, frito pie from Mei Mei, hotdog from Tavern Road, the cocktails in the Punch Kings competition, and chicharon (fried pork skin) from Bar Boulud.
The winning chef was Jody Adams, Boston’s new Princess of Porc! I had a feeling she would win, because every single dish that she and her team put out had so much flavor and texture. Everything was just so well thought out. Aside from the profiteroles, they also served a tortellini, a riblet, a polenta stew, pork belly lettuce wraps, and a smoked loin sandwich with foie gras and duck confit. Doesn’t everything sounds delicious? It was. Do you think I abstained from pork a week before and after the event? I did. But now looking at all these photos I could go for another kielbasa…
I had such a fun time attending Cochon 555 this year, starting with that astounding agnolotti and ending with those mouth-watering profiteroles. If you’re living in one of the 20 cities that will participate in the tour, I highly recommend checking out the events! You can find more info on the website.
Thank you to the Cochon 555 team who generously provided me with a press pass to all events!