Blog: Pig Island
Gluttony (n) – 1. The act of eating or drinking in excess. 2. Spending an afternoon at Pig Island with hundreds of other gluttons.
On a weekend filled with emotions running high, reverently remembering our city’s darkest day, hundreds of hungry New Yorkers converged on Governor’s Island for an incredible celebration that helped redirect some of Manhattan’s collective focus from somber reflection to light-hearted fun. Well, except for maybe the pigs.
On Saturday afternoon, Colonel’s Row transformed Governor’s Island into the second incarnation of Pig Island, as 80 hogs were brought in and handed off to a multitude of different chefs for innovative preparations of pork dishes by some of the city’s best under-the-radar restaurants. The six hour outdoor event produced an afternoon of utter indulgence- from the four all-you-can-drink Sixpoint Craft Ales’ served at different stands around the open field and wines from Brooklyn Oenology to the incredibly eclectic delicacies inventively served up by each stand- some of which had three or four different options each- and none of whom would cast even a glare in your direction should you want to come back time and time again.
At events like this, arriving early is mandatory as several stands always tend to be depleted of food just a few hours in. Moreover, since these events are so well-attended, lines may get lengthy, frustrating impatient eaters. But at Pig Island, where lines grew quickly for some of the more popular stands, because of the great weather and great tastes, nobody seemed to mind. The restaurants were well spread out and like any event run by Jimmy Carbone of east village haunt Jimmy’s No. 43, the day was expertly run.
The more experimental foods seemed to be the ones with the day’s longest lines- Palo Santo’s “pig’s head tacos” and JoeDoe’s “JoseDoe Cubano” sandwich, containing roasted pork butt, shoulder bacon, cracklins, and swiss cheese, had such prohibitively lengthy lines that they proved elusive for us. But by the time we’d considered checking them out, we were overly stuffed- our bellies filled with so much salted meat that the ferry ride home was a food coma, in every sense of the word. While a poorly placed hog carving demonstration- hacksaw to torso and all- had us second guessing whether or not to carry on, the explosion of flavors from some of our favorite spots demanded that we move forward.
Some of the highlights had to include Print’s excellent “maple bacon sticky buns”- think Cinnabon topped with fresh bacon crumbles, Dinosaur BBQ’s outstanding “pulled pork sliders with house cured dill pickles,” sopped in their delicious crimson barbecue sauce, and Hecho en Dumbo’s three different options including a “green chorizo with pumpkin seed,” that was a must taste. Meat aside, Jimmy’s No. 43 brought along some “grilled corn on the cob topped with garlic, cayenne, lime,” and a creamy fresh cheese and Buttermilk Channel supplied a mouthwatering “corn bread with goat feta” surrounded by slaw and bread and butter pickle chips. Our absolute favorite dish however was prepared by Chef Michael Ferraro of Delicatessen. His “pig pies” mixed in fresh chunks of pork in a pot pie/quiche style dish with melted leeks and a compote of Roquefort cheese and sweet figs. The savory meat and baked crust meshed beautifully with the creamy cheese for one of the more unique offerings of the afternoon.
Events like Pig Island offer a glimpse into the intricacies of the different restaurants and chefs city-wide and for an affordable price (just $70 for a day long smorgasbord) , you can stuff yourself full of some of the best under the radar spots in New York whilst imbibing craft beers until you can move no longer. Not to mention the experience of heading over to Governor’s Island and enjoying a terrific afternoon with hundreds of likeminded New Yorkers. Proprietor Jimmy Carbone produces events of this caliber all over New York year round, and if the number of patrons gathering this past weekend at Pig Island was any indication, he seems to have his finger on the pulse of Manhattan. Or at least, on our collective stomachs.
- Jane Van Arsdale