Cochon 555 Pork Competition Turns Five, Kicks Off February 17 In Atlanta

baconMuch ado about pork products is made on Gadling, with good reason. Even if you’re sick to death of pork-centric eateries, and lardo this and sausage that, it’s hard to deny the allure of the other white meat (I can’t tell you how many vegetarians and vegans I know who still have a jones for bacon).

For those of you wanting to attend the ultimate porkapalooza, get your tickets for Cochon 555, a traveling, “National Culinary Competition & Tasting Event Dedicated to Heritage Pigs, Family Wineries & Sustainable Farming.”

The 10-city tour kicks off February 17 in Atlanta, and will include stops in New York; Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Miami; Vail; Seattle; San Francisco; and Los Angeles, before culminating in the dramatic Grand Cochon at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 16. Notice that Colorado gets two Cochon visits? The South isn’t the only place that appreciates pork.

Cochon was created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe to raise awareness about, and encourage the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs. At each destination, five celebrated local chefs must prepare a nose-to-tail menu using one, 200-pound, family-raised heritage breed of pig. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef. The 10 finalists will then compete at the Grand Cochon for the ultimate title of “King or Queen of Porc.”

Depending upon venue, attendees can also expect tasty treats like Heritage BBQ; butchery demonstrations; mezcal, bourbon, whiskey and rye tastings; specialty cheese sampling, cocktail competitions; a Perfect Manhattan Bar, raffles, and killer after-parties.

For additional details and tickets, click here. Partial proceeds benefit charities and family farms nationwide.

[Photo credit: Flickr user out of ideas]

FOOD & WINE Classic In Aspen Tickets On Sale Now, Discount Before March 15

aspenSeems like just yesterday Gadling was announcing the 30th anniversary of the prestigious FOOD & WINE Classic at Aspen, and already the next is almost upon us. Have you scheduled your annual cholesterol screening yet?

This year, from June 14-16, Food & Wine magazine will celebrate 31 years of incredible food and drink in one of the most glorious locations in the Rockies. Join the nation’s top chefs including José Andrés, Jacques Pépin and Marcus Samuelsson, as well as internationally renowned winemakers, master sommeliers, brewmasters, mixologists and food crafters at the most legendary culinary event in the nation.

The three-day weekend also features over 80 cooking demos, wine and interactive seminars, panel discussions, tasting events and classes on food and wine pairing, as well as twice-daily Grand Tastings featuring over 300 winemakers, craft brewers, distillers and specialty food vendors.

New this year are “DIY Sausage” from offal king Chris Cosentino; a “‘Top Chef’ Leftover Challenge” with Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons; “Next Superstar Value Wine” by wine expert Mark Oldman; “Great Cocktail Party Drinks” with über-mixologist Jim Meehan and F & W editor Kate Krader, and “Dim Sum at Home,” with Andrew Zimmern.

Tickets for the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen are $1,150 before March 15, and $1,250 thereafter. There will be also be a la carte ticketed events, including the Last Bite Late Night Dessert Party; additional details will be released in March. To get your tickets (hurry, hurry; it’s always a sell-out), click here.

[Photo credit: Food & Wine magazine]

Global Street Food Celebrated In Recipes And Stories In New Book

susan fenigerFor those of you who are unfamiliar with the reign of the “Two Hot Tamales,” Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were the badass female chefs/restaurateurs of the ’80s and ’90s, and the darlings of the Food Network in its infancy (read: when it was good). They helped to put world and regional Mexican cuisine on the radar in the United States with their L.A. restaurants CITY, City Cafe, and the Border Grill, and subsequent TV shows and cookbooks.

Today, they’re still at it. Feniger competed on “Top Chef Masters” last year, and also has her first solo restaurant, STREET, in Hollywood. The menu is dedicated to one of her enduring passions, which is global street food. In July, “Susan Feniger’s Street Food: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes” (Clarkson Potter), hit the shelves: a lively collection of recipes adapted from her favorite street foods worldwide.

In June, I caught Feniger doing a pre-release-inspired cooking demo, “Irresistible Street Food,” at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. I’ve attended a lot of cooking demos in my day, and she’s without doubt one of the most engaging, down-to-earth chefs I’ve ever seen, and not just because I’m piggishly besotted with street food.

Caught up in sharing the travel stories behind the recipes she was preparing (the book is packed with anecdotes from her trips to places like India, Turkey, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Singapore), Feniger was reminiscent of a modern-day Julia Child. “Oh! Salt. Forgot the salt. Oh well, let’s add some more gin!” she said of her Honeydew Cucumber Cooler. In her defense, I, along with the rest of the audience, was suffering a classic Food & Wine Classic hangover right along with her. The weekend’s motto should be, “You play, you pay.”

Feniger also prepared Indian Puffed Rice Salad, and Egyptian Bus Stop Kushary (a lentil dish), in between anecdotes. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or a street food-obsessed adventurer, her book will leave you inspired, intrigued, and hungry for a taste of what the world’s back alleys have to offer.

If you’re in the Bay Area, catch Feniger at a “Cooks with Books” event sponsored by Book Passage, featuring a meal made from the book’s recipes. She’ll also be doing a signing at Omnivore Books in San Francisco on September 21, and at the Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building on September 22.

Question In Venice: What Would You Cook When You’re Looking To Score?

“I’m on a boat!” I kept singing to myself. “Everybody look at me because I’m sailing on a boat.” I was referencing the “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Andy Samberg and T-Pain sail the seas making this one simple proclamation. But this was no ordinary sea and I was on no ordinary boat.

I was on a yacht owned by the Missoni family sailing around the Venice lagoon. I wasn’t, though, sipping champagne flutes with a bunch of well-fed, blue blazer and gold button-clad Italian gazillionaires. I was on the judges’ boat at the San Pellegrino Cooking Cup. I won’t go into all the details except to say it’s perhaps one of the most bizarre cooking competitions, ever. Mostly because it takes place on a boat while that boat is racing. I wasn’t sure what food-loving billionaire was smoking when he concocted this idea but I liked it.

One benefit in covering the Cup – besides eating well, of course – was that it allowed me to see parts of Venice I might not normally have seen.For example, I stayed in Giudecca, a neighborhood away from the main arteries of the city and a refuge from the perpetual tourist crush. There were so few tourists there (except for at my hotel, of course) that, at times, the area felt almost desolate. The only problem was that staying there, one is dependent on water taxis and the vaporetti. On the morning of the cooking competition, I accompanied the chef contestants to the Rialto marketplace, a wonderful outdoor market where fishmongers and farmers called out their goods in their very distinctive Venetian accents. There were huge live crabs (threatening to crawl away), squid big enough to feed a palazzo, plus-sized creatures from the sea, cheese, meat and, of course, plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits. I’d been to Venice a small handful of times in the past but I never encountered this market, which is smack in the center of this city. For a town that’s increasingly losing its “real” life, the Rialto market is about the liveliest of live places in Venice. And these people, these real Venetians, and I were standing in the space and doing business where their ancestors have bought and sold things since the 11th century.

I also got to spend time in the 10th-century monastery of San Giorgio on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, near Giudecca. It was here where the closing ceremonies took place. I strolled around the arcaded walkways, this time a champagne flute in my hand.

And while I did all this, I had a video camera with me (okay, it was my iPod) and when I encountered the chefs in the competition or the judges (who are some of the most renowned chefs in the world, by the way), I asked them all one question:

What would you cook if you were looking to score?

As you’ll see I had to re-phrase the question slightly differently to account for language proficiency and so on. But the answers were varied and intriguing. And, if anything, hunger inducing.

Final Season of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ Debuts Labor Day On Travel Channel

You know the old saying; it’s always best to leave the party when you’re having a great time. So it is with Anthony Bourdain, chef/author/keen observationist of the absurd/master of the pithy sentiment, and dark lord of the filthy, matted belly of the culinary underworld. On Labor Day, the Travel Channel will premiere the ninth and final season of its Emmy Award®-winning series, “No Reservations – The Final Tour.”

On September 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Bourdain will take viewers on a tour of Austin. Later episodes will span the globe, culminating in a Brooklyn-based finale. If you want to get your Tony on, check out the nine-hour “No Reservations” marathon beginning at 12 p.m. ET/PT. Tune in, turn on, pig out.

Below, a compilation of the Travel Channel’s favorite “Bourdainisms.”