Here we were on the Upper Delaware, three hours north of New York City, and everyone seemed to be from Brooklyn or France.
It was the Pig Mountain festival in Narrowsburg, New York, just steps away from the Pennsylvania border.
Main Street, where the festival took place, was indeed narrow, and it was pork-filled. Punk-inflected publicity promised 14 pigs and 14 chefs.
We got there just as it opened and within minutes the place was jammed with swine fanciers.
It was definitely after lunchtime and quite a bit before the usual dinner hour too, 4pm, a strange time to be diving into pig’s ears, julienned and fried and served atop a bed of parsley.
But when I saw the seriousness of the chef in his whites, I didn’t resist. Plus, they were serving aioli.
And dishing up pungent kim chee as a side. It was as good as I’d hoped for my first Pig Mountain venture.
Everyone who paid admission received 10 tickets to spend on whatever cardboard boats of food they wanted. Tasting portions. Pig heads were everywhere.
There were a lot of dogs in the crowd, some of them picking fights, some waiting patiently for whatever pig scraps they might come across.
An outfit called PorcSalt Charcuterie out of Rosemont, New Jersey served up delectable chopped pork from a 190-pound pig that had been slow roasted, its bulk and burnished skin a centerpiece of the party. Chef Matthew Ridgway was the master carver.
Simple and fabulous, described as “pastrami pork,” topped with pickled red onions with a side of beets. Wow, they infuse that with something, said Gil. As the day went down, I passed by Matthew’s station several times on The Bloke, and saw that succulent bulk gradually diminish into a pile of bones.
Sustainable. Local. Artisanal. That’s how PorcSalt bills itself, and to those modifiers all these gourmet gastronome locavore hipsters thronged. The lines, the hungry maws, stretched across the street and down the block. It was nice, because you could talk to your neighbors about the dishes they’d already consumed, compare notes.
Did I mention that there were heads everywhere?
Hipster chef fires blazed.
The Bloke and I caroused through the lines. The Bloke has a metal basket, an object of envy for the food plates I could pile within. You’re a strong woman, someone intelligently told me, eyeing my cast. Last year, the festival’s first, had been not as crowded, I was told, and there was a seating area as well. Next year they’ll have to hold the party in Widesburg.
People stood in the street, stuffing their faces.
As long as you followed the rules you’d be okay.
Vegetables had also been promised in the promotion for the feast, but about all I saw of that was a vintage sign on an empty old storefront.
A happy crowd. The end of summer. Let’s never go home to the city. Is fall really at hand?
The street so nice and cool, shady and pork-fragrant.
Lots of footwear fashion going on.
I probably noticed it more as I tried to sail through on the scooter without mashing any toes. Also I was wearing only one shoe myself.
Care for some Viennese Spice Rubbed Pork with Hoffbrau Summer Ale BBQ Sauce, Purple Kraut w/Fresh & Dried Plums, Potato Salad and a Soft Pretzel? You are in luck, my friend. Der Kommissar of Brooklyn is plating it up for you.
I made two trips to the booth set up by Alison 18, a restaurant off of Union Square in Manhattan. Chicharrones — light, crispy pork fat– slathered with a spicy cheese cream called sriracha, out of this world.
And, surprisingly scrumptious, pig fat oreos – rich chocolate wafers stuffed with a sweet, lard-enriched filling. You wouldn’t bet those would go down well, especially after all the pig of the day. But for the non-vegan folks in attendance – in other words, everyone – they were astonishing.