are few things I love more than pork prepared correctly. A whole hog, cooked
snout to tail is in fact a fantasy dining experience for me. My prayers have
been answered in the form of a new culinary competition and feast that is part
of the Wine, Waves and Beyond event hosted by the Boutique Hotel Collection.
Hops and Hogs Chef’s Throwdown is a feasting event pitting the executive chefs
against each other to create several courses each using a sustainable hog from
Rancher’s Alliance, items from the chef’s garden, all paired with local breweries.
The dinner (on May 3, 2014) will be set in the romantic garden at Sycamore and
the diners will choose the winner of the Pork Award.
Chef Gregg Wangard
the media luncheon, we got to sample a bit of the coming attractions for the Throwdown.
We sat in the sunny garden, where the tables were set to impress and the food was
one astonishing surprise after another. We were greeted with a hop infused
cocktail made with gin, smoked mescal and peppercorn syrup. It was hot and refreshing.
The charcuterie was a sampling of mind-blowing preparation including prosciutto,
headcheese with pistachios, bacon jam with goat cheese and chutney, and loin
butter all paired with delectable biscuits prepared by executive pastry chef
Hannah Ingham of Marisol. Willette Vey executive pastry chef of the Apple Farm,
made my favorite among the picked vegetables and pork inspired bites. It was a
cheese and honey infused croissant with candied bacon. To say that I took a
plastic bag from my purse and stuffed in six after I ate three, would explain
just how good this tasted.
sat down for our first course prepared by the NEW Corporate Executive Chef,
Gregg Wangard. They made the announcement and those of the culinary world
raised a glass in praise and respect. He started us with a liver mousse made
with garlic, shallots and honey. Then came the trotter soup, a pig foot consommé
made with garden flower petals and fennel herbs. Gregg has always been an innovator
in the market driven cuisine movement and I am excited to see where his vision
and passion will take the Gardens. It was paired with a Barrel House IPA that
handled the earthiness of the mousse and soup.
Chef Casey Walcott
was a course by Chef Casey Walcott of The Sea Venture. He had boasted to me
earlier about making the best carnitas around and he was correct. Called a Pork
Confit Sopapillia, this delectably spiced and cooked pork loin was resting on a
pillow of wonderfulness (the sopapillia) with pickled watermelon, roasted pico
de gallo, cabbage and a house made sirracha. He now has all bragging rights, because
this was the best carnitas I have tried, anywhere. It was paired with a Lucky
Day IPA from Central Coast Brewing with a tropical fruit flavor.
Chef Michael Avila
then paraded an Earth Cooked Kahlua Pig around, as it was just unearthed.
Wrapped in banana leafs and cooked for ten hours in a fire pit, this pork was
served with purple potato poi, coconut rice, sweet macaroni salad and pork’n
beans. It was an expert creation by Chef Michael Avila of an impeccable Hawaii
luau treat and its authenticity flabbergasted and enchanted us all. It was
served with a Figueroa Mountain Hoppy Poppy. I was ready to dance the hula with
next course was a salad on steroids using Windrose Farms romaine lettuce
sitting on a layer of avocado dressing with tangerine vinaigrette made by
Steven Smeets of The Apple Farm. Laced throughout the salad was spiced
chicharones (deep fried pig skin) that was something I had never tried. The freshness
of the greens pared with the earthy chip-like element was a triumph. We had the
Firestone Union Jack with this course, and I loved its honey and piney notes.
brought out four stout beers along with the dessert selections. First it was an
English steamed dessert. The Sticky Toffee Pudding consisted of a very moist
sponge cake made up of finely chopped dates covered with a bourbon toffee
sauce. The Sticky Monkey Stout ice cream accompanied the pudding, as well as a
rosette of candied bacon. Made by Chef’s Willette and Hannah, they were also served
with house made marshmallows and chocolate turtle bites. It was 3:00 pm and I
was ready for a nap, dreaming of flying pigs.
Hops and Hogs Chef’s Throwdown is Saturday, May 3rd at Sycamore
Mineral Springs Resort. Held in the Chef’s Garden, this lively cooking
competition features distinguished chefs who will face off to create
spectacular dishes paired with local craft beers. Guests in attendance will
sample outstanding cuisine, sip specialty craft brews and have a chance to vote
on their favorite pairing. Information and tickets at www.hopsandhogsevent.com.
5th Annual Wine, Waves & Beyond: Central Coast Longboard Surf Classic
returns April 30-May 4, 2014. Proceeds are donated to the Association of
Amputee Surfers (AmpSurf). Tickets available at www.winewavesandbeyond.com
or (805) 773-5000.