5 pigs, 5 chefs, 1 winner - the return of cochon 555

by AJ Dronkers, Digital Editor CoCoSalaPig

This post is being updated for the upcoming Cochon 555 event taking place on Sunday, April 17 at the Loews Madison Hotel.

Cochon 555 is back! We loved Cochon 555 event so much that we are partnering with them again as they bring it back to DC. The event challenges five of our top local chefs to cook one whole, family farm-raised, heritage pig for a group of twenty notable judges. Come experience this one of-a-kind event!

The competing chefs:

  • Jennifer Carroll of the Requin
  • Anthony Lombardo of The Hamilton
  • Louis Goral of Rural Society
  • Jonah Kim of Yona
  • Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Ripple
  • Danny Lee of Mandu

Additional chefs:

  • Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground & Maketto

You can read our full recap (below) from Cochon 555 to get a sense for the incredible chefs, farms, drinks, and food!

Last Sunday, EdibleDC was thrilled to be the media sponsor of COCHON 555, a traveling cooking competition that pairs 5 local chefs and 5 local farmers who provide 5 heritage breed pigs for the event. The event brought out 500 fans ready to taste the delicious pork creations and vote for their favorite chef.


As a judge, I had the unique challenge of experiencing the "nose-to-tail" creations of each chef who were challenged to use every part of their heritage pig. First up, fitting since he has been in DC since 1984, Chef Jeffrey Buben, was paired with Faith Like A Mustard Seed Farm's Large Black pig. His southern inspired brunch creations included sunny-side egg, pineapple-onion marmalade, ham hollandaise and pork shoulder with pimento cheese grits!


Next up was the effervescent Chef Victor Albisu, who was paired with Autumn Olive Farm's Ossabaw pig. Dressed in a white coat, aviators, cigar and mojito gun he walked us through his "Swineface" themed menu. Notable standouts for me were the mojito marinated pork shoulder, rum soaked pineapple, mint and pickled chili taco and the Cuban midnight sandwich with Swiss cheese, espelette cured loin, pickle and yellow mustard.


Next up was Top Chef finalist, Chef Spike Mendelsohn, who also brought in friends Chef Mike Colletti, Chef Chris Kulis to help him roll out "Porgy's Last Brunch" theme. He was paired with Spring House Farm's Mulefoot pig.

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My favorites from Team Spike were the blood sausage with mascarpone grits, apple and fennel salad and the slow cooked bacon which was honey glazed and served with vanilla bourbon ice cream! Even though I'm doing my best to restrict my judging tastings to mere bites, some items demand seconds. At this point I'm starting to feel full--and there are still two chefs to go.


We have been anxiously awaiting Chef Jonah Kim's new restaurant concept, Yona, a collaboration with local chef and restauranteur Mike Isabella -- so getting an advance sampling of his cuisine and a preview of what might be on the menu at Yona was especially exciting.


The mini pork shoulder biscuit with Korean BBQ and cabbage was a palate pleaser, full of savory flavors. What was unusual and I loved was Chef Jonah's interpretation of a shabu-shabu like process where a raw pork leg was cooked when dipped into kimchi stew. The struggle to eat more is starting to get real but I down some libations and prepare for the final course!


Chef Danny Lee took home the prize that night with this Korean inspired meal -- in particular the bindaedduk pancake of tenderloin strips mixed with pureed mung and soy beans and the ground shoulder and cheek dumplings folded with house made skins were a delightful way to end the evening.



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Cochon 555 was a blast--and we learned a lot about the different types of heritage pigs, butchering and using whole animals with creative ways to cook absolutely every part of the pig! We can't wait for the return of this rowdy and delicious food competition.

Winter White Mulled Wine

Winter-White-Mulled-Wine Sponsored by Spice & Tea Exchange.

If you love to cook, The Spice and Tea Exchange is a perfect store to swing by anytime if you are shopping in Old Town or Annapolis, or weekending at the beach. Holiday seasonal gifts are aplenty here, it is hard to leave without trying something new--whether you are a spice and herb junkie and love trying new things, a discerning tea drinker or just love kitchen accouterments--almost certainly you'll leave with new things for yourself and gifts for others!

Joy Quinn-Whalen is the owner of three Spice & Tea Exchange stores—in Alexandria, Annapolis and Rehoboth. After graduating from business school and working as a consultant, she started looking for a consulting entrepreneurial opportunity. After happening onto a Spice & Tea Exchange in Florida while on a business trip, she left with a big shopping bag and an idea for starting her own franchise. She found out that it Spice & Tea Exchange was a small but growing franchise, 11 stores at the time in 2009; now 44. It was 2009 and there were a number of vacancies on King Street in Old Town, Alexandria she lived. After doing some analysis, she and a business partner (Taruna Reddy) opened their Old Town location on King Street in 2010 and an Annapolis store on historic Main Street in 2011. Quinn-Whalen went solo in 2013 to open two additional locations in Rehoboth Beach, DE and her fourth store in Ocean City, MD in 2015.

Quinn-Whalen describes her stores as a “wonderland of fine, savory, exotic spices and spice blends, gourmet teas, flavored sugars, salts, seasonings and accessories.” Spice & Tea offers unique and hard to find spices for the creative home cooks; many are specially blended onsite. Most custom blends are targeted to the cook who wants to prepare flavorful, healthy, fresh meals without huge effort, excess time or complex recipes. Quinn-Whalen is proud of the quality of her products and the knowledge of her staff. Check out their website for seasonal chef series, tea tasting classes and demonstrations: The Spice and Tea Exchange.

Winter-White Mulled Wine

Yield: 8-10 drinks Total Time: 35 mins Prep: 5 mins Cook: 30 mins

TSTE® Mulling Mix Spice Blend is used to craft a lighter-bodied mulled white wine full of wintery flavors. This warm & easy-to-make drink contains pear, cinnamon, and other lovely seasonal hints with an inviting scent that’s perfect for seasonal parties.

Ingredients from The Spice and Tea Exchange:

1 pkg TSTE® Mulling Mix Spice Blend

2 TBS TSTE® Raspberry Sugar

2 TBS TSTE® Vanilla Sugar

Cinnamon Stick - Korintje (optional garnish)

From the Grocer

2 - 750ml bottles Sauvignon Blanc wine

5 cups pear nectar

1 fresh pear (optional garnish)


Combine both bottles of Sauvignon Blanc wine, 5 cups of pear nectar, and TSTE® Mulling Mix Spice Blend in a slow cooker or in large saucepan on stove top.

Heat on very low heat for approximately 30 mins or until spices infuse to desired taste.

Combine the  TSTE® Raspberry Sugar and TSTE® Vanilla Sugar and rim each glass.

Ladle mulled wine into glasses. Garnish each glass with a pear slice and cinnamon stick. KEEP beverage warm in slow cooker until gone!

Copyright © 2015 The Spice & Tea Exchange®






A Dinner in the Vineyard

By Karly Murphy special to EdibleDC DSC_6153

Dinner under the stars is pretty hard to beat. Even more so when it consists of handsomely prepared, locally-sourced dishes paired with wines grown and made a few hundred feet from the dinner table.


Early Mountain’s lower barn before sunset.

Last Friday, a beautiful, crisp October evening, Early Mountain Vineyards hosted their first Winemaker Field Supper in Madison, Virginia. Presented by winemaker Ben Jordan and Chef Harrison Keevil of Charlottesville’s Brookville restaurant, along stylists Joy Jaynes of Mornings Like These and Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something.

The night began with a glass of sparkling Virginia wine and a stroll through the vineyard to the barn, where we enjoyed a selection of hors d’oeuvres around a fire pit as the sun went down. Rappahannock oysters, kim kim glazed pork belly bites and a wonderfully creamy spice-roasted butternut squash bisque were paired with Early Mountain’s 2014 Block Eleven white wine. Once the sun had gone behind the mountains, we made our way back down the hill to the dinner table, set on the lawn beneath twinkling lights and the darkening sky.


The next course, an Edwards Virginia country ham & caramelized onion tart topped with local micro greens, was paired with a duo of 2014 Pinot Gris, grown in different parts of the vineyard and each expressing a unique set of flavors. Our main course, sourced entirely from the state of Virginia (apart from the salt), consisted of Buffalo River beef, roasted root vegetables, and Woodson’s Mill grits. This family-style course was served with a beautiful red blend, the 2012 Eluvium. To follow, a glass of 2014 late harvest Petit Manseng pulled right from the barrel was paired with Meadow Creek Dairy's Grayson cheese and estate apple butter. Finally, a special Charlottesville-made Gearharts’ dark chocolate infused with EMV Eluvium finished out the meal. Kudos to all, it was a very special evening that will not soon be forgotten. I look forward to my next visit to Early Mountain.

Winemaker Ben Jordan explains the wine pairing selections


KarlyMurphyKarly Murphy is a photographer and amateur gardener based near Charlottesville, Virginia. On her days off, you may find her on a walk in the woods with her husband and their dog, or perhaps out sampling some of Virginia’s tastiest wine and food, but rarely will you find her sitting still. (Instagram @karlymurphy_)

America Eats Tavern Highlights Virginia's Food Roots

By Jai Williams, special to Edible DC Private Dining Area

As the first colony settled by the English in the ‘New World,’ Virginia’s cuisine has changed over the course of its quadricentennial history. From the indigenous people originally present to the wave of colonists and slaves that came afterward, together they built the foundation of recipes that we’ve come to love and utilize. When internationally acclaimed Chef José Andrés opened America Eats Tavern, its concept differed from his other restaurants here in the District. Mexican, Mediterranean, and Spanish were present but American cuisine, could it be done?

That’s never a question to ask when it comes to the ThinkFoodGroup, Andres’s restaurant conglomerate. Highlighting classic dishes with fresh ingredients, Head Chef Nate Waugaman pays homage to American history while challenging the diner to experience something familiar in a completely new light while showcasing the bounty of flora and fauna Virginia has to offer.

Trio of Oysters

From the slightly sweet elderflower mignonette perched next to raw Rappahannock, Tom’s Cove, and War Shore oysters, all located along the inlets of Virginia’s coast; or the soft, fluffy biscuits lightly smothered with pepper jelly that had shaved pieces of ham stuffed generously inside. More of a cocktail drinker? That’s not an issue either as some of America’s most quintessential drinks are present. Perhaps a New York Sour made with cognac, lemon, orange, and José Cuvée or the Painkiller, handsomely garnished in a mule tumbler with pineapple leaves.

AE Cocktails

Regardless of what your palate fancies, America Eats Tavern tastefully highlights what ‘Old Dominion’ has to offer. As you sip on your cocktail and take a bite of something from a tweaked rendition created hundreds of years ago, remember that it is Virginia’s diverse culture and rich history that makes it possible to enjoy this very moment.

To find out more about America Eats Tavern including the menu go here.

Jai Williams is editor of Girl Meets Food, a DC food blogger and photographer and a contributor to Edible DC. Follow her on Twitter @januarijai or Instagram @januarijaimedia.

A conversation with the Old Dominion's three top winemakers

Virginia’s Finest By David White VA Wine--3 bottles1Until 1976, few wine critics took California seriously.

That year, a British wine merchant organized a competition in Paris pitting California’s best Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon against the best wines that France had to offer. Everyone assumed that France would win. But with both the whites and the reds, California came out on top.

That competition—now known as “The Judgment of Paris”—transformed California’s wine industry. It helped accelerate vintners’ efforts to tout California’s wines as being on par with Europe’s best offerings.

Virginia’s wine industry isn’t yet on par with California’s. But wine critics everywhere are starting to pay serious attention to the state. After a recent visit to the Old Dominion, celebrated British wine authority Jancis Robinson suggested that Rutger de Vink—the proprietor of RdV Vineyards in Delaplane—has “a good chance of putting the state on the world wine map.”

De Vink’s name is almost always mentioned alongside Jim Law of Linden Vineyards and Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards, two key figures in the industry. Wines from these producers would convert just about anyone who doubts Virginia’s potential.

In mid-May, I visited Linden to chat with De Vink, Law and Paschina. Sebastian Zutant, the co-owner and wine director of The Red Hen, a popular D.C. restaurant, accompanied me. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

David White: How and why did each of you decide to make wine in Virginia?

Rutger de Vink:  You’re starting with the newbie? But these are the two godfathers! For me, it started in 2000. I was working in the tech field, wearing a tie to work every day, and realized that life wasn’t for me. I wanted to work with my hands and be out in nature.

My parents grew up in Europe, where wine was always on the table. So I contacted Lucie Morton, a vineyard consultant in Virginia, and told her I’d like to get into the wine world. She said, “Before you do anything, you need to apprentice. There are two names I’ll give you: Luca Paschina and Jim Law.”

I was living in Alexandria so I contacted Jim. But he didn’t offer apprenticeships. So I contacted him again, stopped by, and finally broke him down. My first harvest here was in 2001. I remember coming in August and doing canopy management; I think it was my hazing period! It was buggy, hot and sweaty, but within the first week, I decided that this was what I want to do with my life. Working with your hands and working with the soils was just magic, right away.

I then started to look for a nice site, as I had been learning about the importance of site selection. I looked in Virginia for a while, starting in 2001. But nothing really presented itself. So I went out to California and looked on the Sonoma Coast and north of Santa Barbara. I wanted to be in a region where good wine was being made, but where there was potential to take it to the next level. And then I stumbled upon our little magic granite hillside.

Linden Vineyards_Dining Room1Jim, how’d you end up here?

Jim Law: I also grew up with wine on the table. And in the ’70s, I was an agricultural volunteer in the Peace Corps in Africa and fell in love with fruit crops. So when I came back, because I had a love for wine and growing fruit, I put it together.

I started in Indiana, just over the border from Ohio. I ended up pruning in the winter, by myself, and loved it! But I knew I couldn’t make the kind of wine I wanted to there. Not that it’s impossible, but I couldn’t sell it. People then just wanted inexpensive, sweet wines. So I decided to go to one of the coasts, mainly because I knew there’d be a market.

Long story short, I received a job offer in Virginia from an old Italian guy that had a vineyard and wanted to start a winery in the Shenandoah Valley. I fell in love with it and knew this was where I wanted to be. So in 1983, I bought this place. I planted it in 1985. The rest is history.


Luca Paschina: I was one of those people who grew up in a family of winemakers—my father, uncle, grandfather and brother. Besides my grandfather, we all even graduated from the same school. Growing up in a family of winemakers doesn’t mean you’re going to be a winemaker, but I’m sure you’re more likely to at least try it.[/pullquote]

I ended up loving it! I graduated from school in 1982 and for the next eight years, I worked in quality control, vineyard management and sales. I got a chance to work in northwest Italy in Piedmont, in Spain around Barcelona, in the Finger Lakes and in Napa.

I eventually went back to Italy, and the company saw me as a great communicator so put me into sales. I liked it for three years because the travel was great. But it wasn’t what I really wanted; I wanted to grow grapes and make wine. The company I was working for didn’t have a position for me, so I quit.

I contacted about 75 companies that were invested in vineyards. The first one to reply was Zonin, one of Italy’s largest wine companies. They had purchased Barboursville in 1976 and offered me a two-month consulting job. I had no idea where Virginia was on the map, but I came and loved it. There was just so much to do, so much unknown. So I stayed.

What challenges does Virginia face?

JL: Every region has its own challenges. But when I came here 30 years ago, the biggest challenge was that nobody had a clue how to even grow grapes and make wine under the best conditions, let alone anything about terroir or what made sense where. It was a total crapshoot.

It was a lot of fun, but we really had no idea what we were doing. But it was sort of the same way in Napa at the time. I remember, right on Highway 29, people would say, “this is Moscato, this is Gewürztraminer, this is Zinfandel, this is Gamay, this is Cabernet.” They’d all be right there.

The defining thing in Virginia is rain. That’s the huge difference between California and us. At first, I would go to California a lot to try and learn. But then I realized we had rain and they didn’t—so I needed to go to Europe. That’s what we’ve all been doing, as we understand that rain influences everything. Especially site selection and how the soils absorb and retain water. Once you start understanding that, once you start finding the vine balance, you can do some wonderful things.

Is there enough experimentation in Virginia?

JL: We know some of the grapes that do well, and we’re lucky that those grapes are internationally accepted and make really good wine.

LP: What’s very important is that people like Jim—people who have been growing grapes for a few years—observe, listen and change. We learn which grapes go where. In Virginia, we’re working with grapes that make some of the best wines in the world, but you have to know which sites support which grapes. That’s something you can only figure out while you do it. RdV: I just love the American spirit: “You don’t think I can produce a great wine in Virginia? Let’s go try it out!”

VA Wine--Luca_Jim_Rutger_portrait1


Has the wine industry been able to tap into the local food movement?

LP: I’m a little concerned about using words like “local.” Some restaurants just use these words for marketing purposes, regardless of how they operate. There’s no easier access to a local product than wine, but it’s one of the last products to be brought into so many restaurants. It’s happening, but boy, it took forever.

JL: But the differences I’ve seen are phenomenal, especially in the last five years. It’s been amazing.

There are more wineries in Virginia than ever before. But I would argue that the number of quality producers hasn’t increased proportionally.

RdV: Absolutely. The three of us have a mutual friend, Mark Chien, who was one of the pioneers out in Oregon. He has told us that the Virginia industry reminds him of Oregon in its beginning—but in Oregon, it was relatively difficult to sell your wine. Here in Virginia, it’s almost too easy to sell because it’s still very much a tourism market. People come to spend time in the beautiful countryside and enjoy wines—it’s not really focused on quality.

Having said that, things have really improved. Back in 2001, we’d have tastings and find flawed wines—incorrect, unserviceable lots. Today, even at the most commercial winery, it’s hard to find bad wine. We have reached a point in our cellar practices where Virginia wines are globally serviceable.

Oregon’s pioneers—people like David Lett and Dick Erath—were known for promoting their entire region. If you followed that blueprint, you’d inevitably promote wineries that survive on weddings and bachelorette parties. Is this problematic?

JL: Usually, the wines available out in the marketplace are the best. So we have that going for us. People ask for specific recommendations, which we give. What we see in Virginia isn’t so unusual anywhere in the world nowadays—it’s just that maybe the differences are a little greater from top to bottom here.

LP: In the past couple years, I’ve been feeling a bit more relaxed about this situation. I used to be a bit more uptight and say when wineries were going in the wrong direction. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I don’t think we’re penalized by those that want to do weddings. If that’s what they want to do, that’s OK. It’s like the restaurant business. Do you think all the restaurants in Washington are good? Absolutely not! But there is a group that wants to do well. That’s what’s happening with Virginia wine.

If I were in your shoes, I’d be torn. On the one hand, I’d want to promote Virginia. On the other, there are a lot of wineries I wouldn’t want to promote.

JL: It’s not as difficult for me as it used to be because I’ve made peace with the fact that not everyone is going to produce a style of wine I like at a quality level I’d like to see. That’s true in all regions, even in Bordeaux!

RdV: For me, it’s not an issue. I don’t compare myself to Barboursville or Linden, but I think the three of us are more international. I consider myself part of the global community, with people from Napa and Bordeaux.

What’s extremely insulting for me is hearing “Not bad for a Virginia wine.” I used to be quiet about it, but now, I reply back and say, “This is not bad for a global wine.” We’re making world-class wines that compete with the top wines around the world. If you don’t think so, let’s put them in brown bags. I do these brown-bag tastings all the time, not to insult other wineries, but because you have to have a benchmark. And unless someone like Robert Parker at Wine Spectator says—“95 points!”—everyone will be suspicious of Virginia. That’s hard. But it’s getting better.

I used to be introduced as “a top winegrower in Virginia,” but just recently at a fancy club in Washington, I was introduced as “one of the best winegrowers in the country.” I’ll remember that introduction!


How to you get a customer at a restaurant in Chicago or New York to request a bottle of wine from Virginia?

LP: I’m not in hurry. We’ll get there. Every year, the knowledge of Virginia wine increases. With restaurants, we have to identify spots with intelligent wine buyers—ones that aren’t prejudiced or lazy. It’s easy to buy famous wines, put them on the list and jack up the prices. Those are the restaurants I don’t want to be in. Even if I’m on those lists, my wines will just sit there in a big book.

Barboursville is at a fantastic restaurant in Brooklyn—and I’ve had people come visit the winery after tasting the wine there. Some of our best buyers, historically, have come after hearing about us from restaurants in New York, Washington, Richmond and Charlotte. Somebody at the restaurant suggested they try they wine, and then they say, “Oh, my gosh, this is good.”

- David White is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com, which was named “Best Overall Wine Blog” at the 2013 Wine Blog Awards. He is also the author of a nationally syndicated wine column that’s hosted by Grape Collective. Follow him on Twitter @terroiristblog.

The Vineyards

Barboursville Vineyards, 17655 Winery Road
Barboursville, VA 22923. The winery's Tasting Room is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day, from 10:00 to 5:00 on Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 to 5:00 on Sunday.  www.barboursvillewine.net

Linden Vineyards, 3708 Harrels Corner Road, Linden, VA 22642. Visiting and tasting hours are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.  ClosedThanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s (Dec. 24 through January 2).www.lindenvineyards.com

RDV Vineyards, 2550 Delaplane Grade Road,
Delaplane, Virginia 20144. Visiting and tasting tours are by appointment via the website. www.rdvvineyards.com