25 Mar Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Taste of Pigs & Pinot in Healdsburg
A big juicy steak goes with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. A zesty plate of BBQ pairs with a glass of Zinfandel. And a variety of pork dishes is ideal with Pinot Noir. I can definitely vouch for that after attending Taste of Pigs & Pinot, the kick-off event to the 16th annual Pigs & Pinot weekend in Healdsburg, California, the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Pinot Noir, with its light to medium body, bright acidity, and silky tannins, is one of the most food-friendly wines. I love to pair it with almost anything, from mushroom and vegetarian dishes to salmon, tuna, chicken, lamb, and of course pork. Just saying Pigs and Pinot Noir is a fun alliteration.
Pigs & Pinot was created in 2005 by Chef Charlie Palmer and winemaker Daryl Groom to celebrate all things Pinot Noir and pork. The two-day event offered dining and educational experiences and started with the Taste of Pigs & Pinot.
There were 60 highly acclaimed Pinot Noirs and a variety of pork dishes served by guest chefs Maneet Chauhan, Elizabeth Falkner, Louis Tikaram, and Bryan Voltaggio, as well as local chefs. The pork the chefs cooked was all-natural, sustainably raised pork courtesy of Cream Co. in Sonoma.
If there was one dish that stood out that night, it was Chef Louis Tikaram’s 5-Spice Caramel Spareribs with pickled serrano, roasted rice, and cilantro. The ribs were deep fried so there was a crunch but the meat was still tender, and that sauce…there are no words for how good it was….Lip-smacking delicious!
Another tasty highlight was Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s Dan Dan Noodles with mustard greens and peanut crunch. This was a savory, comforting dish and I loved the added crunch of the peanuts.
Local Healdsburg chefs Sean McGaughey and Melissa Yanc of Quail & Condor served up a Hokkaido Milk Roll with Chinese pork floss and bacon fat butterscotch. These rolls looked so simple but were surprisingly decadent and rich.
Chef Maneet Chauhan served the playful Pork Vindaloo Frito Pie with tamarind chutney, mango curry slaw, and cojita crumb that offered a mix of sweet and spicy finished off by the crunch of the chips.
Chefs Charlie Palmer and Wyatt Keith of Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen offered Rotisserie Pork Shoulder with house mustard, and pickled fennel salad on grill ciabatta.
Chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart, owners of Black Pig Meat Co, offered small tender bites of Korean Barbecue pork.
And Nichole Baker and Victoria Leon Pantoja from the Healdsburg Toffee Company served up delicious chocolate and bacon combinations with Spicy Chocolate Oinkers, Bacon Peanut Butter Bites, Bacon Toffee, and Chocolate Covered Bacon. Yum!
The 60 different Pinot Noirs were spread around the event. They were all hand-picked to compete in “Pinot Cup”, the annual wine competition. The renowned judging panel, including Sarah Doyle, Wine and Spirits Journalist at The Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine, Debbie Zachareas, Partner at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and David Yoshida, Master Sommelier and last year’s Ultimate Pinot Smackdown Champion, tasted the wines blind to select the “best of the best” winner.
And the winning Pinot Noir was revealed at the event. The Pinot Cup Winner at the 2023 Pigs & Pinot was the Papapietro-Perry Pinot Noir. This was their THIRD time winning the competition!
Pigs & Pinot is a fun, and tasty, event, but it also has raised over $1,000,000 for its beneficiaries, including Farm to Pantry, the Culinary Institute of America, the Sonoma State Wine Program, the Healdsburg Education Foundation, and many more worthwhile organizations.