Monday, 7 March 2011

Cochon 555 - Napa, California

Vegetarians: beware. This post contains a lot of meat!

Many wines glasses at the entrance of the main event

I have recently been successful in gaining two internships here in California. One of the internships is with the Perishable Foods Council of Northern California which starts next quarter. The other internship is with Culture Magazine, which commenced two weeks ago.

Strips of crispy bacon served in glass jars

Thus far with Culture Magazine, I have been performing various tasks in social media. My first main assignment was to attend Cochon 555 (cochon is French for domestic pig), eat lots of food, drink lots of wine, talk to lots of people, take lots of photos and blog about it. Pretty tough job, I think you'll agree! (Did I mention that we got a VIP ticket?!)

St Germain cocktails

The event was held at the beautiful Culinary Institute of America in St Helena, Napa. The VIP room event commenced at 3.30pm. As I meandered around the room with my St Germain cocktail, that was kindly handed to me on entry, I picked up various bites including Black River Caviar canapés, sustainable oysters (my first - I can't say that this was a pleasant experience!), crispy strips of bacon that were displayed in jars on almost every table, and plentiful doses of artisan cheeses from Cheese Plus.

Fenugreek Gouda - on the cover of this season's Culture Magazine

Tarentaise - my favourite cheese of the event

A sample of each cheese and cracker from the Cheese Plus stand

Cheese Plus also had a fondue to sample. I think the fact that I consumed four servings of the delicious goo says enough about how much I enjoyed it!

The fondue pot at Cheese Plus

Ray Bair from Cheese Plus

Gooey deliciousness - smoky creole tasso ham fondue

Then we got a sneak preview of the "pièce de résistance"...

Look at those gorgeous colours on that cider-glazed pig!

Inside the pig oven

Inside the main event were five chefs, five winemakers and five pigs. Some of the culinary works of art that were on offer included blood and tongue sausage, shredded pork with coconut and pineapple, bacon waffles, Asian pork buns, lard on toast and the most delectable pork pie created by Dave Cruz from Ad Hoc in Yountville, Napa.

Pork canapés

Sliced pigs head

Jars upon jars of crispy bacon

Inside the event

Blood and tongue sausage

Shredded pork with pineapple and coconut

Lard on toast (I could physically feel my arteries clogging as this went down my oesophagus)

Bacon waffle with ice cream and maple syrup

Pork canapé, fruit and pork slice, pork pie by Dave Cruz

A rather beautiful fruity pork slice

Despite the fact that I generally prefer my desserts to be less sweet than the average, they still win me over at any food contest. I very much enjoyed the bacon waffle with the miniature scoop of ice cream. The winning dish for me, however, was the Toffee Bacon Chocolate Lollipop, which was so utterly divine that it will have its own blog post (coming soon!).

As the end of the evening drew closer, there was still so much to try, yet, my stomach was completely full and almost on the verge of popping! My taste buds had certainly been tickled by the explosive (but rather salty) culinary adventure. The various samples of wines and cocktails just added to my fuzzy contentment.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. Thank you Culture Magazine!


  1. Wow, you lucky pup, you. What a job! Doing something tasty and fun and getting paid for it:) Congrats on your internships! I LOVE the bacon in the jars! I would never have thought to do that, but now I will.

  2. A great feast for the eyes, and workout for the heart and arteries! After the lard on toast when you felt your arteries clog, I see you found some relief in bacon waffles:) The event looks like it was pork focused, and I love pork, glad I wasn't there!

  3. ahh it all looks so grown up hash! so 'You'! So proud back here in my bed in leeds. Love and miss you loads, looking forward to a longgg catch up when your back :D xxxxxxxxxxxxx oh ITS AMA BTW xxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Thank you very much Sue! I am very lucky indeed :) The internship is actually unpaid but I can hardly complain! I think I'll definitely be using the bacon in jars as a party snack.

    Three Cookies - thanks! I agree, it was truly a feast for the eyes and definitely a workout for my heart and arteries. I doubt gyming everyday this week will burn the amount of calories I consumed at this event! Atleast I can say I wont be eating pork for a little while - I am all porked out!

  5. And they pay you to do this???? The bacon standing upright in the little jars has had a profound effect on me...I may never recover!

  6. I love the bacon in jars, they look amazing. Sounds as though you had a fabulous time.

  7. What a feast! I really enjoyed trailing behind you as you moved through the event. You'd make a marvelous tour guide. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

  8. This reminds me of the spring Schlachfest in southern Germany. The event featured the entire pork (stem to stern, inside and out). This looked like a wonderful event, very jealous but thank you for sharing

  9. The Caked Crusader - unfortunately this is unpaid but as I said above, I can hardly complain! My ambition is that I will get paid to do things like this in my future career!

    Maggie - thank you, I had a wonderful time! The bacon in the jars is certainly something I will use in the future.

    Mary - thank you for your kind comment. It's so lovely to hear that people enjoy reading my writing :)

    Stephen - Schlachfest sounds amazing, I will have to go one year! I love that blogging can act as a vehicle for sharing these experiences :)

  10. Oh goodness, I definitely want your internships! What fun you must have had sampling this incredible feast. I love the crispy bacon served in jars as it makes it a bit more elegant than slabs on a plate. Incredible!

  11. Holy pork fest! I'll take a glass jar filled with bacon and the shredded pork with coconut and pineapple please.

  12. OMG, that is a place for me! I LOVE pork. A terrific meal. Now I'm drooling...



  13. Pork, Cheese, Wine = Heaven

  14. Well done to you for making the most of every opportunity that comes your way... what rewards!! The pictures are great, but still wish I was there to taste and smell for myself.


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