A very porky day, SXSW 2011

A great start to my SXSW 2011 experience, with not one, but TWO events featuring the goodness of pork.

Crowds of bacon-lovers joned in to eat bacon dishes and drink beer on a Sunday afternoon.

I wrote about the Austin Bacon Takedown, in which I participated as a judge. The event was as fun and wacky as it sounded, albeit a bit disorganized and chaotic, and I was slightly disappointed as 14 out of 18 dishes were sweets. Now, nothing wrong with a well-made dessert featuring the smoky salty crunch of bacon, but 14 was a bit too much especially since I am not a sweets eater, and honestly, not all of them were that good.  The winner was a group of ladies called the Three Little Piglets who made a trio of dishes designed to be a tiny full meal. Starting with a watermelon and bacon salad with fresh mint, cilantro, and sesame oil, then a bacon-stuffed wonton with a spicy watermelon reduction, and finishing with coconut cream served in a cute wonton skin bowl, garnished with crisp crumbled bacon and toasted pecans.

Watermelon & bacon salad, bacon wonton, and coconut bacon custard was the winner in both judges and people's categories.

Watermelon & bacon salad, bacon wonton, and coconut bacon custard was the winner in both judges and people’s categories.

I would love to post the names of all the winners, but we were not given a printed list with contestants names and dishes, so I’ll have to wait until their website is updated. I do know that Christy Horton of Epicuriosities won the Best Sweet category (which we created before we knew that most of them were going to be sweet) with a molecular gastronomy take on s’mores. Best Savory went to the bacon-wrapped pork belly on a stick.

Bacon-wrapped pork belly on a stick, winner of Best Savory.

Earlier, we had visited with The Pork Experiment, another NYC-based cooking contest from the warped minds of Theo Peck and Nick Suarez of  The Food Experiment. The Brooklyn-based duo has many years of amateur cooking contest under their belts, and eventually decided to join forces to create their own traveling cooking showdowns. This was their first ever in Austin, but I sure hope it won’t be the last. It was over the top.

Pork lovers descended upon Club de Ville for the first ever Pork Experiment. What an absolute blast.

To start, they had a booze sponsor in Brooklyn Brewery, so a huge supply of Brooklyn beers was on hand and included in the price of admission. Second, all 22 contestants made something different, so there was variety and the portions were substantial. Third, they had music by the fantastic DJ Jester – The Filipino Fist. They took care of every single detail to make sure everything went smoothly, the prizes were great, and a fantastic time was had by all. The coolest thing? The grand prize winners, who get to represent Austin at the National competition in Brooklyn in September, were my favorite team, The Holy Smokers!

Jon Evans and Nate “The Flying Salmon” as The Holy Smokers, my favorite team at the Pork Experiment!

Not only did I love their dish -Thai chile candied bacon, pulled pork, pineapple-infused guacamole and queso fresco served on a baby spinach leaf, chased by a shot of sweetened iced coffee- but I also loved them: fun, funny, and warm, ready to have a good time and share it with everyone. I am so glad they won and only wish I’d been there to celebrate with them, although I had given them hugs before I left. Check out their YouTube video to see what I am talking about. Congrats Jon and Salmon!

Here is the list of all the winners at the Pork Experiment:

Nick and Theo Award

#10 – Fruippe – Poached Pear Pork Cups  (tasty AND cute! Pork & pear falling in love…)

The wedding of pork and pear.

Judges Honorable Mention

#6 – Wildly Natural One – Fiery Pulled Pork

Judges 3rd

#8 – Zesty Bean Dog – Mini Cuban Sliders

Judges 2nd

#1 – Masarap – White Meat Bad Boys (FilipinoMex dish of pork in mole, topped with cocoa, queso fresco and crumbled bacon!)

Judges 1st

#19 – Satiation – Pork by Pork West (Pork rillette topped with roasted pork belly)

Audience 3rd

#7 – Get Porked – The Oinker

Audience 2nd

#1 – Masarap – White Meat Bad Boys

Audience 1st

#16 – Holy Smokers – Hog Heaven

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