Monday, August 19, 2013

Gettin' Piggy with It at the Hog Days of Summer

Saturday proved to be a most memorable night, as Dan and I attended the Hog Days of Summer event hosted by Tyson Ho, aka The Arrogant Swine.  First hearing about Tyson's BBQ adventures a few months ago, he was our esteemed guest on We Heart Astoria, and it didn't take me long to be fascinated with his craft.  Meaning to check out his summer events for quite a while, Dan and I finally made it out this past Saturday night, and had ourselves a porktacular time.  

About Hog Days of Summer:
Paying homage to the whole hog, Hog Days is a celebration of meaty deliciousness.  The setting--a spacious LIC lot--is friendly, casual and collaborative, as Tyson and his comrades invite you into the process of smoking an entire hog, cutting it up, serving it and of course enjoying it, together.

I love that the setting is communal, with a live Bluegrass band that helps to put everyone in the mood for all this finger-lickin' goodness.  It's not uncommon to find people chatting with new friends they've just met and to also bust out a few moves, as the music takes them.

About The Arrogant Swine:
Even before I get into the food, I wanted to mention a few words about Tyson, the head pit-master and the originator of Hog Days.  A devout disciple of Eastern North Carolina BBQ, Tyson is also the Resident Whole Hog Expert at John Brown's Smokehouse in LIC.  I love that his background and passion lies in preserving and spreading the North Carolina style of BBQ and really honoring the entire hog, as opposed to just the most commonly used parts such as the belly, loin, spare rib and so forth.  I was happy to see the entire pig used in some shape or form, from the skin to the ears and feet - it all went to good use.

The Feast:
Besides the wonderful atmosphere that was so inclusive and hospitable, the food was of course the highlight.  I loved watching the hog preparation and then the festive ritual of serving it up to eager guests.  It was fun to watch Tyson and his pitmasters enjoying the drama of it all, as they offered up guests various parts of the hog, and even threw a few pieces directly into people's mouths.  Dan was one such lucky recipient.

Pork Cracklings - We started with a plate of pork cracklings to get our juices flowing so to speak.  Creating the perfect snack, they were crispy, a little smoky and made us oh so excited for the main event.  It was fun to wash these down with a spicy Founders Brewery Mango Magnifico.

The Hog! - At last, we got to sample the pork, which far surpassed expectations.  As I already mentioned, the meat consisted of a variety of different cuts, including one of my favorites, which is the pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt).  Not only was it super moist, it sort of melted in your mouth and created the most amazing nirvana of flavors including smoky, salty and buttery touches.  Since the pork was quite rich, it was nice to pair it with a summery slaw with large pieces of apples that added that welcome freshness.  Two giant hush puppies were also on the plate, which were far from light, but who am I to complain?  Bring on the fried goodness, I say!

Service and Cost:
Everyone at Hog Days was very cool and clearly had a big passion for BBQ.  It was truly enjoyable to witness the pride and enthusiasm that Tyson and his team infused into the evening and I'd highly recommend it to for BBQ enthusiasts and novices alike.

A ticket to hog days will set you back roughly $45 but includes all you can eat food and drinks for four delicious hours.

There are three events left for this season, starting with this weekend.  Hope you get to check it out.

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