Nibbles: Cochon 555 Convenes a Coterie of True Lard Lovers in Denver

By John Lehndorff (republished from his blog)

(March 9, 2015) The lard worked in myriad mysterious ways as it filled the ballroom at the Denver Ritz-Carlton March 5 with people who not only didn’t fear saturated fat but rather embraced it and gave it a big kiss … at least for one night. At Cochon 555 the camaraderie of the non-squeamish was warm as we consumed n’duja (spreadable salami) and lardo (whipped leaf lard) as a dip (left) with fresh radishes; drank a shot of pork broth spiked with bourbon, and sampled donuts filled with chocolate- pig blood ganache as well as pig heart tartare bahn mi sandwiches, and porchetta ramen. Attendees could match the fare such as Basta chef Kelly Whitaker’s mortadella “foie dog” with pear mostarda on a roll with any of five bunches plus Old Fashioneds, artisan tequila, wines and Bourbon Barrel-aged coffee-hazelnut-bacon ale.

Denver's Squeaky Bean served housemade heirloom

For entertainment, there was loud dance music and butchers from Western Daughters who expertly disassembled half a pig into its component parts which were sold to benefit culinary students at Johnson & Wales University.

Valhrona Chocolate and Pig Blood Pot au Creme with leaf lard chantilly and pig-shaped spice cookie with pig liver filling helped win chef Matt Vawter of Mercantile Dining & Provision the coveted Cochon 555 Prince of Porc award.

Dessert? One highlight was butterscotch pudding with candied bacon, bacon granola and passion fruit caramel from The Nickel.

When we needed to take a break the lobby offered master salumi maker Cristiano Creminelli slicing sausages, Boulder’s Cured offering Colorado cheeses, and warm baguettes on hand from La Brea Bakery.

Cochon 555 was also a competition obliging chefs to use virtually every part of the pig and won in Denver by Mercantile chef Matt Vawter. I’ve attended culinary events for more than 30 years; Cochon 555 is easily in the Top 10.

This one-of-a-kind traveling event to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs continues in Washington DC and Los Angeles before the Grand Cochon finals in Aspen. Details:

Food News Note

Kale has officially jumped the shark with the news that McDonald’s will become a “modern, progressive burger company” by adding kale as a salad or smoothie ingredient. Within five years kale is expected to return to its previous occupation providing something for the orange plate garnish to sit upon.

A Food Song Feast

Join us from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, March 15, for a special membership drive edition of Roots & Branches on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, and streaming at devoted to songs about food including a mini-set of chicken tunes. For the most part it will not include songs in which food is a metaphor for sex. (Look under “sugar,” “honey” and “jellyroll.”)

March 14 is National Pi Day

“Raspberry, strawberry, lemon and lime, / What do I care?/ Blueberry, apple, cherry, pumpkin and plum,/ Call me for dinner, honey, I’ll be there.” -From “Country Pie” by Bob Dylan

John Lehndorff is a veteran Colorado food journalist, host of Radio Nibbles, co-creator of the American Salumi Calendar, and former food editor of the Boulder Daily Camera, dining critic of the Rocky Mountain News, and chief judge at the National Pie Championships. He will teach a Food Writing Workshop April 19 at the Boulder Book Store: His work has appeared in Cheese Connoisseur Magazine, Washington Post, Town & Country, USA Today and other publications.


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