Those of you who are coming to the planting party will be working up a good appetite, so Jed and I have been thinking quite a lot about what to serve a hungry crowd that day. We knew one thing would be on the menu no matter what: pig in some way, shape, or form.
The year we traipsed all over south Jersey looking for the perfect roof we had passed a small outdoor BBQ shack, but it wasn’t open over the winter. Once we bought the property and had begun to work in the field, we stopped back to check it out. It was surprisingly good, and so it became a frequent Sunday lunch break. Sam Gish, char connaisseur, had tasted it with Jed after a day in the tractor, and pronounced it very good. So Jed called to see if they’d be open by the day of the party, but got a pretty non-committal response: “I’m leaving on vacation. I’ll think about it.”
OK. Better keep looking. We had sampled some BBQ at a charity event over the winter from Carolina Blue, a restaurant near the farm. The website said the BBQ was ‘smoked with peach wood from Heritage Vineyards’. Sounds perfect! So we headed over to sample it when Becca was home for spring break. Nice rib, tasty pulled pork. Excellent sides. Plus a wall full of Palm Beer bottles. So the following Monday I email them to see if they cater, or would at least do a big big take out order. No response.
OK. Better keep looking. Our friend and neighbor Jerry volunteered to ask around on our behalf and suggested Louie’s, a new BBQ spot in Collingswood. We recruited Jerry to be part of this tasting. This place had a meaty rib with a peppery rub, a fine pulled pork, and a tender brisket. Traditional sides that were acceptable and desserts. They had a catering menu, and a catering guy. This could work. But….
But I’ve never been to a pig roast, and here, finally is a chance to see what they’re all about. Our friend/executive chef Chazz recommended a name, but he was already booked. Jerry tracked down a caterer in Philly that mostly does big corporate functions; and they did both BBQ and pig. And had the date, but a pretty firm cancellation penalty should it rain. What about Anthony, our local place for lunch at work? Jerry thought he did roast pig. Our friend Karen thought the folks at Cork might do a pig – but they are in the middle of a huge redesign of the restaurant. And Saturday nights are busy for restaurants.
Then Jerry suggested Cannuli’s, a butcher in the Italian market in Philly. The website had a page just for roast pig, with different sizes, and price points. “Ask for Charlie” said the pig page. Charlie is Charles Cannuli, who has been doing roast pig for a long time and had an answer for every question. They roast the pig and you pick it up, wrapped in foil and sitting on a slab of wood and ready to go. It comes with gravy (the south Philly Italian name for sauce) The price was right, and their cancellation requirements more or less matched the lead time for canceling the event in case of rain. I might just get my pig roast after all. Now all I need to find out is how to carve up a whole pig!