I stopped by Restaurant Ava this past weekend for their whole hog dinner that was cooked with the help of a few chef friends from the Dallas area. The hog was purchased some time ago from a local 4H project and the dinner has been in the works for some time now. The chefs included Ava’s own Taylor Kearney, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland, but also Scott Romano, Chad Bowden from Culpepper, and Matt McCallister and Brady Williams from the upcoming FT33. Entertainment was provided by local musician Brent Engel.
The evening started with a flurry of passed appetizers, all made of said hog who gave his life so others might enjoy his tasty bits. The Ava boys have a way with bacon, and certainly pancetta. Pancetta was one of the passed apps, as well as pulled pork nestled on Ava’s signature biscuits.
Follow along as we share each dish with you.
Nathan Tate and Copeland started the evening with his Trotter and Ham Hock Tureen served with Rocky’s Baby Mustard Greens, Pickled Red Onion and Green Beans.
Scott Romano’s Whiskey Braised Pork Belly with Braised Endive and Pickled Ramps on top of a Smoked Bacon Tomato Puree, finished with Oven Dried Thyme Roasted Cherry Tomato and Micro Celery.
McCallister and Williams kept things a bit tame, well not really, with their Pork Tenderloin marinated in Hay Ash Oil with Pickled Ramps, Pickled Corriander Flower and a Carrot Puree. I saw Williams garnishing each tomato early in the evening using a small set of tweezers to set the tiny flower, and later mentioned that the tiniest of garnish made for more table talk than any of the dishes or components.
Chad Bowden took a cold smoked pork butt and ground it into sausage yhen wrapped it into a pork loin that he later smoked. He sauced with a Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce, with a Macerated Salad with Tangelo.
Taylor Kearney, who was formerly working with Romano at Charlie Palmers and now the chef de cuisine at Ava wowed the crowed with his tasting of offal that included Steak and Kidney Pie, House-made Blood Sausage with Cornbread Puree, a Smoked Pork Jowl Pastrami with Apple Butter and a Apple Citrus Slaw.
Kearney was also responsible for the dessert with was a Chocolate Truffle and Blood Cake with a Bacon Fat Dulce de Leche and a Bourbon Vanilla Whipped Cream. Oh, and Candied Bacon.
Look for more of these collaboration dinners in the coming months.