Going Hog Wild at Pigs N’ Pints with Robert Irvine

Revel in Robert Irvine’s pork-packed Pigs N’ Pints tasting event at the New York City Wine & Food Festival.
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Pigging out took on even greater meaning during the New York City Wine & Food Festival on Saturday night at Pigs N’ Pints, where pork enthusiast Robert Irvine hosted a party packed with barbecue, bacon and plenty of booze.

Set to a rocking soundtrack of ’70s and ’80s anthems, including tunes from Journey, Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe, the sold-out party took over most of the Hudson hotel, including the hip Hudson Common and sweeping Sky Terrace.

The participating chefs and restaurants trotted out their most-impressive dishes. Pork popped up wherever possible, including in Melt Shop’s gooey Maple Bacon sandwich, Rocket Pig’s sell-out pork shoulder sandwich, Hudson Commons’ lemongrass-scallion sausages, Otto’s Tacos’ carnitas tacos (pictured above) and Empanada Mama’s pulled-pork empanadas. Outside, Great Performances even brought a whole spit-roasted pig to set the mood.

Even exacting critic Robert was wowed by the options, telling us: “This is unbelievable. I think this is the best party of the whole Wine & Food Festival — the food is the best. Where else can you hang out, talk to people, eat good food and also help the less fortunate?”

Robert was in great spirits, gamely posing for pictures, flexing his famous biceps and even arm-wrestling fans eager to test his fortitude. Grabbing the mic to address the crowd, he called out fellow Food Network talent Aarón Sánchez, joking with the crowd to grab a few extra seasonal Oktoberfest beers: “Anyone who can out-drink Aarón Sánchez, there’s a weekend in Tahiti. Just kidding. Even I can’t do that.”

After publically thanking the active military servicepeople, Robert took a moment to challenge guests in a more serious way. “I’m blessed that I get to the chance to do an amazing show on Food Network that helps people. We are 83 percent successful at changing people’s lives,” he said. Robert then challenged the audience to help stop hunger. “We love Share Our Strength, we love getting to help feed kids, and you all here are part of that. All the partying and having fun — the reality is that what you’re doing is paying for meals for children that don’t have a hope.” Then it was back to the party.

Pitmasters were serving their smoky best. The Smoke Joint served 12-hour hickory-smoked pork shoulder over heirloom Anson Mills grits. Virgil’s Real BBQ served slow-smoked habanero-honey-glazed pork riblets.

Robert himself got in on the action, preparing perhaps the most-impressive spread of the evening with his personal team. The Restaurant: Impossible stand served slow-cooked 12-hour pork that roasted in a Caja China and was warmed over live coals at the event. Ever ready for a challenge, Robert served not one but three preparations of pork in toasted baguettes: Asian (with shiitake-scallion relish, kimchi aioli, cabbage, daikon sprouts and slaw), Latin (tomatillo salsa, guacamole, cilantro, Cotija cheese, chiles and hominy pozole) and American (slow-braised collards, apple-onion jam and pickled jalapenos).

Guests ended the event the only way possible: with bacon-laced desserts, including Roni-Sue’s chocolate-covered bacon and an Elvis-inspired peanut-butter-banana-bacon cookie from Schmackary's.

Keep coming back to FN Dish all weekend long for more insider coverage of the New York City Wine & Food Festival.

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